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James Macdonald: A Rock And Roll Fables Conversation

Sure, Boston Calling may have kicked off the summer season all strong-like but what have they done for us lately? More importantly, who’s going to be covering that post-4th Of July/pre-Labor Day period??? Well, that’s where the In Between Days Festival comes in as it launches its’ second year later in August and expands to two days back in the fabled land of Quincy (That’s just a hop, skip, and a Red Line T trip from the big city if you were wondering). Recently, we had the opportunity to connect with Festival Director James Macdonald via email who’s joined with founder Alex Magleby (Currently slaying as CEO of the New England Free Jacks rugby team) to steer the 2023 IBD Festival to new heights and beyond thanks to his vast expertise in the crowded Music Festival arena which you can read all about in our interview below:

RNRF: As festival director of In Between Days, what is your main role with the event?

James Macdonald: I am charged with bringing the big picture together for the entire festival. I work with our creative director on our brand, website, and all the advertising, work with our artist relations team, managing our partnerships with the artists, and, of course a big part of my job is focusing on operations so that our fans have an incredible experience and our team has the tools needed to create that experience.

You’ve produced the Life Is Good festival among many other events in the area. Would you say the experience with those events better prepares you for helping In Between Days run smoothly?

My experience producing The Life is Good Festival really set the foundation for all of my subsequent productions. I was able to learn from an amazing team at Superfly, the founders of Bonnaroo. They partnered with us on that event, and it really had a huge impact on me personally. Creating events that put the fan experience first is my priority. I want any festival or show that I am producing or involved with to run smoothly behind the scenes while giving fans something that stands out as unique and hopefully magical.

IBD is expanding to 2 days for 2023, was that something that was always the plan? With the extra day, and beyond the varied lineups each day, what will be different about this year’s festival and also what will be the same?

It’s so exciting that we’ve expanded this year with a second day. But the expansion is more than just the added day. We’ve partnered with Little City Thrifty, based out of Providence Rhode Island, to create a very cool vintage and vinyl marketplace, we will have an amazing retro arcade with video games and pinball and we’re even creating a sober supportive zone with an amazing nonprofit called 1 Million Strong. It’s a space that’s alcohol-free and offers support and community for our fans who don’t use alcohol. Plus, it goes without saying that having 24 bands over two days offers an expanded experience musically for our fans.  

Getting back to the bands involved this year, there’s a massive lineup of national and local arts over 2 days. Was there a “get” list of some sort regarding bands that you wanted on the bill this year? Did you get all the bands you wanted? And with that, is there a “bucket list” out there of artists you’d eventually like to book for future shows?

There’s always a few bands that you hope to book that slip through the cracks! Booking the festival is so much fun and our booking team really knows the Boston musical landscape and has relationships with so many great bands. We wanted to create a lineup that was as diverse as possible with different musical styles and artist perspectives as much as possible. It’s important that we demonstrate to our fans through our musical choices the kind of world we want to help create. Needless to say, we are thrilled, both with our national headliners, and the local acts who are part of this year’s festival.  

The local acts on the bill also represent a wide array of genres and styles. How did you go about choosing who would appear this year and how important is it to have local acts showcased for a wider audience at an event such as this?

It’s incredibly important to make sure that Boston’s music scene is well represented at In Between Days. It’s such an amazing community of bands and artists in this area and the only hard part about it is that we have too many good choices to pick from. We’re not just interested in the bands that can sell the most tickets locally, but also the bands that have a unique voice and help showcase the diversity and creativity that Boston has to offer music fans.

As a relatively fledgling festival still, how do you make yourselves stand out from other events in both the MA and New England area?

As a new festival, it’s important for us to deliver on what we’re promising fans. Most of our fans will be experiencing this event for the first time and our goal is to make them fall in love with what we have to offer. Also, we are a relatively small event compared to some of the bigger festivals in the region which offers us a unique opportunity, and that we can really refine a vision rather than trying to be all things to all people. If you love the music on this bill, and you want to be in this environment with other like-minded fans, we promise you an experience that will make you want to come back again and again.  

You’ll be back at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy this year. How was Quincy chosen in the first place and why is it the perfect home for IBD again?

We love our location in Quincy. It’s so convenient from the MBTA Red Line and bus routes. Plus it’s really close to downtown Boston. Maybe people aren’t thinking of Quincy as an obvious choice, but for us it feels like home and we’re excited to show fans just how convenient and cool Quincy can be. It’s really a great city.  

We’re still just about 2 months out from this year’s event but what are the goals for the festival going forward?

Our goal is to create a one-of-a-kind festival, especially for Boston and this region. As I mentioned earlier, this festival size means that we can really define ourselves as an event that offers a certain musical perspective that’s adventurous, diverse, and musically interesting. Because of the relatively smaller scale compared to much bigger festivals, we can book bands that deliver on our creative and artistic vision, rather than just who can sell the most tickets.

Why should folks head out to the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy for not one, but two days of music and more this August?

People should come for two days because it’s twice as fun! For music fans, I don’t think there’s a better opportunity to get a taste of the great local music that Boston has to offer than digging in deep with us over the course of two days. Plus the national headliners don’t come through Boston so regularly, and this is a great chance to catch them live – because who knows when they’ll be back.

The 2023 edition of In Between Days is happening on August 19th & 20th at Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy! Head here for tickets and all the info and then make sure to keep in the know by following the IBD socials when you click here, here, or here. And to get a taste of what’s to come, be sure to check out the official playlist below!

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