Giving Back at Whaleback

It’s been on Steve Smith’s mind for a long time – an outdoor concert,
featuring some of the area’s best bands, free from noise ordinances
and time constraints. On August 5, it will happen, when “Rock the
Whale” becomes a reality.

“I have this dream,” says the Rock 93.9/101.7 Program Director, “of
people driving by on Interstate 89 and seeing a see of black shirts
and tatoos.” Whether they slow down out of curiosity or speed up in
fear, they will appreciate the message.

The local area has a vibrant music scene, and August 5 is their day.

“Nobody does anything for music in the community,” he says. ” I
wanted to give back and showcase what we’ve got.”

With “the perfect symmetry” of last year’s Whaleback Ski Area
re-opening, the final piece of the puzzle fell into place – securing a
venue. With that taken care of, Smith assembled a who’s who of his
nightly “Local Licks” feature, including Hexerei, Stonewall, Curst,
Sarvela, Undying Breed and Hitchelfit. Fellow DJ Matt Cross’s band
StandStill will appear, as well as Dollface, and the mysterious Snox
and the Voodoo Henchmen, a band “that might as well be headlining,
they’re that good,” according to Smith.

Actually, Snox et.al.is Cross and Smith’s own group, a fun project
that will entertain fans during set changes. Still, the next big
thing may really be out there. A Fan Favorite band will be selected
from entries to the radio station’s web site, wvrrfm.com. Fans can
vote, and the winner earns Rock the Whale’s coveted final slot. Smith
recently took a week off, and on his return, he already had three Fan Favorite entries. Interested bands have until July 7 to enter.

The work of planning the festival plan has Smith “excited, nervous,
scared and stoked. There’s so much involved,” he says. The U.S. Army
is helping out by co-sponsoring the event. Smith hopes they provide
something special for families of troops and the troops themselves. .
“I don’t know what they’ll bring, but hopefuly some of the fun stuff,”
like climbing walls and simulation games.

With over a month to go, the show is “still a work in progress,” says
Smith. He envisions a summer day filled with variety, “not just a
music festival.” Tickets aren’t priced yet, but they are expected to
be reasonable, “in the 15 dollar range.” Plans also include food,
beer, and other interesting vendors. Area businesses interested in
showcasing their wares and looking to run a booth at Rock the Whale
should contact the radio station by telephone or email.

But above all, there will be rock, from noon until well after dark,
played loud and proud.

As he scurries to put details in place, Smith tries not to think about
the recent soggy weather. When he does, he’s optimistic. “The good
thing about rock is if it rains, nobody cares,” he says. “Woodstock
’94 was legendary, and it was a great big mudfest.”

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