The opening night of this year’s Sunfest could have been titled “Teen Idols, Then and Now”, with Meghan Trainor representing the “Now.” The twenty-two-year-old singer-songwriter from Nantucket, MA took to the stage flanked by a pair of dancers whose frenetic moves complemented her music, best described as a combination of retro-pop and hip-hop.
Trainor’s Sunfest performance marks her return to stage, having had her previous year’s tour cancelled due to vocal-chord hemorrhaging.
The first few songs of the set were taken from her major-label debut, 2015’s Title. But also making its live debut was the song “Watch Me Do”, a track from her imminent next release Thank You, due out on May 13th.
The crowd consisted mainly of younger music fans but also included Meghan’s parents.
Meghan saved some of her most popular material for last, waiting till the encore to perform the ubiquitous “All About The Bass”, and her latest hit “No”, the first single from her upcoming album.
As I said in my previous post, this year’s Sunfest marked the first time that Empress K of Reggae Reflection and I had press passes for all five days of the festival. And while we had our share of challenges and mishaps, we won’t let any negative vibes kill our buzz, because this year’s lineup really delivered. With so many good bands and diverse artists playing sometimes simultaneously, we had to split up more than previous years to cover them all. But you the readers of our blogs and the Island Stage web magazine will be the beneficiaries, because our strategy of dividing and conquering enabled us to listen to and take pictures of about half of the fifty bands that played.
And as the local half of this press team, I was able to see a lot of my concert-going friends along the way, and they were able to see me. Here’s a picture of me in the photo pit for The Roots that was forwarded to me by my friend Alison Bourke, taken by her boyfriend Basel Hamad:
And here’s one of the pictures I took from that pit:
So sit tight for a whole lot of words and pictures about this year’s Sunfest…
A stylized view of Sunfest from the Captain Morgan Floating Bar (Photo by Alison Bourke)
For most of the twenty-odd years I’ve been going to Sunfest, I usually get a five-day pass. But in 2012 I was able to get press passes for the first time, for three of the days, thanks to the efforts of my press partner Empress K of Reggae Reflections. Empress K was able to do so again last year, getting us press passes for four of the days, and we covered the festival on behalf of Island Stage magazine out of Dallas. And now for 2016, Empress Khas gotten us press passes for all five days, so we’re literally in the last phase of the calm before the storm.
Ever since Sunfest was transformed in the ’90s from a jazz/blues festival into more of a pop/rock affair, the approach was always to try to have something for everyone, but never more so than this year. The 2016 offering ranges from ’80s acts (Duran Duran, Rick Springfield) to current pop charters (Meghan Trainor, Andy Grammer, Capitol Cities); alt-rockers (Death Cab For Cutie, Fitz and the Tantrums) ; reggae and r&b newcomers (Jesse Royal, Lunch-money Lewis); hip-hop veterans (Salt ‘n’ Pepa) ; hipster favourites (Alabama Shakes, The Roots) and, as always, a couple of repeat performers (O.A.R, a last-minute replacement for the injury-sidelined ZZ Top, Slightly Stoopid and Train). Did I leave anybody out? Probably; there are 50 bands on the bill…
So keep watching this space for concert reviews and pictures from the photo pits. And if you go to Sunfest and happen to see the Type Writer collapsed from exhaustion in between stages, please pick him up, dust him off, and point him in the right direction…
[Typist Notes: If you’re reading this on the date of publication, Jumbo Shrimp Inc. has a gig at Swampgrass Willy’s in Palm Beach Gardens this evening from 7:00-10:00]
2015 was a banner year for this Palm Beach School Of Rock band. In addition to high-profile gigs at the House of Blues in Orlando and Sunfest in West Palm Beach, this teenage group also released two albums, the second of which is the nine-track CD “Thoughts.” Like its predecessor, Nostalgia Calls, this album has very strong retro influences, particularly of classic-rock groups such as The Beach Boys, Pink Floyd, and, of course, The Beatles.
The bouncy rocker “Coming Through” starts the album off on a peppy note, which is continued by the dreamy title track. The follow-up “She”, a crowd pleaser during band gigs, acquits itself admirably in its studio version. But the album’s highlight is certainly the brooding track “Lights.” This is the album’s only songwriting collaboration, co-written by frontman Ben Rothschild and bassist Angel Leiser, all other tracks written by Rothschild on his own. The song’s structure is simple yet effective, building up from a quiet guitar/bass ballad into a full-blown rock anthem, not unlike The Beatles’ “I’ve Got a Feeling.”
Austin Klewan’s saxophone work on the following track “Colors” gives it a nice Pink Floyd feel, and the chord progression of “Freeze” has a hint of Hendrix. All in all, it’s nice to see that the musical evolution of this group that began on Nostalgia has continued on Thoughts.
The full moon shines on the Sunfest fireworks as they burst above the trees surrounding the Clematis St. fountain
[Typist Notes: Today is New Year’s Eve; at the end of today, cities all over the world will be welcoming the New Year with fireworks at midnight. One of those cities will be West Palm Beach. But in addition to New Year’s and the Fourth of July, the other big fireworks occasion for West Palm is the final night of Sunfest. Here are some pictures and recollections from that night.]
About thirty minutes after the final notes of the Fall Out Boy concert that brought this festival to an end, Sunfest put on their usual stellar fireworks show to conclude the festivities. Prior to their start, Empress K and I had been inside the festival’s media center (in the Cuillo Centre for the Arts, on Clematis Street), so we just walked out into the street and started taking photos.
I benefited greatly from using film-camera lenses on a DSLR. Empress K explained to the newbie digital-SLR photographer that due to the DSLR in question not having a full-size sensor, the magnification for the lens is actually 1.5 times what it would normally be. So a lens that zooms to 200mm on a film SLR will actually go to 300mm (I’m sure I’m not doing the technical explanation justice, but I imagine you can find the details on some photography website, if interested.) I also benefited from the full moon appearing that evening and acting as a nice complement to the man-made light show.
I never imagined I could capture the beauty of fireworks in photographs, so it was nice to be proven wrong. Enjoy the rest of my images from this colourful conclusion of a great music/arts festival.
There are a few reasons to be talking about Jumbo Shrimp Inc. this Thanksgiving weekend. First, discussing shrimp is very timely, given that it was seafood on the menu of the original Thanksgiving dinner, not turkey. But more importantly, Jumbo Shrimp Inc. is hosting a party this weekend on Saturday, November 28th for its second release this year. Yes, a scant six months after the release of Nostalgia Calls, this School-Of-Rock band is ready with another album, entitled Thoughts. This weekend’s show is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at the School of Rock’s South Palm Beach Campus (7433 S. Military Trail, Lake Worth, FL 33463).
The other reason to be doing a Jumbo Shrimp post at this time is in keeping with the Thanksgiving theme of abundance. When I had my press pass for this year’s Sunfest, most bands would only allow you to photograph for 2-3 songs anyway, but that was not the case for these young rockers, so I was able to shoot over two rolls of film on them. Yeah, that’s right, I said “film”; the picture below is proof of that and more:
Yes, not only do I still shoot on film, one of the SLRs I use is completely manual, and the picture above is the result of a less-than-accurate film advance. But I felt the unintended appearance looked cool, so I used it anyway…
At any rate, some more of my bonus Sunfest pictures appear below, and if you’re in the South Florida area, stop by the album release party on the 28th. Enjoy the abundance…
The latest music happening brought to you by Belle Forino, everybody’s favourite event organizer, is “Eat to The Beat on MainStreet“, to be held on Saturday November 21st, from 4:00 to 9:00 p.m., at the Mainstreet at Midtown outdoor area in Palm Beach Gardens.
The press release for this event promises “thirteen food trucks, three bands and five hours of dancing, eating, drinking and fun”, so let’s get into the details of the bands. Of the three musical acts slated to perform, the one best known to local music fans is probably Miami’s Spam All-Stars. This nine-piece hip-hop/Latin/ funk/electronica band counts many musicians within its fanbase, so you know they don’t suck. The Spam All-Stars have also performed at West Palm’s premier music event, Sunfest.
The other Miami act on the bill is Magic City Hippies (formerly the Robbie Hunter Band). This group’s sound is best described as acoustic guitar music mixed with Latin and hip-hop grooves.
The band Flow Tribe hails from New Orleans, and lately The Big Easy has been noted for producing jazz/soul acts with jam-band sensibilities (think Galactic and Trombone Shorty). So expect a lot of bluesy-soulful music you can jam out to.
So to recap, Eat to The Beat promises three very danceable bands, a plethora of food options, and did we mention it’s free? Get your hungry, hip-shaking butt up to Palm Beach Gardens for a good time this Saturday afternoon…