The Way Live Should Be

Your source for show and CD reviews, festival previews, and interviews with your favorite artists playing around New England and beyond!

Highlights and First Impressions from the 2011 Bella Terra Music and Arts festival!!

Following are some of our favorite moments from the Bella Terra festival. Later this week a full review of the festival, hopefully with some words from Jeff (the main man behind Bella Terra), will be coming at you with the reasons why YOU should plan on going to Bella Terra next year.

Thursday:

Thursday’s line-up included favorites like Goosepimp Orchestra, Zach Deputy, Sophistafunk, and Rubblebucket. Zach Deputy was the first of MANY artists we saw walking around, chattin it up with fans at Bella Terra… seriously, we had never seen so many musicians at one festival come off the stage and become a part of the audience. It was awesome. Our hi-fives with Zach Deputy defintely got us into the right mind-set for Bella Terra pretty early on.

Goosepimp Orchestra offers a seriously awesome show. Anyone into funk, extended jams, and on-stage rage sessions needs to check out these guys. The energy with Goosepimp Orchestra is off the hook; high quality music with high energy musicians… at several points 3-4 of the 7 people in the band would be dancing their asses off while the rest of the band continued to jam. This show more than exceeded my expectations.

Goosepimp’s facebook page

Sophistafunk is a band with a message and this fit in perfectly at Bella Terra. As you will see in the review-to-come, Bella Terra festival has really managed to hold on to the potential of being bigger than itself; of having positive impacts that reach much farther than the 3 days the festival is actually happening. Many artists throughout the weekend gave shout-outs to FrackAction, Strangers Helping Strangers, and even just in the name of solidarity in the creative community and beyond! The potential of a festival to use the large group of people in attendance to do good is pretty huge, and we think Bella Terra is constantly seeking ways to better tap into that energy and potential. Sophistafunk’s general empowering vibe and message-imbued music fit in perfectly. Also, their cover of the Grateful Dead’s Friend of a Devil was awesome; more proof of their acknowledgement of legendary musicians that have come before them and continue to influence today’s music.

Sophistafunk’s AWESOME new album and band info

Zach Deputy, Rubblebucket, Dopapod….all these Thursday night shows were phenomenal and any music hungry folks looking for new tunes in their life should definitely check out these high quality artists. Their live music is consistently better than we expect it to be and they are constantly evolving; so check them out soon and take the journey with them!

Friday:

Friday began with our first experience with the Adam Ezra Group. These guys hail right from Massachusetts, and I can see why many people are getting turned on to them. They are very playful on stage, very talented musicians, and they offer very “feel good” type music. It was definitely my first ever spoon solo and the first time I have ever seen a band invite 20 people on stage and even give out instruments to play (bongos, maracas, etc.). I think the Adam Ezra Group is very influenced by the environment around them, perhaps more so than other bands, and it led to a great show that even included Ezra commenting on what happens at a festival, saying, “It’s a microcosm, your own little world. How could you be in a bad mood when there is good music all around?”

Adam Ezra’s website

One of favorite previously unheard bands from the weekend was XVSK, also known as Exter vs. Kimock. This group consists primarily of Exter on the cello and Kimock playing the drums. Their sound was a phenomenal mix of classical style and more modern edginess; coming out somewhere between in what Exter called “hippie jazz”. Exter described the band name as coming from the fact that he and Kimock fight… a lot. To help moderate this tension and edginess between the two musicians they invited Todd Reynolds on stage as “referee” and “adult supervision”; Reynolds played the electric violin and was definitely a mediating factor between Exter and Kimock. The show was easily one of our favorites and even had occasional Morphine-(the band)-like references. Both Exter and Reynolds occasionally used a slap-style of playing their instruments and it was definitely a kind of sound we have never really heard anywhere else.

Check out XVSK here.

Other musicians Friday night included the Mickey Hart Band, The Problemaddicts, and the Alchemystics. The Mickey Hart band was another show that far, far exceeded our expectations and we hope people don’t write him off as just another member of the Grateful Dead. While his band did do a few GD covers; the vast majority of their music was truly gorgeous; full of ecstatic and profound musicianship featuring unique sounds and the lead female singer’s phenomenal voice. I had never heard a thumb piano live, for example, and it was just truly, truly an awesome sound to hear. The Problemaddicts presented us with thoughtful, message imbued, but raw hip-hop. The variety of musical styles at this festival was awe-inspiring and these guys really represented the hip-hop scene fabulously. The Alchemystics did as well, with a perfect blend of hip-hop and reggae. Both bands are highly recommended for folks looking for new, up and coming music in the hip-hop genre!!

Listen to the Problemaddicts

The place to go for all things Alchemystical

Saturday:

Saturday began with another phenomenal hip-hop act, the Doctor Doom Orchestra. This band was some sort of crazy combo of hip-hop, rock, and ska…. with some definite funk influences as well.  This is a band that is seriously hard to pin down to a specific musical genre, no doubt about that!! A lot of bands pull off this multiple genre/style flexibility (an example would be Umphrey’s McGee) but few can do it as seamlessly as the Doctor Doom Orchestra. Transitions were flawless and the music seemed practically perfect in it’s execution. Featuring a male emcee and a female vocalist who occasionally pulled off some seriously Gwen Stefani type vocals (especially in their excellent Radiohead cover). Doctor Doom Orchestra also included saxophone, horn, bass, guitar, drums, and get this; an electric fiddler/mandolin/harmonica player who could easily have been the grandfather of the entire band. My notes from the show say it all, ” One of those bands who just appears to, without effort, produce the precise sound you want to hear.” The Problemaddicts were more “traditional” hip-hop, the Alchemystics a strong hip-hop reggae blend, and the Dr. Doom Orchestra was funk ska hip-hop. Anybody into hip-hop definitely has a range of choices in terms of potential new favorites in attendance at this year’s Bella Terra festival!

Do yourself a favor and check out the Doctor Doom Orchestra here.

Hot Buttered Rum played Saturday as well and their’s was a great show. Their bluegrass jams are perfect for such a welcoming festival; that sort of music is practically all inclusive; everyone can appreciate the sounds of fun and freedom in the sun. Especially considering they played a song written by the banjo (and guitarist and flutist) player and his wife for their wedding; the fact that someone is willing to share that kind of song with their audience really bridges the divide between musician and audience. We really ARE all on big family.

Be a part of the Hot Buttered Rum family.

Zion I also played in the afternoon; their style is very classic hip-hop, but its also very feel-good hip-hop. Inspiring, fulfilling, involving… these guys were a perfect choice for a late afternoon set. Their energy was off the hook, they were very pro greenery, and pro positivity. I really appreciate Bella Terra for getting these guys on the line-up!

Zion I!

Saturday  night was big for us and we also made a point of seeing Wes and Worrel, Buckethead (obviously) and Start Making Sense; a tribute to the Talking Heads. Wes and Worrel was phemonal; Worrel as in the infamous keyboardist who is in the rock and roll hall of fame and who played with the Talking Heads, Parliament Funkadelic, Claypool, and many many more. Wes played the bass…. or rather he DOMINATED it. We have never, EVER, seen anyone play an instrument and move that much… from leaping around the stage to winding up before slapping his instrument this man was off the planet in terms on energy. He is apparently Bernie’s mentee (calling Worrel Uncle Bernie) and the two create a truly HEAVY funked out sound with their extremely talented backup band. I definitely recommend checking it out.

Do it here.

Buckethead is Buckethead. Basically everyone around us in the crowd refused to believe that a human could do what he does. He is absolutely the worlds BEST guitar playing robot. No other guitarist can do what he does or move his hands in the same way…. period. If you havent seen Buckethead live… you don’t really know whats up. So do it.

For a legal (we think) trip, check out Buckethead’s site here.

Start Making Sense was PHENOMENAL. The folks at The Way Live Should Be who went to the festival have been yearning all their lives to hear Talking Heads live. We have accepted that is never going to happen. However, Start Making Sense is EASILY the next best thing possible in this life time. They have the music DOWN. Jonathan Braun even sounds a LOT like Byrne, at least 80% the same. The musicianship is spot on; these guys really, really pull the ENTIRE experience off. Down to the “Thank you very much” the way Byrne used to say it and EVEN DOWN TO THE DANCE MOVES. If you want to experience the Talking Heads, go see Start Making Sense…. it really fulfilled a hole in my musical soul.

Start Making Sense facebook page

We also checked out BoomBox… and definitely enjoyed it. We are all from the pre-electronic generation here, but I have to say, they did a great job blending that womp womp sound with instrumental music/talent.

Check it out.

Those are our admittedly lengthy first impressions from Bella Terra, but if you were looking for new music, you have a lot of options from various genres to start with. However, what you find online, could never be as good as seeing it in person, at Bella Terra festival. This festival was all about the music, love, and activism… something pretty rare these day and qualities that definitely foster a more genuine musical experience.

Collaborative write-up by Heather and Tyler Omand. All photos by Andrew Downey with technical assistance from Sam Graham.

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