Category Archives: Festivals

KALAMASHOEGAZER FESTIVAL 11/10/18, Kalamazoo, MI

The eclectic, eccentric multi-band event was held, appropriately enough, at Bell’s Eccentric Café. Pictured above: Springhouse.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY TIM HINELY

I had never been to Kalamazoo before. Heck, I had never been to Michigan before but a one-day music festival with 8 bands seemed as good as any to make the flight and visit the Wolverine State (or whatever the heck it is). April and her small group of dedicated music fans (April Zimont is/was in the fab band Glowfriends and now the same folks have a new band called Tambourina which played on this very night) have been putting the festival on since 2006 and do a damn good job of running it. It ran like clockwork and everyone had a good time (no frowns) and at tix at $15 it was a steal (they could/should have charged twice that much).

My old friends Tears Run Rings were on the bill, as was Jack Rabid’s NYC band Springhouse (you know Jack from his long-running, legendary mag The Big Takeover) so yeah, I pretty much had to go.

The weather was cold and snowy, but Bell’s Eccentric Café was warm, cozy and inviting and seemed a popular place for both locals and folks like me coming in to see the festival. The bands played in a nice sized room that has touring bands as well (Anna Burch was playing the next night). There was also a bar in the back, food service (tasty grub!) and they even had a small balcony upstairs (where I caught part of the show from).

Up first was Milwaukee’s Brief Candles (above) who I’d heard some tunes before but not a lot and they were perfect openers, getting the crowd lubed up.  They’ve been around for a looong time and have a classic shoegaze sound (big hooks). Check out their Bandcamp page sometime.

Seashine took the stage next and they were a quartet from St. Louis (Demi, Paul, Seth and Kate) with a real positively dreamy sound that was real easy to like. I’m gonna look for some of their stuff (only some tunes on Soundcloud from what I’ve seen).

Kalamazoo’s own Tambourina was up next and kicked the tempo up a bit while vocalist April bounced all over the stage (not sure where she gets her energy from). I really enjoyed their soaring set that really had the crowd bouncing.

Though I’ve been a fan of Tears Run Rings for ages I had never seen them play live and they did not disappoint. Playing a few cuts off their new EP (Somewhere) as well as a healthy dose of tunes from their entire catalog. They really had the crowd swaying and hypnotized.

Sacramento’s Soft Science (Test Pattern Records) had a few equipment problems but once those got sorted out (Katie’s vocals were hard to hear at the beginning) that didn’t stop them from putting on a terrific set, mostly of cuts off their righteous, recently-released LP,  Maps. Well worth your time.

Chicago’s Airiel, a trio with a handful of records out on Shelflife (and a bevy of fx pedals) brought in a bit of a heavier sound and had the crowd eating out of their hand.

Springhouse came armed with some merch and a seriously good set. Now a quartet with the addition of Dave Burokas on 2nd guitar (Dave was the editor of old killer NJ zine Sporadic Droolings….fun fact: he gave DAGGER my first ever review!). We heard “Eskimo,” “Land Falls” and plenty more old faves and drummer  Jack Rabid has not lost a step on his drum kit).

Texas trio Ringo Deathstarr showed up a little later but the packed house were ready and they did not disappoint either.  I don’t believe they’ve released a record since 2015’s Pure Mood, but they dug deep into their grab bag of songs and killed it. Adding some fun and humor whilst chatting with the crowd and totally delivering until the wee hours.

***

It all ended about 1:00 AM and I had an early flight so I had to say a few quick goodbyes and cut out but it was well worth it. Great bands, nice people, a well run mini-festival all around…not much more you could ask for, really.  I will be back one day. …thank you Kalamashoegazer, you know how to put on a festival!

Hopscotch Festival 9/6 – 9/8/18, Raleigh NC

Dates: September 6 - 8, 2018

Location: Raleigh, North Carolina

At various downtown venues, the nationally-touted indie music festival brought the noise and demonstrated why it is, indeed, “touted.” Go HERE to view a gallery of some of the weekend’s performers.

BY DANIEL MATTI & CHIP KLOSS

Another year of Hopscotch shakes up Raleigh as the festival marks its 9th year in a row. From City Plaza to Red Hat Amphitheatre to bouncing around the other 10 venues in play, it became another year of running around to catch a favorite band or stumbling into one and discovering something that you might not normally see.

From the first night, where H.C. McEntire, Real Estate, and The Flaming Lips rocked City Plaza, to the tons of conflicts at 11:30pm with the tough choice in seeing Sleep, U.S. Girls, Kilbourne, Waxahatchee, Deaf Wish, House and Land, Yawpers, or Everything is Terrible!, I was able to catch three acts (Sleep, Waxahatchee, and Everything is Terrible!). Because that’s all my legs could muster up that night.

Second night started off with a somber note as Thundercat took the stage and dedicated his set to his friend Mac Miller who passed away earlier that morning. From someone who has seen Thundercat a couple times you could tell he was affected by the passing of Mac since most of his set was a freestyle jam of most of his songs—which ended up being one of the greatest sets I’ve ever seen during this annual festival. After leaving City Plaza I got to catch local cello-core greats, Gown absolutely destroy Slims, and then The Revolution turn The Basement into a sing-a-long dance party that went on late into the night. After so much dancing I managed to get into the Pour House to catch the tail end of a stunning set from Swearin’.

The final night had me dragging my feet, as there was not much that I was completely dying to see, I actually ended up gathering energy and catching more acts than a usual final night of a festival—from Chic and MC50 putting on some of the best sets of the weekend of the big stages, to Sarah Shook and the Disarmers and Negative Gemini waking you up with their stunning performances with late night sets.

Now that Hopscotch has finished another chapter, I look forward to next year. It always brings its warmth with every band, not to mention every friend in the area who comes out to see their favorite band and mostly to discover a whole lot of new ones. —Daniel Matti

***

If you live in Raleigh, September means two things: (1) When the hell is this heat going to end? (2) Hopscotch Music Fest.

Raleigh’s premier festival chugs into its ninth year with three days of music and good times. Having attended before, I understand the steps leading up to the event. Things begin months before the festival with Innuendo, gossip and rumors of who will be appearing. Weeks later comes the official headliners announcement, followed by support announcements. Next up is the release of the official schedule.  Hours spent highlighting the bands you want to see, grumbling about the timing conflicts. Can I make it from Slim’s to the Lincoln Theatre in time? The final step is abandoning the highlighted schedule and just winging it. Going from venue to venue, taking chances on bands you have never heard. One of the greatest joys of Hopscotch is you will always walk away digging a band that 3 hours ago was unknown to you. Perhaps my favorite part of the Fest is running into friends. This year I ran into people I have not spoken to in years. That alone is worth the price of admission. Life sometimes gets in the way, relationships falter a little but music is the element that always brings us together. Regardless of your political, religious or spiritual beliefs, with Hopscotch you are always surrounded by non-judgmental people who are there for the same reason you are….the love of the music.

Thursday

I felt this year’s fest was a little light on both the metal and hip-hop artists. The bulk of the metal shows were Thursday at The Basement. A cavernous open space beneath the Raleigh Civic Center, The Basement held simply a stage and a mixing board. The venue was the size of a few football fields and most likely lived its life as a storage area the rest of the year. But for now, it was Heavy Metal Central. Raleigh metal masters Bedowyn began the evening with a blistering 40 minute set, bolstered by the lead shredding of Mark Peters.  As the band finished I was greeted by some friends who were goIng to see The Flaming Lips. My plan was to stay in The Basement all evening, but who can pass up seeing The Lips? We made our way to City Plaza, packing a few thousand people. I am not the biggest Lips fan, but I do enjoy their theatrics. As usual at a Lips show, the crowd was entertained by batting giant balls and balloons around. I pushed my way through and slapped a balloon as well. I think that makes me an Official Flaming Lips fan. I headed back to The Basements and caught the remaining 2 songs of the set from Grohg. A few minutes of roadies, and a few more people pushed up towards me (I was in the front row against the barricades). The band Skeletonwitch then took the stage. This band has had its share of issues. They booted out their original singer in 2016 and replaced him with Adam Clemans. Not many bands can replace the singer and come out it bigger, badder and louder.  The show they put on was amazing, a lesson to any young rockers in the crowd. I knew I had a lot more Hopscotch to go, but I knew this was going to be one of the best performances.  I was completely enthralled by this band. Simply a phenomenal show. They eventually yielded the stage to the legendary Sleep. This may have been the loudest show I have ever attended. Front row was far too brutal of an assault on my ears, so I made my way to the back of the venue. That did not really help, so I went to the stairs leading to the venue, a good 200 feet from the stage. That was a lot more comfortable, and is where I rode out the rest of the band’s set.

Friday

The afternoon began with the news of the untimely passing of rapper Mac Miller. The headliner at City Plaza that night was Thundercat, who was very good friends with Miller. There was a buzz around town that perhaps ‘Cat would cancel his set. He did not. Instead he gave an incredible, inspired performance. He invoked Millers name several times, each to a roaring applause from the crowd. It was a sad day for the music community, but Thundercat definitely provided an electric eulogy. I hung around City Plaza for the beginning of the Grizzly Bear show. They are not really my thing, so I went venue hopping and caught Vacant Company, Lightning Born, Gown and Swearin’. Bands I knew little about, but that is the spirit of this festival. I really dug a couple of these bands and was glad to have found them.

Saturday

MC50. The 50th anniversary of the classic “Kick Out the Jams” LP. Wayne Kramer (MC5), Kim Thayill (Soundgarden) Billy Gould (Faith No More) Brendan Canty (Fugazi) & Marcus Durant (Zen Guerillas).

They were loud, rude, and obnoxious. Everything you want in a band. Seeing that much talent on the stage was mind boggling. Even more so when the band invited Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) to rip some solo’s during the set. After the band wrapped up I hung around City Plaza hoping to spot Kim Thayill. I did not. So I hoofed over to the Lincoln Theatre where I planned on camping out of the rest of the evening. The evenings soundtrack was Zepheniah Ohara’s old school country, Sarah Shook & The Disarmers’ outlaw country and the headliners The Jayhawks.  I decided to leave The Jayhawks show a little early and head to the Pour House. I had gotten a tip there was an artist I had to see. I reached the venue, but the artist I was there to see was not on. Everyone on the bill had been late going on, so I was lucky enough to catch the last 15 minutes of a band called Combo Chimbita.  This world music band was the perfect ending to my Hopscotch experience. I had no clue of who they were, but walked out of the Pour House wanting to own every piece of music they have ever made.

Overall highlights? Skeletonwitch, MC50, Combo Chimbita, seeing a gaggle of friends at City Plaza—and getting to rest on Sunday. —Chip Kloss

LIFE’S A RIOT WITH… Riot Fest 2018!

Douglas Park in Chicago was the scene of the crime, and September 14-16 marked the time, featuring icons like Weezer, Beck, Run the Jewels, Liz Phair, Jerry Lee Lewis, and the recently-poisoned Pussy Riot. (Photo gallery follows the commentary, below.)

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY ERICA BRUCE

For BLURT, mid-September in Chicago instinctively means “three days of Riot Fest in Douglas Park.” The masses were a little concerned this year that it may not happen, but, like many of the punk bands it hosts, Riot Fest has long proven itself scrappy, and scrappy doesn’t go down for the count lightly. The loss of one headliner, Blink-182, brought two other bands, Run the Jewels and Weezer, in their place. Seminal bands played seminal records in full, icons proved why they are icons, and men in kilts were the hottest fashion statement. As Hurricane Florence was throwing her mighty rain against the east coast, BLURT decided to see what was going on in the mid-west.

 

-Icon Who Never Ages -Liz Phair

When Liz Phair’s record “Exile in Guyville” came out in 1993, many of the Seattle women were moving the needle on feminism by sporting kinderwhore and being brash. But Liz Phair has always been the nerdy girl’s Riot Grrl.  Her records said all the things the wallflower female with a feminist streak thought but felt she could never say about sex and relationships, and how it feels to be a woman in a male-dominated business like music and the world in general. She made lots of women feel 6’1 instead of 5’2 then, and, based on her Friday performance and the faces of the 20-somethings in the audience, she inspired a whole new generation to feel the same. Fairly convinced she is the female Dorian Grey as well as she never seems to age.

-Band Who Walks the Walk-Pussy Riot

There are those who proclaim themselves punk and then there’s Pussy Riot. Members of the protest punk collective have endured lengthy prison sentences for “hooliganism” in their native Russia, physical abuse, and more recently, the poisoning of its member Peter Verzilov. And yet DEFIANTLY, THANKFULLY, they endure….

Nadya Tolokonnikova, flanked with a DJ and a cadre of neon green ski cap associates, spoke out against corruption and Trump/Putin similarities. They taught via a pre-recorded 25+ set of facts about inequality and issues across the world. They even inspired a young woman against the rail to find her voice and loudly scream, ‘Listen to the message!” over and over to a tone-deaf dude being inappropriate, to which others followed. Pussy Riot is a living breathing embodiment of trying to make the world a better place. “Poisonings and assassinations will not stop us,” said Tolokonnikova from the stage.  BELIEVE IT.

-Band with the Best Props: The Aquabats

MC Bat Commander of The Aquabats coined them the “world’s most mighty almost super heroes.” Considering they were wearing long sleeve tunics and masks in the sun, they are also the bravest. Thankfully the mutant land sharks that caught them off-guard that time at the beach were made into wonderfully fun inflatables that bounced throughout the crowd. Fun fact: Blink-182’s drummer Travis Barker was an Aquabat in the late 90s!

-Band with the Positive Message: Digable Planets

Seminal records/bands from 1993 seemed to be a theme at Riot Fest this year, so what better act to include than Digable Planets covering Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space)? in full. The light, Consciousness, and melodious positivity that began in 1988 when De La Soul introduced us to the D.A.I.S.Y. age (Da Inner Sound, Y’all) impacted itself heavily into the Planets sound and lyrics with a message. It’s hard to be positive about much these days, but if you listen hard, you can still hear Reachin’s sweet-sounding impact in people like Kendrick Lamar, it’s just said a bit more staccato.

-Best Celtic Punk Mix: Flogging Molly

There’s punk and then there’s Celtic punk, and the latter can always make an accordion and a fiddle sound tougher than any Minor Threat cover band. That’s Flogging Molly. “I just came back from a European tour and it’s nice to be  back where people can understand what the fook I’m saying. Course what I’m saying most of the time is shite,” joked lead singer Dave King.

-Band with the Darkest Lighting: Tie-Cypress Hill, Dropkick Murphys

However, someone with Cypress Hill was holding the cutest bulldog side stage, so they get a pass.

-Most Covers in One Set-Weezer

Rivers Cuomo continues to hit all the high notes and never age. As night 1 headliners, Weezer piled the big hits up in the front half of the set (“Buddy Holly,” “Hash Pipe,” etc.), and mixed in a few covers (“Take On Me” by a-ha, “Happy Together” by The Turtles, “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath). They even did a nod to the had-to-cancel Blink-182 and covered “All the Small Things.” And yes, they closed with everyone’s current favorite version of that song about rain in a foreign continent.

Other notes from things seen on Friday:

-The Front Bottoms: Full of fiddle, acoustic rhythm, and earnest lyrics about delusional love and something about a sleeping bag. Seems tween girls also love lead singers who earnestly look like Jimmy Eat World’s Jim Adkins these days.

-K.Flay: Did a cover of “Flagpole Sitta” by Harvey Danger. And a guy named David proposed to a woman named Mandy onstage.

-Young the Giant: Lead singer Sameer Gadhia’s big voice is a good fit for their big athematic arena songs. That’s all I can say about them.

-Bleachers: The band really wants to sound like Springsteen but seems more like John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band with a synthesizer during their cover of “Just Can’t Get Enough” by Depeche Mode.

Saturday:

Day 2 was all about an old school tour through most 20th century music genres. We also started keeping track of all the covers being played a little more closely.

-Most Inspired Stage Costume: Gary Numan

Dressed like Alexander McQueen-inspired mummies coming for your hair gel and eyeliner, Gary Numan still obviously really enjoys what he does, and man, he does it so well. It was great to watch all the kids who weren’t born in the 80s clearly enjoying his set. His synth impact is still so relevant that Trent Reznor should pay him royalties.

-Best Voice to Melt a Heart: Cat Power

This show was the first of the world tour for Chan Marshall’s new record, Wanderer, the first in six years. The set was having a few technical issues at the start, but once it was figured out, that voice, so smoky and lovely and emotive was let loose. It’s nice on record, but live? Otherworldly.

-Best Drummer: Wolfmother

With songs about gypsies and women and guitars that go up to 11, Wolfmother is a modern-day nod to 70s cock rock. There are a lot of comparisons to Led Zeppelin music-wise, which you can agree or disagree with. But it’s fair to say if Zeppelin reunites again, they should consider Wolfmother drummer Hamish Rosser; Bonzo would be impressed.

-Most Original T-Shirt: The Voidz

The Voidz went on 10 minutes late, and for once, lead singer Julian Casablancas was without sunglasses on stage. But he looked healthy and sounded great, and is even getting a little dancey in his older age. Not many can rock a stock car pit crew button up from a guy named Steve, but if anyone can, it’s Casablancas.

-Best Health Recovery: Elvis Costello and the Imposters

It was a pure joy to see Elvis Costello back and in prime form just months after cancelling tour dates to recover from cancer treatment. The Riot Fest set was his first show post-surgery, and he told the audience, “I’m fine, thanks!” Sporting shades like those of the other Elvis during his Vegas period, Costello, the post-punk king before post-punk was a term, was a highlight of the weekend.

-Most Diverse Crowd: Jerry Lee Lewis

Along the rail for Jerry Lee Lewis’ set, the audience was like a microcosm of America: young, old, women, men, black, white, green (well hair was green), probably the most diverse audience we saw all weekend, which makes sense as who doesn’t want to see a living legend? While his backing band, composed of Kenny Lovelace, Ray Gann, and Kenny Aronoff, kicked off the set with four cover songs, an honest to God mosh pit started a few rows back. But once Lewis finally hit the stage, using a cane and wearing a purple sparkly jacket, white dress shirt, jeans, it was all eyes front. At 82, The Killer isn’t kicking back piano stools any longer, or setting the keys literally on fire, but playing like a house on fire? That he still does.

-Most Moon by the Light of the Moon: Jesus Lizard

“I fucking hate playing festivals,” said Jesus Lizard lead singer David Yow, “but they are paying us 250 million!” The band threw all of its noise and punk and thrash to a delighted crowd, as Yow gave the crowd the finger, made a heart sign, pulled up his shirt then unzipped his pants and mooned the crowd. He then jumped into the audience, literally singing upside down at points.

More cover songs and snippets from Day 2: The Frights (Prince of Bel Air theme song, “No Scrubs” by TLC, “It Wasn’t Me” by Shaggy); Beck (“Miss You” by the Rolling Stones, “Cars” by (and with appearance by) Gary Numan; Jerry Lee Lewis band (“You Are My Sunshine” by Ray Charles, “Blue Suede Shoes” by Elvis Presley)

Sunday:

A day heavy on east coast bands playing great, probably really glad to be away from the rain.

-Most Songs in Shortest Set: Beach Rats

Day 3 was kicked off with D.C. punk via the NJ shore in the form of Beach Rats. A super punk group of sorts, the band is composed of members from the Bouncing Souls, Lifetime, and Minor Threat/Dag Nasty. And like traditional D.C. punk songs, the 15-minute set included 4576 songs and bass lines you felt in your chest. Good stuff.

-Most Hated by Feminists: Fear

Fear played their seminal 1982 album “The Record” in full Sunday afternoon and lead singer Lee Ving shared quite a few thoughts from the Rise stage. He spoke of old Chicago friends (“We love you guys. John Belushi RIP, brought us to Chicago and it’s been our home ever since”) and politics (“Fuck you Boris Putin (sic). Just kidding he’s probably a cool guy once you get to know him”). He also introduced the song “Honor and Obey,” as a love song. Let’s just say with lyrics like “Get up and make my fucking breakfast you lazy bitch/Yeah, you’re my wife now, don’t start whining and giving me shit,” it’s good they didn’t play before or after Pussy Riot, or someone’s ass may have been kicked.

-Coolest of the Cool: Johnny Marr

It doesn’t get much cooler than Johnny Marr, and live, it’s even better. The set was an even keel of songs from his new record, “Call The Comet” and some from The Smiths, oftentimes sounding better vocally than Morrissey himself (sorry Mozzer). In terms of scale, Nick Lowe is Jesus of the Cool, Paul Weller is the Godfather, but Marr is the only Johnny Fuckin Marr.

-Band Who Inspires Most Happiness: The Bouncing Souls

“It’s a beautiful day here, and we’re alive!” said Bouncing Souls lead singer Greg Attonito. The crowd took it to heart, and the positivity resulted in a raucous sing along to “Lean On Sheena.” The Souls live is truly pure joy wrapped around three guitar chords; it’s just simply impossible to feel anything else. Got to be something in that NJ shore air from which they hail.

-Best Sharer of Influences: Clutch

Go-Go music isn’t really well known outside of the D.C./MD/VA area, so local bands when touring seem to want to spread the word. MD-natives Clutch gave the Sunday afternoon crowd a taste with the walk-out music of “We Need Some Money” by Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers, and then their song, “D.C. Sound Attack!” complete with its Go-Go beats. If you were there and suddenly feel this intense desire to yell “Wind me up Chuck!” or drum on plastic buckets, don’t worry, Clutch was successful, you were bit by bug that is Go-Go.

-Most Civic Minded: Superchunk

Given the mess Hurricane Florence was unleashing on NC over the weekend, probably the happiest east coast band to be playing in the sun on Sunday was the NC-based Superchunk. They remain a well-oiled machine live, regardless of how long they go between live shows. Tracks off the new record, “What a Time to Be Alive,” especially the title track, are catchy as hell, as well as political, not the usual move for them. So when lead singer Mac McCaughan said, “Don’t forget to vote,” you knew he meant it.

Also saw: Blondie, Bad Religion, a cute dog and a pot-belly pig!

For full sets of photos from all three days, go see the photo album here!

And special thanks to Heather West, Western Publicity, for all of her help! (Amen! Heather, you rock! – Ed.)

********************

PHOTOS: DAY 1 (FRIDAY)

Dropkick Murphys

Flogging Molly

Liz Phair

Pussy Riot

Weezer

Young the Giant

Aquabats

Cypress Hill


Digable Planets

Dropkick Murphys

 

DAY 2 (SATURDAY)

Gary Numan

Jesus Lizard

Jerry Lee Lewis

The Voidz

Wolfmother

Cat Power

Elvis Costello

 

DAY 3 (SUNDAY)

Bouncing Souls

Clutch

Fear

Johnny Marr

Blondie

Superchunk

 

 

 

 

FOR THE LOVE OF… Lockn’ Festival 2018

Aug 23 – 26 were the dates; Infinity Downs Farm in Arrington, VA was the place! Photos follow the review. (Pictured above: Umphrey’s McGee.)

PHOTOS AND TEXT BY WILLA STEIN  

The Lockn’ Festival is a four-day music and camping experience in Arrington, VA at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The festival is an interlocking connection of musicians and fans inspired by The Grateful Dead and the jam-bands that grew out of the love for this style of music. Lockn’ also incorporates genres from all over the musical spectrum, including jazz, reggae, R&B, Americana, rock ‘n’ roll and country into one great big ball of sound.

The festival also focuses on local community engagement, from local food sales to those who educate and take pride in preserving the natural settings that surround the area. Lockn’ vendors far and wide provide all kinds of amazing foods and memorabilia to choose from and a whole array of craft beers and wines. And, if you found the time, you could take part in other activities on the farm, such as group yoga or Waterlockn’ on the Tye River.

This year’s musical highlights included tributes to Aretha Franklin by the Tedeschi Trucks Band, and country singer Margo Price joining in with Widespread Panic. Other standout performances included acoustic “Appalachian psychedelic bluegrass” by Keller and the Keels and a reggae-blues mix with Toots Hibbert and Taj Mahal. And you never know what Chris Harford & Band of Changes will bring to the stage, but you pretty much know it’s going to be good! This collaboration included bassist Dave Dreiwitz, guitarist Scott Metzger and Joe Russo on drums. Another great set was the high-energy pop rock of Sheryl Crow’s band featuring the talented Audley Freed on lead guitar.

It was an unforgettable Sunday night, as Dead & Company’s second night performance closed the festival with an outstanding collaboration with saxophonist Branford Marsalis,  who has played off and on with band members since 1990. At the end of the second set, Weir revealed that it was Marsalis’ birthday! The crowd sang “Happy Birthday” and, as the set came to a close with “Not Fade Away,” the dapper Marsalis reemerged on stage with his tenor sax, keeping the crowd cheering and chanting all the way to the encore of “Brokedown Palace,” “U.S. Blues” and “Ripple.”

Lockn’ brings the best out of everyone - the performers and the audience alike. Last year’s theme seemed to be about Making America Love Again in light of the events in nearby Charlottesville; this year, the love continued to flow throughout every campsite.

Lockn’ is not just a festival of music collaborations, it is a place where thousands of people gather for 4 days, celebrating their love of music, camping and dancing in peace and harmony … where “strangers stopping strangers just to shake their hand” is not just a song lyric.

All photos copyright 2018 by Willa Stein Photography.

Susan Tedeschi

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead

Widespread Panic

Tom Hamilton, Ghost Light

Holly Bowling Ghost Light

Hamageddon is a 14’ high x 18’ long metal pig sculpture that cooks a pig in its belly and shoots fire from both ends

Campground

Toots and the Maytals

Always a colorful crowd…

Band of Changes

P-Funk

Sheryl Crow

Sheryl Crow with Bob Weir observing from above

Keller Williams

Derek Trucks and Tim Lefebvre

Tedeschi Trucks Band

 

Dead & Company

Sign Language Interpreter, Lockn had interpreters for each act.

Dead & Company with Branford Marsalis

John Mayer

 

Bill Kreutzmann

The LOCKN’ Logo

2018 Montreal International Jazz Festival 6/28/18-7/7/18

Dates: June 28 - July 7, 2018

Location: Montreal, Canada

Hot Fun in the Summertime: The Montreal Jazz Festival Burns Away the Bluster

BY ALISA CHERRY

As the namesake city of the internationally renowned jazz festival it’s hosted for the past 39 years, Montreal is a cool, cool city. However this year it was hot, very hot in fact. And that has nothing to do with the hot acts… or, for the matter, the cool performances either. With temperatures approaching the mid-90s, and the stifling conditions that made even brief walks between venues a daunting challenge in itself, this year’s Montreal Jazz Festival which took place June 28 to July 7 was not without some tedium due to its temperatures. (Go HERE for our  2017 coverage.)

Nevertheless, those who attended either the free outdoor performances, the dozens of ticketed events or a bit of both, mostly agreed it was worth dealing with the heat at least for the sake of witnessing some amazing music. And indeed, with choices between dozens of world class artists, both known and occasionally obscure, the 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival proved yet again how all-inclusive it is when it comes to its musical offerings. As anyone who has attended the fest over the course of the past several years will attest — its handle aside — The Montreal Jazz Festival isn’t just about jazz. In years past, such rock luminaries as Brian Wilson, King Crimson and Bob Dylan have graced its stages, either as featured artists or associated performers. This year, such popular luminaries as Ry Cooder, Jann Arden, Seal, Boz Scaggs, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull took to its stages.

It may be sweltering outside, but the Montreal Jazz Festival — or as it’s referred to so eloquently in French, the Festival International de Jazz de Montreal — is cool. Very cool indeed.

Montreal is indeed a model city for a festival so sprawling it takes up several city blocks just to contain it. Fortunately, the heat notwithstanding, all the venues are easily accessible. The venues come in all varieties, from a multitude of clubs to the expansive Place des Arts, home to several ample staged stages within its massive confines. Then of course, there are the outside locales spread along the main drag, Rue St. Catherine, all of which invite the choice of a concerted devotee.

Naturally, those who consider themselves diehard jazz aficionados had plenty to cheer about. Herbie Hancock, Carla Bley, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Dave Holland, and Terrence Blanchard were among the more iconic names that headlined the many stages and featured concerts. Those weaned on a rock or pop pedigree had opportunity to soak up the blues, bluster and boogie of George Thorogood or marvel at the performance by Number 9, a group comprised of young musicians who faithfully reproduced every note and nuance of the Beatles famed “White Album.” A spectator whose tastes weren’t necessary confined to any particular parameter could marvel at the genre-bending abilities of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the classic and contemporary musical fusion of Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite, or simply find themselves dazzled by the ageless Dee Dee Bridgewater and the sultry sounds of Beth Hart.

Personally, we found ourselves immediately impressed on the first night by the combined talents of John Medeski and Marc Ribot. It was jazzy indeed. Or was it? The sheer sweep and intensity of the music’s remarkable dynamics had us completely held in sway.

That perhaps is the greatest gift the Montreal Jazz Festival provides for all, an opportunity to venture into unknown realms, jump between genres and learn to understand and appreciate sounds which may not be immediately familiar. Those who normally find adventurous sounds of this sort alien or intimidating in any way are given a chance to explore on their own without judgement or disdain. It’s a vast musical market boasting a wide array of wares, all of which make Festival International De Jazz De Montreal one of the coolest festivals around.

Even when it’s just too damn hot.

 

THAT’S ‘ROO FOR YOU: The Bonnaroo 2018 Festival

The annual blowout happened June 7 through 10 this year, and it was indeed a blowout. (Pictured above: Durand Jones & the Indications.)

TEXT AND PICTURES BY: MARK JACKSON (#markjacksonphotography1)

 Bonnaroo first started way back in 2002 with a heavy influence in jam bands, Positivity, and happiness, but has branched out in many wonderful directions. Over the years the festival has stayed true with their core selection of genres but has added more and more mainstream artist. Bonnaroo has also worked to separate itself from the many same old same old music festivals by giving the attendees a unique experience inside the festival grounds and in the campgrounds. Offering pop up mini-concerts and karaoke sets on small stages in the campground areas, shaded hangout areas, food vendors throughout the campgrounds, and the addition to a lot of “real bathrooms” this festival does indeed set itself apart from most festivals. With attendance at around 80,000 this year, I would say it’s safe to say they are giving the people what they want. Bonnaroo has also had its share of house and techno artist over the past several years, but last year they made a huge leap into the EDM scene by turning “The Other Tent” into a full stage that rivals the main stage. The Other Stage is solely dedicated to EDM music and EDM artist and with the crowds that flocked to the stage all weekend last year and again this year, I would say it’s definitely here to stay!

New for this year was the Grand Ole Opry, a two-hour country show similar to the Super Jam format in that they had many artists playing together. The official announcer of the Grand Ole Opry Mr. Bill Cody was at the helm and introduced Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show, Bobby Bare, Del McCoury Band, and Riders In The Sky, as well as Joshua Hedley, LANCO, Nikki Lane, and Maggie Rose.

   The Super Jam was a tribute to late great Tom Petty this year and it too had an all-star cast to pay tribute to Mr. Petty who passed away October 2nd of 2017. The tribute included such names as Cheryl Crow, Hayley Williams from Paramore, Matt Shultz from Cage The Elephant, Sameer Gadhia from Young The Giant, Langhorne Slim, Photographer and musician Danny Clinch, Vanessa Carlton, and more. This year’s Super Jam was a heartfelt tribute that showcased many songs of the career of Tom, and I think he was looking down on us with that wonderful smile that he had in approval.

    Bonnaroo is also known as a festival for finding the next big names in music. Artists that you may not have heard of yet will often play here and six months later be all over the radio and social media. I’ve seen this happen over the years with acts such as Twenty One Pilots, Highly Suspect, Halsey, and last years breakout artist who once again played this year on a bigger stage, Dua Lipa. The list goes on and on for breakout artist who first gains major traction at the Roo. Some of the up and coming artist at Bonnaroo this year included Lewis Capaldi, Lizzie, Topaz Jones, Flor, Jade Bird, and my favorite new find this year Sir Sly. Miller Lite held a contest this year called “The Road To Roo”, This contest allowed bands to compete for a chance to play and be featured on the New Music On Tap Lounge Brewed By Miller Lite Stage. The winning band was The Foxies who have roots in Phoenix but now reside in Nashville, TN. Fronted by Julia Lauren Bullock the band has started making a name for themselves in a town where country music rules. The Foxies are bringing an Indie pop sound infused with an 80’s glam pop that needs to be seen live.

   Headliners for this year’s Bonnaroo were Eminem, The Killers, Muse, Future, and Bassnectar.  There were many great bands such as Paramore, T-Pain, Midland, Khalid, Moon Taxi, who topped the bill as well, but there is so much more than music to experience at Bonnaroo that must be experienced for yourself. The motto “Radiate Positivity” is much more than a slogan on the farm and from the moment you are here you can feel it in the air and in the people. This place is much more than a music festival and arts festival. It is a utopia of sorts that carries with it long days, long nights and extreme Tennessee summer heat, but you won’t care about any of those things while you are living in the moment of this magical place. Unfortunately, we must live in the real world until next June 13th thru the 16th when we can once again grace the farm. Until then I would like to give a huge thanks to the first class Big Hassle Media staff and to Live Nation for once again allowing me to cover this fantastic music festival.

Arizona

Bobby Bare

CYN

Dua Lipa

Elohim

Eminem

Flor

Future

Hayley Williams (Paramore) – Tom Petty Tribute

Khalid

Langhorne Slim/Danny Clinch S

Lewis Capaldi

Lizzie

Maggie Rose (Grand Ole Opry)

Manchester Orchestra

Matt Shulz/Cage the Elephant

Mavis Staples

Midland

Moon Taxi

Old Crow Medicine Show

 

Paramore

Playboi Carti

Rag n Bone Man

Sameer Gadhia (Young the Giant)

Sheryl Crow

Sir Sly

The Foxies

T-Pain

The Other

Vanessa Carlton

 

   

 

 

Beale Street Music Festival 5/4-6, 2018, Memphis

Dates: May 4-6, 2018

Location: Memphis, TN

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

The Beale Street Music Festival is an annual music festival that takes place in downtown Memphis, with the backdrop of the mighty Mississippi River and the iconic symbols of the Bass Pro Shop Pyramid, and the Tennessee/Arkansas Bridge. Every year this is one of my favorite festivals for many reasons, first being the staff. Memphis holds a month long celebration every year for the month of May and celebrates a different country each year (this year was the Czech Republic), including events such as the music festival, BBQ cook off contest, Great American River Run, exhibits, and more.

This festival always has a great mix of rock, alternative, rap artist, and a blues tent that only has blues artist for the entire three day event. This festival is always packed, but this year sold out completely on Sunday by five o’clock. I think it may have had something to do with having a “Rockstar” artist who is all over the radio and Youtube with hit after hit. You may have heard of him, he goes by Posty aka Post Malone. If Post alone was not enough, Sunday also had Juicy J, Young Dolph, Delbert McClinton, Dram, Erykah Badu, The Flaming Lips, Flor, Andrew W.K., and a band who I was especially excited to see live called Misterwives an indie pop band based in New York City. The lead singer, Mandy Lee, reminds me of Haley Williams from Paramore, with her onstage presence and dance moves. Misterwives had the crowd jumping, dancing, and everyone singing along.                                                                                                                                      Other great acts from the weekend included Alanis Morrisette, Third Eye Blind, Margo Price, North Mississippi Allstars, Queen of the Stone Age, Kaleo, Clutch, Tyler, The Creator, Cake, Chevelle, Gov’t Mule, David Byrne, Ludacris, Al Kapone, Logic, and of course Jack White, who once again banned the photographers with a closed pit with no photos allowed (as he has done many times in the past). Jack also kept low blue lighting for the entire show, which I assume was to not allow fans to have any photos as well.

We want to send a special thank you to the promoters and staff of the Beale Street Music Festival for having me and Blurt back for the fourth year in a row – I can’t wait to see who’s playing next year!

Among the artists who performed:

ACTION BRONSON

AL KAPONE

ALANIS MORISSETTE

ANDREW W.K.

CAKE

CHEVELLE

CLUTCH

DAVID BYRNE

ERYKAH BADU

FLOR

JUICY J

KALEO

KINGFISH

LOGIC

LUDACRIS

MISTER WIVES

NORTH MISSISSIPPI ALLSTARS

POST MALONE

FLAMING LIPS

THIRD EYE BLIND

TYLER THE CREATOR

VANCE JOY

YOUNG DOLF

 

Rock On The Range 5/18-5/20, 2018, Columbus OH

Dates: May 18-20, 2018

Location: Columbus, OH

TEXT AND PHOTOS BY MARK JACKSON

This year’s Rock On The Range was bigger than ever with 140,000 people attending over the three day festival. This year marked the 6th consecutive sellout for Rock On The Range, and with names like Tool, Alice In Chains, Avenged Sevenfold, A Perfect Circle (pictured at top), Greta Van Fleet, Machine Gun Kelly, Stone Sour, Three Days Grace, And Stone Temple Pilots (just to name  a few of the nearly 60 bands who played this year), you can see why this is the biggest and best rock festivals of the year!

The festival did have a weather delay on Saturday and a three hour mandatory evacuation due to lighting in the area. This had many festival goers worried that the festival would be canceled for the day or at least miss many of their favorite bands, but this was not the first time that the promoters and staff have had to deal with Mother Nature. The promoters were able to get an extension on the city curfew, and with a few set trimmings and only having to cut Bullet For My Valentine’s set completely, all other bands were able to perform.

I love festivals because you get to see so many great bands in one weekend while enjoying the festival atmosphere. To me the atmosphere is totally different than that of a single concert where everyone is trying to get in and get out as quickly as possible. A single “big name band” night also means that most of the people skip the opening bands. In my opinion, you miss the up and coming bands that could very well be your next year’s favorite new band. When you attend a festival you get to experience these bands through out the day.

A couple of the new acts that I caught this year included joyous Wolf and The Fever 333. Both of these bands not only sound great but have a unique and wild stage presents. Some of the highlights for me from the weekend were Machine Gun Kelly who never fails to deliver. Stone Temple Pilots who are back and better than ever with a new singer whom sounds and moves a lot like Weiland, but you can tell he is his own front man who should continue to make hits with this seasoned powerhouse band behind him. Cory Taylor is always a great show. Cory’s voice is amazing wheatear he is pushing the limits of his voice with Slipknot or hitting the sweet spot while fronting Stone Sour.

Sunday’s lineup was a full schedule, with all three stages giving the crowd more rock than they could handle! Greats included Shaman’s Harvest, Red Sun Rising, We Came as Romans, I Prevail, Code Orange, Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack, and of course Tool, just to name a few of the 21 acts.

And that’s not counting The Comedy Tent. The Comedy Tent also brought the funny this year with Taylor Tomlinson, Big Jay Oakerson, JB Smoove, and my favorite of the weekend Jay Armstrong! We even got a little Rap Rock this year with Jelly Roll, Tech n9ne, Body Count, Yelawolf, and Machine Gun Kelly.

Music fans from around the world even got to join in on the action this year as LiveXLive live streamed performances and backstage interviews through out the weekend. One of the busiest attractions on the grounds was A.D. Farrow Co. Harley-Davidson — America’s Oldest Harley Dealer, who had a motorcycle demo that festival goers who have never been on a motorcycle could get a little taste of the feeling of riding a Harley Davidson. While the bike was safely locked into a vise, it allowed the rear wheel to move freely and the rider could shift gears and use the throttle. This made for a lot of smiling faces. On Sunday A.D. Farrow also hosted a bike run with over one hundred motorcycles in attendance to raise money for the Ohio Fallen Heroes Memorial.

I would like to thank the following for allowing us to once again cover this great event. Rock On The Range, AEG Presents and Danny Wimmer Presents. Thank you for another great year and I can’t wait to see who makes the lineup next year! If you want to be in attendance I suggest you get your tickets early as this event will surely sell out for the 7th year in a row!

Among this year’s performers:

10 YEARS

A PERFECT CIRCLE

BIG JAY OAKERSON

BLACK VEIL BRIDES

ICE T & BODY COUNT

BREAKING BENJAMIN

CODE ORANGE

GODSMACK

GRETA VAN FLEET

I PREVAIL

JAY ARMSTRONG

JELLY ROLL

JOYOUS WOLF

MGK

RED SUN RISING

SHAMAN’S HARVEST

STONE SOUR

STONE TEMPLE PILOTS

TECH 9

THE FEVER

THREE DAY’S GRACE

WE CAME AS ROMANS

YELAWOLF

Preview: 2018 Montreal Jazz Festival

Returning for Its 39th Year and Bending Its Boundaries Yet Again

By Alisa B. Cherry

Anyone who has ever been to Montreal can attest to the fact that there’s no need for an excuse when it comes to making it part of one’s travel plans. It’s rich in history, a remarkable confluence of cultures and home to some of the most remarkable restaurants and interesting architecture found in the whole of North America.

Nevertheless, those that do need incentive would be wise to consider the annual Festival International de Jazz de Montréal, which takes place from June 28 through July 7, one of summer’s most memorable musical events. Offering a variety of talent that incorporates jazz (natch), folk, rock and experimental ensembles — around 150 concerts altogether, some entirely free — within theaters, clubs and a spacious pedestrian mall, it’s easy, accessible and pedestrain friendly.

Montreal is the ideal setting for this  annual event because as a beacon for international tourism, it makes the international variety practically a given. As it approaches its 39th year, the festival has attained the same stature as Montreux, Newport and New Orleans as a beacon for great music, with an additional additive in its accessibility that welcomes aficionados near and far.

While the headliners are, of course, the main reason for attending, the venues themselves are well worth noting as well, from the sprawling confines of the performing arts center — a combination of three world-class concert halls (Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier, Maison Symphonique De Montreal and Theatre Maisonneuve) — to the array of clubs and cabarets that dot the nearby streets. This year’s festival will feature any number of artists with worldwide appeal — Ian Anderson at the helm of Jethro Tull’s 50th anniversary tour, Boz Scaggs, Herbie Hancock, Ry Cooder, Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Bobby McFerrin, Carla Bley, Soft Machine, My Brightest Diamond, John Medeski, Marc Ribot, along with numerous other internationally known artists and up and coming performers clearly on the verge of future success.

Consequently, over the course of ten days or so, attendees can get an entertaining lesson in a wide range of musical invention, as well as a sense of this spectacular city.  Audiences get an opportunity to enjoy a wide array of innovation and invention, artists that find a common bond with tradition while also setting a course towards the future.

This year for the first time, the festival will extend its offerings by filming several of the concerts and broadcasting them live worldwide. A partnership with Mezzo Live HD which will allow Bela Fleck & The Flecktones to be shared with worldwide audiences on Sunday, July 1. Other concerts scheduled for broadcast will be announced later.

Tickets for the 39th Festival International de Jazz de Montréal are on sale now.

 

 

Shaky Knees Festival 5/4/18-5/6/18, Atlanta

Dates: May 4, 5, and 6, 2018

Location: Atlanta, GA

BY JOHN BOYDSTON

Above: Courtney Barnett kicks out the jams. All photos copyright 2018 by John Boydston; many more photos of each band up on his website. https://www.facebook.com/Johnboydstonphotos/ / https://jobo.smugmug.com/

Day 1 – Friday May 4th, 2018

This year’s Shaky Knees Fest was located on 4 stages in Atlanta’s Central Park area – with an amazing array of musical performers from the two large Stages (Peachtree and Piedmont) and 3 days of generally more indie-rockers on two smaller stages (Ponce de Leon, and Criminal Records, both of which provided for shade, the former with a tent and the latter with trees, so these were a ‘cool’ place to be always.)  Photos in no particular order except by performer, and no day is an all-inclusive photo collection – couldn’t get to all stages.  People were forced to make tough choices, which is probably a good problem to have at a festival, but you could generally see some of anyone you wanted if you were up for the walk.

***

David Byrne – Peachtree Stage

Courtney Barnett – Peachtree Stage

Brian Jonestown Massacre – Criminal Records Stage

Japandroids – Ponce de Leon Stage

Waxahatchee – Ponce De Leon Stage

Ghost of Paul Revere – Criminal Records Stage

LA Witch – Criminal Records Stage

The Frights – Ponce de Leon Stage

 

***

Day 2 -Saturday May 5th, 2018

Greta Van Fleet –  Peachtree Stage
Prediction – Jimmy Page sues this band to prove paternity, panicked GVF attorney settles out of court, band agrees to tour with Page as often as he wants as part of the settlement. Page could do a lot worse. All Zep issues aside, this band rocks and it was fun to hear such a young group cranking out such a big-sounding and joyous thunder. Huge mid-day main stage crowd. Heard several people say this band made their weekend.

Broncho – Piedmont Stage.
A newish indie-rock band many people were excited about and Broncho did not disappoint after getting a late main stage upgrade. They are original and quirky enough to be be huge.

Bully – Peachtree Stage
Nashville melodic pop-rockers carried the big stage like they were born to be there.

Andrew W.K Ponce de Leon Stage

Circa Survive – Ponce de Leon Stage.
The fans were ready.

The Distillers – Peachtree Stage.
Crowd digging ‘em before the band started.

***

Day 3 – Sunday May 6th, 2018
Tenacious D – Piedmont Stage.
Gotta start with a few the D –  They could headline festivals like this all summer. Tenacious D’s loyal followers showed up for this fun in the Funday fest. Sorry I didn’t get the full-frontal Jack Black jump. Most of us were heading out of the photo pit when he surprised us with 3 of these classic D moves.
  
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club – Ponce de Leon Stage
 
Menzigers – Criminal Records Stage
We’ve got another jumper.
 
Basement – Criminal Records Stage
 
Basement crowd – on that well-shaded and breezy Criminal Records stage.