‘El Jefe’ helps Pondstock event stay true to its roots

Thursday, June 6, 2024
‘The Boss’ Vic Giron insists the annual festival at Lake Hedke is a group effort.
Courtesy photo

McCOOK Neb. — He goes by the stage name El Jefe, which means “The Boss,” but insists that the Pondstock Music Festival is a group effort with no one person in charge. Pondstock at Lake Hedke is a self-supported, independent gathering between musicians, friends, and family. It’s in its 19th year, Thursday through Saturday.

Vic Giron’s love for music was not instantaneous but rather a slow burn. As a teen, he tuned in to KZMC for song requests and created mixtapes. Attending his first concert at 18 sparked his desire to explore music further. Giron recounted, “That experience ignited a curiosity that led me to pick up an electric guitar and amplifier.”

However, the intricacies of guitar playing eluded him initially, prompting him to switch to bass upon a friend’s suggestion.

Giron’s journey in music began when he joined a blues band, marking the start of his education in music booking, equipment setup, and cable management.

This experience laid the foundation for Giron’s subsequent endeavors, including his notable involvement in organizing “

Pondstock,” a non-commercial music festival. Giron’s dedication to fostering musical connections and community spirit is a testament to his love for music and his continuous quest for artistic growth and collaboration, making him a prominent figure in the local music scene and an inspiration for all music enthusiasts. 

Giron discussed the inception of Pondstock in 2006, initially inspired by their experience organizing Blues Festivals at Red Willow Lake. The festival evolved to feature a diverse range of bands, not limited to a specific genre. Over the years, Pondstock expanded to include artists from across the country. Vic emphasizes the importance of personal connections and quality recommendations when selecting bands to perform at Pondstock, focusing on maintaining balance and variety in the lineup. “Anything goes, but it’s a lot of DIY and singer-songwriters. Then there’s a lot of weird stuff, you know, there’s a lot of stuff you can’t classify. I’ve tried to throw curveballs at people; a couple of years ago, we had a Nirvana tribute band.” Giron chuckled, “If a cover band is good, yeah, it’s good.”

Over the years, Pondstock has flourished, yet it remains true to its independent and grassroots origins. Unlike many other festivals, Pondstock stands tall, unyielding to commercial pressures or sponsorship demands. The heart of Pondstock beats with a welcoming and community-oriented atmosphere, where attendees are not just spectators but integral parts of the music and the experience, connecting with others and creating lasting memories.

Despite its growth, Pondstock values quality over quantity, preferring a more intimate setting that fosters a sense of camaraderie among attendees. The festival’s success is measured not by size but by the positive experiences shared by everyone involved. The dedication of volunteers and contributors ensures the event’s continued success, emphasizing the collective effort needed to make Pondstock a unique and memorable occasion.

By staying true to its roots and resisting commercialization, Pondstock has maintained its charm and authenticity. It offers a space where veteran performers and newcomers can come together to celebrate music and community. This commitment to its core values has set Pondstock apart, creating a festival that feels more like a reunion filled with nostalgia, discoveries, and lasting connections.

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