Going Up the Country for Yasgur Road Reunion, Celebrating 54 Years of Woodstock!

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In the summer of 1969, thousands upon thousands of people descended on the gorgeous area of Bethel, NY and found themselves on the farm of Max and Mirium Yasgur. They were meeting up with like minded souls for four days of music and peace. What they found in those rolling hills, lakes, and trees was exactly that with a special kind of welcoming that is hard to explain unless you feel it for yourself. There is something in the ground in this area. A divine energy full of vitality, soul, and peace that permeates everything and everyone who stops to feel it. It’s palpable the moment you take off your shoes and walk around. Something becomes a part of you and it never leaves. You find yourself wanting it to be a part of you every year – and I say that from experience! For many years after the original festival took place, attendees returned annually to feel that vitality and meet up with friends they connected with that summer weekend. The feeling and that kinship was something that folks have long wanted to keep alive, and it’s been being kept alive in the best possible way over at Yasgur Road.

Yes, we know that Bethel Woods is here, and I heartily suggest that any visitor to the area head over to the original concert field, stand at the bottom, and take it all in. It’s a truly moving experience. It’s like you can hear the roar of the crowd in the wind that carries across the field. There is often a peace sign lovingly mowed into the grass, and things are so well maintained. But it’s a part of a large venue now and not a place that you can come, camp, and feel kinship with others. Fear not, friends, as that is something being cultivated a few miles up 17B at Yasgur Road. In addition to hosting campers for most major events at Bethel Woods, they also host many of their own events on their gorgeous farmland and amazing wooded camping areas. The best event of the year is their annual celebration of the reason so many people still take a pilgrimage to this area – Yasgur Road Productions annual Yasgur Road Reunion. It takes place the on the anniversary of the original festival every August and is a great way to commemorate the true meaning of Woodstock with peace, love, and music. This year, the Reunion will be taking place Thursday August 10th through Sunday August 13th and celebrating an incredible 54 years of Woodstock.

The bands on the lineup include ShwizZ, PEAK, Forbidden Fruit, Mums the Word, Gypsy Funk Squad, Sistermonk, and so many more. There is a fantastic covered stage area, great woods camping, facilities with plumbing, vendors, art, and a wonderful and truly welcoming festival atmosphere that simply can’t be beat. We have been covering festivals for many years at A Perfect Mess and this has become our favorite, three years running. So many fests seek to bring the spirit of Woodstock to what they create but none do it better than the original. We cannot recommend enough that you gather your favorite souls, head on up the country and dance to the music at Yasgur Road Reunion. You will not regret it!

This is one of the most affordable summer festivals you will find this year so if you are steering clear of some of the usuals because prices are up, this is the destination for you! Tickets for the event are available now and start at $89 for Friday through Sunday GA, including camping. There are also RV options available with and without hookups at the site and an early entry option for those who want to come and get things started on Thursday. For those like myself who are very concerned about accessibility at a festival, there is handicapped camping at no additional charge. This means a lot to us here at APM!

Head on over to the website for tickets here:

https://theticketing.co/e/yasgurroadreunion?fbclid=IwAR2Wbq4Q0SEBPN2iUJrn9lrvFQlfC7sBYKAH8SEFAjLi-w24QtyG3iG18Co

Please keep an eye to the web page at www.yasgurroadfarms.com in addition to their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/yasgurroad for updates to lineup and pricing, and make your reservations! A Perfect Mess will also keep you updated with any changes, and we truly hope to see and dance with you all!

Enjoying The Vibes at the Inaugural Catbird Festival! A Review…

Festivals are a wonderful experience that really needs to be lived to be appreciated. This blog has spent many years coming and going to all sorts of fests in the Northeast and enjoying the energy that takes over the site each time one sets down its roots for one. It’s always been a favorite activity for us that we would look forward to every year the moment the first mention of “festival season” was uttered. Unfortunately, being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis put a wrench right in that plan for me and changed my summers as a music journalist forever. It took a few years to get my footing as a disabled festival goer, but I was given the opportunity this year to take that plunge at the first Catbird Music Festival in Bethel, NY. I cannot say enough how much I loved this gorgeous fest.

As someone who has grown up watching the Woodstock film and obsessing over its history and folklore, getting the opportunity to visit a festival like Catbird was an absolute privilege. There was magic in the air that weekend, and it was palpable the moment you drove into the long driveway that leads to Bethel Woods. If you have not attended a show here, I highly recommend it. The grounds are not only beautiful with their rolling hills and expertly designed facility, but it is truly meticulously maintained. The historic home to the original Woodstock festival in 1969, history and preservation are of major importance to this facility and it’s evident in every inch of the property. The entire facility was designed to be a part of the landscape rather than change the landscape to suit its needs. It’s all built into the land and rolls with it.

While I was absolutely confused as to where I was supposed to be parking with my handicapped permit, the staff on hand helping with the parking aspect of the festival were kind and friendly. I didn’t encounter a single staff member while I was there who was anything outside of helpful and smiling. That’s not easy in a crowd of people. I was herded to the right spot and took my place among the other cars with their dangling placards. There was even a shuttle service on hand in the parking lot for handicapped patrons which I did not make use of, but was happy to see regardless. It was conveniently located very near where I was sent to park.

Entering the fest was a breeze. I was issued a wristband with a chip inside so that I could scan in and out of the festival. Being that this is a weekend event, it was made easy for folks to be able to come and go as they needed to with this kind of technology. Bags were checked quickly and thoroughly without issue, and we were in!

There were two stages set up, one at the top field which you see upon entering the concert facility, and the other in the arena itself. I like the main stage/side stage set up as it allows some separation between acts and gives you the opportunity to move through the festival instead of having to keep to one space for the entire weekend in order to enjoy the music. The field around the second stage had hammocks and plenty of space for folks to spread out with blankets if they so desired.

As I walked down towards the main stage, I was loving the fact that this location allows you to really spread out and just BE. There were people sitting on rocks and in the grass and on hills all around the center. Under shady trees there was always a few people gathered. I also loved how many kids there were at Catbird! SO MANY KIDS! Babies all the way up to teens were with their families across the main lawn, playing corn hole or dancing. Some were just sitting together on blankets and enjoying the music. It was a truly lovely vibe across the entire festival that families could come and enjoy this music together and that made for an even more gorgeous weekend. Kids 10 and under were free to enter the festival as long as they were with a ticketed adult – what a wonderful thing for families! There is nothing better than being able to bring your kids to enjoy a festival of wonderful live music, and Catbird made that possible.

Having watch the Woodstock film more times than I have probably watched the backs of my eyelids, it was really cool to see all the camping set up around the festival as well. The rolling hills around the center have not changed too much and it made it easy to spot the different camping set ups around Bethel Woods. The property itself is enormous and they did a wonderful job spreading everything out so that nothing felt cramped. We have covered some festivals with very jumbled camping in the past, so this was a nice thing to see. And really, it was just so pretty!

I do have to say that there is a LOT of walking required to navigate Bethel Woods. As a disabled person who walks with a cane, this was a challenge, but nothing that could not be handled with some patience. Thankfully things were never really crowded anywhere thanks to the expansive facility that it is so for me, it was simply a matter of taking frequent breaks. There are a lot of benches and places to sit around the center which was immensely helpful. There is also a lot of staff around to assist if you had any questions or ran into an unexpected issue. That was a relief!

One thing I saw that I really loved was that people were carrying plastic bags and collecting cans from around the center. At first I was not sure what this was all about, but it was nice to see! On my next walk, I came across the tent for Rock and Recycle. This bunch of fantastic folks encourages attendees to fill a bag with cans for recycling and trades the full bag for a festival shirt! What a great idea! It keeps the discarded cans off the ground and out of the landfills which serves a global purpose while keeping the beautiful grounds impeccable. I hope to see more and more of this!

It goes without saying that the music this whole weekend was amazing with sets by artists like Trey Anstasio Band, Dispatch, Charley Crockett, Amos Lee, Margo Price, Tyler Childers, and so many more. A huge highlight for me was Trampled By Turtles who I had never seen but absolutely LOVED. Their energy was simply infectious and bounced right off the crowd with so much enthusiasm! Clearly I was not alone in that as I saw fans running to see them as their set began! I also loved finally getting to see Band of Horses who I have enjoyed for over a decade. I count “Laredo” as one of my favorite songs and getting to see it done live in such a gorgeous setting was pure magic. I hiked to the top of the lawn and watched them with a crowd of dancing families and it was such a treat.

I also was surprised by how much I enjoyed 49 Winchester over on the Gala Music Stage, for no other reason than that I had never heard them before and was treated to their music upon entering the festival right away! Their live set was a real treat with a lot of emotion and energy – I was truly transported. I have heard them called country, but I feel like their sound is a fresh feel of soulful Americana with classic mountain vibe. I definitely walked away wanting to hear more. Much love to them for a great set!

From the standpoint of accessibility, I have to give Catbird huge props for making sure that ALL fans had an enjoyable and safe experience at their festival all weekend. Entry was easy and moved smoothly, restrooms were clean and very easy to access for everyone regardless of ability, and the grounds were set in such a way that despite the excessive walking required, there was ample space to stop and take a breath if you needed to. At no point in time did I ever feel slighted or not welcome here and that was truly a wonderful feeling. This is a festival that really, genuinely understands what it means to have accessibility and inclusivity for ALL fans. While I did encounter some struggles this weekend with my ability to enjoy things as much as I wanted to (multiple sclerosis is a jerk), that had nothing to do with Catbird or Bethel Woods and they made every possible arrangement for fans like me to be able to enjoy as much as we could. They truly rank highly for me as a welcoming place for any fan.

This was the first Catbird festival and I really hope they will be back at Bethel Woods again next year because I have every intention of being there again. This is a festival for ALL fans, young and old, and I would love to see it be an annual event.

Thank you so much, Catbird!

Catbird – Bringing a Fest Back to the Woodstock Grounds – PREVIEW

The Catbird Festival will be coming for their first go on the original concert grounds of the historic Woodstock Music and Arts Festival on August 19th and 20th. Now part of the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, the original grounds have been lovingly kept and maintained for visitors to come and visit for many years. The center itself has it’s own separate concert pavilion, keeping the original concert field as a memorial to the festival that brought hundreds of thousands of music lovers to the fields once owned by Max Yasgur back in 1969. Catbird will be the first festival to bring music and camping back to the grounds.

SCHEDULE: With two stages of music, Catbird is bringing a list of jam and indie artists for all kinds of tastes in a truly special environment. Attendees can check out The Lumineers, Band of Horses, Trampled By Turtles, Dispatch, The Trey Anastasio Band, and Tyler Childers, just to name a few. The fest has released their schedules for both days on their website, and you can check them out right here:

MUSEUM: In addition to music, the festival will allow (for a fee) attendees to stop by the Museum At Bethel Woods to check out the wonderful preservation work on the music and times of the original Woodstock festival. A favorite place of mine, the museum showcases not just the unique weekend at Bethel, NY in 1969, but also the historic significance of that time in history and what was happening all over the country to inspire so many to travel for such an important event. There are interactive exhibits and immersive experiences throughout. It’s a truly lovely place to visit to really feel the spirit of Woodstock.

FOOD AND LODGING: The Catbird Festival offers a variety of food vendors to fit all sorts of tastes with items like tacos, calzones, and seafood. The camping offered this year has several options for festival goers from car camping, tent camping, RV options with and without hookups, and even a “glamping” option for those who need a little extra pampering. The camping passes start at just $99 and are still available at this time. There are some lodging options in the area, but it looks like most of those have been snatched up by attendees as of today. There are a handful of options still taking reservations in nearby Liberty and Monticello last I checked.

TICKETS: Tickets for the Catbird festival are still available with one ($145) and two day ($205) options for General Admission. There are also some Plus, VIP, and Platinum options available as well with extras like access to special lounges, lockers, and a dedicated concierge services. Parking is included in all ticket prices, regardless of tier, though there is a Premier Parking option available starting at $70 which gives access to the lot immediately opposite the entrance.

ACCESSIBILITY: Accessibility features at this festival so far are outstanding. In addition to reserved handicapped parking (as long as you have the necessary state issued placard/plates) and accessible entrances to the festival, there will be an on site Accessibility Services Hub for patrons who might need to stop in for additional assistance or information. There are also accessible camping options and if needed, patrons can reach out to access@catbirdmusicfestival.com after their tickets and passes are secured. In addition, those patrons who are deaf or hard of hearing will see that the schedule specifies which artists will have ASL translation ready to go. Just look for the hands in the bottom right corner of the artist listing.

That’s the preview, folks! A Perfect Mess is BEYOND excited for this festival. We will be on hand at the grounds to provide up to the minute coverage and updates on Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, and Threads, and we cannot wait to bring you all the excitement of the first Catbird Festival!

Tickets, camping, and updated festival information: https://www.catbirdmusicfestival.com/

The Crucial Importance of Accessibility and Inclusivity in Live Music

You don’t stop loving live music just because you become disabled.

This is something I learned from experience, and it was not always a happy experience. In 2021, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I had no idea at the time how much it would impact my life as a music fan. Since then, I have lost significant vision (including some color) in my right eye. This has heightened the hearing on my right side. Most prominently, I have also lost some of my balance causing me to require a cane when I know I will be on my feet. This is made worse due to sudden surprise bouts of severe vertigo or the occasional “foot drop” that catches my foot and sends me tumbling. I also struggle to stay on my feet when conditions are hot and need to have someone with me all the time, just in case. This has impacted my ability to enjoy a show the way I always did. I no longer feel safe going alone and difficult conditions are now often impossible ones. Things like stairs and uneven ground, large crowds or too little space can be a dangerous situation for me. This has all opened my eyes to things I wish I had known to be conscious of before – that not all shows and venues are friendly to the disabled community.

I have had other attendees knock me over, use my cane for their balance walking up stairs, or push me into walls or barricades – mostly because there was simply nowhere else to be as space for patrons who needed it was not made available. I have been in situations that I had to climb stairs to get to rest rooms or vendors because elevators were not made available. I have had venues tell me I could not bring someone with me, despite wanting to pay for that person to be there with me. I have also had staff go above and beyond to make sure I was able to get to my ticketed seat, restrooms, and vendors safely and without issue despite obstacles and made sure that I was able to enjoy the show despite my limitations with vision.

I have experienced the very best and the very worst of the NYC area in terms of venues and whether or not they care for their disabled patrons. This goes beyond ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accomodations. Those are quite simply THE LAW and it would shock most people to know how few of those are even taken into account. Before I attend anything now, I have to Google the venue, the event, the area, and everything in between to see what their accessibility options are just to determine whether or not I can even go. When certain bands hold a “lottery” for their tickets, this becomes even more of a challenge. What’s worse – perfectly able bodied fans who claim to be otherwise to get the seats that ARE allotted for people like myself.

As an independent music journalist, it’s my job to bring these things out in the open. Moving forward, A Perfect Mess will be making sure to cover the accessibility and inclusion of all shows and venues where a review takes place. If I am in attendance, you will know what the options and accommodations are. It’s much needed information for the disabled community and the music community as well.

No one should have to stay home because they cannot feel safe at a live show due to disability. I intend to make sure that if there is a way, we will all be there listening to the music, feeling the vibe, and enjoying the show.

Five Jam Scene Bands To Have On Your Radar This Festival Season…

You might be staring at your summer calendar and wondering where to head for live music or who you should be looking out for. Well, look no further, friend. We here at A Perfect Mess have got you covered! We are here to let you know which bands to watch out for this summer. We do the work, we listen to the music, we check the flyers, we have you in the know!

The weather has finally warmed up in this strange weather year, and that means Festival Season is upon us again! That can mean only one thing…

Three days with no shower.

Ewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.

Just kidding. You can buy those at Walmart now, friends! What it truly means there is music for days and good times to be had with fantastic friends, cold beverages, and smiles all around! Summer doesn’t just means festivals though. Weekends and weeknights are booked solid at our favorite local venues inside and out. There are a ton of great shows happening. Let’s take a look at the bands you should be checking out while you are out there this summer!

One Time Weekend:

Photo from Facebook – One Time Weekend

The band with the mantra, “We groove – You move.” should need little introduction. We caught these guys at a festival that shall not be named in New York a bunch of years back and they blew us away. Still very new, they opened the show so a lot of people missed them, which was a shame because they are fantastic. Their debut full length album, ‘Weekend at the Circus’, is a spinning and dancing funk rock explosion with every song giving you a different taste of what this band is capable of. Now they have a new full length called ‘Fire It Up’ bringing equally tasty “shred-funk” jams peppered with well written harmonies and killer solos. On top of that, they do a killer live show. We have delighted in watching them get bigger and bigger in the years since that first time we caught them, and this summer they are all over the place. Find them at Peach Fest in Scranton, PA (6.29 – 7.02), FarmJammaLama in Brookville, PA (7.8), Hill Country in New York City for a Phish After Party (7.29), Asbury Jams in Asbury Park, NJ (8.03), and many more! Check out their website www.onetimeweekend.com for more dates! Get out and catch them!

PEAK

Photo from Facebook – Peak

PEAK is a band I was introduced to via an assignment from The Jamwich way back in 2018! We have been keeping you all updated on the goings on with that outstanding New York City band for a few years now. Psychedelic Indie Funk with killer jams that send crowds spinning while giving thoughtful lyrics you can hang along with makes PEAK a late-night dance fuel band not to be missed when you are out and about this summer. They are a perfect blend of jamtronica and moody, illuminated indie tied together with stellar, sky high jams. The band’s debut full length Electric Bouquet gave everyone a glimpse into where guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Hilliard’s mind wanders to. Somewhere between catchy rock vibes and cool jam grooves. Followed up with the full length album, ‘Choppy Water’, and PEAK brings you into a whole other world told through storytelling and pure rock, folk, and jam vibes. The band fills out with keymaster Johnny Young, Bassist Josh Carter, and drummer Kito Bovenschulte. The band has been all over the Northeast this year and last, adding dates all the time. You can catch them at Funk N Waffles in Syracuse, NY (7.14) and the fantastic Yasgur Road Reunion in Bethel NY (8.12). Keep an eye to their website for always added live dates at www.peaktheband.com. They are a truly outstanding live band!

Desmond Jones

Photo from Facebook – Desmond Jones

Good golly, these guys! Another band I reviewed a bunch of years back for The Jamwich and I have had them on my radar ever since. A band that never takes themselves too seriously but absolutely could, if they chose to! I am so glad they don’t. They bill themselves as having four studio albums, viral cat videos, and being Mom and Dad approved. A five piece band from Grand Rapids, MI, these guys bring a sound that is bit of funk, a lot of rock, and “a big ol pile of saxophone” to their live shows and I am here for it. They have been out there doing their thing since their beginning back in 2012 and it’s so awesome to see them all over the dang place this summer. Their show dates are up and rolling with Summerfest in Milwaukie, WI (6.30), Smiling Acres Music Festival in Trufant, MI (7.1), Shagbark Music Festival in Alaska, MI (8.4-8.5), and a ton more. Keep up with this fantastic band over at their website, www.desmondjonesband.com and get out to see them where you can!

Doom Flamingo

Photo by Wild Muse Media / Angela Ricciotti

This is legit a band that I was not sure if I could include here, except that it has jam scene players and I have seen them on festivals I was at and OK SO WHAT – they are freaking AMAZING. I slept on this band for too long. Referred to on their website as a “six headed synthwave beast”, this band is comprised of stellar players who were friends and decided they really liked making people dance. So they do! Their vocalist Kanica Moore has one of the most positively uplifting voices I have ever heard. Their funky, blast off energy is everything you ever wanted shooting through every inch of your body. I cannot fathom sitting still at one of their live shows. Doom Flamingo’s most recent full length album, Peaches and Bobbi, is stuck on my playlist and its not moving. Their live shows are stacked and you can catch them out at Resonance Music and Arts Festival in Garrettsville, OH (7.1), 4848 Festival in Snowshoe, VW (7.14), Cobblestone Live Music and Arts Festival in Buffalo, NY (7.15), and so many more. Head on over to their website at www.doomflamingo.com to keep up with the band and their dates!

Dogs in a Pile

Photo by Nick Codina @nickpicks710

“Cat on a tin roof, dogs in a pile, nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.” A nod to The Dead from their song ‘He’s Gone‘. I love these guys already. From my home state of New Jersey, but down south in the legendary Asbury Park where so much fantastic music was born, these guys have been popping up on festival lineups for a few years now and I dare say I have not gotten out to see them enough. Their sound is a funky take on rock, psychedelica, and a swirling of jazz that brings you on an exciting and eclectic adventure and really – what is better than that? Their most recent full length album, ‘Bloom‘, is that eclectic mix of reggae beats, funky bass lines, dance feels, throwback vibes, and just plain old good jam grooves. I’m a recent listener and I have to say, I might be joining that Dog Pile I keep hearing about. You can get out and check these guys at the Peach Music Festival in Scranton, PA (6.30), The Rye Bread Music and Arts Festival in Schaghticoke, NY (7.27-7.29) Catskill Mountain Jubilee in East Durham, NY (8.10), and a TON more. Head on over to their website for more dates and more on the band at www.dogsinapileofficial.com!

This is HARDLY a complete list. There is a ton of great music happening right now and you just need to put your ear out there and give a listen! We are always here to take suggestions so if you know something great that is happening, give us a shout in the comments or send an email! As always, see you out there!

Groove With a Purpose: Punch Up – The Brand New Full Length Release from The PrizeFighters!

As a member of Generation X, I grew up looking backwards to the sixties with a certain level of respect that grew from the concept of protest music. People were working through so many social, civil, and environmental rights issues simultaneously and this important music was a means to gather, inform, and bridge the gaps between one another through awareness and working together. Nowadays, I look with chagrin and general disappointment at the modern music scenes and how much they are lacking in this style and purpose in their writing. Where is the music that tells a story of struggle to inform? Where is music that brings together activists for the same causes? It’s not as if we are without similar struggles. The fires are quite literally raging right now, and we need unity more than ever.

Just as I am about to give up on today’s music being truly socially aware, The Prizefighters have entered the chat.

This Minnesota ska and rocksteady band has been providing the US and abroad with a seemingly effortless throwback sound for well over a decade now. Their skillful use of traditional beats and ska groove creates a smooth and still outstandingly relevant feel that gives you hooks to sing and beats with which to shake what you were given. On top of all of that, they are writing songs with social relevance and stories of the fights we are embroiled in here in America. Their newest release, ‘Punch Up’, is no exception. The album is peppered with songs about the struggle to maintain our environment, our rights, our safety, and humanity. It’s a breath of fresh air from the stagnant music industry’s insistence on love stories and vapid, stale air. Instead, The Prizefighters have injected a sound of hope and fight – something we desperately need.

This is not new territory for the Prizefighters, but it was something they put genuine thought into for Punch Up. Sax man in the band Courtney Klos states, “While writing and recording the songs that would eventually comprise the album, we found ourselves discussing the origins of punk rock in the UK. Bands in that scene made history by calling out the Queen during her Jubilee, taking shots at corrupt institutions of power. At its core, it was a movement of punching up and it quickly spawned the resurgence and birth of many music-related subcultures: goth, mod revival, 2 Tone, skinhead revival, new wave, etc. All of it was possible because a movement dared to punch up the ruling hierarchy of society. The songs on this album were born from the same philosophy.”

The record blasts off with the track ‘Kick The Can’, a punchy and fun song with traditional ska grooves while discussing the frustrating devastation we bring on our enviroment. It was written as a call-to-arms in reaction to the hopelessness of our current climate crisis, in addition to the accompanying bureaucratic inaction that seems to have it constantly on fire. While pointing out how disappointing this all is, it brings with it a hopefully message of change. It’s an accurate depiction of the mindset of our nation as we watch reservoirs dry up, wildfires rage, and floods take lives and countless amounts of personal and property damage while our elected officials worry more about who’s bathroom someone might use and the ever present love affair with automatic weapons. Frustrated doesn’t begin to cut it, but this song brings with it an upbeat tempo of hope. We can’t make a change without raising our voices, and thankfully, The Prizefighters are on the scene to give us the blueprints with something awesome to sing along with.

“We can’t just keep our goal posts moving further down the line…

“We are pound foolish and penny wise, hoarding wealth while the earth dies…”

“It doesn’t matter what we should have done then, it only matters what we’re gonna do now…”

It’s truly a rally cry – we need to fix things before it’s too late.

The band maintains this effort throughout the entire record, visiting with other socially and politically important topics like gun violence in ‘Think and Pray’. The song gives you a body-moving beat while discussing the tragic trend of “thoughts and prayers” every time the peace is pierced with the horrors of mass shootings here in the United States. While pointing out how such trite response doesn’t do anything to cure the violence, the song also reminds us that change can come from genuine positivity. It’s a reminder that we need to put that positive out to the universe if we want that positive back in return. The song is groove heavy and layered with steady beats and crisp, clean horn work in the Prizefighter’s signature way.

This same groove carries to other songs on the record like ‘Company Time’ which tells of how we need to look to the legends before us for their lessons and inspiration. They make mention of artists like Woody Guthrie and Bob Marley who both sang of freedom and human rights, especially those for workers. The entire album is very well put together sound-wise with a fantastic blend of rocksteady charm and singable lyrics to inspire.  

On the talent end, The Prizefighters have not only put out music that keeps the traditional sounds of Jamaica alive and well, but they have also backed the legends that helped create that sound on numerous occasions. Names like Stranger Cole, Derrick Morgan, Charlie Organaire, Roy & Yvonne, just to name a few. In addition, they continue to play out on the regular with bands like Hepcat and the Slackers who are still out there keeping that scene alive. The band is maintained with a blend of outstanding songwriting and genuine talent that culminates in a solid live show to back it all up.

The new album “Punch Up” is available now on vinyl LP, CD and digital streaming platforms everywhere. You can keep up with The Prizefighters over at their website – www.theprizefighters.net

https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/0wnXZzTRo4kKEIQLaU6Aac?utm_source=generator

THINK AND PRAY – New Track from The Prizefighters!

Hey friends, get ready to hit the dance floor! There is another track from Minnesota’s stellar ska preservationists, the Prizefighters, just about to hit the public domain on May 19th. I can’t get enough of the good protest energy these folks put forth with this upcoming album of theirs, and this track is no less a statement to be made, but listen closely because it’s not entirely what you think!

Think and Pray, the next song released from the band’s up and coming full length record Punch Up, is a body-moving, groove heavy message of hope that positivity can change the world around you. It’s also a cool dig at all the “thoughts and prayers” offered into nothingness every time something tragic happens in our country – usually the result of senseless gun violence. This smart dual meaning is brilliantly laid out among the hearty dancing tone of traditional ska energy, always done so well by the Prizefighters. Their upbeat throwback vibe, laced with words that truly mean something, is a refreshing and welcome addition to the world. I am a fan of telling folks that you get back the energy you put out to the universe, and this song reminds us that while simple phrases in tragedy can be trite, real change can be effected by true positivity. That is something we can desperately use these days as the younger among us are doing their best to try to change our world for the better. I cannot wait for this record to hit. What a fantastic soundtrack to these times!

Check out Think and Pray on all streaming services!

You can get the full length record Punch Up when it releases on June 9th on vinyl, CD, and digital. The band’s album release show, which is sure to be a blast, will be going down at the Turf Club in St. Paul, MN on June 14th. If you can get yourself there, get those tickets here!

https://www.axs.com/events/484485/the-prizefighters-tickets?skin=turfclub

Keep up with The Prizefighters HERE!

https://www.theprizefighters.net

Beardfest is Back For 2023!

Beardfest 2023 Lineup Blends Jazz and Jam: Mark Guiliana, Spafford, Isaiah
Sharkey, Snacktime, Dogs in a Pile, and more.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Hammonton, NJ – Beardfest just announced its 2023 lineup. The annual festival has evolved from a hidden gem into a cult-following event that draws thousands of fans to the NJ Pine Barrens’ Paradise Lakes Campground. This year’s lineup features a strong showcase of jam, jazz, dance, and guitar-driven artists, including Spafford, Mark Guiliana, Dogs in a Pile, Isaiah Sharkey, Pink Talking Fish, Out of the Beardspace, and more.

Named after the NJ-based progressive jam band “Out of the Beardspace,” Beardfest has
steadily grown to draw national acts without succumbing to the overcrowded chaos that makes some larger festivals feel like a Lord-of-the-Flies experience. Each year, Beardfest attracts over 2,000 fans to its unique location in the picturesque NJ Pine Barrens, offering ample camping space and a beautiful lake where attendees can swim next to the main stage.


“We’re excited to bring back Beardfest for another year to showcase incredible talent and bring our community together,” said event organizer Jeremy Savo. “Whether you’re a fan of jam, jazz, funk, or dance music, Beardfest has something for everyone.”

Community plays a big role in Beardfest. In addition to the music, the festival offers a variety of workshops, activities, and interactive installations suitable for attendees of all ages. From fire dancing to yoga and wellness classes, there’s something for everyone at Beardfest.
Tickets for Beardfest are available now on the event website, www.beardfest.net. The festival is family-friendly, and children under 12 can attend for free.


About Beardfest: Beardfest is an annual music festival in Hammonton, NJ that celebrates the joy of community and the power of music to bring people together. Named after the band “Out of the Beardspace”, the festival features a diverse lineup of musical acts with a focus on jam, jazz, funk, and dance music. Beardfest is committed to creating a safe, inclusive, and welcoming environment for all attendees, regardless of gender, race, or background.

Please check out the festival webpage for tickets and further information and updates!

https://www.beardfest.net/

Falling Into The Soaring Sounds of Ryan Liatsis – Music That Makes No Cents, Vol. 1

One of the absolute best parts of starting this blog way back in 2011 has been the people I have been able to meet through their incredible music. With a small handful of exceptions, I have met the most stellar people through simply wanting to share their music with other people. I have met people from all over the country. People who make all kinds of music and give all kinds of energy. It’s been such an adventure and has warmed and broadened my life in so many ways. One of my favorite people that I have had the pleasure of doing this work with is Ryan Liatsis. A man unmistakable around the jam scene because of two key things – his insanely talented guitar work, and his mustache.

I have done work with Mr. Liatsis through several of his projects, most notably his original band ShwizZ https://www.facebook.com/ShwizZ and more recently his work with the vocal magicians in Western Skies https://www.facebook.com/westernskiesmusic. Both have been an exceptional example of what a guitar master he is. His signature sound is of the soaring variety, velvety smooth and seemingly effortless. It was of course an absolute privilege to get the opportunity to review his most recent release, one that is all his own, and one that has this signature sound on a fantastic display. If you love a versatile, guitar focused instrumental album, this is for you and you are in for a trip.

Ryan is a man of many talents, and that is evident in his new and very first solo release, Music That Makes No Cents, Vol. 1. This record is his decade long labor of love and is almost entirely self produced, self recorded, self mixed and self mastered. All songs were written by Ryan and all instruments with a few exceptions were played by Ryan. Let me state first that if you are going to invite a few special guests to help out with your solo record, there are few I would choose other than the ones he did. Most are drummers, with the likes of Neal Evans, Kito Bovenschulte, Kevin Soffera, Jordan McQueen, and Paul Cesario. He also gets some help from exceptional bassist and fellow ShwizZ musician Scott Hogan. It’s a well stacked grouping of awesome.

The first track, 11:11, kicks open the whole collection with a very hard rock spiced piece of Ryan’s multi-layered shredding, woven with synth and heavy drum work (care of Paul Cesario). The album then moves over to Dragonfly which immediately gave me super calm vibes while still having an earnestly rocking soul. Easily my favorite song on the album. This is that soaring guitar sound that Ryan does so well. Almost midway, it slows to a piano solo before picking back up with guitar that gives an emotional feel. This song will take you on an adventure, if you let it. Speaking of emotional, All On One is gorgeous, beginning with a dreamy far off sound that pulls you in. Not quite as calming, but it will definitely give you the feels for something with the subtly climbing notes and really pretty break about halfway through that comes back hard right into your heart. This expertly layers sounds to give depth in places throughout the songs in a way that plucks right at your internal strings.

Saturator is another great rocking track, with drums care of Kito Bovenschulte. This song is a mix of exceptional guitar playing dexterity while keeping with head bobbing beats. Coming in strong and hard with melodic layers of sound, it has fantastic use of climbs and stops. It’s absolutely talking to you throughout. I love that Ryan uses the guitar like a vocal in that respect. There is a story being told throughout this record but it’s entirely up to the listener to discern or decode exactly what that is. Every track is deliciously different and capable of captivating even the most captious listener.

My genuinely take on Music That Makes No Cents, Vol. 1 is that it’s brilliantly written and put together beautifully. This record is a batch of stories told through music like a Choose Your Own Adventure Book, and it’s all up to you which road you take and which page you turn to. There is trip worth taking with yourself within, and I highly recommend that you do. I am sure if we picked Ryan’s brain as to what he envisioned while writing these songs over ten years, he would have buckets of information for us – but what fun is that? I didn’t really get into instrumental albums outside of old jazz and the occasional Joe Satriani song until very recently and this album was such a breath of fresh air for me. My advice to you is do what I did when I first got my hands on it. Plug in a really comfortable pair of headphones, get good and cozy in your favorite spot, close your eyes, and let the music take you where it will. Additional substance assistants are entirely up to you.

You can get yourself a download of Music That Makes No Cents, Vol. 1 over at BandCamp here:

https://ryanliatsis.bandcamp.com/album/music-that-makes-no-cents-vol-1

Additionally, you can find it on Spotify and other streaming sites!

Keep up with Ryan his work (he’s a busy gentleman) over at his Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/ryanliatsismusic

As always, see you out there!

Grooving Hard on “Kick The Can” – The New Track from The Prizefighters!

How long have I been whining that there are just not enough modern protest songs?

I have been pretty consistently disappointed that with more internal and external struggle than we have seen in decades in this country coming from all sides, there is a serious lack of music talking about it. We have what seems to be a limitless supply of talented musicians putting out music that’s been good – it just isn’t saying anything. It’s something that frustrates the hell out of me, especially because I do a lot of work within the ska and jam scenes, both of which historically are known for writing about awareness. Let’s be honest – this is a crucial time in our country. People are quite literally fighting for their lives and the lives of their kids. They can surely use some music to move them along, but where is it? Since I do a lot of writing in the ska and reggae scenes, I have found people seem surprised to learn what a folkie I am. Presently, I am writing this wearing a shirt emblazoned with the words LISTEN TO WOODY GUTHRIE and I wear it a lot because I genuinely think that everyone should. I am thirsty for music that not only moves my body, but fuels a movement.

Leave it to The Prizefighters to quench that thirst.

These fantastic rocksteady groovers from Minneapolis have been putting out the kind of music that effortlessly moves your hips since 2006. We have done a few articles here at A Perfect Mess on their particular brand of throwback ska pretty much since this blog started and they remain one of my very favorite bands in the scene. Not only are they extremely talented and precisely in touch with an old school vibe that other bands can’t touch, but they are also stellar humans who have done A LOT of work to bring awareness through their platform. It’s no wonder that at such a crazy time in our lives, they are using their music to say something. A good example was just last year when they put out a really cool cover of the folk classic “Joe Hill” in support of unions and worker’s rights. They previously did a bandcamp campaign matching proceeds to donate to Reclaim the Block in their hometown of Minneapolis. They have often spoken out against violence, misogyny, climate change, white nationalism, and have always put their money where their mouth is in terms of donating album proceeds and bringing awareness to local and national organizations that do the same. They are the whole package. Talent and principals. It’s something I find lacking elsewhere and so refreshing to see being done consistently in the Prizefighters.

On the talent end, these folks have not only put out music that keeps the traditional sounds of Jamaica alive and well, but they have also backed the legends that helped create that sound on numerous occasions. Names like Stranger Cole, Derrick Morgan, Charlie Organaire, Roy & Yvonne, just to name a few. In addition, they continue to play out on the regular with bands like Hepcat and the Slackers who are still out there keeping that scene alive. I can’t say enough about The Prizefighters except that I wish they were in New Jersey more often so I can go see them!

But wait, I did have a point to make and it’s how freaking cool this new song is.

The band has been busy nurturing that sound with a new track, “Kick The Can”, and it is rocking my soul as well as my socks. The song was written as a call-to-arms in reaction to the hopelessness of our current climate crisis, in addition to the accompanying bureaucratic inaction that seems to have it constantly on fire. While pointing out how disappointing this all is, it brings with it a hopefully message of change. It’s an accurate depiction of the mindset of our nation as we watch reservoirs dry up, wildfires rage, and floods take lives and countless amounts of personal and property damage while our elected officials worry more about who’s bathroom someone might use and the ever present love affair with automatic weapons. Frustrated doesn’t begin to cut it, but this song brings with it an upbeat tempo of hope. We can’t make a change without raising our voices, and thankfully, The Prizefighters are on the scene to give us the blueprints with something awesome to sing along with.

Let’s point out the obvious that the song moves hard from right out of the gate and doesn’t stop until the track cuts. It’s just consistent rocksteady groove; head bobbingly punchy and fun. The song is bubbling over with soul while making you dance. If you can listen to this and not want to get up and roll your hips with the groove, you might want to check your pulse. It’s so clean while still retaining that traditional gritty feel. It’s groove-heavy in its throwback vibe while still retaining a modern flow and honest relevance. I love that about the way The Prizefighters write. It’s always honest and never puts on airs. This song is fun while making a serious point. The drums are steady perfection intertwined with perfectly laid keys. The bass is laced through the mix with the seemingly simple but perfectly threaded guitar. The vocal melodies are very well done and easy to sing along with, which I am. A lot, because lyrically it’s right on the money, saying what we need to hear…

“We can’t just keep our goal posts moving further down the line…

“We are pound foolish and penny wise, hoarding wealth while the earth dies…”

“It doesn’t matter what we should have done then, it only matters what we’re gonna do now…”

It’s truly a rally cry – we need to fix things before it’s too late.

I can’t get enough of this song since it was sent to me, and there are more on the way leading up to the band’s new full length album, “Punch Up” which will be out this summer on Jump Up Records. This song will be released officially the day before Earth Day, April 21, 2023. Perfect timing, if you ask me. Keep your eyes to the band’s website for more on their next tracks and upcoming release!

You can head over to Spotify for a pre-save and a special message!

https://show.co/z4c2gpX

Check out the band’s Bandcamp page here – EVERYTHING there is stellar:

https://theprizefighters.bandcamp.com/

As always, follow the band on their website for more release and tour information:

https://theprizefighters.net/

As always, see you out there!