It is pretty much becoming a cliche for me to talk about discovering local bands at Summerfest, and to extol my affection for the completely local and independent Rebel Music Stage, run by Eoin McCarthy, leader of Whiskey of the Damned.
Well, Thursday the 6th was the day for both. I had a vague inkling to come down mid afternoon to catch some Emerging Artists, and then hope to catch a Wave.
The first artist, Beth Bombara, maybe is more of a regional artist than local, as she’s from St. Louis. But as mikey says, “Beth is truly the prettiest of the Bombara sisters…” and she is pretty talented as well. But otherwise, that was the furthest afield we traveled in the acts we saw on this day.
I had heard good things about this local act that piled eleven participants on stage. Standard instruments, horns, dancers, and backup singers. the Leader, D’Amato, had tremendous stage presence, a great voice, and was an Official Big Guy like me, so I see why his group is obtaining good reviews. But the hip-hop/funk they played was not necessarily in our wheelhouse, so we made the very familiar trek south a bit to the Rebel Stage, where we caught the last punky song or two by Newvices.
Up next was a band called WarPiper. They had a bagpipe, and opened with Ace of Spades, which should give you an idea of what they were all about. Most of their songs were covers, but well chosen and they were pretty fun. No recordings — yet.
At this point, Kyle showed for an extremely short interval, so we went to another stage to see an accomplished young emo punk named Whips, who are also drumming up a fair bit of buzz. I liked ’em, but I think a bit more maturation will serve them well. They have all spent time in other bands, so they are rapidly cutting their teeth.
At that point, Kyle turned into a pumpkin, so I went back to the Rebel Stage. Of course! A band called Blood Red Boots, from Chicago, was holding forth with a set of emo that had some prog overtones. The guitarist and bass player were both wireless, so they spent most of the time out in the crowd, on tables and such. The poor singer, with his microphone wire! He was limited to about 12 feet of travel. But they were a very accomplished set of musicians, and they have a pair of EPs, and now so do I.
Next up: The Roving Scallywags, an Irish punk band from the Appleton Valley. They were good! Alas, another band with, as yet, no recorded output. I hope they rectify it soon.
Finally, after a few delays in sound check and suchlike, Uncle Fergus’ Magic Whiskey Band came on. We saw them last year, and regretted that more people didn’t stay for their set. They play a lot of re-purposed covers, along with some well worn traditional songs, with a couple of originals like the story of Uncle Fergus and his Magic Whisky, which makes you lively, makes you frisky. In particular, they played a future cover: “The Ballad Of Jayne” from the tragically short lived sci-fi series Firefly. I think I was the only one there who recognized it.
so…you know how you go to see a band, and in between songs, there’s some asshole in the crowd who yells “FREEBIRD!!”? Well, I shamefacedly have to admit that are than a few times, I was that asshole (I got better….). But, of course, I never particularly liked it or wanted to hear it. So it was HIGHLY amusing that they got well into the first refrain before I recognized it, particularly in the rollicking Irish jig they rendered it in. But it got EVEN MORE FUCKING FUNNY when they mashed the song up with “Come Sail Away”. It was joyous and hilarious, and we decided it was an adequate end to a superb day that consisted entirely of local and local-adjacent new music. Ah Summerfest, Sometimes you inadvertently serve up the best of days without expecting to.