Outside Lands Kicks Off Today!

Summertime is festival time, there’s no two ways about it. Music festivals, food festivals, wine festivals, art festivals; basically come up with any reason to gather a community of people outdoors and you’ve got yourself a festival.

The secret to success lies in either A. being in a unique location (Govenor’s Island, Telluride CO), B. serving a unique community (Burning Man), C. having a stellar line-up (fill in the blank) or D. fusing various types of festivals into one big affair (Googa Mooga, anyone?). A festival that satisfies all of these criteria?  Outside Lands, my friends.

Only in its fifth year, this celebrated festival is taking over Golden Gate Park in San Francisco from August 10th to the 12th. Being that it’s San Francisco, the festival encourages sharing rides, refilling water bottles and volunteering to help clean up the park during the off hours.  Beyond that, it’s the place to be to grab some of the best food the Bay Area has to offer (plenty of tacos and empanadas plus BBQ, curries and, of course, vegetarian delights). In addition, there’s also a respectable focus on wine and beer (appropriately designated as Wine Lands and Beer Lands) and an impressive line-up of comedians (David Cross, Reggie Watts), DJs, visual art and even panel discussions with the musicians. Yes, let’s not forget the musicians. With over 50 bands rotating across 4 stages for 10 hours a day, there’s absolutely something for everyone…

<< preview some highlights >>

Northside Festival 2012: RECAP

The streets of Williamsburg belonged to musicians, even more than normal, for the four days that the Northside Festival staked its ground. There was a constant bustle of badge-clad press agents, photographers, managers and agents in addition to guitarists toting their instruments and lead singers trailed by groupies.  Booze was certainly also flowing freely.  At Good Co. on Hope Street, Jameson hosted a party featuring their whiskey and McClure’s pickle juice.  A young lady I met at the bar admitted, “I’m not even in the music industry, but all my friends are. And I wish I was.”  Then she ordered herself a pickleback (a shot of Jameson followed by a shot of pickle juice, which is apparently a New York phenomenon?).

The catalog of bands and showcases was extensive; in browsing through the program trying to determine which band to check out next,  I quickly realized it was a crapshoot. There were very few names I recognized, so any choice was going to be hit or miss. Luckily, there were more hits than misses. Here are a few highlights…

<< well, what are they?? >>

(Photos by Andrew St. Clair)

Galactic Blew Through Brooklyn Bowl

The spirit of New Orleans permeated Brooklyn Bowl last Friday as Galactic planted themselves on the stage for four consecutive nights of raucous musical celebrations.  The spirit was alive not only in the brilliant blues, soul and funk music but also in the tireless energy of the performers.  If The Stooges Brass Band hadn’t been on deck for the after-party set, Galactic could’ve (and would’ve) gone on well past their two-hour mark.

[…] it became increasingly difficult to keep track of all of the various musicians who joined them onstage, but singer Corey Glover and the stellar Corey Henry on trombone also featured prominently in the line-up.   In addition, there was the soulful woman accompanied by four men on bass drums who brought an element of Latin dance to the soundscape, plus the three men who duplicated the trombone and saxophone and added a trumpet to the mix, expanding upon the powerhouse horns already stealing the spotlight.  With moments of heavy bass lines, crying harmonicas, screaming trombones and superb vocal scatting, the set was one helluva party.

<< read the full review here! >>

Hoots & Hellmouth Hoot and Holler at Mercury Lounge

As the crowd at Mercury Lounge wavered between revelatory dancing and distracted social chatter, it was clear which songs in Hoots & Hellmouth’s  exuberant set were the favorites. […]

The crowd’s enthusiastic reaction to the older songs was testament to their longevity. The bounding tempo and rapid-fire lyrics of “Home for Supper” (from the band’s first album) had the audience bouncing and whirling around each other, their hands up in the air clapping along jubilantly. The down and dirty blues song “It’s Close, I’m Come Undone” (from a 2008 compilation cd), with its gutteral moans, gospel rhythms and screaming harmonica had everyone writhing with desire. It was the best gospel you ever did hear city boys sing.  (see for yourself in the video below)

The evening began with two Boston bands: the guitar/cello duo Tall Heights, with tight arrangements and pleasing harmonies, followed by Darlingside. The five men in this band bring together a range of musical influences that result in dense compositions and a slew of musical styles. There are distinct phases in the songs sparked by changing tempos or melodies and occasional moments of ingenuity, such as dropping the instruments and clapping in rhythmic unison. […]

<< full review here! >>