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!
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!
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!
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!
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 ShwizZhttps://www.facebook.com/ShwizZ and more recently his work with the vocal magicians in Western Skieshttps://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:
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!
The Prizefighters are a Midwest rocksteady force to be reckoned with, and I have no problem saying they are leaders in their genre right now as a still fairly young band. I first heard them in the infancy of this blog when I reviewed their record Follow My Sound back in 2012. Not long after that, this blog went on a hiatus for a couple years while this band continued to build their mastery of the ska and rocksteady sound. This is no exaggeration.
The Prizefighters have been a backing band for respected legends like Derrick Morgan, Stranger Cole and Patsy Todd, Roy Panton and Yvonne Harrison, just to name a few. They have teamed up with legendary harmonica player and vocalist Charlie Organaire on a trio of 45rpm singles (released on Jump Up! Records) and a European tour. When it comes to an American band injecting real authenticity into a Jamaican sound, the Prizefighters have done more than their share of homework. They present this respectfully and as authentically as possible. This is clearly evident when you hear their new album, Firewalk.
The love and deep respect for the ska and rocksteady sounds is loud and clear through this record. In fact, the album was recorded in a 100% analog environment to preserve that sound and energy and it truly has the feel of something straight out of the 1960’s. I was immediately impressed by this. In a modern recording world with so many artists relying on technology to polish their sound, I respect deeply how much care went into the preservation of that vibe that we all know and love. It was perfectly captured. The groove of the record itself from start to finish is purely classic while still highlighting the modern chops of this band.
Right out of the gate, the record is a hitter. The opening track, Just Let The Music Play, has a steady bass groove, great smooth horns, and a gentle but hitting vocal. The next track, You’ll Never Know, kicks the energy right up with a sound that sends you straight back to the 60’s with the beat and the vocal energy. This is a fun song, and the horn and drum work is great, capturing that energy and sending it upwards and outwards. I would look forward to seeing this one done live, it’s a LOT of fun.
As much as I dig the Prizefighters’ vocals, they do a fantastic job with the traditional rocksteady sound as an instrumental as well. The third track on the album, The Accolade, is a great example of what they can do without vocal. Spectacular brass work and that steady chugging groove keeps feet tapping through to the end. Bebop Rocksteady is another one. It kicks right in with those horns to grab you and then holds on tight with a steady drum and bass groove. The thing about these folks is the way they make the music sing without having to say a word. They bring all the energy of an enormous crowd and funnel it through horns and bass to come out steady and smooth.
Skip on over to Burnt Toast and Black Coffee next and feel the energy immediately. That cool sound, great backup vocals, a great modern yet traditional sound. The vocals on this one are probably my favorite on the whole record. The title track, Firewalk, is another one worth mentioning. It’s got a sexy, creeping groove and these quick and shadowy vocals woven in that get right to the heart of the matter, “If the ground gets too hot, you must do the fire walk…” The sax work is really catchy and this track is the kind that will stick with you while keeping you moving. This is not a record to stand still listening to at all.
All in all, this record is a must have. There is a lot of big talk out there about capturing a traditional sound and vibe in a recording. Usually instead, you get something concocted and over produced. The Prizefighters took their love for that sound and brought it way back. It rings bells in the soul to listen to their work on this record. It’s really, really well done.
Firewalk will be available on CD, cassette (yes!), and digital on February 15th. There will also be a vinyl release on Jump Up! Records later on in 2019, if you want to add some Prizefighters goodness to your library. The band’s record release show will be happening at the Turf Club in St. Paul, MN on February 15th, presented by Ska Brewing. For those of us on the East Coast, we can expect the band for a tour later on this year as well so we can get our own booty’s shaking.
When I was 16 years old, I was introduced to the wonderful world of ska music. It was the mid-90’s and ska was in its third wave height so it was easy to fall in love with the sound and the energy. We were buying comps, heading to The Wetlands in NYC, covering ourselves in checkers, and enjoying this craze for everything it was worth. It was easy back then as it was on MTV and in the malls where we found ourselves creeping most weekends. I have memories of traversing the mountain roads of northern New Jersey with the sounds of the Toasters blaring from crackling speakers in an old Mazda, trying like hell to sing along with the chat version of The Toasters’ “Dub 56” and failing miserably. The man behind that fast chat was Coolie Ranx and in our minds, he was the master of that sound.
Since his work with The Toasters, Coolie went on to found The Pilfers which brought ska and punk rock energies into a rugged but danceable sound he called “raggacore”. Meanwhile, he continued to add his particular style and power to the mixes of dozens of releases and has remained a fixture in New York City’s ska and reggae scene. Coolie Ranx is honestly one of the hardest working members of the scene since 1990 and continues to bring that signature sound he nurtured and perfected to the masses.
Fast forward to now, and I have a message from Coolie asking me to check out his soon to be released single, “Oh Girl” for the blog. Suddenly I was 16 years old again. I have been devouring this song since I got the link and I honestly cannot get enough.
This track is everything you would expect from Coolie Ranx and more. His vocal is that soaring and brilliantly melodic sound that he has cultivated throughout his career. It carries you through the song with a comforting presence while telling a story of struggle, self-doubt, and a pure but heavy yearning. It’s a gorgeous combination, rounded out with a pulsing, heavy vibe and his signature “raggacore” sound in breakdown. The flow rises and falls in a multifaceted grind and infectious groove while pulling at your soul in the way he uses his voice. The drums, guitar, and those vocals culminate in aggressive tone at the build-up, creating a feel of pure ache, climaxing while still being groove heavy and danceable as the song comes to a close. Absolutely brilliant.
The accompanying credits go to Phil Wartel on steady hitting drums, Steve Capecci on groove-heavy bass, Jonathan Uda bringing the sky-high guitar riffs, and programmed drums, overdubs, and those flowing keys to Computer Paul. Honestly, if you can get through this song without moving with the beat and the energy of it, you might want to check your pulse. This is pure groove.
But as always, you don’t have to take my word for it. Check out the track “Oh Girl” on Spotify, Apple, and other streaming services today and see for yourself…
I admit I am very late to the party in regards to Dopapod.
About four years ago, they played with Mother’s Wine, who my husband played bass for, at the teeny tiny Stanhope House here in New Jersey. It was prior to getting my head out of my ass in regards to music and even then, I was impressed by what I saw. Did you ever see a band and think, “There is something to this and I don’t know what it is.” It was one of those moments. I never really forgot that show. The problem was that I just wasn’t into it yet. I guess I wasn’t ready yet to appreciate it. My mind was still too closed off. All that considered, I was still taken back by the sound and the groove that these gents put forth.
Fast forward to Disc Jam this past June. I was there covering the festival for the blog and was going to again have a chance to whet my whistle with Dopapod goodness. Eric and I were at our campsite, not far from the stage, prepping shrimp tacos for my upcoming Beau Sasser interview and Dopapod’s set was our soundtrack. It was in that moment, sipping beer and grilling shrimp, that my ears finally perked up. Dopapod is their own sound. They are not like other bands. I guess that is what kept drawing me to them. Still, I was not yet familiar enough with their sound to really appreciate them live. That was going to change.
Over the last couple months, as my life got increasingly chaotic, I have been leaning hard on music for stability. It’s been the glue that has held my soul together while I went through some mentally trying moments and drastic realizations resulting in major life changes. One of the bands that has crept deeper and deeper into my soul through all that has been Dopapod. It started where it probably does for a lot of folks, judging by the play numbers on Spotify. I heard Present Ghosts, and I fell hard down a Dopapod rabbit hole. Something about that song just got inside me. It had groove but was still laced with a spacey synth vibe. It had these gorgeous vocals that iced the track creating a magical, delicious chill that got down to my bones. That was it. Sold. Done. Put a fork in me. Hi, my name is Amanda, and I am addicted to Dopapod.
When I got wind of a new album coming out this fall, excited didn’t even begin to explain it. Sometimes I get to write about artists and albums and it feels like the very best Christmas morning ever for me. This is one of those times. I can’t tell you how many times I checked my e-mail waiting for this preview.
Coming October 26th, 2017, the band’s fifth Studio album, MEGAGEM, is going to drop like a bomb and blow a whole lot of minds. Mark my words. I really didn’t know what to expect when the record landed in my inbox, so I sat myself down and got ready. I was not prepared for what I heard. My first full listen through was basically me sitting there with headphones on, staring at the wall with my mouth hanging open. It’s not to say that the albums that came before this were not great, because they are. Dopapod is a band of incredibly creative songwriters and high caliber, insanely talented musicians. It’s why they can do what they do, blending dance, funk, and prog rock into a jam rock vibe that appeals to every corner of the scene. What I am saying is that they raised the bar now. Scratch that. They picked the bar up, spun it around, and fucking launched it. It’s no longer visible. The bar is gone. This record is amazing.
There is so much that is wonderful about MEGAGEM that I don’t know where to start. All those trusted components of Dopapod records are there. The gorgeous vocals that Eli and Rob weave together that are nothing short of magical in their applications. These two guys know how to take their voices and lace them together like LA Gear neon laces in 1988 creating an unmistakable sound that is 100% Dopapod. It’s one of the things that pulled me into their sound so hard. They truly understand the instrument that their voices are. It’s impressive. It’s beautiful.
The band brings that prog rock funk with trailing guitar on tracks like Buster Brown that take you to that quiet moment of sway where you have to just stop and not think. It’s the kind of song that picks you up so politely and carries you somewhere else entirely without ever leaving your seat. It’s a gentle groove with steady drums, flowing bass, and those tasty layering keys. The track Starfish is another one that got deep into my soul as well. It carries a pulsing drum beat with rain-like keys, deep bass, and vocals that pull you. The pulsing stops for a moment to give way to a quick, sharp and really cool bass spot before climaxing in a trippy emotional place. Something about the way the band wrote these songs is so incredibly Dopapod, but so incredibly different.
The song Mucho is an example of the funky groove that the band does so well. It’s an incredibly inventive track while still being that clean body moving jam funk that Dopapod does so well. This is a band that has and will always get your groove going. They take sounds you think you know well and fuse them together in ways you never thought you would love. This song has this enchanting vocal break between grooves that reminds me of Zero 7. It gives that same delicious chill. It’s so good. Confabulation has a real strong Beatles vibe. It’s got that psychedelic, George Harrison thing going on. Think Revolver era with really great guitar solos. That’s not a sound that just anyone can pull off.
But let’s talk about the big one. The first single, Plaese Haalp was a kick to my head. It shook me to the core, and I honestly can’t stop listening to it. This is the song that really made me say this is going to be the record that takes everyone by surprise this year. It kicks off nothing short of straight rocking, stopping only to lay down major funk vibe in the chorus. The vocals in this song are incredible. They hit peaks and valleys as the song progresses. The first time I listened, I didn’t know the band had posted the song as a video on Facebook and I stupidly assumed those strings were synthesized. NO. Those are in studio orchestra musicians lending their talents to the album and it lifts this song to a whole new place. The guitar solo is tasty. The bass lines are funky and strong. The percussion in this song blows my mind.
I put this song on in the car the second time because I needed to give the vibe a real feel and that is where I get it. About two thirds of the way through, the song changes. It slows and creeps but with a marching pace. Eli’s vocals here made the hair on the back of my neck stand up as the song built higher and higher. Then it comes in hard with that synth. Good God, dude. But wait. It stops for a second before kicking back in HARD with strings and drums. This part of the song gives me goose bumps every single time I listen to it. It’s an emotional explosion set to music. The power in how this track delivers is palpable. It’s a perfect combo of aggression and passion just picked up and thrown at you. You will feel this song in your chest like someone knocked your wind out. I don’t air drum in the car to much of anything outside of Rush’s Counterparts album and I was beating the ever living hell out of my steering wheel here. This song is incredible.
The band recorded the instrumentals on this album at Mountain Star Studios in Colorado in the middle of the winter. Maybe it was the isolation, maybe it was something spiritual, maybe it was just that Dopapod is that freaking good but the music that was put together on this album sings to you when there are no words. The way these guys put sounds together is something I can’t begin to understand but no one is doing what these guys have put together with MEGAGEM. A lot of artists are trying. No one is pulling it off. Not like this. MEGAGEM in a new level.
There is a big debate on Facebook jam scene groups these days about who is going to get the “torch” passed to them. Everyone wants to know who will be the next big band. Everyone has an opinion about why they think their favorite artist is going to be THAT artists who will carry the jam scene into the next generation. There are tons of theories about it. Every band’s fans thinks they will be it and they can mostly defend their position with examples and spreadsheets and full Power Point presentations if asked. After listening to MEGAGEM, I can honestly say that Dopapod is a contender. Honestly, they get my vote.
After MEGAGEM drops, the band will be embarking on a cross country tour before taking a well planned year long hiatus to focus on themselves. They have kept up a pretty impressive pace over the last seven years and it’s actually a brilliant idea. It gives everyone ample time to sit and chew on MEGAGEM for a while, and chew you should. There is a lot about this record to consider and I honestly can’t say enough about it. Of course, I finally get into Dopapod right before they take an extended break. I am going to have to hit as many of these shows as possible.
Dopapod are a band that truly feel everything that music is. They see it as the art that it can be and they remain loyal to that art. In a world that seems more and more overrun by what can be easily tapped out and sold as music, the artistry of musicians is becoming more and more precious. Far too often, creativity seems to take a backseat to what is easy and profitable lately. I am delighted to be right now sitting and listening to something so obviously crafted by artists who pour themselves into their music from the inside. I don’t know if all the emotion dripping from me as I listen was intended, but it’s damn sure appreciated.
The band will be releasing certain tracks as “Name Your Own Price” on Bandcamp leading up to the actual CD/Digital/Vinyl release as a gift to fans. They obviously don’t have to do that. The fact that they are says a lot about who they are.
You can find the list of tour dates on their website HERE which includes a New Years Eve show in Boston, the band’s origins, at the Paradise Rock Club.
I’m a ska girl who married a jam guy. We are both pig-headed, stubborn idiots who bonded over Bad Religion and Irish coffees long before we ever took off our personal blinders and truly delved into one another’s “home scenes”, so to speak. I have told this story many times on this blog, and it always ended with our strong desires – someday when we win the lottery and have all the money in the world for guarantees and VIP treatment – to have a massive festival to celebrate it all.
That’s our lottery dream. After we buy a farm, pay for college for our kids, have a good night’s sleep for the first time knowing our bills are actually all paid, we want to have a celebration of music that creates that bridge across the line few dare to toe between the jam scene and the ska scene. Now, let me clarify that this line really does not exist between musicians. The line exists in crowds. It exists between promoters. It exists to label heads. The folks to whom a scene and it’s fashions hold more water than it’s music. The folks who won’t listen to something if it’s appearance go against the grain of what they are used to being surrounded by. It exists in every scene. No one is exempt. It’s no one’s fault…but it’s there.
One thing I learned since opening my own eyes to the world outside my own scene is that nothing I thought I knew was true. Nothing I thought was typical was typical. Nothing I thought was universal was actually universal except love. A deep love for music that seeps into our skin and finds its way down into our bones until its truly part of us. No one knows that devotion to something so deep like a Deadhead. I married a Deadhead. Whats more – I married a Deadhead who was raised by a Deadhead so this deep love comes inherited. Our wedding song was Ripple. What I know though is that folks not raised with a love of the Dead don’t always find it on their own. They often carry a misunderstanding of everything that surrounds the Grateful Dead.
Enter Roots of Creation. An incredible fusion of reggae and funk fusion that has been fueling the jam scene with love and groove since 1999. Their smooth reggae feel and strong, sweet mix of vibe and sound has made them a well respected presence and who better to take the songs of one of the most legendary bands in the world and create something magical… and that is exactly what they did. Their album, Grateful Dub, was a crowd-funded effort to bring collaborations with some incredible artists to the songs of the Grateful Dead and see what sort of incredible explosions occurred. What they achieved is nothing short of amazing. Not only that, it’s been a true bridge across the scenes. It’s an example of that thing we lottery-dream about. It’s right here.
With songs like They Love Each Other, the Dead’s 1973 classic, presented on Grateful Dub as a vocal collaboration with the jam scene’s own Hayley Jane of Hayley Jane and the Primates. Hayley is an extremely versatile vocalist and performer, so it’s no surprise that she could nail such a great Dead song. What is amazing though is that she nailed a great Dead song covered in reggae style. Not amazing because I didn’t think she could, just amazing because I never heard her do anything like this and it’s straight FIRE. The horns in this song are sexy as hell, the beat is steady and grooving, and the way Roots vocalist Brett Wilson harmonizes with Hayley is just fantastic.
I mentioned above that Ripple was my wedding song. It’s safe to say that I hold it close to my heart and I am a bit of a snob about covers when it’s songs I have a deep connection to. I won’t lie. I was worried about this one, even being the ska girl I am. I have to say though – they nailed it. Roots teamed up with G Love and longtime Jerry Band member Melvin Seals on this 1970 Grateful Dead classic. It’s gorgeous, it’s got groove, it makes me want to shake my body and cry a little. It sounds like a backyard party with the best people you ever knew. It sounds like the spirit of the Dead in a different package. It’s infused with everything that makes this music great.
Now let me get to where my mind exploded on this album. Roots included a cover of the 1972 Dead song Deal. It has a kicking, smoking, purely hot groove that would be at home at any ska, reggae, rocksteady show I ever attended. This song was a collaboration with dirty reggae masters The Aggrolites and Jesse Wagner’s vocals lit this song up like dry sticks doused in gasoline. My husband called me up almost in tears when he first heard this song and the moment I heard it, I got it. This was a primary band in the jam scene teamed up with a primary band in the ska scene ripping up an incredible song from the Grateful Dead in their own ways as one. That right there is everything. This whole thing has my mind in a million pieces for the best reasons.
That’s just a sampling. You need to listen to the whole album. What Roots of Creation did here, taking some of the best loved songs by some of the best songwriters and performers and weaving the with reggae-fusion and style, is a treat on it’s own. The fact that they did it with prominent faces from both the jam scene and the ska/reggae scene is something extra special. It bridges a gap between fans of wonderful music who in many cases have no idea how much in common they really have. The love and unity I found in both of these scenes redefined my life at different stages and made me the person I am, and the person I am constantly evolving into. I can only hope there is more of this to come. More incredible scene crossing collaborations and eyes that open all across the board, There is so much more magic to be had.
The album was recorded in the band’s hometown of Brookline, New Hampshire with legendary producer and engineer Errol Brown – known for his work with masters like The Paragons, Alton Ellis, and Bob Marley. They recorded the album over ten sixteen hour days in January of 2017 and what was captured is pure, soul shaking goodness straight up to the heavens. The thing I love the most about the jam scene has always been how I am continuously being shown I know nothing about how much music can surprise me. This brought that love to a much more personal place.
I can’t believe how much this album floored me. I love discovering I can still be floored. You can find out more on the band’s website here: https://www.rootsofcreation.com
Presented by Jibberjazz Productions, this year’s musical camping extravaganza will feature 24 musical acts on 3 stages, along with late night jams, kid’s activities, workshops, vendors, parade, plenty of room for camping and more. Festival artists are hand selected from all corners of the USA, and will showcase a variety of musical styles including: Jam, Funk, Bluegrass, Rock & Roll, Blues, Folk, Fusion, Prog, World, Roots, Jazz etc. Presale tickets are available now! Our Some Kind of Jam 17 lineup features bands drawn from 13 different states. Additionally, 14 out of 24 musical acts have never played a Jibberjazz event before. The true spirit of Jibberjazz is alive and well, as we continue on our quest to find the next great sounds that emerge from the abyss.
Going back almost 20 years, Jibberjazz has produced over 50 music & camping festivals, including the annual Some Kind of Jam and Meeting of the Minds – as well as Madsummer Meltdown and Boogie In The Bungalow and many other music-related events. These gatherings have featured national and regional, original acts ranging in funk, jam, bluegrass, psychedelic, jazz, blues, folk, reggae, rock & roll, singer-songwriter, and many more musical styles too numerous to list. All Jibberjazz events are 100% self-produced, with no corporate ties or sponsorships, as we remain a fiercely independent grassroots organization.
The Jibberjazz focus is finding national and regional bands on the rise and unleashing them on unsuspecting audiences. We are a bridge between vast musical pockets scattered across the country and our main purpose is to find and develop these bands. We take great pride in the quality and diversity of our lineups, and we are always on the lookout for the next great sound to emerge from the abyss. Tomorrow’s Headliners Today: The mantra Jibberjazz has embraced throughout past couple decades.