Circuit Benders’ Ball Announces 2017 Festival Dates, Call for Performers

I’m happy to announce that the Circuit Benders Ball will be coming back to Nashville, August 25th to 27th, 2017!

Submissions are now open for performers, visual artists, multimedia artists, presenters, workshop instructors, and volunteers. To apply, head on over to the brand spankin’ new website, built by CBB participant Morgan Higby-Flowers.

The Ball will take place at the East Nashville art collective The Complex. We’re still working out the details and will provide an address and showtimes soon. Tyler Blankenship will be taking over as Festival Director for 2017.

This Month’s Make Nashville Meetup is All About Circuit-Bending

Make Nashville is a local maker’s group that recently launched an East Nashville makerspace. Each month, they host a public meetup centered around a particular topic. This month, the topic is circuit-bending!

What the heck is circuit-bending? It’s the art of re-purposing old electronic toys and transforming them into musical and visual instruments. Here’s the Wikipedia entry.

If you dabble in bending, bring your creations to show off. If not, come learn about the practice. Tyler Blankenship will be on hand to talk about the 2017 Circuit Benders’ Ball and Modular Art Pods @ Queen Ave.

The FREE meeting happens August 16 from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the makerspace, which is located at 947 Woodland St, Nashville, TN. It’s also a great opportunity to tour the space and inquire about membership. More info at the event page.

Intro to Circuit Bending class at the 2012 Circuit Benders' Ball. Photo by Angelina Castillo.

Intro to Circuit Bending class at the 2012 Circuit Benders’ Ball. Photo by Angelina Castillo.

Circuit Benders’ Ball Announces New Producer and Show Date

Tyler Blankenship (left) films Carl Oliver (right) at CBB 2014. Photo by Skipp Frazier.

Tyler Blankenship (left) videotapes Carl Oliver (right) at CBB 2014. Photo by Skipp Frazier.

Hey everyone. Tony here. I have the great pleasure of announcing Circuit Benders’ Ball’s new producer, the person who will organize a team and produce the next festival. That person is…

Tyler Blankenship.

Tyler is a Nashville-based artist, musician, and filmmaker. He’s worked on past Circuit Benders’ Balls, organized many shows at Queen Ave, and participated in both Modular Art Pods. In October 2016, he will produce the first independently-run Modular Art Pods at Queen Ave. I’m confident that he will take Circuit Benders’ Ball to new heights.

And now to the festival date…

For the first three editions, CBB was biennial: 2010, 2012, and 2014. The next show was supposed to happen in 2016. But we decided to push the next show to 2017. This will give Tyler and his team the time needed to organize a phenomenal show. We don’t have an exact date set yet, but we know it will be in late 2017.

I will still be involved. For example, I look forward to researching potential performers and may even get to perform myself this round. But for 2017, Tyler Blankenship will take the lead, and I’m excited for all that he will bring to the festival.


Tony Youngblood
CBB Founder

Circuit Benders’ Ball 2016 Seeks New Producer


Circuit Benders’ Ball is a biennial celebration of hardware hacking, free culture, art, and the creative spirit. I’ve been running the show since the festival’s inception in 2010. The three-day event at Fort Houston in 2014 was our biggest and best yet. We have a venue lined up for September 2016, and we’re preparing to send out calls for participants. There’s just one thing we need:

A new producer.

I’ve reached the unfortunate conclusion that with all the other things on my plate, most notably Modular Art Pods @ OZ, I won’t be able to devote the time necessary to put on CBB. I’d still like to pitch in, perhaps even finally perform at the fest, but I’m looking for someone else to take the reins. So, what would this involve?

The 2016 CBB producer would be responsible for:

  • Assembling the lineup of performers, visual artists, workshop teachers, and presenters.
  • Fundraising. Seeking money through sponsorships, funding drives, pre-sales, etc.
  • Building a team of volunteers to help with all aspects of the show.
  • Negotiating and fulfilling payment/travel expenses with the venue and artists.
  • Finding places for the touring artists to stay.
  • Promotion.

I won’t lie. The hardest part is the money. The organizing side of CBB has always been all-volunteer, from the producer to the visual art directors to the sound engineers to the ticket takers. After expenses, all of the funds have gone to the touring performers, although never as much as they deserve … and never enough to properly compensate the local performers. We’d love for that to change this year.

This would also mean that you, the incoming producer, would also be volunteering your time. You may be able to strategize ways to increase revenue and allow enough for a producer’s salary. If you can make that happen and still fairly compensate the performers, more power to you.

I would make myself available to answer any of your questions and help out in any way I can.  You would have free rein to run the festival as you see fit, except for the following core rules:

  • Performances must involve circuit bending, creative coding, instrument building, or modular rigs (especially if the modules are homemade or heavily-modded). In the past, we’ve also included music made with Gameboys because of the homebrew cartridges.
  • Producers must be committed to inclusivity. Producers should seek out a diverse lineup of performers that include women, people of color, people with disabilities, and people in the LGBT communities.
  • The Code of Conduct should reflect that spirit of inclusivity by fostering a safe environment for all guests.

The new producer will be chosen by me and group of past CBB staff. A producer that lives in or near Nashville, TN is heavily preferred. If selected, you will produce the 2016 edition, and if all goes well, you’ll have the option to produce future editions. Interested parties should e-mail me at

Spotlight on Griffin Technology

Colin and Justin show off the Griffin Technology silent auction winnings.

Colin and Justin show off the Griffin Technology silent auction winnings.

The Circuit Benders’ Ball owes a huge debt of gratitude to our sponsor Griffin Technology. The tech manufacturer with headquarters just a few blocks from Fort Houston contributed the Studio Connect iPad recording interface and the Twenty audio amplifier for Airport Express for our silent auction. The auction earnings helped us bring out-of-town artists to the festival. Griffin also donated dozens of other products (like this smartphone-controlled helicopter) for our mailing list giveaway.

Griffin makes smartphone accessories, iPad and iPhone interfaces, music tools, and more. They have a long history of supporting maker-related groups and activities such as the Nashville Mini Maker Faire. We’re proud to be associated with such an innovative and forward-thinking local company. Nashville is lucky to have them.


Circuit Benders’ Ball 2014 is a Wrap!

Robbie Hunsinger & Megan Kelley at the Ball. Photo by Skipp Frazier.

Robbie Hunsinger & Megan Kelley at the Ball. Photo by Skipp Frazier.

I’m a week late posting this (because it took literally a week for me to recover), but the 2014 Circuit Benders’ Ball is a wrap!

Big thanks to the artists, volunteers, and attendees for making it happen. Also huge thanks to Fort Houston for providing the space, Yazoo Brewing Company for providing the beverages, Griffin Technology for providing silent auction and giveaway items, Eli Mason for the sweet tea and drink mixers, SAE Nashville for bringing out volunteers and equipment, and Watkins College of Art, Design & Film for providing projectors and additional volunteers!

Photos, video, and sound files coming soon.

See you in 2016!

Circuit Benders’ Ball: Panels and Presentations are Free Today! 04-13-2014

Noise Furniture, Saturday at the 2014 CBB. Photo by @AkbarsBlackEyes.

Noise Furniture, Saturday at the 2014 CBB. Photo by @AkbarsBlackEyes.

We have some amazing panels and presentations lined up for today. We want as many people as possible to check them out, so we’re making them free and open to the public. You do not need a pass or a ticket to attend today’s panels/presentations. Just head over to Fort Houston and ask the person at the front counter where to go.

At 11 a.m. we have Chris Richards hooking the audience up to a giant musical instrument. At noon Mike Hester will show you how to turn digital images into music. At 1 p.m. we have the panel I’m most looking forward to: Structural Bias in Show Booking. Local musicians, artists, and show bookers Kathryn Edwards, Kale Edmiston, Paul Horton, Virginia Griswold, David Wright Lagrone and the just-added Reagan Mitchell will talk about issues like creating a feeling a safety for everyone, how to ensure accessibility for people with disabilities, and implicit structural biases in festival/conference bookers against women, people of color, people with disabilities, transgender people, and other groups.

At 2 p.m. we have a panel exploring the 8 bit world of chiptune music: “Chiptune artists use vintage computers, video game systems, and ’emulators’ to create 8-bit compositions. Ben Marcanel, Tim Carey, Dylan Ethier, Frank Angotti, and Arnie Holder will discuss the history of the genre, the methodology, the various homebrew music-making game cartridges for the Nintendo Gameboy, and how you can create your own chiptune music.”

Check the panels schedule for more info.

We also have some excellent workshops about subverting Google, bending with photoresistors, and making music with the Arduino. Seats are still available. Check the workshop schedule for more info.

At 4:15, the chiptune artists will kick off the Sunday round of performances! Here’s the full performance schedule for tonight:

4:15 PM Tim Carey
4:35 PM Dylan Ethier
4:55 PM sugar sk*-*lls
5:15 PM Abandoned On Fire
5:35 PM b4by f4c3
6:05 PM Morgan Higby-Flowers
6:20 PM dish_drone_dish_drone_dish_drone
6:45 PM Waveshaper
7:15 PM Age

See you at 11:00 a.m.!

Circuit Benders’ Ball Panels and Workshops! 04-12-2014


The Circuit Benders’ Ball panels and workshops start at 11:00 a.m. this fine morning. Check out the panel schedule here and workshop schedule here. If you haven’t purchased your workshop tickets yet, not to worry. You can buy a ticket at the door. As of now, we have extra space in all the workshops.

And then come back for another night of performances beginning at 7 p.m. See you at Fort Houston!

Circuit Benders’ Ball: Fort Houston Parking Map



Here’s a parking map of the Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood surrounding the Circuit Benders’ Ball home base Fort Houston. (Click to enlarge.) Take note of Gabby’s Burgers within walking distance of the Ball. Best veggie burgers in town!

Fort Houston is located at 500 Houston Street, Nashville, TN 37203. Circuit Benders’ Ball check-in begins at Fort Houston, Friday, April 11th at 4:30 p.m.