Woodstock it is not, more like the little adopted brother that followed
Woodstock around while it was getting big and thought "some day
that will be me!" The Wakarusa Music Festival (a.k.a Waka or
Wak-Fest for short) is that little brother; the five-year old little
bro that's working its way up to hopefully one day be as great as
its big brother.
With this being only the fifth [Wakarusa] festival ever put on, it's
apparent that it has what it takes to really be something amazing.
Between Wakarusa and Bonaroo, my generation has something to hold
onto for that down-to-earth kind of experience. What made this festival
even better? It was in Kansas! In my hometown of Lawrence, in fact.
For the first time in two years, I only had to drive 20 minutes to
get to my destination. Fantastic! So Thursday morning we set off for
our adventures at the Waka, this is a little recollection of what
From the first interview I did for Hybrid, I was thankful and grateful
for the opportunities it has given me. Never before did I think I
could do what I am doing now. Having the chance to interview all these
great bands of today has been amazing. So needless to say, never in
a million billion years did I think I would have the opportunity to
interview a great band/mind of the past. That was until I received
an email confirming my interview with THE Tommy Ramone. Tommy
is the only surviving member of the historic punk rock band The
Ramones. It is because of this man and this band that we as a
society today have the genre Punk Rock. You're welcome Bowling
For Soup, Sum 41, The Toadies and all the other
bands that call themselves "punk." However with his "brothers"
gone, Tommy has found another means of music. And his escape comes
in the form of bluegrass. His performance with the current project
Uncle Monk at the festival allowed for me to have a few moments.
So in the presence of his greatness I asked a few questions (and naturally
had to stick in a few about the Ramones):
Hybrid Magazine: Tell me about Uncle Monk. A.) Where did it
come from? Have you always had a bluegrass side to you? B.) It seems
that some of the greatest songwriters and musicians are drawn to bluegrass
later in their careers, why is that?
Tommy Ramone: a.) I've always loved bluegrass. When I was
very young and first came to this country my older brother would bring
home records from the library of swing bands and bluegrass music.
So I grew up listening to it. It's always been a favorite music of
mine. Though I it never occurred to me that I would be playing it.
As I grew up The Beatles and Rolling Stones came along
and I got into rock. But about 15 years ago I got a banjo and just
fell in love with the instrument. b.) I think that they discover how
great a music it is. It's so rich in feeling and texture. I think
they discover it later.
HM: A.) In your eyes are there any defining points in the
past 30 years that the music industry has changed its course? B.)
Do you fear for what it might become in the future?
Tommy:a.) I don't know if there have really been any defining
points, it's more of an evolutionary thing. But sometimes unexpected
things happen and sort of bubble up to the top. Music has gotten more
and more segmented, more and more genres, etc. It's sort of been happening
through the decades. Everything's getting a little segregated. Earlier
in the '60s and early '70s, people would listen to all kinds of music.
They wouldn't be so limited to having one favorite as they are now.
I think if people allow themselves to taste different menus of music,
they'll discover there's a whole world out there.
b.) There is certainly a lot of quantity, but the quality still seems
good. So I think that live music is much bigger now and it's more
going towards the live thing. I think record companies are going to
evolve more into publicists and promotional companies. It's all going
to have to be sorted out.
HM: Bluegrass music has an aspect to it that maintains its
sustainability throughout many years. What do you think it is about
this genre that keeps it (and its bands) around?
Tommy: It's sort of a language all its own. It's a cosmic
thing, that's also deep and emotional and kind of special. One has
to listen to it a little before they catch the bug. Taking up the
instruments in a progressive manner opens up doors with experimentation
and so many things can be done with just the instruments and the basic
ground work of those instruments. You can segment it into different
directions; it can have lots of branches and grow in different directions
HM: When describing how you write your music, you mention
you add texture (through different instruments), what do you mean?
Can you elaborate?
Tommy: The acoustic instruments themselves are very rich in
harmonics. It's also the influences of the traditional music we hear,
from recordings as far back as the 1920s. It has a lot of that old
mountain soulfulness. And the music is inherently textural, it's gritty,
and has a natural ambiance.
Ok I have to ask a few Ramone questions:
HM: With the music that you wrote and produced with the Ramones,
you pioneered a genre that has grown exponentially since. However
the punk rock sound has drastically changed. Are you happy to see
it change with the times, or do you almost feel an injustice that
it has changed so much?
Tommy: What they call punk rock has generated with every generation
of young people coming up. It's sort of in a way electric folk music.
People pick up instruments and just start getting their emotions out.
They can do it anyway they want to, that's what it's for. I'm glad
that they've found the genre so exciting, I like it a lot.
HM: When you were 18 you worked on a Hendrix album,
what an experience that must have been. Did you get to meet Jimi?
Was he as crazy as I'm sure everyone thought he was?
Tommy: It was so amazing. I was so young and at that time
he was some deity or something, it was very strange. He was great
and wonderful to work with, he was very nice. He wanted everything
just right, a real perfectionist. He would do take after take of stuff.
He would come up with incredible stuff. It was a real special time.
He was working on what would become the Band Of Gypsies. He
would put down layer and layer, track after track. And he died less
than a year later, leaving all of those tracks. The producers were
then allowed to produce them however they wanted.
HM: You produced the Ramones and an album for The Replacements,
do you get a lot of requests to produce things now? Will you ever
work on an album like those again or are you pretty content with staying
Tommy: Yes, I do occasionally. I would have to hear something
that would really excite me in a very unusual way. Usually what I
would get involved in as far as production would be something very
unique. It doesn't have to be any particular genre, just has to be
something that excites me and is something special. I'm open to all
kinds of things.
HM: It's been rumored that back in the day you played here
before at an old record store; do you recall this at all?
Tommy: I remember playing and I remember a lot of wooden pillars.
I remember we were on the border between Missouri and Kansas; we would
go across the line for some subs and then back across the line for
the gig. That's about it.
HM: If you could be a Muppet for a day, which would you be?
Tommy: That crazy dog, Rolf.
After I regained my composure and finished the interview; we decided
to head back to the campsite for some good ole' brats. While we were
finishing up dinner and enjoying the company of our new found neighbors/friends
(Mikey and Donny); we noticed that the music had stopped. What? This
is a festival, the music is never supposed to stop! Within 20 minutes
of that thought, a man in a truck drove by. And with his bull-horn
announced that the county was under a Severe Thunderstorm Warning,
70 mph winds and quarter sized hail. After contemplating it for awhile
we came to the agreement that the tent (and us) would not fair well
in that weather. So we, along with about 90% of the festival goers,
quickly packed up our stuff and made way for shelter. We would resume
the festival in the morning.
Upon our return we were informed that they had officially shut down
the festival around 8 o'clock the previous night, after strongly urging
everyone to leave and find shelter. That made us feel a little better
about bailing. We re-built our "home" and got comfortable
again before heading back to the festival grounds. One thing that
was nice about this festival was the press tent. I was conveniently
located right next to the main stage; it was shaded and always supplied
with water. Therefore it was an excellent excuse to basically hang
out there most of the time. You had a very nice seat for the shows,
a place to chat and make friends with the other press members, while
protected from the sunburns. So we made our way there, Friday afternoon.
The first band we caught was Apollo Sunshine. This band is
probably one of my new favorites! Sure some of their songs are a little
mellow and could probably put you to sleep but just wait till they
break out! Their music is a clever combination of chaos, guitar-heavy
psychotic-ness, interestingly placed harmonies, which are all set
to the tone that would make them perfect for a 60's diner jukebox.
This is one of the few bands whose live show does not do them justice.
I had to listen to them again at home, before truly discovering their
sound. After Apollo was Mates Of State who can contribute their
foundation to the very city we were all in, Lawrence. The couple met
in Lawrence in 1997 when they proceeded to form their band. Then,
of course leaving our humble abode for the West Coast, where they
began to really succeed. I am glad that they keep coming back. Their
music is of a different realm than Apollo. As a husband and wife duo,
you can already see where their sound is heading: melodic, harmonious,
and a large vocal range. They do however mix it up a little, by upping
the tempo in most songs to almost a techno speed. Perhaps a better
stage for them would've been [in] a club, because the complexity
and real intensity of their music was kind of lost in that huge outdoor
setting. As the Mates Of State finished their set, the press tent
began to fill. This was because momentarily Wayne Coyne, lead
singer for The Flaming Lips, would be joining us for a little
conference of sorts. As press conferences go, you never get to ask
all of YOUR questions. So a few of these are (sadly) not mine:
HM: How has this festival been treating you? You were at summer
camp a few weeks ago and now here.
Wayne: Yeah, we arrived last night and it kinda looked like
a war zone. I've found that there's some adversity that pulls people
together. Watching bands, taking drugs, that's some of it. But when
you have to rebuild your tent or find your underwear because it blew
off, I think that makes it more of an adventure for everybody. So
I'm all for that. I'm finding the festival season going great.
HM: Can you compare your previous shows in this area and how
they will compare to tonight performance?
Wayne: Well, like all these festivals that you don't really
know, from year to year if they're really going to exist again. And
anytime that someone is trying to do something like this, everyone
is coming from all around for the festival. So every time we do one
of these and we know it's done by the people there. When it goes good
we say, hey that was fun, lets do it again. And really hope that people
believe in it. It takes a lot to organize and a lot of risks that
the promoters take and when it goes good, I just try to acknowledge
that it was cool.
HM: You've been marked as "One of the top bands to see
before you die", do you feel that's intimidating at all?
Wayne: Well I like that that sort of alludes to the fact that
you might be able to see bands after you die. Everywhere I go, people
will mention that. What can you say to that? That's a great thing
for people to hold you up to, to have some standard and some obligation
and some level of anticipation. We use the audience; they do all of
the work. We sort of set up stuff and sing songs. But if the audience
doesn't respond, it's like blowing up a balloon when you just don't
have enough air. But if you really get into this thing, it could become
the greatest moment of your life.
HM: Can you tell us about the movie?
Wayne: Well tonight is only our second "premier"
I guess if you can call it that. It's going to be shown in our big
circus tent. We'll be serving popcorn and showing "Christmas
On Mars." We started making it the beginning of 2001 and finished
only a few weeks ago. I try to remind people that [among] all music,
art and films, they are the most powerful medium. You watching it
and your experience of it are really where all the power is.
HM: You've obviously been doing something right that you can
still bring in a crowd like this today. What sets you apart from the
"here this month, gone next month" type bands?
Wayne: I think it's just dumb luck actually. For whatever
the reason, we seem to be the band that when you come to a festival
like this, the things that we do: we put people in costumes, we put
big lights up and all kinds of crazy stuff. And somehow it seems to
work. But I wouldn't really know why, to tell you the truth. I love
doing it, I'm glad we get to do it. I wouldn't be surprised if tomorrow
everybody woke up and said "the Flaming Lips suck." Oh well.
It's sort of an inexplicable thing. I think sometimes the audience
sees something within your songs and within your presentation that
they make their own. We want everyone to live their own subjective
HM: If you could be a Muppet character for a day, who would
Wayne: Cookie Monster!
Twice now at this festival I had done interviews with two great
performers who were equally as great at interviews. The answers
are a press members dream. They had great content, amazing insight
and all completely and utterly sincere. This topped off the afternoon,
so we meandered back for some dinner.
the sun began to go to bed, we went to the Sun Up stage (ironically)
to catch Pete Francis. For those of you who don't know Pete
is the former lead singer of an absolutely incredible band by the
name of Dispatch. The band split in 2002 after being together
for roughly 6 years. They have since done 2 reunion shows including
the most recent one in 2007 at Madison Square Garden. Where they were
not only the first independent band ever to headline at the Garden,
but sold out not 1, not 2, but 3 nights. His previous band was one
of the most respected bands in the independent industry. They did
everything their entire time without a label. Besides being in love
with the music, Pete was one of the people I felt important to one
day speak to. Luckily for me, he's still making fantastic music with
his solo project. This time it's a little bit more toned down than
the sounds of Dispatch, but very strong in the Americana Rock persuasion.
This solo project was booked by the festival; therefore Pete was around
for the weekend. I managed to nab him after his set Friday evening.
We snuck away in the nice cool trailer and I was able to pick apart
HM: Your first solo album was released in 2001, however at
that time Dispatch was still around until 2002. So it's obvious that
this solo project was something you had been thinking about for awhile.
Was there a fear that Dispatch's reign was going to end, so a need
for another outlet? Or was it more a part of you that always needed
to get out and now had the opportunity?
Pete: I think at that time, the three of us had been writing
together for so long, but around 2001 we felt that creatively we were
going in different directions. The songs that I was doing were a little
mellower and I don't really think that they fit as much of a Dispatch
sound. So I kinda wanted to go in a different direction after I presented
a couple songs to the band and felt that they didn't like it as much.
So that was sort of the beginning when each of us started going our
own ways. I really wanted to make something stripped down.
HM: It was argued that Dispatch was rather hard to categorize,
pulling influences from a variety of genres. However, now on your
own perhaps it will be a little easier. Yet if someone heard your
music for the first time, how would you describe it?
Pete: I think it's a bit of Americana rock, but has a sort
of atmospheric element to it. Not just totally grounded, train ride.
But, more sort of spaceship adventures.
HM: You've been part of a band that was called "the band
that redefined independent music history", breaking records of
attendance and gaining much success without the assistance of a label.
You still maintain the independent status with releasing your solo
albums on Scrapper. This is a clear indication of the music industry
as a whole and how times have changed for beginning artists. How have
things changed for you?
Pete: As time went on in the band, we met and dealt with a
lot of record companies. And it seemed like they didn't want to put
out the type of music that we wanted to put out. That's where I think
that it gets a little dangerous. What the key was for us was that
we had connections to schools. I really think that was important with
how we developed as a band. We really did not play many clubs. It
was more the college, prep and high school scene. Eventually, we would
grow groups in places like New York, to where we were selling out
800 plus venues. Napster was a huge revolution, because it was this
alternative form of radio. We were actually fortunate enough to meet
Sean Fanning. Giving out your music for free through mp3 is
a smart thing to do for a band. Because then people are going to hear
it and it doesn't matter if they paid for it, because if they have
it, then they love it.
HM: When you three officially went separate ways it was said
that one of the causes was high tensions. This weekend Chad
is here with his band State Radio. Are the tensions still there?
Or is it just like old times?
Pete: It's good. When you're in this band and you're together
for like 8 years, you get too enmeshed with too many emotions going
on. Thinking back, if one of us were a little mellower, that maybe
didn't have had to happen. These last reunion concerts, there were
no problems. Kind of like old times. At the beginning of the band
we said: if this things turns into something where we'll lose our
friendship, then I think we should stop. We all three remembered that
HM: Going back to Scrapper. Who are they? Is it your label?
Is Bomber still around?
Pete: It's kind of similar to what Bomber is; Bomber is essentially
Dispatch's label. We've said at the beginning that we've wanted to
have our own label. Brad said that when something's "Bomber"
it's strong and we liked that image. We had seen other record labels
set up by other major artists like James Brown and Dave
Matthews, and always thought it was a good idea.
HM: Your music is sometimes described as pure improvised rock
and roll; can you explain how one would improvise rock and roll?
Pete: Within the standard form of rock and roll, I like to
break out of it. Like I love jazz and I like that moment in jazz when
you play the head and that moment that's improvised. What happens
is almost musical freedom. So I like to bring that back into my own
HM: Dispatch has taken you many places that a good percentage
of independent bands haven't gotten the opportunity. Where do you
hope your solo career will take you?
Pete: What I hope to do is good gigs, as well as have time
to write. And also work with new musicians. And I think that gives
us a fresh sound to the band. I would say though that the audience
is similar to that of Dispatch. The students are very excited and
respectful about the music.
HM: If you could be a Muppet for a day, which would you be?
Pete: I love that question. I wanna be Snuffalufagus.
By the end of the interview each one of the members of his band
had made their way into the trailer. Naturally being drawn in by
the air conditioning, I imagine.
With my work finished we went to the more appropriate Sun Down stage
and took our places for the Flaming Lips set. Now Wayne Coyne is a
free spirit, so I didn't expect anything less from his performance.
When I saw him inside of a giant blown up ball gliding across the
crowd, it was right in line. Granted, I was a little let down that
it wasn't new, I had seen that he has done the ball before. And from
what I've heard of the Lips I had hoped for something off the wall
new with each performance. Past that it was a pretty awesome show.
In the first song the Teletubbies (yes I said Teletubbies)
released tons and tons of practically rubber balloons into the crowd.
Never before have I seen so many 25-30 year olds have so much fun
with balloons. Every single person had a huge smile on their face.
That energy carried out through the entire set. They of course, played
all their huge hits and included a Led Zeppelin cover where
some girls in their "birthday suits" joyfully danced around
on stage. And any Flaming Lips set wouldn't be complete without an
encore that included "Do You Realize?" - easily a crowd
and fan favorite.
Within moments of their encore ending, we were in the Revival Tent
for Cake's late night performance. Now Cake was actually supposed
to have gone on before The Lips, but because of flight issues, they
barely made it on time for their re-scheduled midnight set. Now THIS
was the set I was most looking forward to. Cake was a major band of
my past, I had grown up listening to them and to finally have the
chance to see them live, had the excitement coming out of my ears.
What a sensation to see the man behind the voice that has come through
my stereo so many times. They played songs like "Sheep Go To
Heaven" and "Short Skirt/Long Jacket" which continuously
kept the crowd not only entertained but singing along. There was a
slight disappointment that they did not play "Distance,"
although I suppose they are entitled to not play a song that I'm sure
they are long since tired of by now. Their brilliant conundrum of
funk, rap, ska and pop just made you feel happy all over. I was so
glad that they didn't miss their flight!
It was after 1am by now, but we were far from tired. We were however,
physically exhausted and hungry! So after grabbing a late night snack
at the outdoor vendors, we found a place on the ground and took a
moment to relax while we listened to the musical styling of the Everyone
Orchestra. The Everyone Orchestra is not your typical ensemble.
They are a revolving cast of musicians who pass the "musical
talking stick" around the group allowing each member to conduct
the group. As the "stick" is passed the musicians move to
a new instrument. Creating a new experience most have not seen. The
music they play is a variety, but generally leans towards the jam
band feel. These guys have played with everyone from Phish
to G. Love and even presidential candidates. They fit in nicely
By 3am, we were done, even though the music was not.
After a fairly minimal amount of sleep, we got ourselves out of bed
and began our Saturday. Now this was one of the hot days and the sun
was already beating down on our freshly burnt skin. It made it a nice
day to seek refuge in the shaded press tent. First for the day on
the Sun Down Stage was our good friend Pete Francis again. This time
he played to a slightly large crowd, which was good. Quite perfectly
Pete was Chad Urmston or as some have come to call him: Chetro,
Chad Stokes, Charlie Stokes, Chad Stokes Urmston, Chay Stokeley, Chetroleum
Stokes, Chicoree, etc. Well, I like to call him former bassist for
Dispatch. Having already had the chance to see and speak with Pete
made talking to Chad that much better. Two thirds of Dispatch is pretty
good. First we caught Chad's set with his band State Radio. Now Chad's
music is slight different than Pete's. State Radio has a little more
of a reggae/rock character to it, making it very fun to watch. It's
really the kind of entertainment that gets those little body movements
out of everyone there. What I believe is if you took the sound and
elements of what Dispatch's music was and split them in two you would
get the Americana rock of Pete Francis and the reggae rock of State
Radio. Thus, why I believe their side/new projects make so much sense.
A few hours after his set, I snagged Chad as he was wondering around
with his skateboard and we tucked away between a couple of trucks
(with "Mad Dog" Mike - drums, in tow) for a quick interview:
HM: It's been said that you "road test" your music,
by playing new songs in front of audiences long before any official
recording. This could be considered a risk to some. Do you feel that
your fans' input is a major part of the music? Or do you simply want
to see if they like it?
Chad: I think it gives us a good indication of what people
like of our new songs. We get a lot of input from the audience and
we try to heed it. Usually our songs go through a lot of arrangements,
so we want to find that right one. Sometimes we'll play a tune for
a couple shows and then it's back to the drawing board.
HM: Three albums so far, with one that could be argued as
more of a re-working than a new LP. How has the most recent of the
albums Year Of The Crow been received by the industry/scene?
Chad: From what we can tell, the fans seem to like it. They
know a bunch of the words already. When we play live we only play
a couple songs from the old albums and people don't seem to mind,
so I guess we're doing ok.
HM: With the influences from reggae and rock, it's possible
that State Radio's style is a tad closer to that of Dispatch than
say Pete's work. Do you think that helps in bringing in the long-time
Dispatch fans? Or would you almost rather start your own new audience?
Chad: Maybe. We've been playing a lot more and tour all the
time. So I think that has more to do with it. Perhaps more exposure
is what's helping.
HM: You have more nicknames than any person I have ever seen.
Chad: I think it's just something that in case the Russians
parachute out of the air and are looking for me or something. Then
I'll be able to hide under my different aliases. I think we're just
waiting for one to stick. I guess I don't really prefer one of them,
just anything but Chad.
HM: Tell me about the music. Where do you draw your lyrics
Chetro: Just life, books and newspapers, experiences, other
HM: A hot topic today is the drastic changes that are taking
place in the industry. Do you feel that it's harder or more difficult
for bands today to get their music heard and become successful? Do
you fear for the future of the industry and music?
Chadicca: I think it's easier to get to a certain level, to
get out there on MySpace and recording's a lot easier (cheaper too).
It's easier to get the music out there. Though, it may be harder to
become a superstar today. I think those days are over with the big
record companies, with the few huge clients. I think the age of the
superstar is sort of dying. Now there's more of that middleclass of
musicians that are touring around and not really on the radio. I think
people see through the other stuff now and want what's real.
HM: When you three officially went separate ways it was said
that one of the causes was high tensions. Are the tensions still there?
Charlie Stokes: It's pretty good now; it's a lot better than
it was when we were playing together. Feelings are pretty good now
that we're not in the band on the bus.
HM: If you could be a Muppet for a day, which would you be?
Chay Stokley: Telle
Mad Dog: Animal
Chad and Pete are two completely different men, with two completely
different styles and two completely different bands. Yet in their
previous career, made up one of my absolute favorite bands of all
time. So, it's no surprise that I continue to enjoy their new music
After a break and an afternoon (ok, evening) nap, we were re-energized
for the night. In hopes that Mr. Ben Folds might be doing interviews,
we once again headed for the press tent. As we waited for the news
we realized that the crowd at the Sun Down Stage was just going absolutely
nuts! Taking a look on stage, we see that Leftover Salmon was
jamming out. This band has probably one of the most interesting names
out of all the bands at the festival. The unique name aside, this
band was pretty freakin' awesome. They're a jam band out of Colorado,
who blends rock, country, bluegrass, and Cajun into each one of their
songs. They've even come up with their own genre of music: Polyethnic
Cajun Slamgrass. Let your imagination work on that one. And then you'll
realize why there wasn't a single body in that entire crowd that wasn't
moving. I've seen my fair share of jam bands, but these guys are something
By the time we got the news that Ben Folds wouldn't be doing interviews,
we had started to hear a lot about the next band. STS9 (Sound
Tribe Sector 9) didn't really sound like the name of a band, but
more some government experiment that was going on. Regardless of that
fact, the people started to really pack in. And any time you asked
someone about them, the common response was something like "they're
incredible, there's no one like them!" Alright, we decided to
stick around. And
this decision didn't come lightly, as we would be sacrificing some
if not all of the Ben Folds set to see them. What we ended up seeing
was incredible. This is an instrumental band that brought in elements
like electronic music, instrumental rock, psychedelic and even hip-hop.
It was sort of like if Trent Reznor got together with The
Crystal Method and wrote some songs. Now that would be something
that you would want to watch. The coolest thing about their set was
the glow sticks. At the beginning of their show someone in the middle
of the crowd threw up a giant handful of glow sticks. But instead
of holding on to them, the people in the crowd began throwing them
in the air back and forth. Imagine you're in a field at night and
you see tons and tons of different colored glow sticks flying through
the air. That, coupled with the incredible lighting and music on stage,
made for one of the best performances of the weekend.
We gave STS9 an hour before making an attempt to catch some of the
Ben Folds set. However on our way we got a little detoured. Between
the Sun Down Stage and the Revival Tent (where Ben Folds was playing)
was the Flaming Lips tent. This tent was erected for the soul purpose
of presenting the Flaming Lips movie. Well conveniently outside the
tent was a Mr. Wayne Coyne. Who was sitting there signing autographs
for all of his fans. Now I have to preface that Wayne had been sitting
outside his tent we walked by to go to Leftover Salmon about 5 hours
earlier! I don't know for sure if he had been there the entire time,
but I wouldn't doubt it. So we decided to say hi to Wayne (and Kliff
- drums) and get our tickets for the movie, instead of seeing
Ben Folds. Eh, small sacrifice.
Exhaustion and tiredness was beginning to set in, but we knew the
importance of staying up for the Lips movie. So we pushed on to the
Revival Tent, where Keller Williams was playing his set. For
a one man band, this guy really knows what he's doing. He plays a
chord or a progression on his guitar then loops it into the computer.
This allows him to use other instruments and computerized elements
to add depth to the music, while putting on quite an entertaining
set. A "one-man jam band" is what he's been called and that's
just about right. He has the talent and the energy to equal five members
of a classic jam band. Although I'm guessing touring on a bus is a
little bit better with just one. We didn't quite stay for all of his
set, because we wanted to make sure that we'd get a good seat for
It was highly recommended by their publicist that I check out the
movie, so what the hey, I had nothing else to do at 2am in the morning.
Well let me tell you, this was quite a movie! It was disturbing, intriguing
and entertaining all at the same time. Not your typical movie, for
sure. But then this is not your typical band. I feel a tad reluctant
to really give out any information, more for the pure fact that I
want to pique your interest and make you want to see this movie. You're
curious now, aren't you?
With no major bands that we wanted to see or really even on the schedule
for Sunday, it turned into a straggler day. People would kind of wander
in and out of shows, not with really any purpose of more than just
listening to music. Therefore we followed suit. There was a brief
chance of speaking to a band, but another round of storms due to hit
the festival won over that block of time in the day. So we meandered.
One of the bands that we did manage to enjoy was the pleasant sounds
of Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk. Ivan is the son of Aaron
Neville, an award winning, nationally known blues and R&B
artist who has toured the world over for the past 40 years. With a
father like Aaron, you know the quality of music is going to be un-matched.
Ivan's band draws heavily from the family gene of R&B, yet mixes
in a bit of rock & roll. That mixed with a lot of "uh"
and "yeahs" kept your body wiggling. Leave it to Wakarusa
to mix up the style of music even more.
Ivan was pretty much the finishing touches on the festival. That
storm I mentioned was a mere hour or two away. And we really didn't
need to risk it by sticking around. Plus, come to find out because
of the damage caused that afternoon, a fair amount of the headliners
for Sunday night had to be cancelled. All due to the weakening of
stage roofs from wind damage. So, for my first time to this festival,
I would have to call it a success. I was able to catch a nice array
of major acts, locals, and even bands I've never heard of. And I've
come away with a lot. The chance to finally talk with the members
of Dispatch was a big step for me, but to be able to tell my children
that I had the chance to sit down with the legendary Tommy Ramone.
Now that is well worth all the ticks, the sunburn and storms that
the festival had to throw at me. Looks like this will be a festival
to officially add to my yearly circuit.
Wakarusa Music Festival
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