Sunfest Times Five

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The main stage for Sunfest, still under construction at the time (Saturday, April 23, 2016)

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.

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Sunfest main gate being constructed behind the Clematis fountain

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…

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The soon-to-be food court and the Tire Kingdom stage (AKA the Meyer Amphitheater)

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…

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Thoughts on Jumbo Shrimp

[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]

Jumbo Shrimp, CD Release Party for "Thoughts"
Jumbo Shrimp with its newly-released CD “Thoughts”, November 28th, 2015. (l-r) Austin Klewan, Angel Leiser, Ben Rothschild, John Cardillo III, Dylan Thomas

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.

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