There is much to celebrate this April 20 in Madison. Not only did Dane County voters pass a pro-legalization advisory referendum by a near 65/35 margin April 1, the just ended legislative session saw a record number of cannabis law reform bills including comprehensive medical, legalization of small amounts, industrial hemp, decriminalization and finally, a narrowly focused medical marijuana bill covering CBD hemp oil for pediatric seizures, which passed and was signed into law.
While 4/20 in Madison has not yet attained the kind of status the holiday enjoys in places like Denver, the celebration will go on.
The Madison 420 Fest will again be the top place to celebrate the annual high holiday of cannabis, which in Madison, is also Ben Masel Day, by virtue of a 2011 proclamation by the City Council. Many of Ben's friends will be at the Brink to mark the dual holiday.
Madison 420 Fest is also a benefit for the Ben Masel Project and the Madison chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Both groups will be on hand with tables and merchandise and members ready to assist.
As with last year, the location will be the Brink Lounge on East Washington Ave., part of the entertainment complex at 701 E Washington Ave. (at Blount St.) that includes the High Noon Saloon and the Brass Ring. The event runs from 5:00 p.m. on Saturday April 19 to 2:00 a.m. on April 20 and there is a $10 requested donation for entry.
There will be two stages featuring a number of different bands and musical genres. Confirmed bands include The New Speedway Players (Grateful Dead tribute), recalcitrant (roots, reggae from Milwaukee), The Material Boys (Madonna and other bluegrass material), Newport Jam (jam rock from WI Dells), Double Dubbs (Americana from Madison), Yokanizu Project (jam rock & reggae from the west side of Madison), Mudroom (Madison long time jammers), Chaos Revolution Theory (hard rock with a psychedelic twist), Kwame Bediako (Retro Roots Reggae) and Sista Sensi and the B Easy Band (reggae from Jamaica and WI).
The Madison 420 Fest main organizer is again Erik Riedasch, a Madison musician and bandleader who is also the longtime musical director of the Annual Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival.
Riedasch was recently interviewed for an article about Madison 420 Fest in Maximum Ink and had this to say, "This is a celebratory event. A celebration and energization of all things cannabis, as well as a benefit for Madison NORML and the Ben Masel Project. The bands are here because they want to be. We live in a city that is supportive of the cause, and accepting and we're excited to be able to host this event again."
Getting back to Ben Masel Day, for the third year there will be a display paying tribute to his life and contributions at EVP Coffee a few blocks east of the Brink Lounge at 1250 E Washington Ave (at Baldwin St.). The display runs until the end of April.
In past years, weather permitting, as Madison Spring weather can be a quirky thing, people have been known to gather around 4:20 p.m. on 4/20 at Bascom Hill, located at the end of State Street and Library Mall past N. Park St. on the UW-Madison Campus. Temperatures this 4/20 are forecast to be mild possibly as warm as the low 70s with a chance of rain.
[Update 6:04p.m. 04162014] On Sunday night at 8:00 p.m. the High Noon Saloon, 701 E Washington Ave., WIJAM Presents a special 4/20 show with Natty Nation & Eufórquestra W/ DJ Trichrome This show features Madison reggae superstars Natty Nation along with Eufórquestra and special guest DJ Trichrome with tickets available $7 adv / $10 day of show.