A Perfect Mess 2019 Northeast US Festival Guide – Continuously Updating!

Festival dates are slowly stacking up solid on the web and A Perfect Mess is here to keep them neatly in one place for you! As we get word of dates and information, we will keep this list running and updated.
If YOU have dates, please send them over to us so we can keep the list updated and growing. Have a new festival? Want it listed? Want it promoted? Send us the info! Do you want your festival covered by the folks at A Perfect Mess? We can be there! Send us the info!

Scroll down past these sillies for the most current list:

2019 Festival Season Cheat Sheet   Sorted by date  – Northeast     

March 22 – March 23
The Finger Lakes Thaw
Ithaca, NY
fingerlakesthaw.com
Multi-Venue, Music

April 25 – April 28
Some Kind of Jam
Schuylkill Haven, PA
www.jibberjazz.com
Music, Camping, Workshops

May 16 – May 19
Froggy Daze Music Festival
Narrowsburg, NY
www.peacepadproductions.com
Music, Camping

May 16 – May 18
Camp Jam In the Pines
Hammonton, NJ
www.cjinthep.com
Music, Camping             

May 24 – May 27
Elements Music and Arts Festival
Lakewood, PA

www.elementsfest.us

Music, Art, Camping

May 24 – May 27
Strange Creek Campout
Greenfield, MA
www.strangecreekcampout.com
Music, Camping

May 30 – June 2
Branch Fest Music and Arts Festival
Newport, ME
https://branchfest.com/
Music, Camping, Art

May 31 – June 2
Crawfish Fest
Augusta, NJ
Food, Music, Camping
June 6 – June 9
Disc Jam Music and Arts Festival
Stephentown, NY
Music, Disc Golf, Art, Food, Camping

June 13 – June 15

BeardFest
Hammonton, NJ                
Music, Art, Camping

June 13 – June 16
Mountain Jam
Bethel, NY
www.mountainjam.com
Music, Camping

July 4 – July 6
moe.down
Turin, NY
www.moe.org/festival/
Music, Art, Camping,

July 4 – July 7
Yonderville Music and Arts Festival
Remington, VA
www.yondervillemusicfestival.com
Music, Art, Camping

July 12 – July 14
Levitate Music and Arts Festival
Marshfield, MA
www.levitatemusicfestival.com
Music, Art, Food, 

July 25 – July 26
Peach Music Festival
Montage Mountain, PA
Music, Camping, Food

July 25 – July 28
3rd Annual Organic Smiles Music Fest
Voluntown, CT
www.organicsmilesmusicfest.com
Music, Camping

July 26 – July 28
Newport Folk Festival
Newport, RI
www.newportfolk.org
Music, Food

July 26 – July 27
Tumble Down
Burlington, VT
highergroundmusic.com
Music

August 5 – August 9
Roots Rock Revival 2019
Big Indian, NY
www.rootsrockrevival.com
Music, Workshops, Lodging

August 8 – August 11
3rd Annual Organic Smiles Music Fest
Newport, ME
organicsmilesmusicfest.com
Music

August 9 – August 11
Mazzstock Music Festival
Marlboro, NY
www.mazzstock.com
Music, Camping

August 9 – August 11
North Country River Jam
Champlain, NY
INFO LINK
Music, Camping, Veteran Support Event

August 16 – August 18
Woodstock 50th Anniversary (Michael Lang)
Watkins Glen, NY
(no website yet – coming soon)
Music…

August 16 – 18
Bethel Woods Music and Cultural Festival
Bethel, NY
BethelWoodsCenter.org
Music…

August 22 – August 25
LOCKN’
Arrington, VA
www.locknfestival.com
Music, Camping, Food

August 22 – August 24
Night Lights Music Festival
Sherman, NY
www.nightlightsfest.com
Music, Camping, Art

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So Much To Enjoy With PEAK – Electric Bouquet

Earlier this year, I was in a lull with material to write about and I put a call out for new and exciting stuff to not only write about, but just digest and bring me out of a funk. Our friend Cat hit me up with some gems that I put into my rotation to ponder and delve into deeper. One of those recommendations was a new track from Brooklyn based band PEAK called Imaginary Lines. It was good. It was really good and something fresh but it was the only track that had yet been released so I just devoured it for a while. It was on my Spotify playlists that I used when driving myself and clients. It was in my ears when I started commuting to the city over the summer on those long ass bus rides. It became part of my background soundtrack for months. This last week, I found myself on assignment from The Jamwich to do a review of PEAK’s show at Arlene’s Grocery and all of a sudden I was reminded there is a whole album I need to devour and review from this band who did this song I have been in love with for months! So here I am.

This is PEAK’s new album Electric Bouquet.

PEAK’s founder, Jeremy Hilliard, was in a band called Turbine. They had four releases over about a decade and played a ton of great shows with great bands. Now has created a whole new era of awesome with PEAK. When I went to see them last week, I got the opportunity to sit down with Jeremy at a nearby pizza spot and pick his brain a bit before they took the stage at Lower East Side institution, Arlene’s Grocery. I was immediately impressed by how chill of a dude he is. A humble but energetic and kind presence, he has a genuine appreciation for the music and the scene.

We chatted a bit about the scene and I was impressed that he actually had read my Jam Scene piece and knew my views on it (after 8 years, I’m still surprised anyone reads anything I write). I find it interesting to discuss with a band where they see their sound within the scene. Jeremy calmly explained that PEAK is still finding their sound, as is evidenced by their very multifaceted new album. It goes from smooth trippy jams like Ride Through the Night to smooth 70’s AM infused grooves like Idyllwild Flower before heading over to upbeat and funky tunes like Funk and Tonic. They have a little bit of everything on this record, and I love that. They are not a band you can put in a box. They are not a band you can slap a jam scene label on and call it a day. Yes, they do reside within the scene and they have some sick jams, but their sound remains nameless and free. I like that.
Arlene’s Grocery – November 2, 2018
As a live band, PEAK is stellar. Their sound is perfectly clean on stage. It’s not often that you can go see a band who you only know from their recorded material and actually have it sound as good as their recorded material, but that is PEAK. There was not a lot of fuss. While there were jams, the show was fluid and didn’t stop or lose energy. I had a laugh that they did have a moment to mention their new and especially soft new shirts (which I did not grab on my way out as I bolted to catch my train and bus) and thank the audience and support acts. Other than that though, there was a constant stream of well executed live music on that stage that had the same energy and genuine feel as their album. I was very impressed and I think PEAK just found a devout new fan in this writer. They even dropped in a Mac DeMarco cover and also included new songs in the set. After that, I was really excited to get a review out for this album because if you have not heard it yet, you need to.

So let’s get down to it, shall we?

There is a lot of love about this album. We can start with Imaginary Lines because this song was my crack all summer. I love the keys. The bass line is steady groove that doesn’t let up. The vocals are catchy as hell. The drums are perfectly placed to keep that upbeat but still light pace. I love this song and While yes, Imaginary Lines is the first song to pull me in, there is so much going on that its impossible to even pick a favorite track on this album. I know because I tried. On the Grind is a great straight rock track that anyone would dig. It’s got a great chugging groove with guitar and vocal that pair really well together and work steady with the bass, key, and drums. It’s a completely different sound that the song prior to it and you could probably pass it off as another band. I love that about this record. You cannot get bored of the sound. It’s impossible. The sound itself is fluid.

Barometric Pressure (Here Comes The Rain) actually kicks off the record with it’s cool vocal effects, spacey synth sounds and really funky bass. The thing I like about this song the most are the vocals. They are sing-along-able (is that a thing? It is now) and cool, and lace through those funky bass grooves so that they still stand out prominent. I like those use of layers in PEAK’s sound on this album. Moving on to Win Some, Lose Some and there is that completely different sound again! While there is still that funky groove, this song is in another, different direction. It has a bluesy feel interwoven with a really tight guitar solo, steady keys, and really smoky backup vocals to balance it all out.

Feel Like Moving is pure dance energy with funk flavor and a decades old formula of synth and guitar to get the body moving, and it works perfectly. Listen to this song and see if your feet stay still because mine don’t – this song is fun as hell! It takes an occasional slow groove break before it picks back up and even though it’s ten thirty in the morning right now, I want a cocktail and a dance floor. This one might actually be my favorite. Falling Backwards Through Time is a slower, sweeter track. I love the pace change with this song and the 90’s alt-rock flavor. It reminds me of something between The Church and Mazzy Star. I’m a total nerd for music of that era so I pick it out of everything. Jeremy Hilliard also let me in on Falling Backwards Through Time also being set to become the band’s first music video very soon, so keep your eyeballs peeled for that. 

Jeremy Hilliard, Arlene’s Grocery – November 2, 2018
All in all, you have a bit of anything and everything on Electric Bouquet, and that is fantastic and incredibly refreshing. PEAK is not a band you are going to be able to pin down with a bunch of descriptives about sound and genre. It’s an ever-changing mastery of ideas that keep you interested from song to song. Nothing drones, nothing gets sleepy or too far into trippy territory for the sake of being in trippy territory. This is a very stimulated and creatively wide open record and I love it from start to finish. To see that PEAK gives as good of a performance of this ability live as they do in a studio is just all the more respect from me to them. It’s really easy for a band to fall into a dull and lifeless rut and I think some do it and don’t even realize it. That sound gets tired. I love the fact that PEAK never gets tired. It keeps you on your toes waiting to hear what the next song will sound like.

These guys have some shows coming up in the Northeast this month and and you can keep tabs on that tour page HERE. They have shows coming up in Philadelphia, Manchester, CT and New Paltz, NY. I suggest highly that you get yourself out to see PEAK and shake what you’re working with because it’s a fantastic live show. I see a lot happening for PEAK in 2019. Honestly if the festival scene is not peppered with their name come spring time, I will be really disappointed in every promoter out there…but I know better. You can expect to see a lot more of PEAK. 
Get yourself a copy of Electric Bouquet, and I’ll see you on the floor!

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Digging Hard on the Smooth Grooves of The Elovators – Defy Gravity

There is just something that happens to my entire soul when I am listening to good record. It’s like the bugs of negativity that have been infesting me for days, weeks, months seem to rise and leave my entire being and these gold and rose colored droplets of positive deposit in their place. Is there no better feeling that a good uplifting batch of sounds for your soul? I ask, but I know the answer. Boston’s The Elovators know the answer too, and that’s why they have given us all their new record, Defy Gravity. It’s everything we need right now.

I stumbled on these guys a while back and did a piece on their last record, The Cornerstone. (you can check that out HERE) I thought it was outstanding and really captured a vibe of pure love and peace, and goodness knows we can’t have enough of that these days. I really didn’t think they could up that game, but here I am with these sounds in my ears and I’m completely floored. This vibe is complete fire. The beat is silky and the vocals are harmonious and sweet while still hitting deep and hard. There is a perfect mix of really groove heavy bass, soaring guitar work, funk and soul keys, expertly done percussions, and incredibly beautiful vocals that set The Elovators apart from their contemporaries. These guys have really tapped into that pure sweet gold vibe in music. It’s a perfect mix of sway, dance, and smile and it comes through in every track.

The first track, Live By The Day, is just so sexy and tight. It’s got that dip and pulse vibe that seems to pull at your body when you listen so much that you find yourself moving with it’s waves. The vocals are gorgeous, as usual. I love the way the Elovators write vocals into their songs. They are like a swaying batch of sea grass –  all bits of the song come together and wave back and forth, yet still split apart with the changing of the breezes. The bass line in this song is really sensual and I love that element. Skipping on over to Gonna Shine for some real chilled standard reggae beat and vibe rounded out with that positive charge that we all love about these guys. Then it picks up tempo and it’s like the sun just came out in the late morning and showed us another gorgeous day. I love this band’s uplifting soul and how it shines through their songs.



People Go starts off with some steady percussion and kicks in with some guitar and sweet bass, a bit of clap, keys, and a whole lot of sweet soul. It’s more of that sunshine through the rain and kicking vocals in this track. Great guitar work. Outstanding groove that gets in you and keeps you moving. This is the kind of song that pulls at your smile at the corners of your mouth as the dancing starts. This one is going to be a whole lot of fun live. So much room for jams, already a really funky cool solo in the mix. My Baby takes that smooth jam down a few notches into something sensual and cool. Very clearly a love song, it’s got that sexy smoothness while still holding the uplift and body moving vibe. Great lyrics, lovely vocals.

The Ladder is one of my favorite tracks on this record. The percussion is stellar. The groove has several changes through the song. The vocals are strong, powerful, and uplifting. The lyrics are just what I needed today. This song is getting deep into all the cracks in me right now and I loving it. This is one of those songs that lights up a crowd with positive, jumping energy bursts and I want to be there to experience it because it will be amazing. Well done, guys. The last track, Shaking off the Wolves, takes it all down a notch with some earthy acoustic guitar and light vibe. The vocals go deep and strong. About halfway through, the tempo kicks up a bit and the song carries you high with a message of hope, peace, and strength. That message is conveyed not just in words, but the overall vibe of the song. It’s a skill I love about this band. Another example of fantastic writing by The Elovators.

Defy Gravity was recorded and mixed by Danny Kalb, who is known for his work with artists like The Movement and Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, at White Star Studios in Virginia. It’s a sophisticated and groove heavy piece of awesome and I am incredibly impressed with where these guys went with their writing this time around. The Cornerstone was a fantastic display of their style, but Defy Gravity proves how polished that style can be. It’s a elegant and chill record and I’m here to tell you that you need it in your life. The world is constantly pelting us all with boulder-size orbs of negative energy lately, and we need all the sweet peace and uplifting groove we can find. I can’t think of a single record right now that would be better suited to fight all that ugly than this gorgeous piece of splendid right here.

You can get your copy of Defy Gravity HERE.

Check back with the band’s website for tour info. As soon as these guys hit NJ/NYC, I’ll be out there, and I hope to see you grooving with us!

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“What Is It?” – Exploring The Jam Scene…

What is the Jam Scene exactly?

This is something I have been working to define for a while…pretty much ever since I met my husband. Not because I ever felt like it NEEDED some sort of definition. It doesn’t, and one of the great things about it is that it doesn’t have one. I don’t like to give him credit when he is listening because I don’t want to swell his head, but it’s because of my husband’s influence that I found myself here. It’s not the whole reason because there were a lot of reasons, but those times I refused to listen to a band, check out a festival, or explore that inner flower child that I knew was there (hell, she was bred into me by my parents)…I stopped myself because I already thought I knew what the scene was. I thought I knew everything I needed to and that it was NOT FOR ME. I was extremely closed minded. The real truth is that I had no idea what the Jam Scene really was. The truth is that it’s a lot of things to a lot of people. It’s something uniquely different for everyone that becomes a part of it. It’s probably easier to try and tell you what the scene isn’t than what the scene is, but what fun would that be?


So I set out on a quest to find out from people who call this scene home – WHAT IS THE JAM SCENE TO YOU?

I’ll start with myself. I was looking for something in my music. It was something I could not explain. It was something just under the surface of everything that I was missing. For a long time, I tried to find it. That exploration over the years was rich and wonderful and it took me on incredible journeys and gave me some of my very dearest friends. I just wasn’t finding that THING I was after. What made it harder was that I had no idea what it was I was looking for. Fast forward to meeting my husband in 2012. He was a bassist in a band that was a part of the jam scene. This was a scene I didn’t know much about personally, but WOW did I make a lot of assumptions. I thought because I knew people in the scene that I understood what the scene was. I thought because I heard two Phish songs that I knew who Phish were. Repeat that with moe., Umphreys, the Dead, and then just keep going. I thought I knew everything. What was worse, I assumed I didn’t like it.

I have talked about it before in these blogs. My podcast, my blog, my focus was ska and reggae and I thought I knew it all. I was pretentious about it, like a lot of people are. A lot of the arrogance that taught me had become ingrained in me and as such, I refused to listen. I heard things, I just didn’t listen to any of them. It was Twiddle that changed that for me. Now, suspend any sanctimonious Twiddle dislike you have while you are reading this please. It’s irrelevant here and I don’t care. For me, they were the thing. They were the crossover. They were my jam scene gateway drug. I heard Lost in the Cold, felt the vibe, heard the horns, and thought…wow. I dig this. Not only that, I can actually feel this. And it genuinely opened me up. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t immediate. It took about a year for me to open my head up all the way and let it all in, and honestly that process is still taking place. I don’t like everything. Some of it I downright can’t stand. But that is every genre. What left me was the need to be so pretentious.

But that’s not even it. That was just the door cracking open enough for me to smell the air inside. I realized I liked enough music that I wanted to hear more. And then more. And then I wanted to see those bands live. And then there were more bands. The thing I never realized was that the jam scene is not one kind of music. It’s not one genre. It’s not just “this” kind of music or “that” kind of music. It’s NOT, as I long suspected, a whole bunch of bands trying to be the Dead or Phish (though that does exist) or reggae bands all covering Sublime tunes (though that does exist) Not hardly. It’s some of the most killer funk bands I have ever encountered. It’s some incredible folk music. Its wonderful singer/songwriter collaborations. It’s deep and powerful soul music. It’s some of the best dance music I ever heard played not through a computer, but with a live band! (I should not need to say that with such enthusiasm, but seriously) This scene took everything I thought I knew about bluegrass and flipped it upside down. It’s all these different types of music that come together. That play together. That have these massive meet up festivals and all JAM together. I’m often amused now when I see other scenes talk about their shows and festivals and the novelty of one band playing with another band. That is what this entire scene is! That happens at EVERY show! I don’t judge anyone for it because that was me once too, and wow. There was so much I thought I knew.


What I never saw coming though was this community. I never expected to be as embraced as I was not just by the other fans, but by the artists as I began to write about the scene. It’s not like there are not a ton of other blogs and publications on this scene. I struggle as a small independent writer to be noticed among them, but that never dampened the appreciation from the artists and the community for what I strive to do in sharing the music. My first festival was an eye opener for me. The music I saw, the community I met, and as much as I hate camping, I embraced that concept as well and enjoyed being a part of this little compound for a weekend. I never knew what that was. I never experienced that for more than a few hours.

Then I realized what I had been missing.

It was peace.

  

I have struggled with anxiety and depression for most of my life. For me, it’s chemical. It’s something I have worked just to learn to live along side of as part of my world. In its chaos, I have struggled to find inner peace in my life. As I became more and more immersed in this scene, the more I realized I was slowly starting to find that peace I had been seeking. Depression does this thing to you. It makes you feel isolated no matter how many people you surround yourself with. For most of my life, I felt like I didn’t belong anywhere. The feeling of not quite fitting in has been reality for me every day as long as I can remember. It’s something I wouldn’t tell my friends, but I didn’t understand why they wanted to be around me. I didn’t feel a part of their world. I was just kind of…there. Never fully being able to relate to them. Never really feeling like they related to me. Naturally I usually felt like I was proved right after a while when my own introverted behavior sent me into hermit mode, and as such, I never lost this sensation that I just don’t fit in.

This year, when we went to Disc Jam, that started to change a little. It’s not a full reversal of those deeply rooted issues, but I realized I was meeting more and more like-minded people. I never felt judged when I met anyone there. None of these people I was meeting were anything like I thought they would be. In fact, they were like me. They were like me in ways I could not really explain. It had nothing to do with our appearances or even music taste. It was inward. It was an understanding. I don’t really ever meet people like me. Maybe it was the euphoria of the music. Maybe it was those damn good bloody marys. Maybe it was the moment I felt my anxiety slip away for the first time in a long time, but there is just something there within the community. It’s a peace.

I think that is how the scene gets you. It’s how it pulls you in. It wraps itself around you with music and friendship and you realize that there are people like you. Maybe that is how every scene gets you. I don’t want to declare that it’s just this one, and that somehow people outside of it are not getting what we have here. That’s ignorant and closed minded. I guess what I am saying is that this is why this scene is great to me. That got me thinking though. Why is this scene great to YOU? Then I decided I would just start asking people.

 Will Hanza – Guitarist for Escaper 

“What the jam scene means to me… First of all, I think the scene has grown a whole bunch the past ten years. While some fest have come and gone, I feel the scene- people whom are in it and you see and hang out with often, has grown and become closer and closer as time has gone on. I feel I only got into going to fests about 5-6 years ago and Escaper has been around for just 2 and a half years. I have to say that here is a lot of love in this scene. Love for live music- to the point of addiction (glorious addiction), love for each other. Especially those that champion it, help propagate it. There is a genuineness to most people in this scene and a real sense of community. It takes village to raise a jam band. The amount of love I have felt from people for Escaper, as well as me as a person, has been almost overwhelming at times. I can’t say enough- I have met so many people through this music and I have come to sincerely love so many of them. When I was younger, I was much more in the rock ‘scene’. There definitely was not the same sense of community. If anything, fellow bands often were more competitive than seeing each other as family that could help each other. Maybe the jam scene has grown, even, to be more familial. Music is a composition, not a competition, right? We all have so much wealth of soul and sweat in us. Why not share it and boost each other? Rising tides raise all ships and all that. The more we believe and live that way, the better we all are. I believe this to the core, as do my best friends in this scene. Aaaaand we get to play highly improvisational, exploratory, heartfelt music? What? Yes, please.”

 David Loss – Guitar/Keys/Vocals for Aqueous

“Being a part of the Jam Scene is like being a part of a large family. Especially at the summer festivals, you get the feeling of being at a family reunion. Seeing people you haven’t seen in awhile and meeting up with friends and musicians alike. Beyond that, I think the scene offers a little something for everyone. There’s so many talented musicians out there and so many dedicated fans. Overall, I feel, the scene just provides a kind atmosphere and one that I’m happy to be a part of!”

  

Alzie Sisco – Drums for Newton Crosby

“To me the scene is an ever evolving thing. Its about acceptance, growing and meeting many different people that will have an impact on your life forever. Being involved in it for so long, I’ve gotten to discover so much about what I like and even question it sometimes and relearn what you thought was “the way to do things”. I’ve gotten to meet so many talented artists and learn from them. It also represents family because the people you meet in this scene are just that…and they shape your experience…not to mention, its FUCKING FUN!!!”

  

Vincent Ventriglia – Guitar/Vocals for Wig Party

“The jam scene to me is a place where people can go see music made by musicians for people who like music. There are multiple sides to that as far as styles of music are considered. It like the best buffet you have ever been at. But instead of it being egg rolls or some type of chicken or a meat dish, its Jazz, Blues, Rock, folk, Hard Rock, Rap, R&B, EDM, Funk etc. Literally ever style of music. “

What does this scene mean to YOU? I would love to hear your answers for a follow up! Send me a message! Tell me your story!

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Smooth Dance Vibes with BoomBox – Western Voodoo

Electronic music is not something I really ever saw myself getting into because for some stupid reason, I didn’t think I would find anything of myself in it. I was so incredibly wrong. Over the last couple years, I have discovered amazing artists like Lotus and Escaper who truly changed my perceptions about what electronic music actually could be. I remember Disc Jam this year and standing near the hospitality tent while Lotus played. Me and four or five other people who had never met found ourselves, mid-conversation, just slowly morphing into a giggling impromptu dance party. It was one of those magical moments where you have to stop and enjoy being alive really consciously for a minute because in that minute, it was pure joy brought on by a shared love of music. I’ll never forget that moment.

Since discovering those artists, my playlists on Spotify have been being dotted with other artists that the machines there think I might like. One of those mind changing tracks was a song called Dungeons by BoomBox. It just showed up in my suggested playlist one day and from one listen, I was hooked. The song had a deep soul that was undeniable while still being danceable. I dabbled a bit into the rest of the BoomBox catalog, but I have been simply addicted to this song ever since. The other day, I decided to delve deeper. Coincidently, I decided to do this the day their new record, Western Voodoo, was released. Sometimes the universe gives you what you need right when you need it. I have been stuck on this record since then.

The first track, Castles, immediately pulled me in. It has that same deep bass infused soul that hooked me with Dungeons months ago. The vocals come in smooth sleek and add to that overall sexiness that the track has. It’s that body moving, graceful psychedelia that hypnotizes you while it slowly pulls you deep into another world. I absolutely love this song. I think what I like the most about the music that BoomBox is creating is that while electronic, it still has really lovely vocal work. I love vocals. Pull me in with vocals, and you have me forever. What BoomBox has created is a deeper kind of electronic music that you can sing while you dance. I’m curious as hell now to see them live.

The track Selling Fun is more of that deep bass groove but picks up that tempo a bit with a cantering beat and slick vocals. I dig where this song goes. Restless Too is another great track with a rainy feel and calming presence with some light guitar sound and steady beat. There is something so incredibly peaceful in the sound and the vibe that BoomBox creates with this album. It’s like low dose Xanax for your ears that makes you want to dance.  That’s the best way I can put it. I’m in love with the sound. It takes your hand gently and leads you to soft colors and the smoothest feels but you can’t stop your body from moving so you dance your way there.  Easy Operator is another track I dig with its slow jam feel and synthesized backdrop. I don’t know how anyone could listen to this album and stay still because I am in a constant sway. I’m in love. I Trouble is another favorite of mine. The overall vibe so incredibly sensual with vocals that seem to almost lick over the beat with soft echo effects and slight changes.

BoomBox is the mastery of multi-instrumentalist Zion Rock Godchaux. He refers to his special blend as “Dirty Disco Blues” and I don’t think anyone could have come up with a better explanation of his unique sound. It’s based in dance beats but goes so much deeper. I think what turned me off from a lot of very commercial dance music for so many years was how shallow and thin it felt. I never felt like I could find a place within its sound to connect. What has been created in BoomBox is something very different. It’s a sound that has so many places that I found I could connect. It’s a dance vibe that goes deep within you. It has layers and complexities. It finds you in a vulnerable moment and lifts your soul with soft hands while moving your hips. There is something incredibly special in what is created here.

All in all, there is so much to love in Western Voodoo. I recommend strongly checking it out, even if you think it might not be your exact flavor. What I can assure you is that it’s nothing you think, I can promise you that. Listen and feel it pulse through you. You can get your greedy little paws on these awesome sounds right HERE and I implore you to do so ASAP.
BoomBox has tour dates posted into January on their website which you can check out right HERE. I’m a bit bummed because there is nothing posted for the NY/NJ area so it looks like I’ll be hoping for some local dates come late winter/early spring. (hint hint!) I really want to experience this live. As soon as there is a local date, I will be hoping to see you there! We will have an impromptu dance party!

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Wig Party is Back with that Groove and Their New EP, 99th Birthday

It’s tough to have a talented spouse and a blog about music. Eventually, the two are going to cross and you are going to have to sit there and wonder if nepotism is a thing in music journalism. Is it? I have no idea. But here is the scoop… my hubs joined this pretty neato band called Wig Party and now Wig Party has this pretty neato EP that I want to talk about and I don’t know if I can, but I am going to anyway so when you see me gushing in run on sentences, you know this is me trying to determine if I am being a bad blogger. Am I?

Fuck it.

So here is Wig Party. A band of merry fellows from Northern New Jersey who have come to knock the socks clear off your feet. I actually did a piece on their Phish pre-party at American beauty a while back. You can read about that right HERE. It was a super good time! I’m glad to now be a part of this Wig Party family. But more on that later.

The band has been around a while. They found some notoriety with their first release, Glass Girls,  and even found themselves charted for three months straight on Relix’s Jambands radio chart, including holding at places 5 and 6. Not too shabby, guys! They played pre-parties and afterparties for Phish and the Bob Weir/Phil Lesh duo at BB King’s and American Beauty in New York City, as well as the Raven Room in NJ. The band was young and promising but as often happens, the promise seemed to stop short. Tragedy struck hard, and the band lost keyboardist and dear friend Hank Rosenthal to a battle with addiction. While some bands might never recover from such a blow, Wig Party found the strength.



With that strength came new life and a new three song EP.

99th birthday was recorded at Mixolydian Studios in lovely Water Gap, PA under the masterful producer eye of Railroad Earth’s own Tim Carbone. Because one legend having their hands on your music is not enough, the band also brought in Don Sternecker to engineer the EP and 9 time Grammy winner Gene Paul to master it. The album also features a guest spot from the late wonderful Andy Goesling of Railroad Earth on both tenor and baritone sax which added a touch of deep soul to the fun and danceable track. While the album highlights the great songwriting that is Wig Party, the real experience with the band is to see them live.



2018 saw the addition of new members, drummer Tom DiCianni and bassist Eric Marcazo, as well as keyboardist Joe Biglin. In addition to original member John Cisco moving to guitar and vocalist/guitarist Vincent Ventriglia hanging out where he’s always been, the band is poised for a super exciting 2019. The guys have been out warming up the stage with their particular brand of “Slacker Jam” and sophisticated groove fun. The live show is where it’s at. The guys are master of improvisation on the stage and have a fantastic chemistry that they more or less stumbled upon just having a good time and playing music among friends. They debuted this new groove opening for Kung Fu’s Chris DeAngelis and his side project, LoEndFreque a couple months ago and have not looked back. 

You can get your grubby little hands on the music in all the usual places, but here is a link to the website to have a tasty look: MUSIC

Keep an eye to the website HERE for upcoming shows and other goodness from the band. Check out 99th Birthday. This is not an obligated post. It’s really freaking good!

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Grooving on Something New and Cool with Escaper – Edge Detection

As you may already know, I occasionally get the distinct pleasure of doing album reviews for The Jamwich. It’s a great treat for me because not only is it a good excuse to get into some new music that I might not have heard, but I am also forced to make as big an impact as I can in 350 words. If you are a regular reader of mine here at A Perfect Mess, you understand why this is a challenge for me.  I have been told brevity is not my strongpoint and I could not agree more. I love words. I love using words. I especially love using words every way I can to get someone to want to hear the music I am telling them about. I do it when I write, and I do it when I talk. It’s something that happens when music feels really exciting to me! I want more people to want to hear it too! It’s why I do this blog in the first place. This is a place to talk about and share great music! Look, I already went off topic. See how that happens?

So earlier this year, I was tasked with doing a review on this new record, Edge Detection, from the band Escaper. While I managed to fit my thoughts into 350 words for the magazine, I had so many more words to use and I really wanted to do my own piece on this record. Escaper have kind of blown my mind as to what an instrumental album can sound like, and I am really digging it all.
Based in Brooklyn, Escaper has been all over the festival scene this year. They were at our favorite stop of the year, Disc Jam, joined on stage by a few of the folks from Turkuaz. They were at Mazzstock, Rock N Roll Resort, and will be at the upcoming Halloween Horror Camp and Progtoberfest. The Escaper guys are going at it hard out there and put on a simply fantastic live show. Regarding the recording of the new record, the band worked with engineer John Davis at Brooklyn’s Bunker Studio. All five band members played simultaneously in the recording process, but in isolated rooms. According to their website, this helped to capture the band’s great live synergy. I have to agree. They absolutely have it. These guys play together like finely woven silk. They groove well together and they play off of one another’s energy. It’s not hard to understand why this record is so good. So lets get into that.


The new for 2018 album, Edge Detection, kicks off with the song Secret Weapon. This song takes you on a rollercoaster ride of steady bass, dance heavy drums, trippy cool guitar work and these electronic synth sprinklings throughout. Then the sax comes in and just trips you right out. I loved this band right away from this song. It’s like experimental jazz fusion in space on acid. It’s exciting! The guitar in this song rips too so you get this complete rock overlay to your spacy trip – just to keep you guessing.

The next song, Rare Form, takes you in another direction entirely. The cool sax starts you out, followed by steady drum groove, kicking but smooth guitar, and a fresh and plucky synth solo. Try to keep from the body moves while you listen because this song is funky as hell while still feeling like smooth jazz. I love that about this band. It’s this constant blend of sounds and flavors and the energy is constant. You never get bored. Songs don’t sound the same and they take you in completely different directions.

Lets talk about the title track real quick. Edge Detection starts out spacy and trippy and you don’t know where the song might go. Then suddenly its all smooth. That bass is sexy as hell. The sax and drums layer over with some light guitar and synth just sprinkled through the mix, creating an overall vibe dripping with a sensual groove. It picks up tempo a bit making that groove almost climax as the song progresses. I have to wonder if that was on purpose. This song is written like good sex. I’m not exaggerating. You need to get that special someone in your life, a little wine, and sit down with this track.

Another favorite for me is Dream Times. This song is slow and complex in its groove with a mellow sweetness to it’s tone. I feel all sorts of things listening to this song. I love the chase the drums and bass have with one another while there is this lacing of keys and sax throughout. Every time I listen to this song, I feel like I hear something I missed the time before. Its a song that carries you along like a story you can’t seem to listen to hard enough. Realms is also a really cool track with this really persistent and pulsing tempo motivated by some fantastic drum work and very jazz heavy sax and keys overtop. I’m hooked.

The music of Escaper on this record is everything that a band can do right with instrumental music. It paints pictures for you in your mind. It chooses colors with their tones and changes. The grooves these guys employ take you on adventures. Each member of this band is a master of their instrument but  beyond that, they have such a creative way of blending the sounds they know together to create NEW sounds. I am brand new to the Escaper club so I was walking into this review completely cold. I usually like to do a little reading on the band before I start, but this time I didn’t. I just put on the music and let it take me over. Let me tell you, that is exactly what it did. That is exactly what Escaper does. Before I knew what was happening, I was completely enveloped in this outer space funk and jam head space that just took over. This was something new for me, but I was already a fan. Escaper have something I have not heard before. It’s a flavor that toes the line between electronic funk and jazz fusion jam. It’s something really fun. I’m completely in.

You should absolutely be checking these guys out ASAP. Head on over and check out the album on their website HERE. These guys have a bunch of shows coming up atoo nd you can peep their tour schedule HERE. Let’s grab a beer and shake it to some spacy Escaper grooves soon!

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Digging into Spafford – For Amusement Only

Let me admit right off the bat that I am new to Spafford, so you will have to forgive my late arrival to the party and my lack of knowledge that fans might consider pertinent. I’m not BRAND new, as I have had a few tracks in heavy rotation for a year or so on my playlists, but I would hardly call myself truly and deeply familiar with their work. That being said, when I heard there was a new record out, I had to hear it.

Curiosity has had me for a while. You see, there is a very strong Spafford presence on line, and its an incredibly loyal fan base. I mean, lets be honest. The jam scene has some of the most rabidly loyal fans I have ever seen just in general. Pop into most fan groups on Facebook, and be prepared to be roasted heavily if you speak about any other band or even your lack of complete knowledge on the one in discussion. You know what I am talking about. Everyone feels THEIR band is the next torch carrying, movement starting, life changing artist on the scene. While this can be tedious, I don’t say this with hate in my heart. On the contrary, it’s one of the things that I like about this scene. People don’t just follow an artist they love. They are feverishly devoted to that artist, their fans, and everything they are about. It creates a family within the family that is the jam scene. There is something very comforting and amazing about that concept. I say this because I was first intrigued by this band when I saw their online fan presence. People who love Spafford LOVE Spafford.

My curiosity sent me into a Spafford rabbit hole. This four piece hails from Arizona. I visited Arizona for work once. It was the first place I ever saw an actual road runner. (I didn’t know they were real…they don’t say beep-beep) The band’s music has a heavy jam quality while still injecting tidbits of funk and a whole lot of pure rock. It’s got a soulful quality while injecting these great dance moments in their songs that make them a force all their own in the scene. They were a presence at Peach Fest this year, in addition to The Werk Out, Levitate, Bonnaroo, Frendly Gathering, and a LOT of other festivals, as well as out with Umphreys for some dates. In other words, these guys work their asses off out there, and their music shows that dedication. The more I listened, the more I liked it. Feeling a little more familiar, I felt like I could dig into this new record and give For Amusement Only my full attention.

The record kicks off with Leave the Light On, an upbeat and groove heavy track with a really great key/guitar pairing two thirds in. The bass is layered well beneath and the drums are extremely well done. The vocals are smooth and level and I really dig the tone. I cant help but shake it a bit as I sit here with the track playing in my headphones. It’s A Bunch has a cool bass groove right out of the gate and a sweet underlayer to its construction that I dug right away. I like how these guys layer the sounds in the mix because there is no major, dominant presence to anything. Everything is so well woven. Big points there. This song is an instrumental and gives a fantastic highlight of the songwriting and playing that these guys are showcasing on this record. I dig the heavy guitar solo.

Ain’t That Wrong is a really cool tune that kicks your ass immediately with really tasty guitar and heavy bass groove. I am really digging the songwriting direction that the band took with this record. It’s radio friendly but its still jam heavy and cool. The drums in this song are particularly good and the dancey jam two thirds in with sax presence is super fun. I want to experience this one live in a big way. It’s got a great big shake your ass kinda sound. I am starting to see why there is such a heavy following to these guys and I’m curious as hell about their live show with these new songs.

Mind’s Unchained starts out plucky and light but slowly builds as the vocals come in. I like this song a lot. It’s got a little funk, a lot of jam rock, and just enough of the edge that Spafford seems to sprinkle in their songwriting. The guitar solo is solid and the bass grooves straight through. Simon and Lilly has all the crucial jam band song components with great guitar and sing a long vocals strung along a really great and body moving groove. The keys are gorgeous as they swirl and spin through the track. It’s a great freaking song, start to finish. It might be my favorite on the whole record. I have had in on repeat for a while and I kinda have no desire to change it. I really, really love the vocals on this song.

All in all, this record is strong as hell and I’m digging it, start to finish. You can check it out HERE and I strongly recommend that you do. It’s a great album with really great songwriting. This has only grown my interest in this band and I hope to be able to catch them out in the live world as soon as I can. You can check out their tour schedule HERE on their website. It looks like they will be coming through New York for October, and I’m thinking I will need to be there! Let’s grab a drink and shake it…

 

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Aqueous – Blowing the Doors Off with Their New Album, Color Wheel – Available TODAY!

A few years ago, as I was still finding my way into the jam scene, I took notice of a band that seemed to be everywhere. They were on what seemed like every single festival that summer while opening for other bands as well as doing their own shows. I swore they must have some sort of hologram stunt doubles because there was no way they could be playing so many shows. I thought, “These guys must be the hardest working band in the scene…”

That band was Aqueous.
Since then, I have watched as this already pretty stellar band has become more polished, more sophisticated in technique, and maintained their steady climb through nothing short of hard work, dedication, and pure talent. It’s a pleasing experience to see well deserved success in music, and that is what they are accomplishing. Naturally I was pretty excited for their new record, Color Wheel, and I could not be more excited to tell you all about it. 
The record itself showcases the band’s particular brand of jam-centric melodic groove rock but it’s so much more than anything they have released to date. Every single member of the band is uniquely talented in their own space but they have an incredible chemistry in their writing as they come together as a band, each person bringing something spectacular to the mix. This album is a collection of tight grooves, deep and funky bass, drums that knocked my socks clear off, and guitar work that inspires. On top of that, Aqueous has proven themselves to be tops with harmonies and creative vocals.
My favorite song on the record is, without a doubt, Second Sight. It’s got a dance-able groove from start to finish with steady bass and clean percussion. The guitar ideas are inventive both is rhythm and solo. The vocals are amazing and remind me of Duran Duran a little with their straying from typical harmonies and key. This was the first song I heard when I got the record and I think I hit repeat four times before I even moved on to the rest of the record because I was just stuck on the vocal so hard. Then the turn the song takes midway with the heavy breakdown before kicking back up. The great thing about this song is how it showcases exactly why you should be paying attention to Aqueous. They are not a one trick pony. On the contrary, they are more talented than I think a lot of this scene is even aware. I’m a little smitten with this song. And it’s not the first time I heard it either. They have been playing it live for a bit.
Often when I am reviewing a record, I will put it on in the car and take a drive. I have a three year old who loves car naps so my husband and I spent the two hours that my son was at his MMA class today just driving around our rural NJ neighborhood and listening. We listened to the song Realize Your Light over and over and in the process, we dubbed it the groovy booty song. This song is sexy as hell. The bass line has this awesome groove while the rest of the song carries along a cool smooth 70’s AM Gold tone and feel. This song makes you feel sexy. It has just enough dance feel while keeping a softer but still strong feel. The vocals are incredible and at about four minutes in, the song changes and slows. The vocal comes in over piano, the drums come in and out while picking up speed and then the guitar slaps you in the face and takes you away. It’s such an incredibly well written piece of music that I want to hug this band. And good gracious, the drums in this song! So well done. 
Am I gushing? It’s deserved. Let me pause for a moment to say that I didn’t start out loving Aqueous. I caught them a few times and while I thought their groove was incredibly infectious, I just simply didn’t get it. I wasn’t into them. I didn’t feel their sound at all. In my defense (sort of), I was still finding my way in this scene by way of the Jam Scene Gateway Drug, Twiddle. (I say that with adoration, affection, and respect) There was a lot about this scene and it’s music me and my closed up small mind didn’t get. That was my loss and the more I listen to this record, the more real that realization becomes. Few albums have really blown my hair back in the last few years the way this one has. Few albums have showcased raw talent and pure dedication the way this one has. 
There is often this silly debate on FB groups and scene forums about “What band will be handed the torch?” It’s a conversation that every band’s name gets thrown into by it’s biggest fans. I have a few theories myself and honestly, after this, Aqueous is right up there at the top of the list. Not only are they a band of impressively talented musicians, they are some of the nicest people I have met in this scene. We got to tug their ears and pick their brains for a few minutes at Disc Jam this year, and even though they were obviously busy, they were incredibly gracious and constantly smiling. As a journalist, even in the jam scene, friendly faces and genuinely kind souls are appreciated and not always found. I can’t say enough nice things about these guys. They were just a pleasure to interview. I’m sure it helped that A Perfect Mess always brings tacos…but these guys are the real thing. 
Photo by: Zachary Todtenhagen 2018
The biggest talk about this album I heard was that there was a new version of Weight of the Word with the incredible Turkuaz horn section. Now this was already a favorite song of mine so I was not really aware it could get cooler. Low and behold, here it is being cooler. The song is the same but it’s like they took the best cheeseburger you ever tasted and put three more types of incredible cheese on it just to see if it could be better, and ta da! It is! It’s freaking great! The sax towards the end just rocked me to the core.
The title track from the record is also a gem. This song reminds me of long drives on a sunny day while pondering the wonders and trials of your own life. The way the song climbs and slides and climbs and slides kind of flows with the way a deep thinking session will rise and fall. There is this really cool way the song chugs while still grooving. It has great changes and the guitar work in this song is gorgeous. There is a really cool solo, but the way it just carries you through the song from start to finish is goosebump material. The bass and drums are stellar. The vocals are stellar. It’s just such a good song. This is one that I can’t wait to see live now that I feel well acquainted with it.
Other notable mentions on the album are Good Enough with it’s sweet but steady tone while still throwing us these fantastic vocals and changes. The harmonies are just thick and full and vibrate right to your insides. Also check out In It (For Me) with it’s steady, plucky groove before it’s kick ass slow and deep breakdown. It’s got an almost prog rock feel to the ending. 
This album knocked me for a loop. I have really grown to love this band so I was fully expected a really good record. My expectations were met and then kicked all over the place. Aqueous knocked it out of the park with Color Wheel. They have grown their sound into this really smart and sophisticated brand that is all their own. Someone once said that Aqueous might be the next big thing. I think they are there. Aqueous is the big thing right now, and you need Color Wheel in your life. Don’t take my word for it. Get the album and see for yourself. Be prepared to be impressed. Be prepared to have to pick up your socks from across the room.
The guys are out playing shows through the fall, and you can peep their tour calendar HERE
Mark my words, the bar has been raised. You can come back here tomorrow and tell me I’m wrong if you want.

But I’m not. And you’ll see.

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Feeling Those Smooth Vibes with Dub Apocalypse – Frozen Planet

The Disc Jam music festival has become one of my favorite spots to hear music that isn’t yet on my radar. Sometimes just wandering the field in the middle of the day, something will catch my ear and stop me in my tracks. It’s happened numerous times and it’s one of the things I dig most about that gathering. This year was no exception. Case in point – Boston’s own Dub Apocalypse.

We happened to be cruising by the main stages this year when we felt that familiar sensation of something good in our ears and had to stop and listen. Oh look! That’s Eli from Dopapod on keys, but who is that he is playing with?! This is fantastic! That guitar grooves like Gilmour! Holy magical woodwinds, Batman! Hey… is that Van Martin?! This was our introduction to who we realized was Dub Apocalypse. The band is a dub reggae instrumental group comprised of an incredible amount of knowledge and talent. So who exactly are these guys?

This band is a blender full of experience, respect, and talent unlike most in the scene. A quick peak on their website bio was all I needed to confirm what I knew just seeing the band play. Drummer Tommy Benedetti is one of the founding members of John Brown’s Body, who blew me away with their sound check alone at the Stanhope House about five years ago. Guitarist Johnny Trama shared the stage with the incredible Ron Levy. Timo Shanko is a dual master of bass and saxophone, having played with both Eddie Kirkland and G Love and Special Sauce. Bassist Aaron Bellamy is a known force in the Boston funk scene, bringing his brand of pushy funk beat. Guitarist Van Martin is known for his work with Bernie Worrell and Big Daddy Kane as well as a deep love and respect for roots reggae and dub styles.

While being based out of Boston, the band plays all over the New England area. We caught them on the festival scene this year, where they are no stranger, but they are also known around pubs and headline shows at The Sinclair in Cambridge and the Knitting Factory. The band has a couple residencies as well, playing the first Saturday of the month at Treehouse Brewing in Charlton MA, as well as one of the longest running and most successful weekly residencies in the Boston area, every Sunday night at Bull McCabes in Union Square, Somerville. The band has been calling it home for over eight years. Dub Apocalypse are also recipients of 2 Boston Music Awards for Best International Artist in 2011 and 2017.  

All together, this is a stage full of more talent than I know what to do with. I could not wait to delve into their 2018 record, Frozen Planet.

The first thing I have to say is how incredibly deep the saxophone hits you on every track. There is a cool, effortless style to it’s playing and it layers like sweet icing on every song it’s handed. Goes Around, Comes Around is a great example. The sax is the voice. There is a story in the notes, and it’s fantastic. I also love the steady beat of songs like Dubmission and A Coffin for My Ego. The drums and bass weave a cool rhythm sensation in their playing. The bass on this album is incredible. I love the fact that while it could very easily be thrown out on top of the mix, it’s an equal part in how it’s all been woven. It’s something I really love about this record as a whole. Nothing is too out front. Every awesome aspect of this band is evenly distributed in each song, no matter how different. I love the guitar style of the whole record as well. One of the things that made us stop and pay attention was this very cool Pink Floyd thing that happens every so often with the guitar sound. I absolutely had to mention it when we got to meet the guys backstage at Disc Jam.

My favorite song on the Frozen Planet album though is Moving On. The guitar is incredibly catchy and all the sounds are layered and cool against one another with such a light, fresh groove. I also have a bit of an addiction to Sunstroke, which with it’s deep bass groove and steady, marching drum beat has a feeling like the middle of the night in the city when it’s hot and quiet, but you can still feel the energy buzzing. It’s like a smooth pulsing and plucking vibe that carries you along. It’s just a really cool track.

For as much as I dig the record though, this band is fire on stage. They ignite like crazy when you put them together to play and it’s something I can’t suggest strongly enough that you experience as soon as humanly possible. These guys get into a groove that blends all their respective experiences and explodes like a blender with no lid. The music will carry you somewhere else, and it’s just the best experience. Dub Apocalypse brings the best of so many scenes to one stage, and that is truly where this band shines. Even just stopping by their Facebook page and checking out some of the older live streams will show you the deep groove this band carries, the sick solos they all kick out, and the overall awesome sound that is something so incredibly cool to hear. Often you see bands on stage and there is just no chemistry. Their music is forced, overdone, and cold. Dub Apocalypse is NOT that kind of band. Their chemistry is effortless and it comes through in every note they put out. They are having fun, and it’s impossible to stand still.

I got the chance to pick the brain of drummer Tommy Benedetti just a bit on this new record and the goings on of Dub Apocalypse, and here is what he had to say about the band’s unique sound:

“I think that Dub Apocalypse has our own unique spin on reggae/dub music/ We do use a heavy drum and bass approach as the foundation, but we also incorporate some non-traditional chord changes, and since we are mostly instrumental (all instrumental on record, some vocal tunes live), melody and harmony are very important to us. I almost think of us using a jazz approach. Not in the standard sense, but with the interaction between the musicians, and the willingness to improvise and take chances at times.”

“Although the lineup you hear on our cd is the main lineup (Tommy Benedetti on drums, Johnny Trama on guitar, Van Martin on guitar, Timo Shanko on sax, and Aaron Bellamy on bass)

, because we play so much, we have many other phenomenal musicians who join us occasionally. Dana Colley – Morphine, Tucker Antell, Ashish Vyas (Thievery Corporation), DJ Mister Rourke (Club d’Elf) and Mike Rivard (Club d’Elf). This keeps the sound and vibes really fresh, depending on what show you catch.”

I can’t recommend these guys highly enough. They were one of the best surprises for me at Disc Jam this year, and apparently I am way late to this party. No matter though, because it’s a damn good party and I am inviting you all in!

You can catch Dub Apocolypse on their Facebook like stream every Sunday night, giving you your weekly dose of awesome dub. It’s something I will be doing from now on! Check them out on their Facebook page here.

You can get your copy of the new release, Frozen Planet, on all platforms – Amazon, Spotify, iTunes, or get your copy at CD Baby HERE

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