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Southern Shore Music Festival: The Rundown.

Southern Shore Music Festival: The Rundown.

The Southern Shore Music Festival returns to Millville on Saturday, June 19th filling the Cumberland County Fairgrounds with a wonderful blend of folk, rock, country, jam, and blues acts. Headlined by Little Feat, the festival also features performances by Trout Fishing in America, The Lee Boys, Dala, Elizabeth Cook, Splintered Sunlight, and The Sin City Band. Admission is $25 in advance or $35 at the gate. Children under 12 are admitted free. The festival continues the spirit of the long-running Bridgeton Folk Festival, which finished a run of 23 years in 2006. The Southern Shore Music Festival took over the following year and has since brought acts such as Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Dr. John, Cowboy Junkies, Arlo Guthrie, David Bromberg & Angel Band, and the late Robert Hazard to South Jersey. Both festivals were founded and run by promoter Bob Rose.

If you are looking for a nice festival to take the kids, this family-friendly event should be high on your list. In addition to featuring great music, it’s a festival free of alcohol or drugs. What you will find is between 1500-2000 people enjoying 8 hours of artists that rarely perform around here, but can often be heard on your local NPR station or satellite radio. Attendees are encouraged to bring blankets for seating or folding chairs and since it’s a rain or shine event umbrellas are welcome as well. Craft booths, souvenir stands, and plenty of food vendors help create the perfect festival experience. There’s even a booth where you can meet some of your favorite radio DJs like Gene Shay (WXPN), Michael Tearson (XMSirius), Kathy O’Connell (WXPN’s Kid Korner), along with two DJs (Elizabeth Cook from XMSirius’ Outlaw Country and Scott Birney from WVUD) who are also performing at the festival!

The festival gates open at 11:00am and the music kicks off with The Sin City Band at noon. Based in Delaware, the band has been performing country and swing music for over 30 years.

Next up is Splintered Sunlight, one of the most popular Grateful Dead tribute bands in the Mid-Atlantic region. They’ve been playing a mix of the Dead and their own original jam band tunes since first entering the scene in the early ‘90s. I’ve seen these guys in small clubs and at festivals and festivals really make the band’s music come alive! You can hear tunes and view videos of the band here.

At 1:45, Dala - one of the artists I am most looking forward to seeing - hits the stage. Featuring the Toronto-based duo Amanda Walther and Sheila Carabine (the band’s name was formed by combining the last two letters of each artist’s first name), Dala’s acoustic pop has become a popular fixture in Canadian music and can often by heard on Sirius radio. Their trademark sound derives from the harmonies created by the combination of Amanda’s soprano and Sheila’s alto. Beautiful harmonies on “Levi Blues”, wonderful “Alive” that gets played often on Sirius’ Iceberg channel, “Northern Lights.”

Elizabeth Cook, who follows Dala, brings her blend of alt-country/Americana to Millville just a few weeks before she starts a month-long summer tour of England and Scotland. The youngest of 11 half-brothers and sisters, she grew up in rural Florida where her musician parents met while playing in local country bars. While music may have been in her genes, Elizabeth has made the most of her talent and has been turning heads in the country music scene for the past decade. Fellow artist Nanci Griffith heaped high praise on Elizabeth when she called her “this generation’s Loretta Lynn.” You can hear Elizabeth on XM Sirius Outlaw Country radio.

At 3:45pm, The Lee Boys offer some “Sacred steel”, a type of music described as an inspired, unique form of Gospel music with a hard-driving, blues-based beat. The musical genre is rooted in Gospel, but infused with rhythm and blues, jazz, rock, funk, hip-hop, country and ideas from other nations. If you are a fan of Robert Randolph and the Family band you’ll most likely enjoy these guys. The band consists of three brothers, Alvin Lee (guitar), Derrick Lee, and Keith Lee (vocals) along with their three nephews, Roosevelt Coller (pedal steel guitar), Alvin Cordy, Jr. (7-string bass), and Earl Walker (drums). You can hear their blend of rock, jam, and soul here.

Trout Fishing in America, up next, is the long-standing musical partnership of Keith Grimwood and Ezra Idlet. The folk rock band’s name was taken from a Richard Brautigan novel, which isn’t nearly as strange as the sight of 6’9” Grimwood on guitar next to 5’ 1/2” Idlet on bass. Together, they have garnered four Grammy nominations through three decades of writing, recording, and performing together.

Closing out the night is the headliner Little Feat who is scheduled to begin around 6:30pm. This legendary band was founded in 1969 by Lowell George at the suggestion of Frank Zappa who felt George was too talented to simply be a member of his band The Mothers of Invention. Little Feat will hit music festivals this year from coast to coast, across Canada, and all across Europe including the popular Gathering of the Vibes Music Festival in Bridgeport (CT), Vancouver Island MusicFest (BC, Canada), and Fairports Cropredy Convention 2010 in the United Kingdom. The band plays an eclectic blend of rock and roll, blues, country, folk, R&B, funk, and jazz fusion throughout its set.

The Southern Shore Music Festival promises to be one of the most exciting days of music in the Southern half of the state this summer. Jersey Arts will be blogging live from the festival. We hope to see you there!

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Southern Shore Music Festival: Gary's Picks

I’m the kind of guy that loves discovering new artists. I tend to laugh when people say there’s no good music anymore because I believe the more you listen to current artists, the more you realize just how much great music is out there these days. Maybe that’s why I run an online radio station that plays independent artists that most people have probably never heard of before; Those same independent artists are the backbone of music festivals like the Southern Shore Music Festival.

Personally, I think I’m most excited to see Dala. I’ve always been attracted to artists from Canada and actually stay on top of the current scene through the Sirius radio channel Iceberg 85 on a regular basis where they have been playing “Alive” by Dala in regular rotation. In addition to their wonderful harmonies, Dala’s music features simple, poetic lyrics that evoke Patti Smith songs somewhat. Check out some lyrics from the haunting song entitled, “Horses” (ironically, the name of Smith’s debut album).

I am the boy who won’t let go I live in my head And I don’t like my photos. And I hate the sound of the world outside ‘cause everybody coming here can’t wait to say goodbye

And I followed your car to my childhood home And I looked for the key hidden under the stone And I still hear the sound in my father’s voice When he lifts me up, like I’m a little boy

But I saw horses from my window They were watching all the cars go And they don’t care that I am broken Close my eyes and run beside them But I’m already free, And I’m already free So don’t look for me here ‘cause I run in my dreams

Besides Dala, I’m looking forward to a festival lineup that reminds me of the same vibe as the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (which now features nearly every genre of music in addition to jazz). I was lucky enough to attend that festival last year and had a great time moving from one type of music to another. This year’s Southern Shore Music Festival has a similar feel with a mix of singer-songwriter, country, jam band, folk, blues, and cajun-flavor. The festival headliner - Little Feat - truly brings the spirit of New Orleans to the stage. I’m looking forward to finally seeing this band live as anybody that grew up with New York radio stations like WNEW or WPLJ, as I did, has grown up with songs like “Let It Roll”, “Feats Don’t Fail Me Now”, and, of course, the legendary “Dixie Chicken”.

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If you'll be my Dixie chicken I'll be your Tennessee lamb And we can walk together Down in Dixieland Down in Dixieland

Of course, there’s nothing better than chilling on a summer’s day with Splintered Sunlight. I’ve seen this band several times in both clubs and on outdoor stages and truly believe they were meant for the festival world. There’s just something special about seeing them on a big stage with the sun beating down and a slight wind blowing - it sort of adds to the Grateful Dead vibe. Speaking of the sun, the best tip I can offer for those who may be attending a music festival for the first time is to remember to bring sun screen. Even if it is a cloudy day, you’ll get enough rays through the clouds over eight hours to wake up with a nice sunburn in the morning. Trust me, music writers always learn this lesson the hard way!

Nicole Atkins and XPN

Nicole Atkins and XPN

Passage Theatre's Play Lab

Passage Theatre's Play Lab