by Dan Bolles
Happy Friday, Solid State!
I just got wind of some pretty exciting Jazz Fest news. And guess what? It has nothing to do with jazz!
The Magic Hat Block Party on Church Street has become something of a yearly staple and is usually my favorite night of the festival. In fact, my coverage of last year's installment prompted the first round of bizarre hate mail directed at yours truly. Gosh, it seems like only yesterday . . .
Anyway, this year the ever-expanding brew-meisters are mixing things up a bit, veering from the typical jam/funk schmaltz that usually dominates the Block Party lineup and going strictly localvore. Frankly, I rallied for this for years when I was an MH employee. But my pleas always seemed to fall on deaf ears. I also lobbied to bring back Humble Patience, Heart of Darkness and Blind Faith . . . still waiting on those, I'm afraid.
Anyway, Magic Hat has certainly carved out a niche for itself in the jam band scene and has a noticeable presence at summer wiggle-fests like Gathering of the Vibes, FloydFest and Bonnaroo. So, in some ways, it was only natural that their local events almost always featured non-local hyphenated-hybrid acts — or, fucking jam bands. Boring, but natural.
With performances by Swale and Mathematicians at last year's Block Party, MH dipped its toes in the local/regional indie-rock water — a big step forward following The Great Jazz Guys Jazz Fest Debacle a few years back. Apparently, it took. This year the newly re-named "Magic Hat Bizarre" will exclusively feature local acts, representing a commendable cross-section of Vermont music.
Unfortunately, I can't divulge the entire lineup at present. But I have been given the green light to leak some highlights. Here they are:
Aussie cock-rockers Led LO/CO will headline the top block stage. Apparently they've once again been granted a brief release from prison. Why they always choose to spend their free time in VT remains a mystery.
Other stages will feature S'nalbans' finest, Farm, who are still pounding out new tracks in the Cave of Legends for a new disc. Also, um, on tap are The Aztext — I'm wagering this marks the first hip-hop performance in Block Party, or perhaps even Jazz Fest history — and a new project from Matt Hayes, the pedal steel player from rumored-to-be-defunct truck-stop rockers Chuch.
There's plenty more in the works and as info becomes available, I'll be sure to let you know.
Have a great weekend!