For all you festivalgoers gearing up for the über-busy weekend, it looks like there’s a chance of rain in the forcast. At this, the B3nson collective are likely rejoicing. After Hurricane Irene sunk the back of historic St. Joseph’s church for the second day of last year’s Restoration Festival, anything milder than a tropical storm should come as good news.
In its third year, Rest Fest has grown to three days, an expanded lineup of national acts, an increased presence of food and craft vendors, and one highly anticipated local band reunion—that is, it’s shaping up to be the most ambitious event yet for the collective.
“We have changed things up this go-round,” says Louis Apicello, event organizer and member of Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned. “Albany’s fans have been real good to us in the past, even in the midst of the hurricane. Each year we strive to make the fest bigger and better and I’m really excited to see the turnout and public response to this year’s Rest Fest.”
Singer-songwriter and indie it-girl Sharon Van Etten will headline Saturday night’s (Sept. 8) festivities at 9:30, following Washington’s celebrated Mount Eerie at 8. The rest of the day will be mostly local, starting at 1:15 with Barons in the Attic, Careers, Dryer, Goldtooth, Philadelphia’s Hop Along and Sgt. Dunbar. Apicello says many of these local Fest vets “have been promising some special, one-of-a-kind performances special for this year.”
The proceedings continue on Sunday (Sept. 9) with Swamp Baby, the Ramblin Jug Stompers, Brian Dewan, Giles Bennet and the Petrified Woods, Brooklyn’s the Loom and the Parlor, culminating in a headlining set by singer-songwriter Willy Mason.
One of the festival’s most anticipated sets will happen Friday night (Sept. 7), after an abbreviated evening’s lineup including Better Pills and Common Prayer. Longtime area favorites the Kamikaze Hearts will be officially reuniting after a five-year hiatus.
“The Rest Fest crew brought this idea forth,” says the band’s mandolinist Matthew Loiacono, “and we all felt like it was a fitting venue, crowd and occasion to make this happen.”
“There was a retrospective on the band posted on obscuresound.com,” says vocalist and songwriter Troy Pohl. “We read it and I think it got us thinking about the past and the possibility of playing another show. . . . Five years is a long time.”
To prepare, the band have been revisiting their catalog of songs, numbering more than 50, to whittle things down to something workable. “At first it was hard to remember certain lyrics and arrangements,” Pohl says, “but it surprised us how quickly it all came back. For the show we ended up choosing songs that span our entire history as a band. We’re also playing some songs that were rarely played live.”
In keeping with the retrospective theme, the Hearts will be releasing a 30-song live album called Live 05-07, special for the festival. It will come as a 4 GB thumb drive that doubles as a bottle opener and will also include 50 minutes of multi-camera live concert footage from the band’s 2007 show at Troy’s Revolution Hall. Whether or not the show will herald a permanent return for the band is yet to be seen, although Pohl says they’ve got enough unrecorded material for a new LP. More important, he says, “I think the band is sounding better than ever.” Loiacono adds, “We are glad to be a part of the opening night of what is promising to be quite a weekend of music.”
More info on tickets and the schedule can be found at restfest.net.
Just down the hill from Rest Fest on Saturday, the Albany Riverfront Jazz Festival will be in full effect (see page 56 for info on the headliners) at the Corning Preserve. One of the event’s coolest perennial features is the Downtown Albany JazzFest Competition, a battle-of-the-local-bands to determine festival’s opening performer.
On Friday, eight local and regional jazz acts will perform at eight different downtown Albany venues between 5 and 9 PM. A free trolley will shuttle audience members from venue to venue where they are enouraged to vote for their favorite acts. Each ballot must contain at least three stamps from participating venues. The winner will be announced on the Downtown Albany Business Improvement Districts’s website (downtownalbany.org) by midnight and then will perform the following day at noon.
The layout is as follows: the Chronicles will perform at the Bayou Café, Pat Attanasio Quartet will play Bistro/Bar 74 State, Doctor Magnum will be at Blue 82, Erica Seguine/Shannon Baker Jazz Orchestra will play the Capital Repertory Theatre, Brian Axford will be at Carmine’s Brazilian Grille, Gabriel’s Groove will be at McGeary’s Irish Pub, New York Jazz Trio will play the Merry Monk, and Le Rubb Duo will be at Taste.
Keep an eye on downtownalbany.org for further info and competition results.
Out of the Woods
“Tethered to the earth, rather than the rolling sea of popular music’s current appetites, Sean Rowe has created one of the finest albums of the year.” This is what David Greenberger had to say, in these very pages, of The Salesman and the Shark, the Troy native’s follow-up to his breakout record Magic. But it’s hardly the only praise he’s received for a record that’s primed to earn him a solid national audience. The album premiered on NPR’s First Listen; a video for “Donwind” debuted on Spinner, and Rowe even landed on the Men’s Health blog with a video guide to wild foraging.
The record is available via iTunes and Amazon, but it’s probably best to pick this one up in-person, since Rowe will be officially celebrating the album’s release and christening his fall East Coast tour with a show at Valentine’s on Saturday (Sept. 8). Railbird will open, so expect Rowe to make an early appearance for the band’s new single “Jump Ship,” which also features Phantogram’s Sarah Barthel.