Words By: Kiki Ferguson
Photos By: Greg Horowitz
Disc Jam 2014 was a huge success this year, resembling the years prior, being joined by a plethora of outstanding artists from the MA area and surrounding states. Disc Jam brings the community together through marvelous music, yoga, hooping, countless forms of art, and when all combined they make for one memorable weekend. The vibe at Disc Jam is like no other festival. Conveniently walk a couple minutes from your campsite to one of the three stages, or even to one of the pools, routinely bumping into your favorite musicians or friends, and not to mention the amount of magic that goes down on stage. With all these artists in close proximity, and most of them having some sort of a relationship with one another, the special guests features and sit-ins are immeasurable, never knowing what surprise you’ll get while watching your favorite band.
As the sun set and created a picture perfect environment the masses gathered at the Rage Stage for a healthy serving of a Psychedelic Breakfast. The Breakfast led by constant shredder Tim Palmieri set sail at 6PM and didn’t slow down one bit until their set came to an end an hour later. The Breakfast doesn’t tour regularly as they did in the past, giving much anticipation to their set at Disc Jam. The band even brought it back to ’99 playing tracks off their debut album Psychedelic Breakfast. As their set was wrapping up, the energy was still towering and remained high all night, as we were about to embark on a funk filled voyage.
With no time to twiddle our thumbs, we moved right over to dance the night away as the sun was setting with one of our favorite bands, Twiddle. They opened their set up with “Brown Chicken Brown Cow.” The boys are always so friendly, greeting and thanking the crowd per usual. It wasn’t long before they blessed us with their new track “Be There,” a meaningful track, because we all know things are getting better, were just waiting for a change of weather. This song really shows off Mihali’s songwriting and story telling talents. It’s only a couple weeks old, but somehow tons of fans in the audience were all singing along, just proving that the Twiddle love stretches far and wide!
Ryan Dempsey brought out a little buddy Connor to help out with the vocals on “Somewhere over the Rainbow.” That was followed by “Cabbage Face” into an amazing “Polluted Beauty” where Mihali had a mind melting solo that had us all screaming for more. Stepping right into “The Box” with no hesitation, smiling as I look around to see everyone singing along, Twiddle magically brings everyone together. And this wouldn’t be a complete evening without some “Apples.” The love was felt throughout the set, as it came to an end, but that party was just getting started. We switched gears and stepped to the right to take a funky flight with the Brooklyn funk crew known at Turkuaz.
Setlist: Brown Chicken Brown Cow, Syncopated Healing, Be There, Hattie’s Jam > When It Rains It Pours, Cabbage Face, Polluted Beauty, The Box, Gatsby The Great, Apples.
Dave Brandwein might have chopped off his hair, but his funky flow hadn’t gone anywhere. Turkuaz, a Brooklyn based nonet is bringing back that Motown funk, and they’re taking the whole family along for the ride.
The band took a brief break from the funk to wish a very happy birthday to bass player Taylor Shell, before they got right back to it with “Snap Your Fingers.” The band then brought funk to a new level covering the Joe Cocker classic “Feelin’ Alright,” before jumping into some Talking Heads rocking to “Girlfriend is Better.” Turkuaz kept us moving all night setting up a seamless transition to the funk ninjas, Kung Fu.
The funky crew known as Kung Fu got an appropriate introduction to the night, being the last act on the stages for the night, these guys already knew they had to turn Disc Jam on their heads with this one. The band rocked out one song to the next including some of their older tracks as well as some newer tunes of their latest release “Tsar Bomba.” Each song featured powerful solos from every band member as they rocked out one of the best sets we’ve ever witnessed Kung Fu perform.
With our minds now fully blown away we headed to the Disc Jam Music Hall to hear a solo acoustic set from Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle. Mihali is such an incredibly talented musician. From his guitar playing to his unique singing style, and his ability to create music with so much behind every lyric he writes. It’s truthfully the reason why Twiddle is taking off and on the verge of becoming the next big band to come out of the jam scene. Combining the talents of Mihali, Zdenek, Ryan and Brook, has created the incredible sound we know today as Twiddle. But this late night set was about to be something special and everyone in the room could feel it.
Mihali sat in his chair on stage, grabbed his guitar, looked up and asked what he should play. That’s his style. No setlist written, just playing with his gut and doing what he and the fans wanted to hear. His one man show is truly inspiring. Each song, he’ll play some chords and loop them, then beat box and loop that, then play guitar on top of those loops and sing. By the time he’s getting into each song, it sounds like a full band is on stage. He performed a number of Twiddle songs as well as covers of “Best Feeling” by Keller Williams and a smoking cover of “Grey Street” by DMB that ended with two broken strings on his guitar, adding to the already authentic DMB vibe Mihali creates. He closed out his set with his Glycerine mashup that combines No Woman, No Cry, Farmhouse and Wagon Wheel into one single jam.
And after a brief intermission it was time to boogie to the electro rock sounds of The Indobox hailing from Boston, MA. The high energy brought by these guys is immeasurable. You would never know it was a quarter past two the way everyone was dancing and moving around the Music Hall. The band kept the crowd on their feet as they played some new tracks off their latest EP, Shapes and Colors.
The late night music was closed out by none other than Tim Palmieri doing a solo acoustic set. Like Mihali, Tim enjoys looping and building guitar riffs when he plays. His set featured a number of covers and improv jamming including “Blackbird” by the Beatles as well the Paul Simon classic “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard.” He even covered one of our favorite Bob Dylan tracks, “The Man In Me.”
Starting things off bright and early were the boys from over the Hudson, Fikus, who kept us funky while enjoying some morning rays and mimosas. As the morning slowly transitioned into the afternoon, we set a blanket down and relaxed for the next couple acts after a very long night of music the night before. As we sat back and relaxed, we got to enjoy the sounds of Santa Mamba, Ghosts of Jupiter and Aqueous.
The Buffalo based group, Aqueous always keeps the crowd energized and had me particularly pumped while they were playing some Weezer, “Surf Wax America” right into “Say It Ain’t So.” I jumped up and started grooving and singing along. And just when their set was simmering down, I was going to sit back on my blanket until the Goosepimp Orchestra came on and I proceeded to do my funky march in place. This ensemble squeezes countless musicians on stage, creating this funky, melodic, vibrant sound that leaves you with a smile. Both members of The Hornitz are also perfectly squeezed into this musical explosion, adding endless funk and flavor.
The Boston boys were back at it again, this weekend at Disc jam, dropping some minding melting bass accompanied by some glitchy melodies that seem to take control over each person as Lespecial always makes each set special. Keeping the crew weird with one of my favorites “Dangus Khan” and “Crusher”, I love how Lespecial follows no boundaries, getting freakishly funky and sometimes adding to the mass confusion covering Primus or other Les Claypool classics. As their set neared the end it was time to relax and skank it up a bit with Dub Apocalypse.
One thing I am constantly saying to myself is that most festivals need to incorporate more reggae within their lineup. With the sun starting to set it was a perfect time to relax and kick back to some funky reggae music. After some much needed bliss it was time for New Haven, CT’s own Cosmic Dust Bunnies here to take us on a journey.
The Cosmic Dust Bunnies coming from their drummer Eric’s wedding the day prior were ready to celebrate in full fashion. Bringing with them their unique, spacey jams to take us away and spin us around. The CDB wasted no time getting right into things, even playing some new tracks of their most recent EP Skyward. And before I could look at my watch the hour was over and it was now times for Alan Evans’ Playonbrother.
Alan Evans joined on stage by Beau Sasser and Danny Mayer, is Playonbrother, formally known as the Alan Evans Trio. These three take on the funky seas and always come out on top. Opening up their set with “Who Dare” a funky track that asks the eternal question. They kept the funk progressing up next with “Easy Meat” and Nothing to Say before covering “Sunshine of Your Love” by Cream and closing out with “Cosmic.” Playonbrother is the definition of funky organ trio and they are rapidly rising amongst the scene.
The funk was kept alive but I had to run inside real quick to keep my world wobbling. As I made it inside the Disc Jam Music Hall to wobble with the Boston boys, Wobblesauce, I found my self at home. Jake, Cody and Mike all come together to create this soothing electronic vibe. With so much going on you could almost imagine the story being told behind all those synth and bass riffs. Creating music that could accompany you through your whole journey as you beat the game, The Legend of Zelda. These guys are innovative and explorative, both in sound and style. Be sure to check them out sometime soon to take your mind on an everlasting journey.
With my mind already altered, I headed back outside to have Consider The Source patch things back together. The Source brings their Sci-Fi Middle Eastern fusion to the stage, bringing listeners on a tight sounding musical adventure. Playing many melodies and sounds unfamiliar to most, soothing the audience as if they were playing a lullaby, CTS takes over and puts you in a trancelike state while enjoying their sound. Giving a new direction to musical expansion, Gabe, Jeff and John are so cohesive, all jamming simultaneously and suddenly bringing it back in together. These guys are all amazing artists and they have the ability to morph your thoughts with their sound. I was ecstatic when I got to hear one of my favorites off their first album Esperanto (’08). The song titled “Thai For the Straight Guy” is an experimental sound with a hard rocking bass line that makes you want to just jump up and down uncontrollably. After that concluded, I raced for my tent to change and hydrate up for the delicious serving of Dopapod that was to come next.
It was just about that time, a little after 10PM and Dopapod was ready to grasp the crowd and not let loose until they’ve had their way with us about three hours later. Starting off the night with a great track “Like a Ball” wind up, fall down, do it again, some great words to live by. Rob kept the crowd at ease when he teased, “Smoke on the Water” during their fourth song “STADA”. Afterwards the band stopped for a moment to congratulate Kristen Detroia, as this was her 100th show, and called her upon stage for a photo with the band.
If that wasn’t magical enough next they played “Brookline Bridge,” a song that hasn’t been played live since August 2009. The love was strong throughout the whole Dopafam and it was felt all the way through the weekend. Rob had some minor gear malfunctions but he wouldn’t let that ruin the first set closer, “Nerds.” NO-WORDS, needed to describe this fun filled, energized set by the boys. With the first set done I raced back to my tent to rehydrate and get ready for what was in store for the second set. As the second set started I saw people running from their tents as Dopapod just let loose with “Trapper Keeper.” This song a close favorite to everyone, the joy and excitement was through the roof, even the band having a blast on stage as each member took a solo on this track, helping it expand over 20 minutes of pure emotion and love. They even teased “Turning Knobs” while Eli was letting loose on the keys.
With a brief pause before getting into “Cloud World”, each member has the ability to alter the sound of songs simply by changing a few things. In this version, you hear an electric guitar with some spacey riffs, in combination to a dubbed out reggae sounding version. I just love it when these guys play around with sound and alter what you’re used to. Ending the show in an adequate fashion with “Onionhead” also giving credit to the man who made this whole weekend possible, Tony. And 10 minutes later my head was still spinning after Dopapod graced us with some magic. I headed towards to vendors to curve my appetite and fill up before winding down to some late night acoustics in the Disc Jam Music Hall.
The late night music for the evening began with Kevin Kinsella of 10 Ft. Ganja Plant. Kevin performed a soulful, reggae infused solo acoustic set that had the crowd swaying along and grasping onto every word. Next up was Consider the Source with their acoustic set which is an absolute must-see performance.
The band performs with a mixture of completely unique and strange instruments. Between songs, the band takes the time to describe the instruments they are playing and essentially turn it into a rocking acoustic storytellers set. Big Jon Short closed out the evening for the late night as everyone ventured back to the campgrounds to rest up for what was an incredible third and final day at Disc Jam.
There’s nothing better than waking up to the sweet sounds of jah. I awoke to the sounds of Bob Marley’s “Rebel Music” played perfectly by Hope Road, an assortment of artists who come together to play the music of Bob Marley and The Wailers. Setting the stage for a beautiful day Hope Road was a tremendous start. But I couldn’t sit in a chair any longer once I heard them go from “Could You Be Loved” into “Shakedown Street” right back into “Could You Be Loved.” Now that I was up and at em, it was time to refuel and boogie down with Otis Grove.
These Boston boys are bringing back the funk; with a jazzy groove and rock fusion, these guys rock any venue from a backyard to the Brighton Music Hall, bringing with them style and that bean town spunk. These guys are the perfect mix between funk and rock, with pounding bass lines and smooth melodies that resemble The Doors, Phish, or even The Rolling Stones.
The duo that’s been all over this weekend, either rocking out late night at the camp fire or sitting in with numerous bands, The Hornitz are really the glue that sticks people together in a wonderful festival like Disc Jam.
Friendship and Stoo keep you moving with their funky tunes, rocking the trombone and saxophone. Lets not forget about the beat boxing that is also incorporated throughout making the sound funky fresh.
Up next was the Syracuse based Sophistafunk, three talented musicians who combine, old-school hip hop, funky rhythms and electronic riffs to create this unique sounding live electro hip hop band. Keeping the crowd involved the whole set, singing and moving across the stage. I was pumped to hear one of my favorites “Gotta Walk” before they ended their set.
After that I headed inside to catch Elephant Wrecking Ball. This explosive trio is a live psychedelic demolition. These three start the engine and don’t stop rolling until there’s nothing left in the tank. No matter if they’re on a slow pace like in “Stomp, Stomp, Stomp” or a little quicker with “Smile Rising” these guys have a unique sound at many different tempos. People started to fill in the room as they played “Mountain Lion,” but I don’t think anyone was more excited than myself when they went right into my favorite song off Live Demolition (2012) “Zombie Wind.” These guys blew me away once again and now I had to step back outside for a combination of three of my favorite bands.
Pink Talking Fish put on a showcase outside starting the night off with a very funky tropical version of Phish’s “2001” before transitioning to the Talking Heads “Life During Wartime.” The transitions between songs is so seamless you don’t know it’s two different songs until they switch up the pace a little. After a nice jam, they went right into “Run Like an Antelope” and somehow merged right into a great version of “Psycho Killer.” These guys are flawless in combining all these songs and making them sound like they’re all from one band. The crowd was jumping up and down for “Burning Down The House.” Pink Talking Fish was just crushing the classics. These guys are like no one else, combining three notorious bands together to create this one funky sounding blend.
As Pink Talking Fish ended up their set we relaxed and enjoyed some Club D’elf before returning to our tent to freshen up before the weekend finale. Club D’elf was a cosmic combination of many artists, a couple who had already been on stage through out the weekend already.
Coming off what was the biggest performance of his lifetime, Nigel Hall brought his Nth Power, ready to set the stage off. The night before, Nigel shared the stage with countless legends for the Derek Trucks Super Jam at Bonnaroo. He joined Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Chaka Kan, Anthony Hamilton, David Hidalgo, Taj Mahal, Ben Folds, Eric Krasno, The Shady Horns, Karl Denson and many more legends in the industry, showing off his talents by tickling the ivory keys. The Nth Power took off in full force, funking up the whole crowd making us all thankful to be here. There is just something about the music they create it makes you feel as if you want to connect with something higher than yourself. Hall has been quoted saying “The sound we create is built on a strong foundation of love,” which is quite evident when you watch them perform.
No one wanted the love to stop, so Nikki Glaspie moved over to the next stage and prepared for the Disc Jam Funk All Stars. Joined by Jen Durkin on vocals, Brian Thomas on trombone, Aaron Bellamy on bass, Danny Mayer on guitar and Amy on keys.
Now this was one funky crew, they all got together and after the first few notes you could tell these were seasoned musicians who were ready to bring it. Not only did they sound great, but the vibe and emotion from everyone on stage was amazing. The funk was in full effect when they covered “Yeah Yeah Yeah” by Parliament Funkadelic alumni O.G. Funk.
Despite some technical difficulties the band kept rocking until a power outage took all the electricity from the stage, leaving only one option; the ole switcheroo. With no power, and after Nikki performed a fierce drum solo, Nigel sat down at Nikki’s drums and stared a beat while Nikki picked up Brian’s trombone and starting playing around for the crowd while the power was out. While Nikki and Nigel kept us busy playing hot potato with instruments, the power came back on just in time for the Particle Super Jam.
Tony could not have planned this weekend out any better; the Particle Super Jam was the best possible way to wrap up a tremendous weekend. And what a great way to do so by bringing back original bassist Eric Gould, who no longer tours with the band. These guys were on since the first note.
After jamming out for a few, they brought out some friends to join them. Jules Jennsen played drums for the set as Danny Mayer, Jordan Giangreco, Richard James and both member of the Hornitz took turns sitting in. This star-studded lineup of guests appeared throughout the set, before ending the night off with the Beverly Hills Cop theme song. This super jam was lively and kept me moving right until the very end.
With a great weekend of music finally wrapped up I returned to my tent to reflect on such an awesome weekend. After I had regained some energy, I tended to my nightly ritual of walking down to the fire. There every night I sat at the fire surrounded by beautiful individuals all whose faces were warmed up by the flames of the fire. Each night never knowing what to expect when you came down to the fire, countless drummers and other artists joined to relax and create some peaceful rhythms. In the bat of an eye, a whole band would be sitting behind me rocking out into the early morning. Obviously you couldn’t end a perfect weekend with out the man who made it all possible. Tony rolls down on a golf cart just as the music was picking up and clearly he didn’t come empty handed. I looked down and a plastic cup was on my lap and soon enough everyone around me had a plastic cup as well. Tony brought down a keg to enjoy on this last starry night in Barre, MA. I would like to thank everyone involved with Disc Jam from the staff to the volunteers to the artists. Everyone makes a difference and that was evident here this weekend at Disc Jam. I also want to thank Tony Scavone for making this whole thing possible; I look forward to seeing you all next year.