Aloha, and welcome to the 195th edition of The Run-Off Groove. Music reviews have been put on hold for a week, as I want to talk about getting out in the world to experience music in a live setting. While country fairs don't happen until the beginning of summer, the music festival season is already underway. There's something about heading to a gathering to be able to experience music with friends and complete strangers. Maybe it's being able to be a part of community for a day or a weekend, or to unite your family through music and good events. I grew up fascinated with music festivals, especially after hearing about Woodstock as a kid and wishing I was able to experience music that way. While many have tried to duplicate the Woodstock formula, most have simply created festivals to create their own thing and entertain the masses in the best way possible. Regardless of your favorite style of music, there is something here for everyone. If you make it out to any of these festivals, you'll also be able to experience new artists and new sounds that you may otherwise not have been familiar with. If you need a reason to be outside to enjoy good music and get some oxygen in your lungs, or to head into a venue to experience something new, here are some upcoming festivals that you'll want to be on the lookout for.
If you are in or are planning to be around the Atlanta area this week, you'll want to check out this year's A3C Hip-Hop Fest, with a lineup that includes Little Brother, Del the Funky Homosapien, Jeru The Damaja, Re-Up Gang, DJ Klever, Wale, Akrobatik and many others. The festival will also include a producer showcase (sharpen those chopping skills), an international BC One B-boy jam, and a two-on-two battle called Double Up representing dancers from the Southeast part of the country. It will be held at the CW Midtown Music Complex; head to the festival website for more details.
Also this week in Savannah, Georgia is the Savannah Music Festival, a massive 17-day event with bands playing at various venues throughout the duration. You will be able to see The Derek Trucks Band, Angelique Kidjo, Pitingo, Marty Stuart & Travis Tritt, Hamilton de Holanda, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and a number of events spotlighting various high school bands.
March 30th is when the Switchboard Music Festival will be on at the Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco from 2pm-10pm. The festival features a very diverse range of artists, including Amy X Neuberg, Aaron Novik, Del Sol String Quartet, Gamelan X, Robin Estrada, and Slydini. According to the website, the festival is an 8-hour music festival bringing together composers and musicians who are all pushing the boundaries of their respective genres—and, whether they’re aware of it or not, are pushing towards each other. No other Bay Area music festival or concert series is dedicated to the idea of bringing together such an eclectic, genre-crossing/-breaking/-bastardizing group of experimentalists, innovators, and musical omnivores. This is a concert designed for an audience grown accustomed to the boundary-less world of the internet and the iPod, where all music is equal and must meet only one criterion: It must sound good. If it sounds good to you, make sure to be there two weeks from now.
I have been interested in modified and "bent" electronic instruments for years. This is the concept of taking a piece of electronics, be it an old Casio SK-1 or a Teddy Ruxpin, messing around with its insides and being able to have it create sounds that were not its original intention. While I have not made an attempt to bent my own abandoned keyboards and drum machines, I have been interested by those who do. I wasn't aware of this until a fellow producer passed a link to me about this, but there is something called a Bent Festival, and it will be the fifth year that it has been put together. It's a three day event involving workshops and seminars which teach the public how get into circuit bending, and for those who have been doing this for years, a wide range of performances from masters of bending.
The festival is being held during three different weekends in three different cities:
April 17-19, 2008 (Los Angeles)
April 24-26, 2008 (New York City)
May 1-3, 2008 (Minneapolis)
The concerts are free, but there are fees for the workshops involved. What kind of music is being made? Call it electronica, call it electronic, call it experimental and avant-garde, call it on your cell phone and have an electronic conversation. For a hint of what the Bent Festival is about, check out some videos at YouTube by clicking here. For more details, click to the Bent Festival home page. (Thank you to Primus Luta for the tip.)
To my fellow kama'aina. aloha! The Waikiki Shell is the place to catch the Kokua Festival, an annual event in Honolulu, Hawai'i started by Jack Johnson, who of course will be playing with a little help from his hoa'aloha: Paula Fuga, Mason Jennings, Dave Matthews, and Go Jimmy Go among others. The festival is about being helpful (the definition of "kokua"), whether it's to one another or the environment, true to some of the causes Johnson has supported as a surfer/filmmaker/musician. There will be a number of natural and organic food selections, so if you've ever been curious about eating healthy but do not know where to start, begin your path here, and jam out to some great music. The festival will be held on April 19th and 20th.
The mention of Indio, California can only mean one thing in terms of festivals: Coachella, which happens on April 25th-27th. The buzz of each year's lineup begins on New Year's Day, and now that it's getting closer, fans are anxious to see and experience all of the music that awaits. This year's lineup includes Roger Waters, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Little Brother, Portishead, Jack Johnson, Kraftwerk, Aphex Twin, Murs, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Aesop Rock, Diplo, Cinematic Orchestra, Serj Tankian, and Dwight Yoakam. There are loads of bands I haven't mentioned, click to the website for the full roster.
Those who aren't attending Coachella may very well be in New Orleans to take part in this year's New Orleans Heritage & Jazz Festival. The festival will be held during two weekends, April 25th-27th and May 1st-4th. Each New Orleans Jazz Festival results in countless positive reviews, and with the artists playing this year there will no doubt be many, many more. Some of the people who are scheduled to play this year include Stevie Wonder, The Roots, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Keyshia Cole, Dr. John, The Neville Brothers, Art Neville, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Galactic, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss, Ozomatli with Chali2na (once again, that's with Chali2na), Lizz Wright, Elvis Costello and Allen Toussaint, Al Green, Tower Of Power, Bettye Lavette, The Golden Blade and Wild Tchoupitoulas Mardi Gras Indians, and way too many to post here. Well I could, but it would take up half of the column. Just go and have a good time, and celebrate the heritage of a great city.
Fans of the folk/Americana sounds created by Doc and Merle Watson should be familiar with the annual Merlefest held in Wilkesboro, North Carolina every year. April 24th-27th is when it will be held in 2008, on the campus of Wilkes Community College. It will be time to get rootsy as Doc Watson, Bearfoot, The Avett Brothers, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Jerry Douglas Sun, Levon Helm & The Ramble on the Road, Tish Hinojosa, Hot Buttered Rum, Jorma Kaukonen, Ollabelle, Shana Banana, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby with Kentucky Thunder, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, and many more. A number of these artists will be doing a number of shows throughout the duration of the festival, some playing one show a day. Check the Merlefest site for details.
How about a festival where you have no fun? There is such a festival, but of a different musical nature. It's called the No Fun Fest, an incredible event where different experimental and avant-garde enthusiasts gather for massive walls of noise and audio destruction. Fun? Definitely. This year's festival will be held from May 16th-18th at the Knitting Factory in New York, and will feature performances from Thurston Moore + Nancy Garcia, Lee Ranaldo: Blind Piece #2, Carlos Giffoni, The Haters, Alan Licht, James Plotkin, The Cathode Terror Secretion, Afternoon Penis, Ahlzagailzehguh, and many more. If three nights of noise and mayhem sounds interesting to you, check it out. Hopefully I'll be able to experience No Fun very soon.
They call it "3 Days Of Camping, Music, Beer & Friends", and if you can't get enough of all four, you'll want to be at Three Sister's Park in Chillicothe, Illinois during May 23rd-25th for this year's Summer Camp Festival. Call it a pre-curson to summer madness, this year's festival will bring to the people performances from The Roots, The Flaming Lips, G. Love & Special Sauce, George Clinton & Parliament/Funkadelic, Cornmeal, Groovatron, Enforquestra, Family Groove Company, two performances from Umphrey's McGee, and three performances of moe..
If you're going to be in Utah during the same weekend, you may already be gearing up for the 4th Annual Desert Rocks Music Festival in the town of Moab. Scheduled performers this year include Del The Funky Homosapien, The Derek Trucks Band, Hot Buttered Rum, Eric Mcfadden Trio with Bernie Worrell, Puddle Mountain Ramblers, Elephant Revival Concept, Theywent Thataway, and many more. Desert Rocks will be held from May 22nd-25th.
This year's Sasquatch Music Festival hits the Gorge at George (Washington State, that is) once again during Memorial Day Weekend with a lineup that looks a little like this: Flight Of The Concords, The Flaming Lips, Blue Scholars, Dyme Def, Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Cure, 65daysofstatic, The Mars Volta, R.E.M., M.I.A., Crudo (featuring Mike Patton & Dan The Automator), Thao Nguyen with the Get Down Stay Down, Ozomatli, Rodrigo Y Gabriela, Built To Spill, and a buttload more.
The 4th Annual Mountain Jam in Hunter Mountain, New York is happening from May 30th to June 1st. Heavy duty line-up with the likes of Gov't Mule, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Bob Weir & RatDog, Levon Helm & The Ramble on the Road, Michael Franti & Spearhead, DJ Lady Verse, Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood, Citizen Cope, Ray LaMontagne, Drive-By Truckers, Galactic, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, and Phonograph, with room and time to spare for more.
The 7th Annual Appalachian Uprising Bluegrass Festival will make itself known once again on Eden Valley Farm in Scotttown, Ohio on June 5th-7th. If bluegrass is your thing, this is where you'll want to be, with Sam Bush, Avett Brothers, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Bawn In The Mash, Shultz Creek, and Shannon Withworth scheduled to perform.
If jazz is more to your liking, you'll want to head to Telluride, Colorado for this year's Telluride Jazz Festival from June 5th-8th. Scheduled to play this year: McCoy Tyner, Joe Lovano, Bettye Lavette, Simone (the daughter of legendary Nina Simone, The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, as well as a few "free jazz events" for those who want to experience things with more freedom than what's being offered on the main stages.
If you're closer to Lawrence, Kansas, you'll want to head to this year's Wakarusa Music & Camping Festival from June 5th-8th. The Flaming Lips, Blackalicious, Del The Funky Homosapien, Arrested Development, DJ Mike Relm, Cake, Emmylou Harris, Ozomatli, Buckethead, Bettye Lavette, Galactic, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Star Death & White Dwarfs, and Cornmeal are just some of the artists scheduled to play there this year. There are a number of ticket options to choose from, whether you want to take in a day of music or brave all four days.
If you don't know about Bonnaroo, then you don't know festivals. The annual music and arts festival continues to grow. All signs point to Manchester, Tennessee during June 12-15th with one of the more diverse lineups in recent history. This year you'll be able to see and hear Kanye West, Talib Kweli, Solomon Burke, M.I.A., Pearl Jam, Metallica, Ozomatli, Jack Johnson, Donavon Frankenreiter, Cat Power, The Allman Brothers Band, Levon Helm & The Ramble On The Road, Sigur Ros, !!!, Israel Vibration, Ladytron, Chris Rock, Janeane Garofalo, Orchestra Baobab, Lez Zeppelin, Little Feat, Grupo Fantasma, and many more. There are special ticket deals right now where you are also able to get a DVD compilation of the festival when editing and mixing is completed.
Need more bluegrass? Then you probably already have plans to check out this year's Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Telluride, Colorado on June 19th-22nd. Mixing it up during the four day festival are The Duhks (with their brand new singer), Ryan Adams & The Cardinals, Ani DiFranco Band, Arlo Guthrie, Leftover Salmon, Ricky Skaggs & Bruce Hornsby with Kentucky Thunder, Peter Rowan & the Free Mexican Airforce, and Solomon Burke, with more in store.
Fans of Christian rock will want to gather in @ Cornerstone Farm near Bushnell, Illinois on June 30th to July 5th for the 2008 Cornerstone Festival, featuring Disciple, Family Force 5, Skillet, Flyleaf, Jonezetta, Leeland, Hawk Nelson, The Almost, and countless other bands I've never heard of. Maybe you have. If not, take a risk.
Risk-takers may also want to check out this year's Rothbury Festival in Rothbury, Michigan from July 3rd-6th. Four days of "music, art & action", featuring the likes of Diplo, Sage Francis, Primus, Thievery Corporation, 311, Snoop Dogg, Modest Mouse, Rodrigo y Gabriela, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Gomez, Taj Mahal, The Greyboy Allstars, Steel Pulse, Bettye Lavette, Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic, Colbie Caillat, and many more.
Along with music, there are a number of "environments and events" where people can become interactive on a personal level, with suck things as a Think Tank, an Energy Fair (to see the next-level ways of driving and living), and a lodging area where you can stay for the night (or the entire festival) in log homes. It's about taking it back to the land and respecting your surroundings, which might have been considered hippie-ish by the corporates but is nothing more than a logical way of thinking differently. If you're into music while taking in new experiences, click here for some of the other environments and events that you can take part in.
Taking part is something you do at festivals anyway, so take part in the All Good Music Festival & Camp Out at Marvin's Mountaintop in Masontown, West Virginia from July 11th-13th. They describe the festival as "3 days of music, art, camping & loving", so if you're into all of that and more, make arrangements to pay a visit. Artists are still being booked, but those that are confirmed to play include Widespread Panic, Phil Lesh & Friends, Gov't Mule, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival, Medeski Martin & Wood, The Wood Brothers, Tea Leaf Green, Hot Buttered Rum, Bonerama, Telepath, Basshound, and more.
What do you want to do with your life? If you once answered "I WANNA ROCK!", you'll get a chance to celebrate big time at a festival calling itself Rocklahoma. True to its name, the four day festival will be held in Pryor, Oklahoma from July 10th-13th, and it is a celebration of 80's hard rock and heavy metal. It will feature many of your favorite hair metal bands you knew and loved, perhaps without the hair but still more than capable of playing the hits and those album tracks you know and still play on a regular basis.
I laughed too, but I probably would head to this festival if I could. Some of the bands playing include Night Ranger, Armored Ssaint, Kingdom Come, Extreme, Triumph, Black N Blue, Trixter, Kix, Warrant featuring Jani Lane (the band's original vocalist), Cinderella, Zebra, Tesla, Pretty Boy Floyd, and many many more. There are also two stages that will feature a wide range of local and regional hard rock and heavy metal bands, so it will be hectic and busy, but fun for all.
The 10,000 Lakes Festival in Detroit Lakes, Minnesota will be held this year from July 23-26th. Some of the first artists announced for this year's festival include The Flaming Lips, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Medeski, Scofield, Martin & Wood, The Wood Brothers, New Mastersounds, JJ Grey & MOFRO, Mickey Hart Band feat. Steve Kimock & George Porter Jr., Dark Star Orchestra, and many others, with about 40 other bands yet to be announced.
They are also doing a 10KLF Cosmic Break Concert, where bands are able to submit their music for consideration to perform at the festival. However, you also have to be a band who can perform right now, for once 50 finalists are selected, they will do a number of regional shows. Audience approval (read "votes") will decide who will get a chance to play with the big boys and ladies. You can find out more on how to enter by clicking here.
If any of you plan on heading to a festival or two (or five), and want to review it for me, I'll be more than welcome to post it here or to link to your own blog/column if you have one.