A Whale of A Good Time for Local Music Fans

Plans for the biggest gathering of area bands in recent memory are coalescing nicely, says “Rock The Whale” organizer Steve Smith.

“It’s like this frantic slow pace of making sure everything’s in order, “ Smith reports on preparations for the all-day August 5 show at the Whaleback Ski Area in Enfield, “but the word on the street is really huge.”

Some of the buzz came from a contest to choose the final performing slot on the show.  The Bradford, Vermont-based Denton Affair won by handing out over 1,000 leaflets at their shows, and urging fans to vote for them on their MySpace site.

“I was really impressed with these guys, they blew me away,” says Smith, adding that he was also pleased to add a punk band to the show.  “They remind a bit of Bouncing Souls – it’s a different genre we didn’t have on the bill.”

“I feel bad for the bands that didn’t make it in,” he added, “because I always get emotionally attached to them.  I’d like everybody to come.”

Overall, there’s an eclectic mix of music for the show.   Curst, from Bellows Falls, plays multiple guitar, melodic hard rock influenced by Motley Crüe and Black Label Society.  The recently re-formed Spectris, which includes founding members Chris Bergmann and Todd Westfall along with a new bassist, recall Yes, Pink Floyd and others from the progressive band era.

Power rockers Stonewall anticipate a high-energy afternoon.  “It’s the biggest local music event of the year,” says bandleader Josh Parker.  Stonewall cites Primus and Stone Temple Pilots as influences, but they also recall power trios from the classic rock era like Mountain, Gun and Cactus.

Stevens High graduate and Rock 93.9/101.7 air personality Matt Cross will perform with two bands – StandStill, a rock trio in the vein of Pearl Jam and Staind, and Snox & the Voodoo Henchmen, a project that he and fellow DJ Steve Smith play mostly for laughs on songs like “Shannon Burned the Cookies.”

Bands with a harder edge make up a large portion of the lineup.  The show starts at 11:30 with Undying Breed, a take-no-prisoners outfit who cite Pantera and Killswitch Engage as influences.  Hitchelfit and Sarvela are also on hand.

Hexerei, with a polished metal-with-a-message sound, headlines the show.  The band should be in top form after a recent tour, as they prepare for a big show the following weekend – Locobazooka, where they’ll share the Tweeter Center stage with Alice in Chains and several other bands.

“Rock the Whale” is the creation of Rock 93.9/101.7 Program Director Smith.  Until late last year, the station’s evening spotlight, “Local Licks,” showcased area bands.  With that gone, an all-day show seemed the perfect choice to, in Smith’s words, “give back to the local music community.”

“I’m excited to bring the community together and do something,” he says, “for the bands and for the area.  Just to have a huge concert is really decent.”

The U.S. Army is co-sponsoring the event, bringing a climbing wall and a Hummer simulator for music fans to try.   There’s also a BMX bike demo, and Green Bandit Productions, a group of skiers and snowboarders from Rutland who film their activities and set them to hardcore rap, will show some of their latest video projects.

“The whole thing has a very X-Games feel to it,” says Smith.

Whaleback will offer food and beverages, including a beer tent, for concertgoers.  Most of the bands will also be selling merchandise and CDs.

Finally, a guitar, donated by Soundtown Music and signed by all the performers, will be auctioned off, with the proceeds used to buy phone calling cards for troops stationed in Iraq.  “It costs a fortune to call home,” says Smith, “we like to support them any way we can.”

Tickets for the Rock the Whale are $15 and can be ordered on the station’s website, http://www.wvrrfm.com, or purchased locally at Rick’s Tattoo in Kelleyville, Soundtown Music in Lebanon or on Thursday through Sunday nights at Whaleback Ski Area.

If You’re Going:

What: Rock The Whale All-Day Local Music Festival
When: August 5, 2006 11:30 AM – 10:00 PM
Tickets: $15.00
Where: Whaleback Ski Area, Enfield, NH

Band Line-Up:

The Denton Affair
Undying Breed
Snox & The Voodoo Henchmen

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