On a beautiful Friday afternoon, a bunch of us headed to the little town of Kempton Pa. for a “Some Kind of Jam” weekend full of great music and a good look at some of the new bands on the rise. This weekend included two full days of music with 23 bands, a hassle-free scene, good people, and good vibes for only $30.
Friday April 25:
Most people arrived Friday evening at the new two-staged venue of “Some Kind of Jam 3” a little later than planned due to traffic. Thankfully there were sound difficulties, so there was no music missed. While taking a walk, I checked out the vendors and the camping scene while trying to recruit people to come to the indoor stage to check out the Harrisburg grown band herbie
Herbie 7:00-8:15 pm:
After discovering this band at a local brewery, I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Herbie blends rock, jazz, funk, harmonizing vocals, and hints of electronic to create their own unique sound. The band consists of Jay Baab(guitar/vocals), Ben Eberts (bass/vocals), Ffej Herb (drums/ vocals), and their newest member Andy Mowatt ( guitar/ keys/ vocals). Opening their set with a cymbal roll from Ffej , the electrifying synthesizer of Andy, and the spacey guitar tones from Jay, “the herb” grooved right into the driving beat of their soulful song “High Above.” Ben’s bass was funkifying me and the listeners the whole set. I figured that’s why he was the only guitarist in the band wearing shoes. Later in the set the group got the crowd dancing with its “Disco” jam and segued straight into the latin groove of “Samba.” They brought the end of the set home with the beautiful harmonies of “Bring it Home.”
Indobox 8:30-10 pm:
While catching up with Herbie outside, I could hear the electronic sounds of the four-piece Indobox. This techno-talented group consists of Joe Zarick(Guitar), Mike Carter(Guitar), Steve Learson(Bass), and Quinn Ferree (Drums). The band’s upbeat feel during their set got the crowd into dance mode and started the evening off right while the sun set. Quinn Ferree uses a combination of acoustic and electronic drums which gave this band a distinctive electronica sound.
The Natural Breakdown 10:30-12 am:
The Natural Breakdown also known as the “Peaceful Revolution” closed out the outdoor sets for the night. Eric WaldMan (keys), Dan Farella (guitar), Gene Lantigua (bass), and Vinnie Smith(drums) brought a set full of rock/funk based with a dose of psychedelia. This band wasn’t one of my favorite groups because of the numerous speeches about “togetherness” in between every song in the set. They were a good crowd pleaser, so no one can complain about that.
The New Familiars 12:30-2:30am:
So after everyone was corralled to the inside stage, the late night started off with the bluegrass roots and classic-rock heavy songs of The New Familiars. The big-bearded team consisted of Justin Fedor (mandolin/vocals), Eric-Scott Guthrie (banjo/vocals), Josh Daniel (guitar/vocals), Pat Maholland (upright bass), and a mystery drummer holding down the beat. The set started off with unbelievable energy going from one song to the other without a breath in-between. They toured all over the famous classic-rock covers which lead to a sing/dance along feel to the entire set. I needed a break so I stepped outside for a smoke and ended up talking to the next band in line, Uncle Otter. They were patiently waiting their turn to step on stage for their late night set. Their set was supposed to start at 2am which definitely did not happen. After hearing the screaming teenage wasteland vocals of “Baba O’Riley,” I was ready for a new band.
The New Familiars
*Uncle Otter 3-4:20am:*
Ive never seen these Pennsylvania natives, but they gave everyone exactly what they were looking for. Uncle Otter blended their distinct knowledge of jazz and funk into an experimental fun atmosphere for listening. Brendan Patti (bass), Tom Patti (guitar), Adam Nicodemus (Drums), and Mike Pappas (keys). Adam opened the set with a head-bobbing groove on the drums. Then Brendan brought in the funky low end on the bass, followed by Toms face-melting licks up and down the neck of his guitar. Mike P added beautiful tone to the mix with his jazzy work on the keys. Any fan of funk or jazz would be crazy not to love this band conversing through their instruments. It was a shame most people fell asleep before the start of this mind-boggling high energy late night set. The few late nighters did not regret going without sleep that night. You can guarantee that.
Uncle Otter and Friends 4:20am-7am:
The funk was still alive when the guest musicians came up to explore the new music about to be heard by everyone in attendance. Andy Mowatt, from Herbie, stepped in on guitar. Nick Merena, from The Big Dirty, added his touch with his tenor saxophone. Nick seemed to be the go-to sax-man because he sat in with a lot of the bands over the weekend. Everyone was dead tired but that didn’t stop me or anyone from dancing. After this cocktail of musicians slowed down, Andy moved onto the keys, and the drummer from The New Familiars hopped on the set. A group of us ended up going backstage to watch the remainder of the show through the peep-hole at the side of the stage.
Late Night Jam
After the music ended, the sun was up, it was a new day, and everyone already recieved their money’s worth. There was still a day of music to come
Saturday April 26:
Most people didn’t get much sleep because of the never-ending music the night before. The masses were sleeping peacefully through most of the early acoustic day music. Some of us however, woke up around eleven in the morning to the first note of an acoustic guitar and a woman singing about her “fortune cookie.” Corny as it sounds, it was soothing to wake up to. Little did we know we were going to be in for a long day/night/morning of inspiring music, once again.
Boro Boogie Pickers 12-1:30pm:
The quintet of Eric Avey (guitar), Jason Ingels (mandolin/dobro), Kevin Coldsmith (bass), Rob Kollman(banjo), Katey Avey (washboard) combines together like a Pennsylvania country omelet to form the Boro Boogie Pickers. The bluegrass roots band started off with a bunch of original songs to set the early-afternoon mood at the outdoor stage. Towards the middle of their set they covered Jefferson Airplane which featured the lovely vocal of Katey Avey. Eric Avey asked the crowd “does anybody know what time it is? Uh, because we’ll just keep playing”. After a good laugh, they fiddled with Sublime’s “What I Got?” All in all the audience reacted warmly to their music.
South Mountain Pass 2-3:30pm:
After getting waking up my sleepy festival companion, we headed down to the outside stage to catch the last few songs of the Folk/Rock combination of Josh Benus(Guitar), Steve Elmy(guitar), Matt Reinhardt(Bass), Matt Johnson(Drums). South Mountain Pass blends there catchy harmonic choruses and feel good lyrics to create a soothing rock sound. The talented artist Crazy Redbeard was painting a picture on stage while getting his musical motivation from the band.
South Mountain Pass
*Karmic Juggernaut 4:30-6pm:*
Wow! Id never heard of this band but after an explosion of sound made its way from the inside stage to my tent, I joined a fellow group of eager listeners rushing in to catch the rest of this jaw-dropping set. Karmic Juggernaut mixes its vast knowledge of progressive rock, screaming guitar harmonies, driving bass, and ground-shaking drums. At first glance of this group, we were questioning who all these kids were holding instruments and asking the crowd if they like guacamole. Then after the rocked their song Guacamole, there wasnt a person in attendance who questioned this band’s flavor. James McCaffrey (guitar/vocals), Randy Preston (guitar/vocals), Marcus Morieko (bass), and Kevin Grossman (drums) wowed the crowd with their complete focus and emotion throughout each song. At one peak, the drummers cymbal flew off the stand and about knocked everyone out of their seat. The skilled hoopers were out in full force spinning their rings round them completely engrossed by the music. Check this band out.
*The Cabinet 6-7:30pm:*
While walking back outside with complete satisfaction, the crowd was filled with joy from the eclectic six piece known as the Cabinet. J.P. Biondo (Mandolin/Vocals), Pappy Biondo(Banjo/Vocals), Mickey Coviello (Acoustic Guitar/ Vocals), Todd Kopec (Fiddle/Vocals), Dylan Skursky (Upright Bass), Jami Novak (Drums), and a guest accordion player provided a very up-tempo bluegrass sound. Exchanging solos down the line, this group proved that acoustic instruments can produce a full sound that was heavy enough to pull the rain from the clouds. Old Farmers Mill had the driving banjo and drums to get all of us bobbing up and down.
*The Man 6:30-8pm:*
Hearing the funk in the distance, many of us were pulled inside by the intricate rhythms of The Man. Lead by a skilled tenor saxophone, this Penn State born five-piece tied their knowledge of jazz into one groove after another. Mellow keys opened up the door for their Latin tune Duct Tape Mamba. The dark beginning bass line of Cachoa, Baby pulled everyones focus to the stage. Their use of spontaneous pauses portrayed the band being on the same page. This group nailed one of the all time favorite funky-jazz tunes The Chicken originally done by Jaco Pastorius. The Man is exploring the new age of funk while still honoring their roots. Once they announced they were giving away free CDs, they were gone in seconds.The Man
Bohemian Sunrise 8-9:30pm:
The sun was down and the light rain was a delightful evening mist for the last two outdoor sets of the weekend. The big band known as Bohemian Sunrise brought out the feathers and the colorful costumes to set the mood for their contribution to the night of music. The eight piece band had a huge sound with two drum sets and guest Nick Merena adding his touch with his saxophone. Their catchy choruses moved the crowd to sing along and formed a feel-good vibe. When Adina DeFelice sang the Beatle’s “Come Together”, it brought down the house with their funky rendition. The big bass man Dustin Blackshear controlled the low end in the call and response tune “Got to Get You”. The dueling drum solo in “Drawing Down the Sun” was the highlight of the set and left the engrossed crowd dancing to the tribal cadence with no worries.
*Juggling Suns 10-12am:*
There was one more outdoor session to go and The Juggling Suns would give all the Dead lovers exactly what they were seeking. Mark Diomede (Guitar/Vocals), Gus Vigo(Keyboards/Vocals), Tim Morris (Guitar/ Vocals), Andrew Lenaghan (Drums) and Paul Gaita (Bass) pleased the fans of trance by opening their set with their exciting song Droplets. The remainder of the set had a lighter tempo with reminders of the past in the familiar melody of Spring Water.’ A female vocalist sat in with the band and created an old Dead feeling to the music. The fire dancers came out in full force to close the night outside, and the band announced that the fire dancers were juggling suns.Juggling Suns
The Big Dirty 12-1:30am:
It was that time again. The late night started off inside with the filthy funk of The Big Dirty. This relatively new group explores the new age of funk with their dirty grooves. Nick Merena (sax) set the tone with his tenor sax. Using an effects pedal, he created a unique sound that meshed perfectly with the other members. Mike Barata (drums) laid down the beat like a bricklayer with his heavy elaborate rhythms. His bobbing head was identical to the rest of the listeners in attendance. Todd Troutman (guitar) added great color to the band with his funked up rhythms and jazzy licks. Russ Nahodil (bass) could have played one bass line for hours and no one would have been bored because of his distinctive touch. Nick sang to us how he “is moving like a lawn mower, but just a little bit slower” in the memorable groove of their original tune “Lawn Mower”. Major props to The Big Dirty for keeping the funk alive and fresh.
The Big Dirty
We were finally at the end of the music and everyone was anticipating this band all weekend. Codename blended progressive rock, jazz, and trance that created a sound that kept you on your toes. Once this band locked into one groove, they were on to the next. Jon Joffe (Guitar) shredded his Fender with his complete focus in the music. Greg Halbkram’s lightning fast slap bass was jaw dropping to everyone who witnessed it. Adam Nash (Keys) was the backbone of the chord progressions and peaks of this explosive music. Sal Galati (Drums) drove the tempos up and down which absorbed the crowds attention throughout the set. The original sound of this experimental four piece portrays the true meaning of musical experience. This band should be heard by any music appreciator. Codename touched the hearts of every listener that stood awake that night. What a great finale to the Some Kind of Jam 3 weekend.