Camp Keewanee September 15 2023 Greenfield, MA
The Wormtown Music festival returned to central Massachusetts after an absence of a few years, and everyone seemed to happy for its return. We got up early and moseyed to Greenfield and had no troubles sailing in and setting up for a beautiful weekend. The music started in the early afternoon and lasted well into the night!
Up first on the main stage was rice – an American Band. The band has recently released their first album of seven songs (https://open.spotify.com/artist/34HHkpy4nGIQXcMLptgCYS) but on this day premiered a new lineup. The six piece band featured past members Phil Simon on guitar and vocals, Brian DiMartino on lead guitar, and Tobey Laroche on percussion and vocals. They were joined by first time new comers Christopher Ellis on drums (the Equalites, Headband, and many bands in the Valley), Matthew Desreuisseau on keys (Echoes of Floyd and lots of other bands in the Valley) plus Mike ‘Woody’ Wood on bass and vocals (guitar and vocals for Rebel Alliance).
The band made their way through ten original songs, many of which are on the album. Each new band member brought a slightly different twist to the band’s sound- which has been on display for the last eight years or so at Strangecreek and Wormtown festivals, frequently in this early afternoon slot.
Twenty Five Years, Sleepwalkin, Tom, Lady of the Lake, Moving Target, Suitcase of a Ghost, Only a Dream, Just a Name, the Crow Told Me, Flow of Things.
Big props to Gerry J D Video who set up and video recorded most of the weekend. THANK YOU!
Vinny Natale took pictures all weekend it seems! Here is a photo gallery of rice – An American Band from that performance.
One of the great things about Wormtown is the seamless transitions- a quick changeover on the mainstage is usually within a minute including band announcements and some quick alerts by the festival staff, and BAM- you’re onto the next band. On this mild Friday afternoon, truly perfect New England Fall weather- the Trichomes were up next on the main stage.
The band opened with an interesting take on the James Bond theme? They were dressed in costume, with what I think were police and fire uniforms? I hadn’t seem them before and they laid out a solid seventy five minutes of psychedelic jam rock.
Photo gallery by Vinny Natale here
Next up was a newcomer to the Wormtown world, though I had heard about them entering the New England scene: Weird Phishes. The band takes a jamband approach to the music of Radiohead and Phish. Their musicianship was on point and they got the crowd going. Crunchy jams ensued, and the band truly brings great energy to their show.
Photo gallery by Vinny Natale here.
Taking that energy and bringing it to their side of the stage, festival favorites West End Blend fired up a dance inspiring set full of fire. The band hails from Hartford CT and are funky with a fresh take. The vocals are deftly handled by Erica Bryan up front, with some vocals also supplied by trumpet player Mike Bafundo. Elements of soul, r&b and funk are on display throughout their set. The band is fleshed out by John Mundy on trombone, Tom Sullivan on bass, Sam Horan on drums, Paul Philippone on keys and Jesse Combs on guitar. Their set was great!
Photo gallery by Vinny Natale here.
Making their Wormtown debut were new festival darlings Neighbor. Helmed by Richard James (of Pink Talking Fish and Richard James and the Name Changers) plus guitar phenom Lyle Brewer, this band focuses more on original material than James’ other project. The band is now a couple of years into their growth and you can feel the mutualistic energy building for them. Their sound draws from all of the players and is becoming multi-dimensional. I recently saw them at Northlands and it is cool to see them growing with every single show.
Wormtown favorite Ryan Montbleau brought his band to the main stage and brought the whole day together. Night was starting to fall and you could just feel the shenanigans starting. The mood was really great, and the feelings of home, friendship, family went from a teasing taste earlier in the day to full on joy by this point in the night. People were feeling good!
full show audio, use the arrows to toggle beween songs.
01) Head Above Water
02) I Can’t Wait
04) Pacing Like Prince
05) ‘Til The End Of Our Days
07) I Was Just Leaving
08) Bright Side
09) 75 And Sunny
10) 75 And Sunny (reprise) > Honeymoon Eyes
I was really excited about the final band on the main stage for the night. The rest of my family wandered over to Vernville to check out Bella’s Bartok, but I was camped at the main stage to hear Neal Francis for the first time. I had been hearing about him for a while, and was very curious to see what they would do with their first Wormtown appearance, never mind headlining Friday night!
Francis is the keyboard player and a Brit with both a sense of humor and a sense of wonder. He addressed the Worms directly, reveling in his first taste of this festival vibe that is unique to Wormtown. His band consists of incredible players on bass, guitar and drums with whom he interacts the whole show, each person shredding while also staying very cohesive with the central sound.
I couldn’t help but constantly feel the best comparison to Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords- solidly funky, wildly creative, spilling out rockers that start from what seems like an awkward place and resolves at the top of Mount Rockmore. At any time you could focus your attention on any one of the band members and just notice how completely they shredded. Chops galore, but also a group dynamic that kept you up and moving. I get the feeling that Neal Francis will become a festival staple for years to come.
With that the main stage shut down for the night, but the music was far from over. I quickly zipped over to Vernville to catch the end of the Bella’s Bartok set and see if I could find my fam. I had a quick catch up with some of the musicians then sprinted back toward the bonfire and vending circle that acts as a sort of center of the Wormtown universe.
When the mainstage shuts down for the night, usually around 11:15 or so, the late night cabins begin. This is often a great way to either discover a new band, or to see a Worm favorite ascend in an astronomical set. Legends are born in the cabin and would throughout the weekend.
This was my first time checking out Chicago’s soul funk progenerators Sneezy. They threw down a super solid set of funk, soul, r&b and good times. At one point they threw in a Stevie Wonder medley that was not surprising at all given their sound and talent level. At another point I saw Force from the Alchemystics jump up with them and to spit some rhymes. Overall they fit in well with the Worm vibe, and it’s easy to like them. I suspect we’ll see them down the road sometime.
What a day! What a way to welcome Wormtown music festival back with a bang! This was an amazing start to an amazing weekend.
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