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If you are looking to do some adventure vacationing and wrap it around a music festival then The Sasquatch Festival is for you. Held in GEORGE, Wa. about 2 ½ hours from Seattle (don’t confuse with the name of the town with the name of the venue The Gorge) it is an unbelievable backdrop to for great music so it definitely wins the award for most scenic festival I have been to.

Even though this was my first visit to Sasquatch there were many acts I have reported on from other festivals or mused on their albums or that you may already know so I’ll give a quick recap of those acts followed by more in depth assessment of newer acts.

Again for the time challenged I will give a “shopping list” at the end for those who are saying…”I don’t wanna have to read all this crap…just tell me who to listen to.” So feel free to skip to the end and let the downloading begin!

Bright Eyes played a surprisingly rocking set for the pseudo folk-rockers but Conor Oberst’s ego was shining thru a bit (he played the whole set in a hoodie with hood pulled up) but great songs well done…Against Me! continues to get better and better even on my 6th time seeing them and here’s hoping they continue to keep the raw, fun edge they have. They have recently formed their own record label as to not have to deal with the major label oppression so let’s hope that keeps them the band we love…Best Coast gives a great alt rock show with a slant towards surfer grooves…The Thermals had a slamming set of punk influenced pop…Matt and Kim while good and sincere, are just a bit too cute and sweet for my taste (I think I got a mild case of diabetes from their set)…Iron and Wine had uncharacteristically bizarre and trippy set where I was expecting introspective singer/songwriter fare…Sleigh Bells allows for the most fun possible while getting your face taken off…The Flaming Lips / Wayne Coyne are out to lunch, dinner and breakfast but you gotta love ‘em (I won’t name names but there are some acts out there that could benefit from a dose of the sincerity and “this is how we feel it” attitude Wayne and the boys bring…Yeasayer continues to grow into one of the most artistic, interesting and unique acts in modern rock…Guided By Voices while a bit long in the tooth, managed to rock out on some old favorites and if you’re a fan, this was a great forum to see them…Rodrigo y Gabriela rocked the big stage and that is saying something when then only instruments on the stage are 2 classical guitars. If you EVER get the chance to see this act DO NOT MISS as what they do is astounding…Chromeo brought the hard yet fun brand of dance funk they are known for and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings continue to refine their immensely entertaining old school soul revue and Ms. Jones continues to grow into the mature love child of James Brown and Tina Turner.

Fitz and the Tantrums live up to the hype. If you are gonna go “blue eyed soul” on me you better have your… um…stuff together and these guys do. REALLY solid material and deft performances allow these guys to put on a great show and seemingly have a lot fun while doing it. Most of the tunes are up, fun 60s/70s R and B influenced fare and these guys are tight with ‘em. It’s one of those acts that you are not sure why but it just feels good.

Flogging Molly is one of those bands that I have always heard of but just never checked out. Well, I totally missed the email memo telling me how great a band they are. A friend described them as the love child of The Pogues, The Clash and Springsteen. An odd combo, on first thought, but this mixing of modes is actually quite cohesive. More rock and punk than The Pogues but less thrash and punk and more Celtic than The Dropkick Murphys, Flogging Molly is an amazingly energetic live show…this coming from the music itself and the performers who are having a great time on the stage. If you are like me and have somehow missed these guys along your musical journey, make the effort to see them live.

Foo Fighters – Bands like this are why we go to rock concerts…period!

It takes about 30 seconds of talking to me about music for me to tell anyone that I think The Decembrists The King is Dead is the best album of the year but I was not expecting to be blown away as much by them live. Nothing unusual or crazy just really great songs (new and old) played well with a bit of an offbeat attitude. Well, I say not too crazy but I did witness the guitar player dressed in a head to toe Sasquatch suit lead the audience in “I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love” by The Outfield…I mean if you call that crazy. But what to do when you have created a great new album with the Americana sounds of fiddle and Gillian Welch on vocals. How do you perform that with authenticity and replicate the record? Well, you get Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek fame to take time away from her John Paul Jones mentored solo career and tour with you. I have long been a fan of hers so big bonus for me and everyone who is lucky enough to see The Decembrists on this tour this year.

Pink Martini is quite simply an enigma. Why would anyone think that a small orchestra (about 20 pieces) led by a classical pianist playing a unique mix of Latin jazz, classical and 50s/60s cocktail music would work in a festival like this…but it does. I think it’s just SO different that it’s interesting. I can’t decide whether people listen to them ironically or because they really like them… just like I am not sure if the musicians are totally serious with what they are doing or they are performing with tongues firmly implanted in cheeks. Either way for the right occasion the recordings will work for you and it makes a great “palate” clearer in a festival that is a sea of art/alt/folk rock and electronica based acts.

Not since Matisyahu burst on the scene donning his true Hasidic garb yet laying beats and rhymes as good as most hip-hop artists has there been a more unlikely looking hip-hop troupe but Seattle’s Mad Rad gives him a run for his money. It’s hard to explain and it could just be a good gimmick but you expect these guys to bust out with some hippie type folk-rock but these 3 have a “thing” going. I have not had a chance to check out their recordings so I am reserving judgment but my interest is certainly piqued. This was a pretty big forum for them so let’s see if they breakout of their local band fame and make some national impact.

If you need another reason to claim that some of the most diverse, interesting and honestly some of the best music being made comes from Austin then White Denim could be your closing argument. It’s rock at its essence but with some “proggy” psychedelic, jazz-fusion and highbrow jam band sounds all thrown in the mix. All that being said it’s actually not too complicated instrument wise…2 guitars, drums, bass just played really well. It’s a bit like Umphrey’s McGhee if you are hip to them and again, I need to listen more but their set has intrigued me to do so. After seeing them and forming my positive opinion, I read a Rolling Stone review of their new album (4 out of 5 stars) that hopefully will raise their profile a bit.

Aloe Blacc brings the old school soul and there is not too much you would call modern about it although Blacc has experience in the electronic producing and DJing world but for this act, it’s a trip back to true soul sounds of the 70s. This is Bill Withers-type soul with poignant in depth songwriting (check out his hit “I Need a Dollar”) but there is a good dose of Al Green in there as well. BLACC doesn’t really sound like either of these singers and I’m not sure if he has found his own unique voice yet but it’s pretty damn good as is and I hope he continues to get this very cool neo-soul out there for all to hear.

For me the best new act I heard was Wye Oak. Another 2-member male/female duo, they play great alternative tunes with that ambient, dreamy feel that is so popular with the young children these days. The song writing is serious and they put on a great live show for two people. I have been hearing about this duo from Baltimore for a while and was glad to get to see them. They are first up in my “to download” queue.

While I’m not sure that we need another Pacific Northwest indie/folk/pop outfit but The Head and the Heart rises above the normal fare. This, however is not another hippie-jam act but one that centers on great songwriting, solid playing and great singing. The three voices that make up these gorgeous harmonies have a blend that makes the whole much greater than the sum of it’s individual parts…they fit perfectly together. The music is acoustic guitar and piano driven and not too complex but not just for the background either. Some of my favorite music I heard.

Are you lookin’ for a heapin’ helpin’ of good Texas Blues (and who isn’t) with a big side of “stanky” and a dollop of Ike Turner? Then Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears is what you need to order. This is the nastier, more low-down side of the blues and for me that makes them even more of a great act. Joe has been schooled in all the right stuff (Hendrix, Stevie Ray, Clapton) and he brings his bag with his own unique Austin twist. But make no mistake; this is no playtime but a SERIOUS take on modern blues.

For those of you that just want a “shopping list” of new stuff check out:
















Best Act
THE FOO FIGHTERS (hands down)

Band To Watch Out For
FOSTER THE PEOPLE: I know I didn’t write anything about them but all the same don’t be surprised if all of a sudden they are everywhere.

Best Band (that’s been around for a while) That I Somehow Missed Out On

Best Band To Have Play Your Party (I always like to give this award but this time it all depends on what kind of party you are having)

A Fancy Yet Hip Cocktail Affair

A Fraternity Party

A Get Low Down-Get Drunk Jam

A Party Held In A “Happy” Club

A Rooftop Party With All The People You Actually Like


I am off on Wednesday for one of my favorite 4 days of the year…The Bonnaroo Festival. Look for daily updates as there is going to be MUCH…old and new…to talk about.


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Clem emerged from the underbelly of NashVegas where he began his love of ALL things musical. College found him in the commercial music program at the University of Miami where he actually learned what the hell he was doing. New York was next and whether he “made it there” is still up for debate. From playing in the honky-tonks of Nashville and the dance clubs of Miami to Broadway and theatrical stages around the country, to Carnegie Hall (while practicing one day somebody told him how to get there) and the recording studios of New York and L.A., Clem’s variety of musical experience has transcended the boundaries of genre. He owns a production company, lectures on music in colleges across the country and is on the visiting faculty of Elon Univ. He has a port-o-johns named after him at Bonnaroo, Coachella and Lollapalooza.