Monday, August 16, 2010

Festival Review: Be Here Now! at Harry's Hill in Starks, ME

BE HERE NOW! At Harry Brown's Farm

Be Here Now festival at Harry Brown’s Farm (also know as The Hill) was certainly one to remember. Both Heather and Kim attended the festival this year, with a few guest Way Live Should Be members. Here are some of our thoughts on the festival, as well as some words about some of the musicians that we were able to see!

Zach Deputy was the first act of the weekend for us. What an excellent way to start the festival off! He is like church music for the churchless soul. His voice is often reminiscent of gospel and soulful blues and many of his songs can have an almost triumphantly spiritual sound. His slower songs were filled with a sense of true emotionality, and even though they have a bit of a softer sound, they always seemed to still have a punch to them, whether in his voice or his beats, or both. Zach Deputy has the ability to get down-right funky with some faster paced songs as well, keepin' everyone on the hill groovin'. Seeing him at the hill was great, it was like our own personal Zach Deputy show! He seriously laid it down, and his talents were never in question. We are grateful that well-known artists are still willing to go out of their way to play smaller shows! After chatting a bit with him after the show, we were able to schedule an interview. Keep your eye out, it'll be out this week!

For many, The Hill is already a well-known good time festival spot, and it proved true over all. This seemed to us to be a festival where people were coming more for the atmosphere and experience just as much as the music.

Those working for The Hill did a great job at providing an active, entertaining atmosphere. During much of the music there were fire dancers, puppet shows, and various other things to engage the crowd. It is important for their to be activities for the children as well, and they did a great job creating a fun environment for everyone.

There was also an 'art zone' open to anyone and everyone. They provided all of the supplies and you could simply walk in and create anything you please. Creativity is a great thing to encourage in people of all ages!

Hot Day at the Zoo played a great show at Be Here Now on Saturday afternoon. WLSB has reviewed these guys a few times before, but we always seem to be able to say more about them, and remain one of our favorite blue grass bands. The style of "zoograss" these guys play never fails to transform the vibes and energy in any room or hill! HDATZ seemed to instill a very playful vibe on the hill, almost refueling their fans with energy for the evening that lies ahead. Heather was able to chat a bit with the guys after their set, talking a little about traditional bluegrass and newer stuff, like Yonder Mountain String Band. We are all hoping Hot Day will get to open for Yonder at Port City on October 24th!

All of the Animals were a great Boston based band kind enough to travel up to a Maine festival. These guys were very light hearted and up beat. Their sound was a bit reggae influenced with an ‘island music’ feel to it. They had a lot of fun on stage and this transferred well to the audience. They did a Led Zeppelin cover that was a lot of fun (everyone loves to let the Led out!), but we must say, the vocals were a little rough (big shoes to fill). Talking to these guys after wards was great, they're fun guys with a wide range of influences.

Hot Damn Scandal performed on Friday evening, however there were some technical difficulties with sound, and it took a very long time for them to get started. It was a bit of an awkward time; us staring at them, wondering what the hell they're all about. On stage you see various fascinating outfits, and the band consisted of trombone, saxophone, musical saw, banjo, stand up bass, and acoustic guitar. Their first few musical introductions were very Zappa in some ways… especially in the female saw players vocals. Then, as their music progressed they were a little bit slower paced than I expected, but phenomenal all the same. The lead vocalist (the guitar player) has a voice impeccably similar to that of Tom Waits and their jazzy sound often became wild… seeming like structural mass craziness on stage. The use of the banjo was especially intriguing… all in all this band was a great show with a lot of passion and power.

Hot Damn Scandal was scheduled to play again Saturday, but again due to not following the schedule and technical issues, they were bumped to Sunday. (Picture above from Sunday, missing some band mates)

This festival is definitely lacking some organization. This was frustrating at times, for both the musicians and the festival goers, but if you look a little closer, there are many positive things that come along with this. This factor is almost key to the roots and history at Harry Brown's Farm, forming a very free atmosphere revolving around marijuana activism, individuality, peace, unity and freedom of expression. If festivals on the farm were more corporately organized, you wouldn’t see as much personal freedom or individual marijuana activism and these are very important factors to many people. The one severe criticism we must make is that of the delay in all of the music during weekend. Because it is a small festival, the sound setup is primitive and sound checks were often anywhere from a half hour to an hour and a half long, often pushing bands back and/or cutting them short. We hope this is something they will work on and prepare more for.
There is another key aspect of festivals on The Hill that would go wayside if they attempted higher levels of organization; the ability to interact with artists and musicians on a very personal level. This was one of our favorite parts of the festival! It was very easy for us to go up and chat casually with the bands after their set. Although many feel they might benefit from more organization, we would be quite sad to see the personal side of this festival go away.

Bearquarium was another great group that was cut short due to technical difficulties. This was one of our favorite acts of the weekend (we've got it Bad for the funk), even though they were only able to play 5 songs. They were full of crazy, tight, get-down funkiness, which is almost crucial for a festival. These guys were quite hospitable and allowed us to enter the aquarium of bears itself (a sick redesigned bus in which their seats are not assigned) to chat a bit. Hailing from Burlington, VT Bearquarium laughed when we asked about their name. Apparently there is an old elevator shaft in an apartment building where they used to live that, through party banter, was named the Bear Aquarium and eventually this became the name of the band as well. Sounds silly, but I love a good band naming story! (we may have also spaced on some important details to this story) Check em out online, they seem to be rockin' New England quite a bit!

Incus is a wonderfully mesmerizing band that played late night on Saturday. We would describe Incus as some wild blend of The Dresden Dolls, The Talking Heads, and Radiohead, with their own unique twist. They would describe themselves as: "Drawing on influences from Middle Eastern, Native American, African and Eastern European musical traditions, Incus is redefining the American Tribal music movement. The combination of keyboards, accordion, violin, and cello with male and female vocals creates a beautifully haunting soundscape, replete with mesmerizing rhythms capable of inducing trance-like states." (Quote and picture from their website Instruments played at the festival included accordion, keys, bass, drums, and bongos. They have the ability to musically manipulate you, carefully building quite emotional crescendos. The music created by Incus is obviously specially crafted, and we think many could benefit from seeing them live.

While all of these previous bands were playing on the "Maine Stage", there was also a late night stage, which is always fun, and seems to keep the late night freekers in line. There were two projections set up, some bands earlier in the day and evening, and then typically DJ's until the wee hours of the morning!

Check out more upcoming events at Harry Brown's Farm here:
"Harry Brown's Farm is known through out New England as a counter-culture gathering site. Since 1991, thousands have come to the land for concerts, political assembly in support of marijuana law reform, and a unique Maine organic farm experience."

For more pictures from the festival (and to 'Like' us! :)), visit our facebook page- The Way Live Should Be

Pictures taken by Hope Duncanson, Cindi Brown, and Kim Morrison
Collaborative write up by Heather Omand and Kim Morrison.

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