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Teddy Midnight, Spiritual Rez, Turkuaz, The Other Brothers Rule Disc Jam 2017 (FESTIVAL RECAP)

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Yet again Disc Jam delivered the goods. With a deep lineup of over 50 plus diverse acts playing over four days on four stages, the 7th annual Disc Jam Music Festival was a highlight all around. The musical oasis took place June 8th-11th at the majestic Gardner’s Farm in Stephentown, NY. The reasonably priced weekend pass ticket ($150) granted access to enticing late night sets, a plethora of DJ’s, a silent disco that went to the wee hours and a bevy of some of the brightest ascending acts in the jam scene including Dopapod, Tauk, and Consider the Source.

If one is a fan of live music and could only attend one festival this year – Disc Jam was the safest bet. The 2017 crowd was estimated at over 4,000 attendees. It continues to celebrate the small festival vibe while drawing some of the bigger named bands from the Northeast and beyond.  Security and staff were present and friendly. Memorable moments included Gubbulidis welcoming Wiley Griffin and the rest of Twiddle, artist at Large Hayley Jane sharing exquisite sit-ins and Teddy Midnight had a hot tub adjacent to a bus which welcomed various sit-ins and jams throughout the entire weekend. The projections on the large video screens offered another element of stimulation.

Teddy Midnight  

Wiley Griffin (guitar), Sean McCauley (keys), Sean Silva (bass) and Adam Magnan (drums)

The Brooklyn-based electro-dance-funk outfit is comprised of uber talented musicians. Silva composed many of the band’s songs, Magnan is a beast behind the skins, McCauley consistently shares masterful fills on the keys and Griffin leads the way with his epic clinics on the axe. A member of the Brooklyn Jam Syndicate, fresh off last year’s fun “Turkish Silva” music video and critically-acclaimed “Velvet Blue” album, the boys performed a monumental set on Friday.  Highlights included a new song, “Primordial” which is an older song that was reworked to add a latin-jazz section and has soaring guitar solos. Also, another new song stood out, “New Peppermint Jawn” which is a an intricate funky/jazzy ditty that is sure to become a festival staple and a fan favourite. The band also showed versatility with unique approaches to covers of “Rent” by STS9 which segued into “Rock Candy” by the Disco Biscuits which flawlessly segued into New Order’s “Blue Monday.” 

Set List:  Primordial, New Peppermint Jawn, Mah Bahdi, Air dnb, Rent > Rock candy > Blue Monday > Tricycle, Feel it out

Spiritual Rez

Toft Willingham (vocals), Ian Meat Miller (drums), Quinn Carson (trombone), Pedro Zappa (bass) and Yuki Kanesaka (keys)

Inexplicably, reggae is painfully underrepresented at festivals. If there is only gonna be one, you are in safe hands with Spiritual Rez. The “reggae funk dance experience” out of Boston, they bring all the elements and bombastic rhythms one seeks from a premier reggae experience. The brass adds a pleasurable depth of sound. Fixtures on the touring scene, the band performed a mix of work from their catalog including a bevy from last year’s successful album release, “Setting in the West.” Highlights included a powerful and punchy version of their hit single “Sober” as well as an incendiary take on their popular classic “Don’t Be Afraid” to close the set. A sexy dancer grooved downstage and the incomparable Lee Ross sat in with his horn. Willingham injects just the right amount of tender nuance with his smooth and level vocal delivery while one can’t help but notice Miller sharing his stellar chops while keeping the time behind the kit. They keep reggae alive with flair.

Set List:  Square Grouper, Baby’s Mama, Agapoula Mou, Sippy, Who’s Gonna Come?, Spooky Dub, Whiskey, Man’s Hands, African Jam, Let’s Go Out with a Bang?, Sober, Bring It On, Don’t Be Afraid

 Turkuaz  
David Brandwein (vocals/guitar), Taylor Shell (bass), Craig Broadhead (guitar), Michelangelo Carubba (drums), Chris Brouwers (Trumpet), Greg Sanderson (tenor sax), Josh Schwartz (Bari sax, vocals), Sammi Garett (vocals) and Shira Elias (vocals)

The buzz about the talent of Turkuaz is nothing new, but one only need to catch a live show to be reminded of the intensity and showmanship the nine-piece power funk outfit from Brooklyn brings.  Performing 21 songs, many in support of their most recent release, “Digitonium”, the Disc Jam veterans delivered in their Saturday night headlining spot. It is a treat when Schwartz sings, as he always proves he has the versatility and presence of a seasoned Broadway performer. The songs with Brandwein on vocals are complex, intense and mysterious – an incarnation of Peter Gabriel on acid. As much as Brandwein and Schwartz usually steal the limelight with their vocals, the highlight of this set belonged to the two sexy vocalists, Garett and Elias. They spearheaded a  raucous take of the The Band’s “Don’t Do It” which was enthralling and unique. Shell led the band with his impressive bass line chops on arguably the band’s most popular song, “Bubba Slide” and veteran fans of the band were rewarded with older standout’s, “XYZ” and “Monkey Fingers.”

Set List:  The Mountain, Murder Face, Digital Love>Percy Thrills the Moondog, XYZ (Feelin Tough), Rule the World, You Haven’t Done Nothin, Coast to Coast, Doktor Jazz, If I Ever Fall Asleep, Holy Ghost, Don’t Do It, Make You Famous, M’lady, Take it Slow>Bubba Slide  Encore:  Monkey Fingers

The Other Brothers  

Chris Owens (vocals), John Morrison (guitar), Jordan Mendelson (bass), Brandon Bera (drums), Gabe Marquez (keys), Jared Nelson (percussion)

You know you are good when it’s your first big festival performance and you make the top four highlights, but this ascending band from New Paltz, NY deserves adulation. Their debut album, Jones, is not set for release until the fall but they already possess a varied and exciting catalogue of show-stopping numbers. A strong suit is their ability not to be pigeon-holed in a particular style or genre. On this day they played ballads and slow-burn soul tunes, but it was the up-tempo ones that best enthralled the audience and provoked inspired dancing. “Can I Get It?” is a mesmerizing and inviting funk foray into a euphoric abyss peaking with the lyrics, “I’m gonna funk you up, I’m gonna funk you down!” but “Your Machine” remains their signature song with an infectious chorus and rapid change of time that is enticing. “A2W (Addicted to Weed)” is fast becoming a fan favourite as well. Owens is unique but one could claim his strong vocal delivery and style of performance prowess are most closely reminiscent of David Byrne.

The intriguing visual presentation is similar in that it’s full of electric eccentric movement and unpredictable quirks that drive the music and make it essentially better. It’s tough to keep your eyes of this guy and with increased confidence garnered with success and more experience, he is showing a legitimate potential of being the consummate front man for a powerhouse musical outfit in the scene for years to come.  A professional group led by standout guitar work from maestro Morrison, TOB are poised to break out as word of mouth about their live performances spread.

Set List:  Love Recedes, Levee for Free, The Man, Don’t Mean a Thing, These Cycles, Way You Are, A2W, Bound, Hit You Up ft Wavy, Cunningham, Can I get It?, Your Machine, In the City

Photos by Scott Harris Photography

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