Dover’s Hoochi Coochi to spread Happiness at Milford festival

Danielle Johnson and Fatz Hawkins, both of Dover, formed the indie blues duo Hoochi Coochi in October of last year. Hoochi Coochi will perform at Saturday’s third Happiness Project Music Festival in Milford, which will raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware and awareness of mental health issues. (Submitted photo/Chelsa Memmolo)

Danielle Johnson and Fatz Hawkins, both of Dover, formed the indie blues duo Hoochi Coochi in October of last year. Hoochi Coochi will perform at Saturday’s third Happiness Project Music Festival in Milford, which will raise funds for the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware and awareness of mental health issues. (Submitted photo/Chelsa Memmolo)

In less than a year, the Dover pair of Fatz Hawkins and Danielle Johnson, better known as Hoochi Coochi, is already getting a great deal of attention from both local and regional music fans.

“This started out as a passion project for us both, just to play some cool blues and hang out. But after about three months, it’s started paying for itself and we’ve had requests for gigs from all over the place and people asking for our merchandise,” said Ms. Johnson.

“Half the time when you’re in a band, it’s hard to get folks to pay attention to you. We’ve been really blessed so far and we’re just riding that wave.”

Best Bets logo -NEWHoochi Coochi, a nod to Muddy Waters’ song Hoochie Coochie Man, has played local establishments and was recently seen at Smyrna at Night but they’ve also been featured at venues in Maryland and Philadelphia.

“We’re a traveling band. If you give us a stage, we’ll play anywhere,” Ms. Johnson said.

Saturday sees the pair playing their brand of blues with touches of Southern rock and R&B at the third Happiness Project Music Festival at the Avenue United Methodist Church in Milford.

They will play at 5:30 p.m. on the outdoor stage, one of the three stages at Saturday’s free event, which will benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Delaware and mental health awareness.

The all-day, family-friendly festival runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and feature 32 regional performers as well as food trucks, local vendors and nonprofit organizations.

Two additional stages will be inside the church at 20 N. Church St.

The event is headlined by Annapolis, Maryland, rock band Jocelyn Faro & The Ragazzi, Philadelphia, rock/soul/R&B singer-songwriter Boy Wonder, North Carolina pop-punk band Eyes Eat Suns, who will be making its Delaware debut at the festival, and Dover’s own R&B/soul singer Kevin McCove.

FESTIVAL LINEUP STAGE 1 – OUTDOORS 11 a.m. – Cecilia Grace (Baltimore) Noon – Here For the Night (Newark) 1 p.m. – Kevin McCove (Dover) 2 p.m. – Lexi Brinsfield (Dover) 2:45 p.m. – Alicia Rae (Annapolis, Md.) 3:30 p.m. – Janelle (Baltimore) 4:30 p.m. – Route Seven (Wilmington) 5:30 p..m. – Hoochi Coochi (Dover) 6:30 p.m. – Eyes Eat Suns (North Carolina) 7:30 p.m. – Boy Wonder (Philadelphia) 8:30 p.m. – Jocelyn Faro & The Ragazzi (Annapolis, Md.) STAGE 2 – INDOORS, UPSTAIRS 11 a.m. – Danielle & Jennifer (Harleysville, Pa.) Noon – Lauren Foraker (Dover) 12:45 p.m. – Hanna Paige (Newark) 1:30 p.m. – Single Origin (Dover) 2:15 p.m. – Dynasty Marie (New Jersey) 3 p.m. – Clarabell (Philadelphia) 3:45 p.m. – Kate Mills (Philadelphia) 4:45 p.m. – Natalie Bermudez (Philadelphia) 5:45 p.m. – Eric Vattima (New Jersey) 6:30 p.m. – Angela Charles (Annapolis, Md.) 7:30 p.m. – Dylan Swinson (Dover) STAGE 3 – INDOORS, DOWNSTAIRS 11:15 a.m. – MomentUM/Avenue Praise Team (Milford) Noon – Joe Brellahan (Dover) 1:15 p.m. – Ebb & Nova (Baltimore) 2:15 p.m. – Wild Virtu (Newark) 3 p.m. – Brianna Lauren (Virginia) 4 p.m. – Madison Ryan (Harrisburg, Pa.) 5 p.m. – Green Means Go (Rehoboth Beach) 6 p.m. – Emily Mineo (Philadelphia) 6:45 p.m. – The Sugar Pops (Philadelphia) 7:30 p.m. – Lost on Mainstreet (Dover)

FESTIVAL LINEUP
STAGE 1 – OUTDOORS
11 a.m. – Cecilia Grace (Baltimore)
Noon – Here For the Night (Newark)
1 p.m. – Kevin McCove (Dover)
2 p.m. – Lexi Brinsfield (Dover)
2:45 p.m. – Alicia Rae (Annapolis, Md.)
3:30 p.m. – Janelle (Baltimore)
4:30 p.m. – Route Seven (Wilmington)
5:30 p..m. – Hoochi Coochi (Dover)
6:30 p.m. – Eyes Eat Suns (North Carolina)
7:30 p.m. – Boy Wonder (Philadelphia)
8:30 p.m. – Jocelyn Faro & The Ragazzi (Annapolis, Md.)
STAGE 2 – INDOORS, UPSTAIRS
11 a.m. – Danielle & Jennifer (Harleysville, Pa.)
Noon – Lauren Foraker (Dover)
12:45 p.m. – Hanna Paige (Newark)
1:30 p.m. – Single Origin (Dover)
2:15 p.m. – Dynasty Marie (New Jersey)
3 p.m. – Clarabell (Philadelphia)
3:45 p.m. – Kate Mills (Philadelphia)
4:45 p.m. – Natalie Bermudez (Philadelphia)
5:45 p.m. – Eric Vattima (New Jersey)
6:30 p.m. – Angela Charles (Annapolis, Md.)
7:30 p.m. – Dylan Swinson (Dover)
STAGE 3 – INDOORS, DOWNSTAIRS
11:15 a.m. – MomentUM/Avenue Praise Team (Milford)
Noon – Joe Brellahan (Dover)
1:15 p.m. – Ebb & Nova (Baltimore)
2:15 p.m. – Wild Virtu (Newark)
3 p.m. – Brianna Lauren (Virginia)
4 p.m. – Madison Ryan (Harrisburg, Pa.)
5 p.m. – Green Means Go (Rehoboth Beach)
6 p.m. – Emily Mineo (Philadelphia)
6:45 p.m. – The Sugar Pops (Philadelphia)
7:30 p.m. – Lost on Mainstreet (Dover)

Other Delaware performers include Green Means Go, Here for the Night, Route Seven, Joe Brellahan, Hanna Paige, Single Origin, Lauren Foraker, Lost on Mainstreet, Wild Virtu, Lexi Brinsfield and Dylan Swinson.

Ms. Johnson said the two are excited about playing at Saturday’s festival, where they will be joined by by Spencer Greene on keyboard and Chelsea Grant on drums.

“There are so many different bands playing and a lot of different genres, from folk to heavy metal,” she said.

“To get a chance to be put in front of people who may not see us in a club is amazing. You can’t pay for this kind of an opportunity. We’re super pumped. I hope they like us because we’re going to go crazy.”

Festival co-organizer Jason Burlew said the variety of music is no accident.

“It is always important to us for this event to appeal to a wide variety of people and we feel this has something for everyone,” Mr. Burlew said. “We’ve got almost every single genre of music covered, we have plenty of food choices, and plenty of local vendors and nonprofit organizations to provide information to all attendees.”

Mr. Hawkins and Ms. Johnson met through mutual friends and started Hoochi Coochi last October.

“I had just left another band and Danielle hit me up looking to do a bluesy project and that was exactly was I looking to do,” he said.

Ms. Johnson spent eight years with the Dover hip-hop group Flow City and was ready for a change.

“I had been doing it for so long, I was ready to change lanes,” said the 25-year-old Dover resident who was born in Smyrna.

“I like hip hop but I wasn’t sure how far I could go with that. When I play music for myself, this is the kind of stuff that I gravitate toward.”

She says her influences are varied.

“My mother sang gospel music for old school Baptist churches. My stepfather listened to Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. Blues seems to be the music I relate to most. Half the time when I sing, it comes out sounding like Billie Holiday and has this twang to it,” Ms. Johnson said.

While they mostly write their own material, the two say they have been known to slip in a cover or two — with a twist.

“We know a few songs that we play because we like them not because they are big hits or anything,” said Mr. Hawkins, 26, who previously played with the local band Show Me On The Doll.

“But when we play them, we usually change the words. For example, we’ve changed the title of the Pixies’ song ‘Where’s My Mind?’ to ‘Where’s My Wine?’”

The pair have been working on an EP that they hope to release by the end of the summer.

Maryland rock band Jocelyn Faro and The Ragazzi will co-headline Saturday's Happiness Project Music Festival in Milford. (Submitted photo)

Maryland rock band Jocelyn Faro and The Ragazzi will co-headline Saturday’s Happiness Project Music Festival in Milford. (Submitted photo)

Saturday’s event will be the third Happiness Project Music Festival that co-organizers and co-founders Mr. Burlew and Candy Fortney have held since March 2015. The first event was in Georgetown and the second was in Smyrna.

“We are really excited and happy to be in Milford,” Ms. Fortney said.

“And everything about this third festival is bigger — we have more performers, more stages, more nonprofit organizations, more food trucks, and we plan on having even more fun than we did at the first two.”

Some of the nonprofit organizations that will have information tables at the event are NAMI of Delaware, ContactLifeline, Paws of Tomorrow, Volunteer Delaware, A Foundation for a Better Tomorrow, Kent-Sussex Counseling and Brandywine Counseling.

In addition, there will be free yoga offered by Tula Yoga & Reikie Professionals of Dover and Amanda Marie Yogi of Washington. Yoga sessions will be held at 11:15 a.m. and 1, 2:30 and 4 p.m. and will be open to all levels.

For more information about The Happiness Project Music Festival, visit www.facebook.com/happinessprojectmmh.

New season at Second Street

Staying in Milford, the Second Street Players are seeking directors for the upcoming 2017 season.

Those interested in directing any shows for the 2017 season should submit a letter of intent to jgross@atlanticrhc.com no later than Aug. 31.

The main stage shows are as follows:

•Neil Simon’s comedy “The Sunshine Boys” Feb 10, 11, 12, 17, 18 and 19.

•“Nunsense A-AMEN!,” which sees all the characters portrayed by men in this version of the popular comedy, May 5, 6, 7, 12, 13 and 14.

•The ’50s’ high school musical “Grease” July 28, 29 and 30 and Aug. 4, 5 and 6.

•Oscar Wilde’s “The Canterville Ghost” Sept 15, 16, 17, 22, 23 and 24.

• The holiday musical comedy
“The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society’s Production of a Christmas Carol” Nov 24, 25, 26 and Dec. 1, 2 and 3.

The three Children’s Theater shows are:

•“The Adventures of Robin Hood” March 10, 11 and 12.

•“The Neverending Story” June 2, 3 and 4.

•“Dorothy in Wonderland” Oct 6, 7 and 8 will explore the worlds of Oz and Wonderland.

Family benefit

A Jam Benefit for Kathy and Joe Malago will be held Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. at Seafood City Pavilion, U.S. 13, Felton.

Music will be provided by Key of Red with special guest Blind Willie.

Activities include cornhole, horseshoes, 50-50s and a Chinese Auction.

Ms. Malago was diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic small cell carcinoma. It is inoperable. She has had five rounds of chemotherapy and one round of radiation. Mr. Malago was hit by a drunk driver and will not be able to return to work. Funds will go to support the family.

The event is sponsored by June Jam.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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