TiffinFest - Annual community celebration begins Friday
By Lori Lindner
North Liberty Leader
TIFFIN– On Friday, Aug. 22, at 8 p.m., the band 8 Seconds will come to the TiffinFest stage to perform a free concert, located at and sponsored by Bella Sala, 205 S. Park Rd. in Tiffin.
It is just one of the musical treats to be enjoyed at this three-day event.
“Over the course of the weekend, we wanted to be able to touch all demographics with choices of entertainment for music and we also wanted to be able to offer a free family fun event,” said Melissa Fontanini, co-owner of Bella Sala. “8 Seconds was a perfect match for that because they are a very well-known local band that appeals to all generations.”
Whether playing for a group of 50 or a crowd of 1,000, 8 Seconds band brings high energy to every minute of their show. Founding member Mike Flack said it’s what makes their performances consistently appealing to anyone, whether a big fan of country music or not.
“We’ve had people who say they can’t stand country music, but by the end of the night we are welcome back any time. A lot of that has to do with our approach of picking songs that are crowd-worthy, that people can dance and sing to and associate with,” said Flack.
It starts with influences that cross a wide range of musical tastes, from legendary names like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard to newer country artists such as Garth Brooks and Dierks Bentley.
In fact, Bentley is just one of the big names that has taken the stage after an 8 Seconds warm-up gig. Flack’s pack, has also opened for country acts Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Josh Gracin, Josh Turner and others.
From regular smaller venues to large outdoor events that bring in audiences over 1,000 strong, 8 Seconds has come a long way since its humble origins in 2001, when Mike Flack, a Cedar Rapids native, started 8 Seconds with his father Mike Flack, Sr.
“We started as a bar band, just doing it as a hobby to get out and have some fun,” said Flack. “Bowling alleys, small local venues, places like that.”
When fans encouraged him to consider playing for larger events, I regrouped the band with a younger, bigger band, and started booking some bigger shows,” Flack said. “It just took off from there.”
The latest incarnation includes manager Flack on lead vocals, John Fokken on lead guitar, Chris Fonck on drums and Jimmy Lee on bass, with female vocalist Jen Zoller bringing more range to their repertoire.
The first big name 8 Seconds opened for was Tracy Bird.
“Once we opened for Tracy Bird, people started booking us more for fairs, rodeos, street dances, big parties… we went from being a bar band to a show band. But we are not a traditional country band.”
While some of the country classics show up on 8 Seconds’ playlist, the band delivers its own modern take Flack describes as “a cross between grunge-rock-and-roll, southern country rock sort of thing.
“We play two slow songs a night. The rest of it is upbeat, newer country rock,” said Flack.
The music is just part of what makes a great band, though, Flack added.
“We always have the best, grade A musicians. The band is tight, and very well put together in its vocals and harmonies. We are a tight knit group,” he said.
And all that tightness is wound around the band’s energetic soul.
“We move around a lot. Even the drummer is very active,” Flack said. “I think our adrenaline attracts younger people. They see the energy and the fun we are having, and we project that onto the crowd. It gets people involved.”
Flack said a crowd’s reaction also helps dictate the tone of the performance.
“We like to see people screaming, dancing in front of the stage, singing along,” said Flack. “Guys, girls, kids… looking out and seeing people dancing, from kids ages 10 to 70, that means you are playing the right stuff.”
Flack’s band has played all over the Midwest, and on Friday, Aug. 22, 8 Seconds will take the stage at Bella Sala to heat up the TiffinFest crowd.
“I think live music is starting to come back around as a big thing,” said Flack. “We hope people will keep supporting it and look for our shows. There’s more to come in 2015.”
And there is more– much more– coming to TiffinFest, including live performances by Two Buck Chuck at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, followed by an explosive rock concert by arena-rock tribute band, Hairball.
“This is a family-friendly event,” Fontanini added, “from the kickoff with the parade on Friday, to the concerts to the fireworks.”
For more information, visit www.tiffinfest.org.
TiffinFest schedule of events:
Friday, Aug. 22
6 p.m. - Parade
5–11 p.m. - Carnival and vendors, Tiffin East Park
8 p.m.- Free concert featuring 8 Seconds, Bella Sala
9:30 p.m - Fireworks, Tiffin East Park
Saturday, Aug. 23
7 a.m. - 5K TiffinFest Run, United Methodist Church
8 a.m. - Softball tournament
8 a.m. - Soccer tournament
10 a.m. - Tiffin East Park opens with kids’ activities:
Sparkles and Sprinkles the Clowns
11 a.m. - Mini-Rod Tractor Pull, Tiffin East Park
4–7 p.m. - Rodeo at Tiffin East Park
6 p.m. - Seating opens for concert, Bella Sala
7:30 p.m. - Concert with Two Buck Chuck and Hairball
Sunday, Aug. 24
Noon–4 p.m. - Car Show, Bella Sala