Skipping Stones RecordsA small indie label with big ideas.
Friday, October 20, 2006
Popfest! New England - Sunday afternoon
Sunday was quite a hectic day, as there was an early show at The Elevens and we had to pick up Secret Shine at the train station. We hadn’t heard from them at all, so we were quite nervous. We didn't sleep well worrying and the next morning we woke up somewhat early. I found their phone number in England and left them a message – I figured that it was their cell phone number. Luckily one of them sent me a text message to let us know that they were arriving in Stratford, CT at about 11am. William went to go pick them up in our rental mini-van while I made sure there were enough places for everyone to sleep.
They arrived back at about 11:45am and we gave everyone tea and coffee. They were all tired, but at least we had a few moments to relax in the living room before heading out. Secret Shine is Scott, Dean, Jamie, Katherine and their new drummer, Ritchie. Also along for the ride was Rob. We had a chance to listen to our second sneak preview of an upcoming release, this time Secret Shine’s next EP, “Beyond, Sea and Sky.” It sounded great. Although I was in the other room, I heard string arrangements in the background!
The early show started at 4pm, so we left at about 2:30pm. It was a beautiful day and we had a lovely ride through New England on our way to Northampton. Katherine came with Chris Mac and I in the Volvo and “the guys” went with William. We didn’t really talk about much, we just enjoyed the beautiful sunshine bouncing off the golden autumn leaves.
As far as the schedule goes, Sunday went perfect. The Sawtelles from CT played first. If there's one thing we can say about The Sawtelles, it's that they'll play anywhere, anyplace, anytime. Gotta love that spirit! Peter had an amazing guitar with an amazing story. I can’t remember where he got it, maybe somewhere local, like a tag sale, but the entire guitar is made out of metal and it was from the 1930s. On the back was artwork like palm trees, because the culture of Hawaii was in fashion at the time. The guitar was probably fabricated by metal workers, giving it an industrial quality, but it was really beautiful.
Polar Bear Parade were up next and we were really surprised about how great they sounded. They just found a new bass player, Marta, who represented one of the several bands at Popfest who had female bass players. The concentration of women playing bass was extraordinary, deserving its own post in the Skipping Stones Blog (Christine also being a bass player). We also used this very cute quote as Polar Bear Parade's band description:
From: Marisha Chinsky
Subject: Re: Message from San Diego Zoo Web site user to Visitor/Guest Inquiries
Please get the polar bears on the camera. The view is only water. I have not seen the bears on camera in a long time. You should consider getting the moving camera that tracks movement like the Panda Cam at the National Zoo.
To: Marisha ChinskyBR> Sent: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 13:00:29 -0800
Subject: Re: Message from San Diego Zoo Web site user to Visitor/Guest Inquiries
Thank you for your suggestion. Please understand that our cam does not cover all of the areas where the polar bears may choose to go.
Here's a pic of Polar Bear Parade:
Polar Bear Parade were followed by Panda Riot - ha ha! They were totally cute - what else can I say? Girl on vocals / keyboards, guy on guitar. We really liked Surefire Broadcast. We're not sure where Hammonton, New Jersey is, but we sure hope that we'll get invited to a pool party!!! *hint hint* All the band members supported the other bands and were really enthusiast - look at this shakin' goin' on! Lisa was also representin' on the bass.
Here's a pic of Rodney on guitar:
Sunday, October 15, 2006
Popfest! New England - Saturday
I’m writing this a week later, so things are starting to become fuzzy. It took a while to come down from the “Popfest euphoria” and now it seems so far away.
There were very few errands, etc. involved on Saturday, just a quick trip in the afternoon to the store (Stop & Shop, of course) and then off to Northampton. Luckily the trip was a breeze and we didn’t need to be there early to set-up the backline.
Saturday’s show went very smoothly. The Antiques from Washington, DC cancelled and we didn't fill the spot, so there was plenty of room for in-between band set-up/break downs. We run the Popfest like a train schedule with barely any time in between. Saturday's schedule went something like this:
8:30pm - 9pm: The Lil' Hospital
9:10 - 9:40pm: School for the Dead
9:50 - 10:20pm: The Besties
10:30 - 11:00pm: The Smittens
11:10 - 11:40pm: Locas in Love
11:50 - 12:10am: Dyrdin
12:20am - close: Human Television
First up was Kevin from The Lil' Hospital, from Washington, DC, with guests MatPat on bass and Frank on drums. Our dear friend Bob K is also in the band, but a family emergency kept him at home. We were very sorry that he could not be there! Kevin is just too cute and the performance was really great. We hadn't seen them play since Athens Popfest 2004, put on by our friends at Happy Happy Birthday to Me Records in Athens, GA. I got a great pic of Kevin leaving at the end of the night on Sunday. He still looks cute, even when he's tired!
Next up was locals School for the Dead. Bassist Max said that they were a little "off" that night, but I thought they sounded swell! Many, many kudos to Henning, who also runs Rubwrongways Records who I sent many, many flyers to. The Besties had a tough time on stage, as Rikky's guitar suddenly went kaput in the middle of their set. Things were a little hairy, Rikky borrowed someone else's guitar and the strap was too high, but they were as fun as always. Here's a pic before his guitar went whack:
Here's another pic of bassist DaveZ from The Smittens and his favorite hand-sign. Is this indiepop or Budokan?
Look! Here he is again during Locas in Love!
Our pals The Smittens from Burlington, VT came on next. If you have a minute, go read their "fresh" and "exciting" website, featuring some great art by Dave. The Smittens were without the booming voice of Max this year, who is in South Africa at the moment. Special guest Kate added some french horn, which was marvelous:
The Smittens also had a few songs with guest musicians, including our very own William who played drums and most of The Besties; Rikky on guitar and Marisa & Kelly doing back-up vocals. Rikky also did a bad-ass version of "Gin & Platonic" on vocals. There was absolutely no practice involved, just exchanging emails, mp3s and people "doing their homework!" as Colin said. Here's William on drums and part of Marisa from The Besties on the left:
Next up was Locas in Love from Köln (or the anglo-sized "Cologne"), Germany. I started to love Locas when I first heard their track on the Stromundgitarre comp that also featured The Charade. Stephanie is also an accomplished artist and does all of the artwork for the band, including the cute shirts and bags with a screenprinted polar bear. We had never seen them play before, except in our basement, so it was a real treat to see this band live. I made sure that everything was cool before I got a spot up close to watch them. Bassist Stephanie had just bought a vintage Rickenbacker and it sounded great. At one point I yelled, "Nice Rickenbacker!" which Benny, their tour manager, got on the video. I guess I also yelled, "We get it!" - but I'm not sure of the context!
Locas was just amazing live and one of the high points of the Popfest. I don't know what it is about this band and the people in the band, but they are truly wonderful people and just thinking about them makes me teary-eyed. I think I almost did cry at one point during their set. It was just so wonderful to bring a band over from another country and introduce them to a new audience. Very little music from Germany "gets out" of the country, so it was great to give them this opportunity, which they certainly relished. Here's a pic of Stephanie (bass), Maurizio (drums) and Björn (guitar) a little earlier in the evening:
And this pic proves that Maurizio does smile:
From right to left, that's Niklas, Björn, Benny, Stephanie, Maurizio, Aileen, Rob in the back, Annabel/Beauty Sleep, Kate/Smittens & Colin Clary/Smittens
And here are some great pix during the show:
At this point something bad was starting to happen, namely that headliners Human Television wasn't there yet. William & I figured that Locas and Dyrdin could play longer, but we gave HT until about 12am to show up, which they didn't. Then I stood near the stage and tried to get the attention of Björn, but it didn't work. They finished their set with a dramatic exit and then I had to tell them to play for a little while longer. I felt so bad because they had put on such an amazing performance and built up to this wonderful finale and then I said, "Play some more!" It all worked out in the end, though, and they played a few more songs and the crowd was just elated. One of their final songs ended with a cover of "Molly's Lips" by The Vaselines --> Nirvana --> Art Brut. Watch the video here:
Locas in Love Video
Dýrðin were even more tired than Locas in Love, but they were okay with starting a little later. Here's a pic of Maggi, Einar(guitar), Anna (Maggi's girlfriend & mother of their two children) and Sue (keyboards/vocals/guitar):
We were so happy that they made the trip from Iceland - with Hafdis' new baby! We didn't get to see the little boy, but we heard that he made quite an impression on the plane with all of the Icelandair staff! Here's a pic of Kari:
Hafdis was also recovering from a slight cold, but they put on a wonderful show. Nick Karpowicz took some amazing photos, accessible here. I think the most enthusiastic people in the crowd were the Besties, who were taking photos like mad and dancing like crazy!
Here's one of my favorite pictures of Hafdis:
And here's Maggi & Einar looking like rock stars:
All in all, it was a good thing that we had a bit more time at the end of the night, as everyone got to hang out afterwards and chat and relax a bit before heading home.
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Legal mp3 downloads:
Morning by The Charade, from their first album "The Best is Yet to
Gravity Girl by superfallingstars, from their first album, "Swimming Across the Sound"
Buy Swimming Across the Sound
Prison Song, by The Besties, from their album "Singer"
The Truth About Stars by The Year Zero, from their album "Oceania, I Will Return"
Buy Oceania, I Will Return
Popp og Co, by Dyrdin, from their album "Dyrdin"
Here is a special treat!
Dream On by Celestial, from their album "Dream On"