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Truck America

There’s been a major spike in the popularity of the stationary music festival this last decade. And as such destination-oriented events have come into vogue, there’s been a particular influx of these festivals in our region. And while all of these events are spiritual descendents of Woodstock, whether they admit it or not, it took a pair of Brits to bring to life a festival that not only honored the “peace, love and music” spirit of old, but paid tribute to the region’s great cultural legacy.

Truck America is an offshoot of the Truck Festival, brainchild of Englishmen Robin and Joe Bennett. Sitting near the Williamsburg Waterfront in Brooklyn, Jason Russo, leader of psych-rock band Hopewell (pictured) and a primary liaison for the festival stateside, explains, “The Bennetts were in a band called Goldrush. They were signed to Virgin when they were teenagers.” Goldrush played a harmony-rich folk-rock sound that drew heavily from the music our parents liked when they were young: “They basically loved American music, from Woodstock on, like the Band, Neil Young. I think that’s all English kids’ vibes—they’re into American music, whereas we’re into British Invasion.”

Russo, who originally formed Hopewell in his hometown of Hopewell Junction, N.Y., some 15 years ago, got to know the Bennetts, in a roundabout way, through Truck America headliners Mercury Rev (who Russo would later join as a touring bassist). “Mercury Rev at the time was touting themselves as the new version of the Band—this was around ’99. And [the Bennetts] kind of tied this whole thing together, because in their mind there was this whole Woodstock lineage, from the Band to Bob Dylan, on to Mercury Rev.” Because of his work with Mercury Rev, Goldrush decided to record with producer Dave Fridmann, who turned them onto another of his clients, Hopewell. “We became friends and ended up doing some tours together—like grueling, months-long tours where the average attendance was 11 people. The kind of tours that really make people friends.”

Around that same time, the Bennetts were starting Truck. The original festival, 13 years ago, was held “on a truck in the field next to their parents’ house. It was a success by teenage standards because about 400 people came, and each year it grew exponentially to where thousands of people come and major artists play and they’re voted best indie festival in the U.K. So they’ve become successful promoters. They’ve got a couple festivals per year that they throw in this tiny village where they live—Stephenton, outside of Oxford, which weirdly looks a lot like Woodstock and upstate New York. So basically these Brits are making a pilgrimage to the homeland, as far as they’re concerned.”

And they’re bringing the festival’s sense of community with them. A number of bands are performing for no pay, regional acts are helping out-of-town artists by setting up warmup shows around the area, and though the local Rotary might not be making the food (as they do for the English version) tickets were sold through the local record store, Woodstock Music Shop.

As for the music, Mercury Rev will serve as headliners, performing their entire 1999 album Deserter’s Songs, accompanied by a chamber orchestra. “Joe Bennett is the musical director for the orchestra. So he’s built a festival to have one of one of his favorite bands headline, and he’s in it.” And Hopewell, one of few bands I’ve heard that sounds like Jane’s Addiction in a good way, will play all three nights—one set of newer material, one “very weird retrospective set,” and on Sunday, an “all-star jamboree for anybody who’s still left standing.”

The rest of the 49 acts represent a wide variety of Americana troubadours (Tim Easton Gary Louris), new bands paying tribute to older sounds (the Bennetts’ new Dreaming Spires, ELO throwback the Silent League), and hipster-approved indie-rock—what Russo calls the “requisite bands that will draw people”—like White Rabbits, Here We Go Magic, and the Joy Formidable. There’s even one for the punks: Forgetters, featuring Blake Schwarzenbach of Jawbreaker and Jets to Brazil. And going back to that community thing, you’ll find several Capital Region bands on the schedule.

“Rumor is that Garth (Hudson) from the Band is joining in one of the jamborees,” Russo says, something that would be the ultimate reward for the Bennett brothers. “They want to play music with their idols. They want to have a party in Woodstock. They’re not necessarily monetarily driven.”

Truck America runs Friday through Sunday at the Full Moon Resort in Big Indian, N.Y. Weekend passes are $120 each, and include camping and parking for three nights; single-day passes are also available. For ticket information, call the resort at (845) 254-5117, or visit thisistruck.com for full festival details.

—John Brodeur

 

onedotzero: adventures in motion

Don’t call it a film festival.

The London-based digital arts organization onedotzero promotes “innovation across all forms of moving image and motion arts.” And for the second year in a row, the group will be back at EMPAC for three days of screenings, performances and installations featuring some of the world’s most cutting-edge work in the area of digital and interactive design.

Things get started Friday night with the opening of installations by visual label AntiVJ (a piece that uses light projections, 3D mapping, and “live painting”), Wieden + Kennedy (whose cell phone-interactive projections will be displayed on the lobby ceiling), and a music video lounge. Later that night, internationally renown DJ Diplo will perform along with local VJs.

Saturday and Sunday follow with a non-stop schedule of screenings covering everything from music videos to character animation, experimental digital shorts and motion graphic design. Saturday night AntiVJ and Sleeparchive will perform as the culmination of a three-week residency.

Pictured is a scene from wavelength 09, which screens Friday (April 30) at 10 PM.

onedotzero: adventures in motion runs Friday (April 30) through Sunday (May 2) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Experimental Media Performing Arts Center (Troy). All installations are free, a three-day screening pass is $10, and tickets to Diplo are sold out. Call 276-3921 for more info.


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