Wednesday, May 13, 2015

PREVIEW: Massimo Eddy @MassimoEddyBand w/ AUTHORS @AuthorsBand @TheNickBham #BhamMay21

Hello, ladies and gentlemen of the Internet.

We are Massimo Eddy, a local rock/punk band formed in November of '14 out of boredom and a desire to create something we felt was meaningful to us. Fueled by beer, our neuroses and an unrelenting distaste for, well, pop culture as a whole, we worked on what we think is a great set of songs to take on the road.

Our first (official) show will be at @TheNickBham with @AuthorsBand from Indianapolis on May 21 at 10pm. Yes, we know it's a Thursday night and you've got to work the next day, but it's only $5 and you get to see two great bands.

For more info, visit


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

PREVIEW: @ElephantRevival at @BhamMoonlight on Friday #BhamMay8

Photo by Angie Barnes Photography Hawaii
"Hey y'all! Dango Rose here from Elephant Revival. After our time woodshedding here in Athens Georgia, we'll be heading down to Live Oak Florida and then on over to YOU to perform at Moonlight on the Mountain on 05/08.

"Here is a video of us performing "Rogue River" at our hometown venue in Colorado—Red Rocks Amphitheatre. As well, a cut from our upcoming Live Album & DVD—“Echo’s Rose.” Please enjoy them and we look forward to seeing you on Friday!" 

Monday, May 4, 2015

@CukoRakko Festival at Horse Pens 40: Damn That Was Fun and Don't Miss the Next One! ( #BhamOct2 #BhamOct3 #BhamOct4 )

You need to mark this festival on your calendar.

On the evening of Thursday, Apr 30 I set out in my Subaru, crammed full of camping gear, musical instruments, a few bicycles on back, one made-in-Montevallo hula-hoop, several packs of glow sticks, oh, and 24 cans of beer in a cooler. I also pack the less important stuff like phone, PC and food, all of which wind up being pretty much dead weight. 

I roll into Horse Pens 40 at about 8:30pm, tired and ready to pop a beer. I check in at the office/general store and am met by an extremely friendly, professional young staff member of HP40. 

The first item at hand is to pay for my campsite. I come a day early just to see what set-up is like, get to know some of the performers and, yes, get a primo campsite. 

Not knowing if he would want me to mention his name, I will simply call him "HP40 dude."  This is meant in a very good way.

So, anyway, HP40 dude takes my $15 for the overnight camping and tells me what I need to know. 

Completely without knowledge that I'm there in a FreePressMusic capacity, and maybe writing about my experience, HP40 dude provides me with a verbal presentation if you will, a personal run down of the festival, the history of HP40, some facts about the area and some information about the festival. He's very helpful and informative.

HP40 dude closes his talk with a list of some of HP40's very precise and strict rules (all of which protect the experience of the festival and HP40 for everyone and are in no way draconian). He walks me outside where he explains the layout of HP40 and helps me figure out where I should probably camp, based on my particular desires and my particular needs for my CukoRakko experience. 

Standing on the deck outside the restaurant, which is located in an extremely convenient place with an awesome deck overlooking the stage and also open for business throughout the entire festival, HP40 dude wishes me a good stay and is about to depart when I mention I need to find Greg or Jamie. His face lights up a little in a way that says he likes Greg and that since I also apparently know Greg I am now actually "cool" and not just one of the hundreds of people who will stream through the gates. He tells me where to find Greg, or rather "how" to find Greg, since Greg and Jamie are in a constant whirl of activity the entire time, nursing the baby that is this young festival, CukoRakko, and personally managing, as well as deftly delegating the needs of the entire operation. Very well done I might add.

I have to look for the golf cart that Greg is riding on, to and fro. I find him, he introduces me to Jamie. They take the time to explain a few things to me. We all concur that the area HP40 dude and I thought to put my campsite was a good fit. They are enthusiastic. They are sensible and business oriented. They are on the ball and thus, the second we finish discussing me, they are off again, riding to and fro.   

Greg Entrekin and Jamie Glass appear to work seamlessly with one another to pull this thing off. They are not only a joy to meet, but also very multifaceted individuals. They seem to be able to skirt that line of having tons of fun with all the festivities taking place around them while maintaining a constant presence to assist in management. These guys are going to be fun to know, and they're perfect to face the challenge of putting a festival together. 

Anyway, this is probably the point where anyone not particularly interested in music festivals needs to quit reading. Or anyone who simply hates reading can just mark it on your calendar as a place you need to go. But if you hate reading, you might also hate calendars, so hell... you guys just remember that you heard somewhere that CukoRakko is an awesome music festival and make sure you get there somehow so you don't miss out on the fun. And you can skip to the bottom for some links and info.

Anyone still left reading this, take the amount of writing I'm doing as very observable evidence that I deem this thing extremely noteworthy and well worth a good many words to share my experience with you. 

I'm not out to sugar coat things. Please don't imagine me in my radio announcer voice or giving a Don Draper monologue extolling the virtues of CukoRakko and why going there will make you stronger, smell better, or somehow more attractive. 

Chances are, on your ride home you will be exhausted, in a rested kind of way, you will smell like campfire smoke, or some other kind of smoke, maybe have a few stains on your clothes, and you will be full of good times.  

But you will have a smile on your face and will probably be hooked into becoming a CukoRakko regular. 

There is so much to say I will try to break things down at this point to relevant. But it still might take a while.

As to the goings on, it's a baby festival, only a few done so far and still in the beginning years. This is evident, primarily, in the still developing group cohesion. 

Festivals are like giant family gatherings and once in the gate you become part of a home away from home. Each home is different and each family slightly different. CukoRakko, although still a baby, already has the potential to be one of the most awesome music festivals in the South East. 

That being said, as the word gets out, and more people come, then more challenges will arrive with them. If this is something that bothers you, then you are probably not the kind of person who likes music festivals in the first place and I can understand that. Music festivals are great, if you know what you're getting into. Managing your expectations is important. That way you know what to pack, how to think, when to leave, etc. And knowing what kind of festival you're going to is equally important. There are as many different types of festivals as there are types of music.   

For one, you're camping. But as any music festival regular can tell you..."camping" can mean many different things. The campsites at HP40 are open, clean, provide electricity (for a small nightly fee) are conveniently located near plenty of portable toilets, but with plenty of space available between you and the toilets. The portble toilets are all well dispersed, are never disgustingly smelly, are mostly in the shade (which is very important) and never seem to be dirty. 

There are also several indoor bathrooms, which are also very well maintained, including a bath house with a number of clean showers and yes, they are also very well maintained.  My 14 year old daughter didn't complain once about the bathrooms or showers, if that tells you anything. 

The campsites are awesome. HP40 staff isn't overly rigid about the set up of campsites. Pretty much whatever you do within the sites is acceptable as long as you use common sense, don't move stuff around since they have placed it there for a purpose, such as picnic tables, garbage cans, split rail fencing etc. And even that is fairly flexible. You can scoot stuff around to make your site more comfortable. Just don't take from other sites or be disrespectful. 

This brings me to an extremely important I'm a hippie. I'm a patriotic, fun loving, red blooded American born, freedom for the people, question authority hippie. I automatically question anyone who thinks they have the authority to control me or other people! With that said, I absolutely LOVE the security team. They are ever present. Not in a creepy way. Just always around in case you need them. They aren't rummaging through your campsite, no ego driven tough guys strutting their stuff, no observable bias toward or against anyone. They are professional, casual, available and good guys. This is crucial when dealing with a festival crowd, and they get it right. 

This crowd wasn't one that needed much parenting.  But it's nice to have them around.

Speaking of security, let me explain why it is so important to me. I brought my children to this thing. My children roam around. My children explore. My children are the most precious thing in the world. Those of you who understand what I'm saying will get this part. Those of you who don't have kids or those who don't care about this issue, just know that security wasn't at all heavy handed, but did their job well. 

There was one incident of note. I debated, only for a second, whether I should bring this up. I am in love with this festival and want to see it succeed. So I, only briefly, considered not even mentioning this. But I really believe it adds to the entire nature of this place and what is going on and why you should go. And the truth is always the best approach. 

The guy in question couldn't handle his booze, or found a wild mushroom in the forest and ate it, or, you get the point...he was a bit out of control. This is the only guy at the whole event that I saw with any loss of self control, but he really lost it. There was no violent intent in him, he didn't go crazy punching people or scare anyone. My kids watched him and were simply fascinated by him. But, as a parent, and a festival goer, let me just say it clearly, he lost his shit

He mentioned something about going to Machu Picchu, about needing to get there and about needing his keyboard. 

Not so much in what he was saying, but all in how loudly he was saying it and the manner in which he seemed to be not particularly in synch with the world around him, he attracted quite a bit of attention. I think he slapped a car too. There was no mark on the car. 

Security came around, of course. The guy was really loud. 

To get a better picture in your head, imagine for a minute that guy who is in videos all over the internet in his speedos, going into the stores singing about how we need to love each other, you know who I'm talking about. The lovable naked guy who wanders into the front of stores smacking a tambourine trying to wake the world up to love.

Well, this guy was kind of like the speedo guy's little brother who wanted to get to Machu Picchu with his keyboard, only he was doing it a little bit more loudly, a little bit more vehemently in his expression and nowhere near as cute. 

Security was not in any way about to just let this nonsense go. The guy was out of touch. Any way you look at it the festival was over for him. Security, and let me remind you, I am very critical of "security" types. But security did an excellent job. They arrived, they assessed the situation, they tried to, it seemed, see if this guy was just out of his wits, or if he could possibly salvage his experience. 

It didn't take long for them to realize this guy had made some drastic mistake or miscalculation with some consumption of something and had ruined his own weekend.

So as not to allow that to ruin the weekend for anyone else, security removed him from the event. I won't go into the details of his removal, but all down the line there was patience, professionalism and respect from security. 

The only other instances where I even noticed security were when they very politely asked a group of campers in the family area to lower the volume a little, which was appropriate, since these people chose to camp around little kids and families, and they were very loud. And security asked a guy to put some wood back into the forest that he had scavenged to build a fire at his campsite, which is a major no-no and clearly explained in those strict and rigid rules I mentioned earlier. This is to protect the integrity of HP40 which we all need to do. It's one of the most beautiful places on the planet and an exceptional spot for an event like this. 

So, back to the joyousness of it all:

As I mentioned earlier, we set up camp in the family area because our kids are with us. We have a beautiful spot, an excellent place for our hammock, and plenty of shade for the slightly hot times of the day. But all in all the weather is too beautiful to adequately express. Always a slight breeze up on the mountain, and a perfect weekend. There is a giant pavilion perfectly suitable for performances if rain becomes a problem. But, on this occasion it's only used for yoga a time or two, and a few drum circles. 

Of course there is music and revelry going throughout the night. This is one of the things I mean by there being different kinds of camping. 

Yes, everyone is camping. But this is a gathering. People flow through the event from campsite to campsite, from performance to performance and well into morning hours laughing, playing music, just plain old playing, some dancing and various other forms of celebrating life. One great thing about HP40 is it allows for a really nice melding of a natural experience and social, human festivities. 

I actually can't say enough about HP40 as a venue. The stage is set up in front of these incredible rock formations which are visually and acoustically perfect for live performances of this kind. 

Whatever you know, or think you know about HP40, prepare to rethink. The guys running it are not the same ones from years ago. The property was purchased and cleaned up recently. I'll provide some links at the bottom so you can wander through info on the park. But I'm very impressed by the respect for people and for their home and our planet.  

Oh my God! OK. When I started this post I mentioned how packing my food was actually dead weight. I'm the kind of person who, if I attend a movie, I slip a bag of some snack in my pocket because I don't want to pay $20 for a pack of M&Ms or $70 for mostly ice with some cola splashed on it. My derisive term for those hidden costs people use to line their pockets is "popcorn and coke money." 

So, for CukoRakko my wife and I pack up two coolers full of easy to prepare snacks and dinner preparation foods. We're determined not to go broke buying over priced, unhealthy food and drinks from vendors. Hah! We wound up bringing most of that food back with us and returning it to our pantry. 

Sure, we make some smores. And sure, we roast some hot dogs. But between the vendors, the store and the restaurant, we wind up just skipping most of our own food preparation. 

There's this guy making tacos, three for $10. Now if that sounds like a lot of money, it's only because you didn't see any of these tacos. one was $5, so taking the 3 for $10 was a good deal. And they are so good that even the one for $5 was worth it. Tico's Taco. I speak with the guy for a bit. They travel around and do festivals all the time. They're experienced and they get it right. 

Johnny's Barbecue has a truck too. He sells good bbq which has a unique tangy, zangy zip to the sauce. Really tasty and tender sandwich. Johnny is a really nice guy and offers a really good menu for bbq lovers.

The store and the restaurant offer a nice break from the festival where you can get some standard items like hamburgers, fries, onion rings etc. My kids wind up finding refuge there often, at one of the tables in the restaurant where they sit with a few other kids they've met from a campsite near ours.

They sit in there and sip drinks, snack a little and talk about whatever kid stuff I really don't want to hear and they really don't want me to hear.  

I indulge in some cheese fries one night which really hits the spot.

I think having the restaurant there and open is an awesome balance to the other food options. But I gravitate back to Tico's Tacos and only wish I needed more food so I can try more of his offerings. 

There's coffee available for purchase, made to order from Coffee Hubb Express, which is there for your more discerning coffee drinkers. Coffee Hubb Express converted a cute little, vintage rv into a mobile coffee shop they call the Caffeine Caboose. Their coffee is comparable in price to a coffee shop, good and made to order however you like it. Or when you just need a cup-a-joe Johnny's BBQ, Tico's Tacos and the HP40 restaurant offer it for a buck. 

I just had an image in my head of someone saying "why don't he talk about thuh muzick?! It's a muze-e-yuck festeevuhl ain't it!?" See how I said that there. I was making fun of you, the imaginary reader, because in my imagination you were making fun of me for not mentioning the music yet. I'm spiteful like that to anyone who happens to be in my head with me, imaginary or not. But I see your point. Or rather my point. I see the point no matter where it comes from. I've rambled about everything except the performers. 

OK, quit ragging me! I'm going!

The music is eclectic. I'm so pleased to see such a wide variety of performances. I'm old. So the sounds I expect to like are not always the sounds that come flowing or chopping out of the radios (see how dated I am... Like people still use radios). 

The kind of music I do like is "good". I like to be exposed to things that broaden my mind, my experience, my knowledge, my joy. CukoRakko offers a very wide range of musical performers. There are traditional bluegrass performances, along with some extremely talented jam bands, some artistic wordy things, and some mind bending instrumental stuff.

Dank, Bit Deff, Sumilan, LAVA, CBDB, Nattilovejoys, Pioneer Chicken Stand, Rescue Dogs Band, Red Clay Revival, Little Raine Band, Winston Ramble, DJ Jeffrey James, Holly Waxwing, Yo Yo PAH, Harkestra, Scalici-Alley Project, Blackberry Possum, Mandi Rae, Taylor Hollingsworth, Albert Simpson, Sharrif Simmons, Mark Kimbrell, Carlos Pino, and Tedeschi Trucks Band saxophonist Kebbi Williams, all of whom seem to miraculously pop in and out of different performances.

The saxophone performance during the mini-Burning Man bonfire on Saturday night is exceptionally killer!

Some of these fellas grace me with their presence at my campsite others are camping nearby, which makes for a really great time when they pull out their instruments for the frequent, impromptu, spontaneous campsite performances. 

It doesn't stop Saturday night either, which is cool. Sunday morning sees a few open jams up on the stages and a gospel set from Curtis Jones and Primal Roots with Matt Mundy, the original mandolin player and singer for Col.Bruce Hampton and The Aquarium Rescue Unit. 

Wildman Steve is the MC. I really enjoy talking to this guy. A little secret...he's always like that. Wildman Steve is Wildman Steve. You go up and hang out with him and you see he's really, genuinely putting the "wild" in it. He is likable and a real bonus to the event. He's just fun to see zipping around with his hair blowing in the wind too. 

Oh yeah, the mini Burning Man bonfire...

Apparently Burning Man is doing some sort of outreach and has a representative show up to participate in a small bonfire/drum circle. This happens just before midnight near the blacksmith and the bonfire is ignited using this really cool smelting, molten metal technique which as well as the fire, ignites all those gathered around into spontaneous dancing and drumming around the fire. John Scalici provides guidance and a central spirit for the drum circle and everyone is free to jump in with their own expression at will. 

Photo by Jeff Parker

It's pretty awesome.

The art vendors are located up next to the pavilion in a row. There are beautiful offerings from metalworking, and glass blowing (hand setting jewelry, custom pieces), clothing, beads, painting etc. And, of course,  you can't swing a sedated vegan cat without hitting, or rather, gently tapping the aura of a smiling hula-hooper. 

The glow sticks, by the way, in case you don't fully get it, are not only just an awesome way to express your nighttime joy, but also an extremely convenient way to track your children. Each person can put on the sticks in a slightly different pattern. I always try to find a unique way to wear mine so my kids can locate me in a crowd. And they wear them in a way I can see, even if they are wandering in and out of rock formations or into the mass of playing kids. And, of course, glowing is just plain cool.      
The next CukoRakko Festival is in October, which means a different kind of equally awesome weather and potential for beautiful melding of sights, sounds, smells and tastes. 

I'm really looking forward to it. Can you tell?

 A few quick notes: 
  • My cell service was nearly non-existent. Those with Verizon or AT&T had decent service. Others be advised.When I needed to make a call, I asked at the camp store and he gladly let me use his land line for a five or six minute phone call. This might change if the festival grows. But the owners of HP40 seem to be very accommodating in a common sense way.
  • The owners of HP40 take their property seriously and will tolerate no abuse of their rules. They are super polite. But if you can't respect the property, don't come.
  • I arrived early and paid for a night of camping. I also paid for a parking pass to take my car into the interior of HP40. These regulations stem from HP40 rules and not CukoRakko and prevent too much interior traffic. Be prepared to walk in your gear if you can, or if you arrive late. I noticed the organizers actually assisting numerous campers with gear, and some cars were allowed into the interior to unload, then return to park their cars outside the gates. The purpose of the parking passes seems to be more about capacity and safety. So they were very helpful about unloading and setting up camp.    
  • Another positive byproduct of the performance schedule, which continued until 5 pm on Sunday, was that there was no mass exodus upon festival completion. Many festival goers trickled out throughout Sunday without massive traffic jams. I HATE traffic jams and was pleased with the smooth operation of traffic flow to the various camping sites, which are dispersed in a wide enough area so as to make it easy to access each spot. 

- By Lee Waites


Sunday, May 3, 2015

PREVIEW: Big Shoals @bigshoalsband #BhamJun1 @TheNickBham

Hello Birmingham!

This is Big Shoals from Gainesville, FL!

We're embarking on our Spring Tour May 29th-June 5th and excited to be playing 3 shows in Alabama on this run. The first being at The Nick on June 1st. It's our first time playing Birmingham and we're really looking forward to it and hopefully making a bunch of new friends. 
Check out our website for the additional Bama shows, as well as the 2 videos below. The first is a song called "Skipping Stones" off our album "Still Go On" that we released in April of last year. The second is a newer tune call "Union Son" that we couldn't be more proud of, and have big plans for it on our next album we've been working on. Don't let the acoustic guitars fool you though, we're plugging in and turning up on this run. Thanks for checking us out.

See you at the show!