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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Keene State SolarFest 04/24/10 A panoply of color..

Many thanks to McLovin family members Steve and Nancy H, they're the ones who put together this amazing piece, if you like this, they have much more here.

We pulled into Keene State at half-past noon, and managed to find a parking space in one of the faculty lots. Wandering down and into the central common at the Student Center, I quickly realized that the color theme of the day was green and tie-dye. We set up Team McLovin’s base camp just behind the large solar collector that would be providing all the power needed for today’s event and started to take in the event. The music was already flowing as the band jamAntics was already well into their set. From what I caught of their set, they play an infectious, dancey, jazz-jam stew that had many in the crowd on their feet and bopping along.

As their set finished I was pleased to see Papa-Bear George Barber set up with an acoustic band just to the right of the center stage. Elm City Orchestra is a quintet comprised of Barber, Morgan Little, Adam Hogue, Marc Perreault, and Corey Stein. An acoustic guitar trio with banjo and percussion, they were playing a selection of their original folksy songs while bands were breaking down and setting up all day. Nicely harmonizing vocals along with very nice guitar work mixed with Hogue’s banjo make for a potent blend of roots music. Barber’s main focus for now seems to be on his band The Lake and The Lion, but I hope he finds the time to continue his work with ECO.

Company Green took the stage next, another regional band with members from several local colleges. The lead vocalist said that the last time they played together was at last year’s Solar Fest. Playing a straight ahead jammy rock, plenty of covers songs with a couple originals thrown in. Musically they are a tight and talented unit and if circumstances would provide them the ability to perform more live, I think they would easily develop a larger following.

The McLovins ran through a quick 2 or 3 minute soundcheck and as they launched headlong into Conundrum while a throng of dancers formed in front of the stage, urging the band on. Deep Monster Trance was just the ticket to throw the set into overdrive as Jeff really started to test the limits of his new pedalboard. The band’s sound was pitch perfect right out of the gate, with fantastic separation and power from both Jefff and Jason as Jake settled right into the middle. I was very pleased to see how many people actually knew the words to so many of the new songs, this was The McLovin’s second trip to Keene and they were being welcomed with enfolding arms. Tokyo Tea kept the meter running into the red as bodies shook and limbs were all akimbo. Milktoast Man was a last minutes set addition and is always a welcome chill down, it allows the audience to catch its breath and sets the stage for the mayhem to follow.

The band then started into an almost 30 minute long Purple Trees, just ripping the song’s structure to shreds, just when the train seemed to be off the tracks, some split second transitions brought things back into the main theme. This truly was a revelation as this song has seen some altering in its basic structure in the past few weeks, mostly as a breather with the chance for band intros. Today though, they went for broke and chose to slide straight into Rapper’s Delight, turning this epic on its ear and creating Purple’s Delight. Bryan called the 20 in A 35 that came next which was followed by the new ballad This Town. The set was winding down as Jeff switched to his other pedals while Jake introduced the following tune as a nice little song about butterflies… Killing Time is one of my favorite songs to see live and really tests the stamina of an audience with its ending aural assault, but the crowd was very receptive and totally with the band at this point. Beadhead CrystalBugger closed out the set on a high note, the perfect capper on a sun-splashed New England spring day.

Barefoot Truth, a Mystic Connecticut band on their way up followed The McLovins. The group features a former member of Dispatch and sounds like a hybrid of Jack Johnson with a little DMB and State Radio thrown in. All in all it was another great day for the band, they met a ton of new friends and saw some old ones so I'm sure they'll be back up @ Keene State again very soon.

Big thanks to Dan Tyler who taped these.. it was an awesome day!

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