LET THE FESTIVAL SEASON BEGIN…
(or as I like to call it: On Your Marks, Get Set, RAAAAAAAGE!!!)
Rock The Resort II. What a mess of a success! Where does one begin? I was slated to leave my apartment at 10:30am to meet my buddies at the end of the 4 train in Woodlawn. I was up at 7am wide awake after falling asleep only 5 hours earlier. It was like Christmas, too excited to sleep. At the same time around the East Coast in Upstate NY, Vermont and Philadelphia, I knew my kindred spirits in music were waking up and beginning their own trips toward their Rock the Resort II adventures. This made me smile.
When Eric picked me up from the train station, his first words when I got in the car were “You’re excited aren’t you? I could see your smile from a couple blocks away.” Indeed, I was geeking out at this point!!! After a much needed chill session in Woodlawn, Eric, T, and I piled our gear into the car and set off for the 2 hours trip to Kerhonkson, New York. Half an hour into the ride, I felt I wasn’t in the city anymore and I loved it. The trees were turning green and signs of Spring were everywhere. The rolling hills threw me back to The Valley in Virginia and I fiercely missed home at that moment. With the roof top open, the smells of Spring were welcoming unlike in parts of Manhattan where I believe we should all wear gas masks.
Arriving at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa, it was immediately clear that the place had seen some better days. Run down and tired, there were stains all over the carpet, holes in our closet door, bottle openers attached to the back of our bathroom doors…the list goes on. Don’t get me wrong, the Resort totally served it’s purpose that weekend but the place was by no means classy! And it is just as well because the majority of wookies attending this festival were not the kind to take their time and put their trash in the trashcan or their cigarette out in the ashtrays. I mean, as soon as we entered the lobby, we saw a dog take a leak right on the carpet. Dayum! Apparently, the resort was animal friendly so dogs were allowed in the venue and even in the stage areas. At times, it was very captivating to turn and see a dog resting his head on his paws, watching the show with you. I just wish they they not be allowed on the dance floor. That made for a lot of jerked leashes and frightened dogs. And above you, Fatty McRage. I deemed him so as the poor thing was, as the talented Jeffery Lockhart would later say, “To fat to even bark!”
Everyone arrived just about the same time. Parting ways from Eric and T in the check-in line, I joined up with Aaron, my roommate for the weekend and a fabulous cat I met on Jamcruise 8!! The sign-in process was a mess. There was no organization and the staff had little to no knowledge on what was going on. After trying to gather information from the website in the weeks prior and recognizing it’s lack of organization, I knew we were in for a little mess. We managed to get through the line a lot faster then most and went to check out our room. All the way at the end of the hall, with a king bed and a large windowed view of the lake and Willow trees, it was a nice place to face plant when the time would come. I immediately jumped all over the bed when I entered the room. I suggest you always jump on the bed in the hotels! I do it every single time!
When we got settled in I set off to meet up with some friends, old and new. My boys who drove me were right across the hall, Woot! Justin, a fellow blogger and friend who maintains the Music Marauders website, was apparently kickin’ it in the Jacuzzi suite that weekend. Seriously, he and Murray were raging in what turned out to be the nicest suite at the resort. Apparently, the room had been booked months prior through Murray but it had been high-jacked for an “After Party” room of sorts so it was stocked with tons of mini fridges and what not. Aside from the jacuzzi, there were plush leather couches and pretty bar near the front door and tons of space for wookies to pass out, which is just what happened. We After-partied and Pre-partied the SHIT out of that room and ironically, numerous artists raged in the room as well, so really, all was as it was meant to be in reality.
There was music at this thing right? Got to be honest, it was nice not having a jam packed lineup of amazing music. This festival is perfect for hanging out with friends, chillin with the artists, networking, and just going full face melt. I had a friggen blast. I never felt I was truly missing anything if I was not in front of the stage. There were, of course, those few bands I HAD to see this weekend, but if I were at Wanee or Jam Cruise, I wouldn’t have moved from the stage and ended up speaking to no one. So, bare with me because by the time I checked out my first show, my handwritten notes had already become illegible. At 7pm the music was set to begin; Jaden on the Empire Stage and Roots of Creation on the Manhattan Stage. Both acts I had never seen. Both venues were located side by side so you could just walk 55 feet and be in front of the other stage. The wall dividing them was a wall of windows sometimes covered by curtains…or not.
The first act I caught was Jaden. I had heard so much about this little lady that I had to check her out. Wow. The talent that child has playing the guitar is going to grow and I can’t WAIT to see her in like 10 years. Hell, I can’t wait to see her in five. I only checked out a song or two, both of which were covers; Bob Marley’s Mellow Moon and Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. Both of which she played consistently on point. When she starts taking liberties with her solos I have a feeling she is going to spit fire. She has quite a way to go with her voice but she has talent in those fingers at the age of 8 that some won’t have when they are 80. And how sweet was it to see that Jaden had a posse of about 8 tweens who were there fanning it up!
After a few songs I walked over to watch Roots of Creation’s set. I had heard good things. There were maybe 15 people in the theater. I sat in one of the rolling chairs on the first tier of the theater and propped my feet up for the rest of their set. My understanding was that they were reggae but the first few songs I heard were groovy and full of trippy jam. I remember feeling that it was too slow for the moment but I didn’t move. I was locked in my chair and my arms were to heavy to write. I turned in my chair and saw a golden retriever, head resting on it’s paws, laying serenely on the table, straight up smiling. Yeah, I guess they did kinda rock!
At this point I peeled myself out of the chair and made my way up to the Jacuzzi suite and a few other friends rooms, missing Sellassie & Alchemy Unit. My hall had become Shakedown Street within the first hour so I stayed away from that floor most of the night. I was able to kick it with Nigel Hall while he got ready for his set. We talked music and wardrobe. He was lookin’ forward to the show and going to see his son the following day! We headed to the lobby by way of the elevator where we ran into Justin, Trance and the rest of the guys making their way down for the Soulive set. See, the very FEW of us who were there to see live music knew when to get their our asses out of our rooms. Soulive was one of the shows NOT to miss this weekend.
They completely kicked it off hard. This was the first time all day that the theater had more then 30 people in it!! It was the first time all day I actually heard a CHEER from a CROWD. But that is exactly what I expected. When Soulive plays, people go see them. And they planted it hard. The trio kicked it off with a few throw backs from their older discs and a few from their new Rubber Soulive album. Eleanor Rigby made it’s way in as it always does. Nigel Hall was brought on stage as he always is. The moment I was really waiting for was coming. Skerik..Skerik…Skerik with Soulive. Two of my favorites…together. This is why I had bought my ticket.
When Skerik came out, the stage decided to fight back. The microphone that had been set up for Skerik was not working. This was incredibly frustrating but the only thing you can do is hope the artist bend and that is what they did. Nigel went from singing into the mic to planting it in Skerik’s horn so we could hear him solo. The exchange went on for a few songs and the mic never never did get fixed even after an extensive attempt. But that was the charm of it all, no? Skerik left Nigel with the microphone and exited the stage. Soulive, with Nigel raging his vocals, belted out a few more songs before ending the set. It was time to go play with friends again. At this point the elevator rides were getting longer and more animated as they both decided to just pick and choose which floor they would stop on only after going between the basement and lobby three times. Reminding me of Jam Cruise, they had a formula; the formula was fun. The elevators are crucial to the experience!
After running around the resort again, it was time for more music. Particle was playing next and I had not seen them in YEARS!! I made my way down to the theater and set myself up. The people packed the theater for this group as well. I am not sure if they played numerous songs or if it was one long song but I felt like they didn’t stop for a very long time once they started. I liked what I heard. It was consistent and rockin’ pretty hard when I decided to use the restroom. THANK GOD for a tiny bladder because in the Lobby was Nigel Hall, Soulive and a grand piano that was about to Rock the Resort hard! I am not even sure if this was on the schedule to be honest. Everything was so disorganized and there were none available to us. But scheduled or not, this was magic in the making.
As I walk over, Eric tells me to put my boa on Nigel. Apparently he needs a little pick me up! Ha! It wasn’t long before the boa was off and the music was on!!! At first it was Neal and Nigel on the Grand, Eric on the congas and Alan smiling widely behind them; just playing around and feelin’ things out. Then Eric and Alan stepped away as the microphone was handed to Nigel. He sang a lovely rendition of Donnie Hathaway’s “Singing this Song to You,” while Neal played the keys. Skerik shows up at this point and his horn case was laid down besides him. The word was out! It was funny because you could see Skerik itching to jump in. He bites his lower lip. MMMM!!! It was Nigel’s turn to take the lobby over for himself. Just him, his voice, and his keys. It was beautiful, as it always is. Skerik can’t handle it anymore and he pulls up a chair beside Nigel as they play a beautiful, slow melodic tune with a soft horn and simple keys.
The lobby was slowly filling up with people as they had heard a completely different sound then what was coming from the theater. At one point someone ran out of the theater and screamed, “Particle is playing live right over here!!” The lobby responded by not moving and sticking around to see what was definitely the most special of moments for those who knew what they were witnessing. Improvisation and musical freedom at its best. Talent mixing at its best. The artists themselves were having a BLAST at that moment. Kraz’s smile never faded. After the slow tune it was on. Nigel and Skerik are both out of their seats and Neal is back down on the keys, Alan is on the congas and into “I’ll Never Know” with Kraz helpin’ out on the chorus! Such a family affair!!
There is a mix of players all over the instruments. At one point we had Nigel Hall and Neal Evans on the Grand. Alan Evans on the congas and Skerik on the horn. Then Eric had his guitar. The wookies were picking up the percussion instruments and the lobby was on fire!!! Particle apparently played a great set and it was a shame that I was unable to truly give them a listen before running into the magic land. But I truly enjoyed the hell out of the lobby performance. Those are the moments that make it all worth it.
After that awesome musical adventure, we had tons tons of time to kill before Break Science would make their way to the stage. I was able to kick it with the boys from Soulive for a while before I started wanting familiar faces. During that time, Kraz is on the phone asking Adam Deitch when he plans on getting here as his set was meant to happen 20 minutes ago and he was still 2 hours away in Brooklyn. That is how things went at this festival. And it was ok, because like I said, it was so much fun getting to hang with your friends without feeling like you were missing great music. And half the people never left their rooms anyway. The lulls and downtime allowed for some rather rad adventures that otherwise wouldn’t have happened if things had happened on schedule. I headed up to the 8th floor where the Jacuzzi suite entertained me until Break Science finally arrived!!
Meant to go on Saturday night, Break Science was moved to replace Segway that night as Deicth had an engagement in Australia that he need to attend. I arrived at the theater a little early so I wandered into the Empire stage. The window wall had the curtains opened so as I listened to a rather funky band, who I have no idea of their name, as I watched Break Science set up. What an interesting perspective. I could hear Break Science’s sound in my head as they set up but my actual music backdrop was the jam happening on the stage behind me. Finally, I saw Deitch sit down at the drums. It was time to walk through the window…
I swear Adam Detich’s bones are made of drum sticks. Seriously, he is amazing. And Borham Lee, I would like to get inside his brain. With grimy dubstep and hiphop beats flaring, we danced our asses off until 6am I believe. I had completely and utterly lost track of time at that place hours ago. The highlight of the show was the Drums vs. Beat battle between Adam Deitch and Radioactive. Scheduled to battler earlier that day, they ended the day with an assault on the senses. Radio would beat box a gnarly beat and Deitch would rock it back through his drums and visa versa. It takes a talented ear to do what they did and it really was awesome. After a heavy session of dance beats and a battle like that, the night of music was finally over.
At the end of the Break Science set, everyone headed off to their various rooms for a raging night of various mixed adventures with their friends; the cracked out elevator stopping to open on every thrashed floor. Heading to the eight floor, everyone exited the packed elevator aside from myself, Skerik and RadioActive. I mention that Radio’s shirt is off the hook as it looks like a ribcage made of microphones. Radio jokes that he is thinking of having it tattooed on his chest as Skerik sees it and gets wide eyed. “Yeah man, that’s really cool,” says Skerik as he opens Radio’s hoodie to get a better look. No, chillin’ in the elevator with Skerik and Radio was cool 🙂 The shirt pattern was a bonus! We all exited the elevator and headed to the room of our fancy. I spent the rest of the night/morning, chillin’ with my favorite wookies in the Jacuzzi suite. Ben from Particle, among others, raged with us and we all talked music, listetend to music and made music. Eventually, the sun came up which meant it was time for us to lay down. We had another day of fun coming up in a few hours.