Thursday, May 29, 2008

Rothbury unveils Think Tank program

By Nick Frazier

Every big music festival pays lip service to sustainability and green practices, but the upcoming Rothbury Festival (July 3-6, Rothbury MI) is looking to differentiate itself by devoting a complete program of panel discussions, workshops and hands on activities to the environmental awareness.

The festival today announced details for the Think Tank program. Sessions run all afternoon Friday, Saturday and Sunday in three venues around the JJ Ranch site. A distinguished faculty of environmental leaders—Eban Goodstein, Hunter Lovins, Stephen Schneider and lots more—will host the panels.

Typical session topics include "The Path to Energy Independence and a New American Energy Revolution" and "How America's Youth Are Driving the Energy Revolution." Several of the sessions feature a "focus on the festival" in looking to apply global topics to the festival experience.

Some sessions will also feature musical guests such as Michael Franti, Citzen Cope and others. The nationally syndicated radio program eTown will provide coverage from the conference that will air on XM and 240 radio outlets following the festival.

Speaking of music, the festival also announced more additions to the music lineup, most notably Trey Anastasio (formerly of Phish). Also added: Kraak & Smaak, Underground Orchestra, DJ Harry, Pnuma LIve and Fiction Plane.

The complete lineup, which is headed by Dave Matthews Band, Widespread Panic and John Mayer, remains one of the best music menus of the summer, so you have to wonder how many Rothbury attendees are going to sacrifice seeing bands for attending the Think Tank. The detailed music schedule has not yet been posted by the festival, so it isn't possible to see what the conflicts will be.

Hopefully, for many attendees, the conference sessions will provide a change of pace and they will take the time to attend a couple of the panels. Rothbury deserves credit for devoting resources and attention to raising awareness, and it will be interesting to see what kind of impact the conference has on the festival audience and the rock music market generally.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rothbury aims to make a splash with water park

By Nick Frazier

With the recent release of the venue map for Rothbury music festival, to be held in Rothbury, Michigan on July 3-6, the focus is on the festival venue. The Double JJ Ranch, a large family camping and golf resort, offers a substantial number of attractions that make Rothbury more than “just another music festival.”

One example: a water park! The Gold Rush Water park is a staple of the resort will be open during the festival. Alas, nothing in this world is free. For $20, you get admission to the water park, a ride from the festival grounds to the park, plus a towel and shower. The park features multiple water slides, a wave pool, lazy river and several child-oriented areas.

I suppose the water park will be an attraction to some festival attendees, but I can't imagine many will want to sacrifice an afternoon of music for the experience. The greatest benefit of the park to festival-goers may be the showers, but $20 is pretty steep for that, especially since showers are also available in the campground for festival attendees.

With all the ways to spend money at Rothbury, cavorting on the water slides is just the latest enticement from festival promoters to draw a big crowd for the first-time festival. Expect to hear about more ways to enhance your festival experience (and spend your money) as the event approaches.

FN sets details for Whistler and Jackson Hole fests

Festival Network fleshed out its strategy for producing quality new events in resort locations by announcing details this week for two new properties, Whistler Music Festival and Jackson Hole Music Festival. Both festivals will present mainly rock lineups, but the emphasis is on performers like Elvis Costello and Wilco that will attract an older and better-heeled audience than some of the mainstream rock festivals.

Both events take place at major mountain resort destinations and will offer an attendee experience that reflects the upscale positioning. No camping facilities will be provided, since the tourism associations partnering with Festival Network on the events are mostly interested in filling condo rooms during the summer season. Both locations offer plenty of good off-site camping options.

The preliminary lineup for the Whister Festival shapes up as a diverse set of artists that could appeal to more discerning festival-goers. The list starts with Elvis Costello, who will apparently take a night off from a U.S. tour with The Police, for the Whistler engagement. Others named so far are The Roots, Broken Social Scene, Robert Randolph & The Family Band, Medeski Martin & Wood, Bedouin Soundclash and Serena Ryder.

The event will be held July 19-20 at The Tube Park at Base II on Blackcomb Mountain in Whistler, the ski resort 75 miles north of Vancouver BC that will host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It is flying into direct competition from Live Nation Canada's Pemberton Festival, which runs a week later in the same market. Pemberton will present Coldplay, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Nine-Inch Nails, Jaz-Z, The Tragically Hip and lots more on two stages.

The shootout for the British Columbia market in July is a microcosm of the competitive North American festival market as a whole in 2008, in which a half dozen or more big new festivals are launching first-time events during a period of economic slowdown.

Festival Network's Jackson Hole event has a slightly alt-country tilt, with Wilco and Son Volt among the headliners and The Avett Brothers on the bill. The Black Crowes also get headliner billing, and Medeski, Martin & Wood, Backdoor Slam and Kaki King round out the preliminary lineup. Additional artists will be announced for both festivals in the coming weeks.

The Jackson Hole event takes place in a natural outdoor amphitheater at the base of the Bridger Gondola in Teton Village, adjacent to Grand Teton National Park. According to Festival NetworkCEO Tom Shepard, Jackson Hole embodies the qualities the company wants to define its festivals—"presenting a diverse array of artists for the refined musical ear in a unique destination setting."

Two-day tickets are $120 for Whistler and $130 for Jackson Hole. Single day passes are also available and VIP packages including accommodations will be announced soon. Visit the Festival Network site for full details.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Monterey Music Summit pushed back to October

                                   Photo Credit:
After being given a conditional permit to hold the second edition of his festival, Monterey Music Summit, at Laguna Seca Recreation Area, presenter Joe Fletcher has decided that the conditions are just a bit too costly (or unnecessary). According to a release from the festival's PR firm, Fletcher plans to relocate the festival to an unknown Monterey, CA-area location in October of this year.

The reason for the costly permit is everybody's favorite Southern Californian rapper-entrepreneur, Snoop Dogg. Appeals from local residents, who cited Snoop's violent lyrics and suggested that his connections with various gangs would be strong enough to attract a critical mass of opposing factions to the festival, led one member of Monterey County's Board of Supervisors to vote against the permit and the four other members to attach a security proviso before allowing it.

The proviso, according to the Salinas Californian, mandates the following measures to be taken in order for the festival to go on as planned, with Snoop at Laguna Seca: presence of undercover Monterey County Sheriff's deputies at the festival, a ban on all firearms except for those used by on-duty law enforcement, extra searches for Snoop Dogg, his entourage and vehicles; last, but not least, metal detectors for everyone going into the venue. The press release mentions "heightened security demands... noise restrictions (and) production costs" as major factors for the rescheduling, along with "minimal demand for camping."

In response, Fletcher has decided not to do any more festivals on land controlled by Monterey County. Understandably so (my apologies if you thought that this was going to be a standard un-biased news item).  The events that have Fletcher and the festival is pure lunacy, and I feel like I almost shouldn't explain why it is, for it might be insulting to your intelligence.

Snoop was an active member of the large L.A. street gang the Crips in high school (the late 80's) and has faced numerous recent charges for gun and drug possessions. However, he's also a 20 million album-selling father of three and has done a track with the Game, who has an affiliation with the Bloods, who have a major historical rivalry with the Crips. 

In addition, Snoop is the only performer at the festival with any ties to a major street gang like the Crips whatsoever, so its doubtful that many members of any gang would show up in the first place. Laguna Seca is pretty well removed from the San Francisco and L.A. metro areas, so it doesn't seem like a good place for some major showdown to occur, no matter who would perform there.   

Let's just hope that the griot of the L.B.C. maintains his wits and opts to play in October. 

No word on how the lineup will be impacted by the announcement.

Ticketholders will be contacted by for refunds. 

-- Ross Moody

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Bonnaroo schedule announced

                                                            Photo Credit: Showclix
Friends, start your meticulous planning again. The official schedule for Bonnaroo 2008 (June 12-15 in Manchester TN) has been announced. Spread out over 7 stages, the schedule chart at Bonnaroo's website makes the blockbuster festival look a bit more modest than did the single huge mass of artist names that was published earlier.

Part of the modesty has to do with the fact that no one is even playing on the What (main) or Which (1st support) stage until Friday, the 13th. Spooky.

With the Vampire Weekend as the veritable headliner (latest show on the "mainest" operating stage) on Thursday, Metallica will come right after Chris Rock (yes, he's not playing in the comedy venue) on Friday at the What (main) Stage. For my money, that's about the most exhausting live entertainment 1-2 punch anyone could put themselves through. First Rock's pummeling verbal assault, and then Metallica's equally mind-lacerating sonic onslaught. Let's hope there aren't to many seizures-- from psychotropic substances or non-drug-induced sensory overload-- on Friday.

Pearl Jam and Phil Lesh and Friend's will no doubt bring maximum jams on as they round out Saturday on the What Stage, though at 1:00 a.m. people might want to just chill out a bit and focus on Sigur Rós's cosmic art-rock, in the That Tent (the 3rd support venue). There will be plenty of jamming to catch on Sunday, with Derek Trucks ending the That Tent's run, and Widespread Panic headlining. 

As far as comedy goes, performances will come mainly in the form of three-set blocks. My personal favorite (on paper) is the trio of Jim Norton, Michelle Buteau and Brian Posehn, who can be seen late Saturday and Sunday afternoon. 

So head on over to the festival's website, and get that excruciating process of who you will and will not see over with. At least the site offers a customizable schedule option, which means you won't have to look at any program handed out on the first day of the fest and be reminded of the sets you'll have to forego to see your very favorite performances...

Vibes to gather on Connecticut shore

Deadheads and jam music fans from around the east coast will converge on Bridgeport CT July 31 to August 3 for the 13th edition of The Gathering of the Vibes, which returns to Seaside Park for the second consecutive year and fourth time overall. The Bridgeport park includes 370 acres of lawns, glades, fields, a skate park and two miles of Long Island Sound beach front.

The festival's lineage as a gathering of Grateful Dead fans is reflected in the headliner role for Phil Lesh & Friends plus lineup slots for Bill Kreutzmann Trio, Dark Star Orchestra, Donna Jean & The Tricksters, New Riders of the Purple Sage, David Gans and emcee Wavy Gravy—all performers with close association to the original jam band.

Other performers include The Black Crowes, The Neville Brothers, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival, Sam Bush, Taj Mahal and lots more.

The festival hosts a "Green Vibes" program featuring a variety of non-profit organizations and charities. Visit the festival website for complete details and ticket information.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

2008 Treasure Island Fest lineup announced

                                   Photo Credit: Static Multimedia

The lineup for the 2nd edition of the Treasure Island Music Festival, slated for September 20-21 in San Francisco, has just been unveiled by organizers APE and Noise Pop. While still following a general format of having a more "exotic" (electronica, worldbeat, hip-hop) collection of artists concentrated on the first day and a more pop/rock scene on the second, the festival has arguably grown in terms of the big-name artists its attracted, with Justice and The Raconteurs headlining.

Other banner names include Tegan & Sara, Vampire Weekend and TV On The Radio. And, of course, this lineup certainly isn't final. To get more info, go to the festival's website.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Outside Lands (Oh Mama!)

By Mike Ruby

As a festival reporter and potential attendee, it's high time I examine the lineup of San Francisco's debut festival, Outside Lands. First off, San Francisco is an amazing place to spend a long weekend. It's the home of the windiest road in the world, it's where some guy lost his heart, and it's where the legendary 49ers play (hey, shut up, they'll go to the Superbowl some day). I can't imagine a better location to hold an event of this caliber than Golden Gate Park, a place which I've visited consistently since I was a baby.
This is the first year that Outside Lands will take place, serving as a Bonnaroo West, of sorts. And wow, what a lineup. For an event that's yet to enter its freshman year, the organizers have sure assembled one hell of a group of artists. I do have one complaint though. Despite the fact that the lineup is great throughout, the organization of acts seems a little skewed. I don't want to say that the lineup gets worse each day, but the headliners get less amazing and the festival doesn't end on as strong of a note as was hoped by many festival-goers.
The first day of the festival looks nothing short of mind-blowing. Although it's only half as long as the two proceeding days, the two headliners compensate. Beck and Radiohead will supposedly be the last two playing on Friday. Radiohead, who will be the first band to ever play Golden Gate Park at night, is one of my favorite bands, and I'm anticipating their performance more than any other act at the festival, probably because I've never seen them live. The same goes for Beck, who is supposed to have a fantastic live performance. In addition, Cold War Kids and The Black Keys are something to look forward to.
Day two is also pretty damn good. But unfortunately, Radiohead and Beck are two acts that, needless to say, would suck to follow. Still, if Primus is as good as they were when I last saw them, that should be a surefire festival highlight. Also, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are always fun, but again, not the right band to perform on the night after Radiohead. I predict that Ben Harper and Devendra Banhart will be memorable. And of course, I wouldn't miss The Coup for the world. I'm also curious to see Steve Winwood and Cafe Tacuba.
Now the third day is the only one with which I have a bit of a problem. Let me just say that if you are a Jack Johnson fan, I don't think any less of you. But come on, that guy in no way deserves the closing slot for the festival. Frankly, I'm tired of all the hype around Jack Johnson. His slew of acoustic diddies that all sound pretty much alike don't have a fraction of the depth of the music of Tom Petty or Radiohead. And yet his mediocrity is being constantly awarded. I'm sorry, I don't get it.
My dislike for Jack Johnson doesn't fully extend to Wilco or Widespread Panic, but I do think both bands are overrated to a point where I'm plain tired of seeing them on festival bills. I'll give them points for talent, but it just seems anticlimactic to have these bands on the last day. The act I'm looking forward to most on Day 3 is Rodrigo y Gabriela. I'm also curious to see Broken Social scene and Ian Neville's Dumstaphunk.
For the record, my complements toward Outside Lands vastly outweigh my criticisms and with a little rearranging, this could be the ultimate festival. Stay tuned for more Ouside lands posts.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Plan ahead for winter cruise season

With the 2008 high festival season about to unfold, it is not too early to be planning your winter 2009 fun. Jam Cruise 7 might be all you need to tide you over. It sails January 4-9, 2009 out of Fort Lauderdale with stops in Belize and Costa Maya, Mexico and a lineup worthy of any big-time summer fest.

The performers include Les Claypool, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Michael Franti, Keller Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe, Leftover Salmon, Martin Sexton, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Porter, Batiste & Stoltz, Emmitt-Nershi Band, Bonerama, The Lee Boys, and lots more.

The MSC Orchestra has nearly 800 cabins with ocean view balconies, 13 decks, fitness area, jogging track, restaurants, theatres and shopping, and all the pools, Jacuzzis and baths you might expect on an elegant cruise ship.

Jam Cruise is presented by Cloud 9 Adventures. Bookings open June 4 at the Jam Cruise website.

Monday, May 05, 2008

2008 Coachella Pictures now up!

A little over a week ago, I got the pleasure of checking out the massive Coachella festival. With over 60,000 attendees, 133 bands, and 3 days of wonderful weather and great company, I managed to catch a few great snapshots. Here are a few of my favorites. Check out the full gallery here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Monterey Music Summit 2008 preview

                                   Photo Credit: Monterey Music Summit
While it isn't exactly there yet quantitatively, this nice multi-genre modern music festival, set to take place in the Laguna Seca County Recreation Area nestled in Salinas, CA, is shaping up to be quite like the Monterey International Pop Festival of 40 years before. I call this a "modern" music festival because, much like Monterey Pop, it's hard to pin down the stylistic center of the festival. Perhaps the biggest name here is Snoop Dogg, but he doesn't really come close to representing this festival. MMS is just in its infancy though; organizers should be praised for the number of major acts they've been able to pull together in just the second year.

Friday, May 30th, bounces from the straightforward hard rock of Juliette & the Licks to the multiphonic chants of the Tibetan Monks to the massive beats of The Crystal Method, to give you some sort of substantial idea of the variety of the first day. It ends with Sound Tribe Sector 9, who seem to be on the road 24/7 in 2008 (with Rothbury and Wakarusa in store for them later this summer). It must be said that STS9 possibly sums up the sounds of the first day the best, what with their equal usage of loud and soft dynamics, loads of drum tracks and filters and live instrumentation, though their sound is still much more akin to the Crystal Method than anything else. Perhaps their headline spot is also the result of the strong local support- they're based in nearby Santa Cruz.

Saturday, the 31st gives us The Crystal Method again, but perhaps settles into a general rock groove more than the previous day. However the day is still spiked by the likes of Filthy Gorgeous Burlesque, which is kind of a global all-star burlesque troupe, the bluegrass fusion band Hot Buttered Rum, and funk-reggae outfit Slightly Stoopid. The motif of pop singer-songwriters at the festival, started with Friday performer Paula Cole, builds with sets by Our Lady Peace frontman Raine Maida and the bookish Sara Melson at the beginning of the day, while perhaps Superdrag, another early performer, would probably also be heavily anticipated by some of those who came to see Juliette & the Licks.

The headliner tonight is Snoop Dogg, and while he's the only hip-hop artist at the festival, Snoop tends to transcend genre and be a master MC for all occasions and venues-- whether you're a fan of the very old ("Gin and Juice") or the very new ("Sexual Eruption"), you probably consider at least one of Snoop's songs a classic, no matter whether you're a big hip-hop fan or not. Thus, the organizers should be heavily commended for reigning him in, even if this means that the festival has to rely on a perhaps excessive number of local up-and-comers to fill out the rest of the days here. And by excessive, I only mean that the festival's financial base could have handled taking on a bit more major out-of-towners like Sunday's Taking Back Sunday and Coheed and Cambria.

Sunday, June 1st is definitely the rockingest of all, though there are some major deviations in the form of Ky-Mani Marley, the proper rapper of Bob's kids, drum'n'bass maestro Dieselboy with MC Messinian, and an Afrobeat collective called Albino! In addition, Filthy Gorgeous Burlesque and the Mystical Arts of Tibet Tour are each back for a second set on Sunday. The day definitely belongs to pounding skins and amp-stack fuzz, starting with South Africa's biggest-selling rock group Just Jinjer and ending with the emo-metal medley of Coheed and Cambria and Taking Back Sunday. In between will no doubt be some sweet long jams courtesy of Tea Leaf Green and New Monsoon.

It's Taking Back Sunday's headlining spot, or Coheed and Cambria's lack of that spot, that has me most intrigued when scanning the lineup for Sunday. Both have released albums more than a year ago (in TBS's case, more than two) that went to the top 10 of the Billboard charts, and both are cooking up albums to be released around the winter of 2008 or 2009-- about the same crowd draw, right? If you want to get nitpicky, TBS's newest, Louder Now, went to number 2 while Coheed went just to number 6, but then again the latter also have the advantage of the newer release. It just makes me wonder if the organizers and both bands just flew out to a conveniently located city, went to the nearby Marriott and flipped a coin to see who would headline on Sunday.

While there may be an abundance of standard rock and pop riffage to be heard in Salinas, that's surely not all there is to expect. And in the nights in between each of the afternoon-and-evening-long journeys through the festival's myriad modern (and Middle-Age in the case of the Tibetan Monks) styles, you can sleep easy knowing that organizers are striving to make the event 100% carbon-neutral through the selling of Nalgene bottles for use at free water dispensers, organic t-shirts, rebates for green vendors, and other strategies.

One-day tickets jump from $49 to $69 on Saturday and Sunday, and buying for the long haul saves you about $12 (depending on shipping charges), at $169. Camping sites are available, but will run you anywhere from $60 to $185 depending on how many people you want to bring along and whether or not you bring an RV. If you're planning on going down to sunny Monterey, then click here, to order tickets.

-- By Ross Moody

Friday, May 02, 2008

Rothbury lineup serves up diverse styles

By Kyle Skutch

The 2008 Rothbury Festival (July 3-6, Rothbury MI) is shaping up as one of the best festival lineups of the summer. It is headed by jam-band fan favorite Dave Matthews Band in one of just two festival appearances this summer (the other is Mile High Music Festival two weeks later near Denver). Playing jazz fusion/rock DMB puts on an unforgettable live show, but the diverse lineup draws from many sub-genres and will appeal to fans with eclectic tastes.

Yes, there is a stacked jam band line up, but don't neglect all the other acts ranging from psychedelic rock to hip-hop to folk to reggae. This is festival that has it all. There are scores of acts worth checking out at Rothbury, both huge name bands and lots of lesser known performers. Let's run through some of the top names after DMB.

Widespread Panic brings 22 years of experience to the stage with lots of jam band power. Deadheads will be sure not to miss Phil Lesh and Friends, bringing back lots of Dead classics with as much energy as ever. The Disco Biscuits are a mix of progressive rock, trance, fusion and aggressive jamming.

The Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Soul Stew Revival brings a combination of southern rock, blues/jazz fusion, and a jam band element. Gov’t Mule offers awesome energy and a tendency toward surprising covers of rock classics. Billboard top 200 regulars 311 defy genre classification.

The indie rock band Modest Mouse will take you through one fantastic live show. Blues-rock duo The Black Keys will bring music from their new album Attack and Release to the stage. Expect electronic rockers Crystal Method to entrance their audience with a mesmerizing live performance. If you are looking for electronica mixed with a jam band sound, don't miss Perpetual Groove and STS9.

For hip-hop, it is hard to do better than mainstreamer Snoop Dogg and his well-known stage antics. Underground hip-hop group Atmosphere puts on an awesome live show that is not be missed. Also in the below-ground scene is Brother Ali, a powerful rapper known for the political messages in his songs. And do not miss Thievery Corporation with its unique and self described "trip-hop/dub" sound.

This kind of something-for-everybody festival risks becoming an incoherent hodgepodge, or it can be a tasty mix of complementary styles that add up to a wide-angle view of the current music scene. My money is on the latter as Rothbury seeks to put its mark on the 2008 festival landscape.

Big Outside Lands developments

Two announcements from organizer Another Planet Entertainment today promise to make the first Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco a bit sweeter:

First of all, the festival just got several more performers to add to its inaugural lineup: Lupe Fiasco, The Black Keys, Jackie Greene, Kaki King, Liars, Nicole Atkins & the Sea and the fantastically-named Culver City Dub Collective.

Second, for those who have been dying to see just the series of either Manu Chao, Beck, and Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Wilco, and Widespread Panic or Primus, Ben Harper, and Tom Petty, single-day tickets are set to be sold on Thursday, May 1st.

Finally, how do we know who's goin' after who? Well, they've released the daily lineup for the festival, that's how.

To claim the single-day or multi-day tickets and see the new and improved lineup go to

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rothbury reaches new heights in sustainability

By Nick Frazier

Rothbury Festival is still more than two months away but already it is building some major buzz among music fans around the continent who are making plans to trek to western Michigan for the July 3-6 event. Festival organizers at AEG Live and Madison House Presents have assembled a group of musicians as talented as they are diverse, but equally interesting are the event's ambitious plans to break new ground in “green” festival practices—both in the management of the event as well as its content.

These days, lots of festivals are talking the talk about sustainability, but Rothbury seems to be walking the walk as well. Sure the music is the festival’s main attraction, with headlines acts The Dave Mathews Band, Widespread Panic, John Mayer and Snoop Dogg playing late into the night. But the heart and soul of the festival is in its mission to relate a message of environmental conservation to its attendees.

The informational content will be delivered in a Think Tank program of keynotes, panels and workshops on clean energy solutions and climate change. Leading scholars, scientists, youth leaders, writers, entertainers and politicians will participate. Announced participants include curator Stephen H. Schneider, Eban Goodstein, Hunter Lovins and Winona LaDuke

On the green practices side, the festival aims to be a “zero impact” event. In addition to policies on things like recycling and carpooling, special green initiatives include a “green ticket” option that includes a donation to offset carbon emissions made in traveling to the event, donation of solar equipment to local schools, a "green team" volunteer program and personal ashtrays to discourage littering. The organizers have obtained entirely compostible food service utensils, further reducing the gathering’s impact on the planet.

We'll have to see how successful Rothbury's green initiatives prove to be. If a media giant like AEG Live is spending money and effort on such progressive efforts, it may just a matter of time until ecologically conscious festivals become the norm.