Grayson Minney’s childhood home was in foreclosure.
Several years ago the Columbia Fields lead singer’s mother was in an accident, and Grayson was working extra hours and late nights to help with the family’s mounting bills.
Grayson was driving home from work in the early morning of May 11 when he apparently lost control of his car on Route 85 in Hebron. The crash killed Minney, who left behind family, friends, and a caring music community that would take up the torch for him.
The Hug More Love More Festival this Saturday at the Four Town Fairground in Somers will bring together 14 bands on two stages, plus five food vendors, a beer and wine garden, merchandise, and more. All the proceeds from the event will go toward saving the Minney’s home.
Hug More Love More was a saying between Grayson and his father, who former band manager Joe Lee describes with a chuckle as both ‘hippies’ and best friends.
“The Monday before [Grayson's] death we all went to a Red Sox game together, and that was really the first time i saw them together like that,” says Lee. “You could really tell they were best friends. They’d say ‘Hug more love more, son,’ ‘Hug more love more, dad.’”
The bill includes acts like Secondhand Serenade and Veronica Ballestrini, plus local favorites Rane and Article 19 reunite to perform. “We’ve had overwhelming response about bands wanting to play, and everyone’s playing for free,” says Lee.
Lee, along with John O’Leary and Alan Veniscofsky, are credited by the band with bringing the festival together. Minney was known for loving the vibrant atmosphere at festivals, which made the concept of a festival easy to decide.
Columbia Fields is performing, with singer-songwriter and longtime friend Nick Santostefano filling in for Minney. Santostefano has known Grayson and the other band members since they were children, and opened regularly for Columbia Fields.
“I don’t want this to be a second memorial, but to make it a party he would want to be at,” says Santostefano. “It’s a lot of friends of his, bands he loved playing music with, so we just want to throw a party that he’d be jealous of.”
“Outside of helping the Minney family, we just want to pay tribute to what an amazing human being he was and his outlook on life,” says bassist Jon Coates. “To remind everyone to embrace that positive approach, try to bring that into our own lives.”
Merchandise for sale at the festival include a brand new live album from Columbia Fields, t-shirts, bandanas, and bracelets inscribed with ‘Hug More Love More.’
“The only thing i would say is that if you can’t go, buy a ticket anyway,” says Santostefano. “This is a donation anyway, it’s a great cause for a great family.”
The Hug More Love More festival goes from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 20 at the Four Town Fairground in Somers. Gates open at 10 a.m. Tickets are $20 in advance, or $25 at the gate. Children under 17 are free, though donations will be accepted. All the proceeds go to benefit the Minney family.
For more information and to buy tickets, visit www.hugmorelovemore.com.