Wild Woods Music and Art festival
Page Farm Croydon NH
AUG 13 – 16 2015
As with other festival reviews, this will be ever evolving as new recordings, videos, photos and reactions from fans come into us. We will be adding to this review continually, so keep checking back in for more!!
I arrived without incident on Friday evening just as it was getting dark. I did have to ask for directions once, and I certainly thought many times that I was going the wrong way as the road turned from asphalt to dirt a few times, and every time I was about to turn around, a road name would pop up that was on my directions. I was traveling without cell or GPS, so it was the old fashioned hunt for the festival routine! There was no signage until I was within a half mile of the festival, but I suspect that Wild Woods was going for a low profile rather than being less than helpful.
I got to the festival, parked easily enough, bushwacked my way to the main festival area, dropped some stuff at the Old 78 Clothing booth, kissed my wife, saw some friends and headed over to the main stage area to drop my trusty recorder. Within minutes I was hooked up with a sound board patch from Davis who was running main stage sound all weekend. We know each other from the Stone Church in Newmarket, and he’s a crack engineer, so I was psyched that sound was going to be great all weekend.
I caught some of the set with Consider the Source, but for some reason the trusty recorder did not. I did catch five minutes of CTS, but frankly, it’s an illogical five minutes so I won’t even post it. Following them I think was Space Jesus on the second stage- a DJ act that I didn’t connect with myself (not much of a DJ guy really) but fans seemed to really enjoy.
The meat and potatoes of Friday night for sure was Ohio wunderkinds The Werks, who have escape their Buckeye state where they are most popular, and have spent the last 1-2 festival seasons spreading their jammy love all over the US. And it is easy to see why. They are able to flirt with the jamtronica, but are more rooted in a funky jam style that is tradition in this scene.
The Werks August 14 2015 Wild Woods Audio!
Saturday morning I got up bright and early- the first set I caught was on the second stage and was the instrumental band (or mostly..) The Tercet. They are from New Hampshire and were a three piece compositional trio focused on the adept work of their guitar player. The ensemble and its individual musicians clearly were strongly influenced by guitar heroes like Joe Satriani, and prog rock bands like Rush. Like Satriani, it was not necessarily a shred fest, but rather compositions that were skillfully written in a way to emphasize the dexterity and acumen of the players. It was quite enjoyable! The band members are Rob Littlefield, Max Elkus and Cam Riley. It’s a standard guitar bass and drums trio, but their musical output is far from standard.
The Tercet Saturday morning second stage AUDIO
I was lucky enough to catch up with the Tercet after their set and asked them about their band history, and their relationship to the festival.
“So as far as The Tercet is concerned, we are a band from the seacoast NH area with members from lots of other area bands. The three of us play in various formations between the groups People Like You (folk/psychedelic pop-rock), Stop Tito Collective (reggae rock fusion ), and Harsh Armadillo (funk hop). The Tercet came together four years ago as a project that allowed us to explore and create instrumental musi-c in whatever genre and style we prefer. Though not as prolific with live shows as the other groups, our live sets have garnered us a warm underground appreciation in our scene and allowed us to share the music that we love to make. We have performed at both wild woods festivals and also at Big Dig three years ago. The Tercet is close with Ryan Dubois, founder and mastermind of both Wild Woods and Big Dig and he has been gracious enough to let us perform all three years as well as at other Greenvibe Entertainment events. For us, Wild Woods feels like home. We get to be among family and friends, many of which are also performers; and we’re surrounded by bands that we love all in a beautiful environment. There’s really nothing else we can ask for from a festival.”
Up first on the main stage was Freevolt featuring Michael Bernier. I had recently seen them up at the Redneck Olympics in Hebron Maine, and I suspected that this crowd and circumstance would be far more appropriate! I was right: Bernier’s good vibes and sunny disposition were on full display and the band features Michael A Moore on lead guitar, always a scorcher, as well as bass, drums and saxophone, and Michael on acoustic guitar and vocals. The band’s sound is reggae from a more traditional roots end of the genre, with positive lyrical content and a generally smiling Michael swinging his crazy dreads all over the place and having a great time. People dug it and the sun was shining so the day was starting perfectly.
Strange Machines followed on the second stage. The sun was still shining, and people were coming out of the woods and shaking off the remnants of Friday night partying. There was a nice crowd who would migrate from one stage to the other, which was a short two minute walk across the field. I was lucky enough to befriend the kind folks at the second stage sound controls, who did a great job as did the main stage folks, and they were kind enough to hook me up with a sound board patch here, too! It was my lucky weekend I guess!
Strange Machines Audio
I have run across Roots of Creation some many times this summer I can’t even count! This is the second time that they are at Page Farm this summer, the last event being Spectral Fest, and the next time is late September on the Equinox Festival run by the Page Farm peeps. They came out strong and solid, including at least one tune I had not heard them do before, the Grateful Dead’s Friend of the Devil. In addition to the normal lineup of Tal Pearson on keys, Mike Chadinha on drums, Nick Mini on bass, Andrew Riordan on sax and vocals and weird stuff, and Brett Wilson on guitar and vocals they had occasional member and trombonist on the run, Billy Kottage. He adds a great vibe and you can feel the positivity between Andrew and Billy in terms of having a horn section rather than just a horn, and Brett Wilson is always so excited when Billy is around.
Roots of Creation Audio
Harsh Armadillo seems to be one of the most popular bands to rise up out of New Hampshire in the last year. They are regular staples at the clubs, and this summer hit the festival scene hard. This core group of young musicians has multiple guitars and horns, a solid rhythm section, keys and a dynamite lead singer in Andrea Belaidi. Their sound is reminiscent of early Deep Banana Blackout, but perhaps with a bit more chops in the jazz department. It’ll be exciting to see if they can rise up to similar heights, perhaps taking up the slots in clubs that have been vacated as Turkuaz has ascended.
Everywhere I turned this weekend I was hanging out with a member of Harsh Armadillo. We got to catch up and hang in the booth and talk about life, and the band. I’m looking forward to seeing where the armadillo bring us.
Harsh Armadillo Audio
To say that the skies opened up during the set with The Breakfast is to under estimate the severity of the rain storm, which was biblical in nature. For the previous 1-2 hours there were definitely people looking up at the sky, and checking their phones to see when the rain was coming, and boy did it. The dome stage which was mostly EDM music with some bands thrown in, did not survive- The tarp covering the majority of it was blown off, and everyone was darned lucky that the whole dome did not blow over.
In my wife’s merch booth, we had a crew of 4-5 people holding down the tent to keep it from flying away. We had to hold it by the tarps and elastics otherwise you could feel the shocks whenever lightning struck- through the metal poles. The majority of the rain (and hail!!) was over in about 20 minutes, but it continued to rain intermittently throughout the evening and into the night. That did not however dampen the spirits of the attendees at the festival, even remotely.
The Breakfast Audio
As the Breakfast set got shortened considerably by the rain, I got to hang stage side with my good friend and most popular organ player in the scene, Beau Sasser. We talked about the crazy set he had with Kung Fu at the Peach festival in Scranton the day before, and the late night set he had done with John Kadlecik (Golden Gate Wingmen, DSO, Furthur), Klyph Black (Zen Tricksters, Donna Jean, Jam Stampede), Ron Holloway (Allman Brothers world, not sure exactly what, ABB familyh for sure) and others to close out Peach Festival’s Friday night. From there he high tailed it up to New Hampshire in time for the stage to be closed down due to the rain.
But like Beau, Kung Fu could not easily be deterred. They stuck around, re-arranged the gear and the schedule, and they took the stage later and absolutely killed it. The mix of technical mastery provided by the traditional Kung Fu members, and the funky hand supplied by its newest member in Beau Sasser showcased exactly why Kung Fu is now a favorite and staple of the scene.
Kung Fu Audio
The Romano Project Audio
The Alchemystics set was great, and with the sun out after just a few notes people came out of the woods and populated the concert field. They came on stage to a new sort of pre-recorded introduction that I thought was really cool. After a really difficult year, it is amazing to see the Alchemystics persevere like this. They had performed down at Peach festival the day before in Pennsylvania, so they were really humping to get there on time.
The band has seen a lot of change and basically the only currently consistent band members have been the front people- Ian-I on guitar and vocals, Force as emcee, I-Lana Morris on vocals and Ras-Jahn on vocals. They had a sub on bass in the form of Chris Regan from Fear Nuttin’ Band. Freddie on the drums who plays with a ton of different bands is the new band behind the drum kit. Demse Zullo’s shoes are big ones to fill, and the road map he laid out for any drummer is quite clear, and Freddie is doing a heck of a job back there. Jon Corda on keyboards is really adding a great element to the band, and in general, over the last few months it feels like the Alchemystics are birthing a brand new band- one that resembles prior incarnations but is really starting to rise up on its own.
Force spent quite a bit of time leaving the stage and hugging it out and high fiving the audience. That continues to be one of the great things about the Alchemystics- the way they present themselves at festivals continues to reinforce the vibe to New England audience that this is their band- it’s festival season, the sun is shining and up on stage, the Alchemystics are leading us all to the promised land.
The Alchemystics Audio