Gotye is a Belgian-Australian multi-instrumentalist. His latest single,”Somebody That I Used To Know” features New Zealand vocalist Kimbra in a stripped back, compelling haunting tale of heartbreak that reminds me of Peter Gabriel, in a good way.
The Blackswoods Festival, a three-day camping and concert rock festival, is set for this September 23-25, 2011 in Mercersburg, PA, and we’re talking with festival promoter Joe Kempler, of Like Water Management, to get his take on just what all goes into planning and promoting a concert festival.
Joe, thanks for taking some time to talk with Musichord! We’ll jump right into the questions:
1. So, what are the responsibilities of a promoter for a concert / festival – what is the job description?
Everything…from booking the bands to making sure there will be enough port-a-potties and drinking water. Organizing sound, lights, on-site logistics, promotional activities, t-shirts, transportation, food, lodging, on-site vendors…luckily I won’t have to perform. The Blackswoods Festival will be the first festival I’ve organized, so I don’t have any staff at this point. But the Festival’s main attraction, Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons (playing all three nights) has a strong and dedicated following of people who are willing to pitch in and help. There’s no way I could do this without them and the fine people at Cosmo Sex School Records, Jerry’s record label.
2. How did you get into this kind of work, what made you want to be a promoter?
At this point, it’s labor of love. I’ve been a lover of live music since my first Grateful Dead concert over 30 years ago. Music has meant so much in my life that it feels good to do what I can to keep bringing great music to more people. It’s really all about the music.
3. Can you tell our readers about the Blackswoods Festival? What’s the history of the festival, what bands will be there, and why will it be a great concert festival?
Last year was the first “official” Blackswoods Festival, although the Jackmormons have played this site before. The site is private property and we’re really a “private party.” The property is really beautiful, a terrific wooded lot with a stream running alongside. Several of the bands have a strong local following. Hexbelt is very big in the area and Cris Jacobs Band draws extremely well from the Baltimore area. The Jackmormons have a very strong and dedicated following in the area, as well. The things that make any festival great will make this festival incredible…namely the music and the people. Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons are in top form right now. They’ll have a new album (maybe a double album) coming out in a couple of months which will likely be the best work of Jerry Joseph’s already storied career. And Jackmormons fans are just about the best people you’d ever want to meet!
4. What kind of roadblocks or issues do you have to deal with to pull the festival together that people might not think about?
As a promoter, you have to rely on a lot of people to do their jobs timely and do them well in order for things to run smoothly. So far I feel I’ve been lucky in dealing with great people. Given the fact that this is my first festival, I’m sure that when September 23 arrives, I’ll be able to give you a better list!
5. Any good stories to tell about the job, what’s the craziest thing that you have had to deal with promoting this festival?
You have to come to Blackswoods to get the good stories! And there are always plenty of them!
6. What do people not know about organizing concert festivals that you would like them to know?
Organizing a festival takes a lot of energy, a lot of hard work and a sizable investment. My goal is to make sure that everyone who attends has a great time…fans, artists, vendors, everyone.
7. There seems to be a surge in concert festivals in recent years, as they have become more popular and more bands are even using them to fill out their tours. Can you tell us why that is?
A good festival is a music lover’s dream. The fans get to see many artists…some that they wouldn’t otherwise see. So in addition to seeing music they already know and love, they can get turned onto something new and different. The artists love it even more because a good festival will provide an opportunity for artists to hear each other (which is something they usually don’t get a chance to do) and to collaborate. All kinds of great musical collaborations have been born at festivals…and we expect the same thing at Blackswoods!
8. How difficult is it to get the bands you want for a festival when there seems to be a lot of competition nowadays?
I think I’m lucky to be working with Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons. Jerry’s reputation as an artist is such that lots of other artists really want to play with him. So we had no problem filling our bill with great music. In fact, we had several bands asking to play Blackswoods that we had to turn down.
9. Live Nation is the biggest concert promoter out there, and there is a consolidation within the industry (Live Nation purchasing House of Blues) – how does that affect what you do?
I don’t think Live Nation will ever affect what I’m trying to do. Live Nation is a huge, publicly-traded corporation. They are in the music business to make money – which is the legitimate goal of any corporation. I’m doing what I’m doing for one reason only…the music. I want everyone to see every artist at Blackswoods. That’s my goal.
Blackswoods Festival Lineup: The Blackswoods Festival features a great lineup of bands including: Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons, These United States, Cris Jacobs Band (of The Bridge), Hexbelt, Wally Ingram, Mookie Siegel, Southeast Engine, Bret Mosley & Kenny Liner, James ‘JPat’ Dalton and Craig Greenberg.
Regurgitator are quite possibly the coolest rock band in Australia. Their seminal 90′s album, Unit was recently named by JJJ listeners as the number 10 Hottest Australian Album of All Time. But let’s not dwell in the past. The brand new album, Super Happy Fun Times Friends is full of healthy mixes of rap, rock, with standard lashings of self-deprecating irony and cartoon violence. You need to hear this to really appreciate it.
And thanks to the band’s general awesomeness – you can! The album is available though all kinds of streaming sites for free. You can listen to the whole record and then pay whatever you like for it on the band’s BandCamp Page, preview and comment on tracks over at Soundcloud.
Or, for the traditionalists, pick up the album on iTunes.
[2011, Warner Bros.]
Okay, I better come out right at the beginning and throw my cards on the table. I’m a huge fan of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. I love the music they make, and I own everything they have ever done. If you’re looking for a wholly impartial, totally unbiased review of the latest record, I need you to know that this is not going to be it. It’s not like I have the tattoo or anything, but I’m close. These guys have been part of my world since I really discovered music.
That said, on first listen to I’m With You, I have to say, I wasn’t instantly enraptured. I desperately wanted to love this album, but instead I kind of held a permanent cringe on my face as I flicked through the tracks. None of these songs seemed to jump out at me. Lyrically, they all seemed kind of dippy and… well, dumb. Sure, sonically, all the elements that made me love this band seemed to be present – there was Flea’s funky, driven bass lines, Chad’s incredible snare-popping drums, and Anthony’s inane syllabic wordplay and sibilance. And yet… Something.
I knew that, with John Frusciante’s departure from the band, that things would be different. I mean, on 1995′s One Hot Minute – the last time the band changed guitarists, the sound of the band was radically altered. I don’t know what I was expecting. But – not this.
Out of respect, I played the album through to completion, and these feelings of not-rightness remained. Disappointed, I left the album to sit on my iPod for a few days. And then one morning, I woke up with the melody to Brendan’s Death Song running through my head. I pulled the album out, and listened to it again. And it seemed to me to be a completely different record. What was a big rock band’s hotly anticipated latest big album, had become a much less hype-laden, more interesting musical journey.
Flea is on record as saying that with Josh Klinghoffer on guitar, that the Red Hot Chili Peppers were like a whole new band. And things definitely sound different. John Frusicante’s absence is clearly evident – in the lack of vocal harmonies, and also in the different approach to guitar playing. I remember reading an interview with Dave Navarro, where he said that playing funk licks made him “feel like a dickhead”. John, on the other hand, seemed to know exactly where to put sweet sharp funk laden guitar lines into the mix. Josh’s approach is much subtler, skillful, deft, layered and delicate – but not pointy, or overly funky. Some of the guitar tones are unique and new, and they bring a freshness into the band’s sound – I don’t think that even the most casual fan would mistake this record for one by any other band, but the new textures and production approaches sound great.
Some of the highlights: Did I Let You Know, which features sweet trumpet from Flea, and also lets Josh shine on the solos and verses. Ethiopia, with it’s splayed curious time signature, and Goodbye Hooray, a darker, layered tune with three part harmonies and a killer wah-bass solo that dissolves into a beautiful dreamy sound-scape.
This band has survived the ups and downs of the music industry, suffered through the death and near-death of guitarists, seen the highs and lows and pretty much done it all. It’s not like these guys really needed to make this record – it wasn’t a contractual obligation, or like they all need the cash. What it is, is mature and authentic artistic expression. It’s the kind of record that this band wanted to make, because they love making music – because it’s what they do.
Sure, the lyrics may be dippy and occasionally dumb. But you know what – they always have been. There are moments of lucidity and poignancy, such as on the piano laden Police Station, but in reality, I don’t think any of us love the Red Hot Chili Peppers because of meaningful lyrics or intriguing stories. And I think that for a lyricist, Anthony Kiedis makes a pretty good musician. His stream of consciousness, wordy free-balling vocals are his honest contribution to the music of the whole band, and this band is very much about creating honest music.
Once you set aside any ideas you might have as to what you think the band is supposed to sound like, and just come along for the musical journey, there’s a lot to like about the record.
Musichord Rating: 7.5/10