[sixties-l] A groovy, jam-filled Berkfest

From: radtimes (resist@best.com)
Date: Mon Aug 13 2001 - 17:14:31 EDT

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    A groovy, jam-filled Berkfest


    By Steve Morse, Globe Staff, 8/13/2001

    GREAT BARRINGTON - John Sinclair, a poet, activist, bluesman, and onetime
    friend of John Lennon, surveyed the mellow Berkshire Mountain Music
    Festival scene and voiced his hearty approval: "This is like the old days -
    very relaxed. And the music is great. It's not some geeks with a Top 10
    More than 7,000 fans - mostly of the hippie persuasion, both neo- and elder
    - attended the so-called Berkfest this weekend. Many camped in the woods
    and meadows around the Woodstock-like Butternut Ski Basin, emerging to hear
    top-flight jam sets by the likes of moe., Strangefolk, Olu Dara, and the
    Steve Kimock Band. Dara was the surprise of the weekend with his
    Afro-tinged country blues/funk (think Gil Scott-Heron meets the cooler side
    of James Brown). He enraptured a packed side stage of fans and danced among
    them while blowing trumpet licks.
    There were five stages in all, connected by a verdant path along "Berkfest
    Boulevard," where vendors hawked hippie crafts and clothing under tents
    bearing the colorful names of the Grateful Hut, Brighter Daze, and Honey
    Love & the Butterflies. "There are good vibes everywhere," said Andy
    Gadiel, founder of the Web site jambase.com.
    Added Seth West of Boston: "I'm a glass blower, and many of my students are
    hippies, so I had heard about this festival, but this is the first time I
    attended. I've been to 100 Grateful Dead shows, but I've heard some of the
    best improvisational music of my life right here."
    Jam-band stars moe. (scheduled to play two nights at the Orpheum Sept.
    13-14) captured the main-stage crowd with a forceful set of sonic
    experimentation capped by a twisting run through Steely Dan's
    "Bodhisattva." Strangefolk also had its moments, stretching instrumentally
    (sounding like a young New Riders of the Purple Sage at times), though its
    vocals were sometimes strained. And Mike Clark's Prescription Renewal added
    an inspiring dose of rootsy funk to the main stage.
    The side "showcase" stage was also well worth a visit. In addition to Dara,
    the Slip (an impressive merging of colors from bebop to a jazzified cover
    of Chuck Berry's "Maybelline") and Jiggle, both Boston bands, played there.
    The hard-rocking, world-music-spiced Jiggle (a cover of Paul Simon's
    "Graceland" was exquisite) is about to break up, though one wonders why.
    The momentum and good graces this group has built in the last few years
    should keep it around.
    Two Berkfest stages were indoors in sauna-like ski lodges (no surprise that
    most people stayed outside). S tarring there were Wax Poetic (an acid-jazz
    act with a sultry, neo-soul female singer), the Steve Kimock Band (Kimock
    toured with the post-Grateful Dead the Other Ones, and played sweet blues
    solos), and Sector 9, a brain-scrambling, electronica-flavored jam band
    from Atlanta. Also worth a mention: Jamie Janover, a virtuosic hammer
    dulcimer player who set up under a tree.
    The attendance of 7,000 was down from last year's 11,000, but the event
    still broke even and expects to be back next year for the fourth time.
    "We've had great feedback from the town and locals this year," said
    promoter Andrew Stahl of Boston's Gamelan Productions. "I'm tired, but
    we've had a great time."

    This story ran on page B8 of the Boston Globe on 8/13/2001.

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