June 27, 2010

Jamtown, U.S.A.

Some 50 bands and 15,000 or so of their best friends will make the trek up Route 26 to Oxford for the three-day musicfest called Nateva.

By Bob Keyes bkeyes@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

The big-time world of rock 'n' roll comes to small-town Maine this week.

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Nateva Music & Camping Festival July 2, 3 & 4

Staff graphic/Jeff Woodbury

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Furthur

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IN FOUR WORDS OR LESS

HERE ARE THE MAIN STAGE ACTS at Nateva, with approximate performance times and a brief description of each band.

FRIDAY, MAIN STAGE 1

Greensky Bluegrass, 12:05 to 1:05 p.m.: Genre-bending acoustic soundscapes

Umphrey's McGee, 2:15 to 3:35 p.m.: Hooky improvisational jam band

Jakob Dylan and the Three Legs, 4:45 to 5:45 p.m.: Favorite son's solo journey

Passion Pit, 7 to 8:20 p.m.: Electronic pop

moe., 10 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.: Risk-taking jams

FRIDAY, MAIN STAGE 2

Magic Magic, 11:30 a.m. to noon: Boston-based indie rock

The Felice Brothers, 1:10 to 2:10 p.m.: Folk-rock, country-rock

Keller Williams, 3:40 to 4:40 p.m.: One-man rock band

Jackie Greene, 5:50 to 6:50 p.m.: Singer, songwriter, troubadour

Ghostland Observatory, 8:30 to 9:50 p.m.: Electro-dance soul rock

SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE 1

Rustic Overtones, noon to 1 p.m.: Maine's best rock band

John Brown's Body, 2:10 to 3:10 p.m.: Edgy reggae

Drive-Truckers, 4:20 to 5:40 p.m.: Smart southern alt-rock

Grizzly Bear, 7:10 to 8:30 p.m.: Folk-rock and pop

The Flaming Lips, 10:15 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.: Lush lucid rock

SATURDAY, MAIN STAGE 2

Brenda, 11:25 to 11:50 a.m.: Portland-based indie rock

Ryan Montbleau Band,1:05 to 2:05 p.m.: Soulful Americana

Crash Kings, 3:15 to 4:15 p.m.: Big rock without guitars

She & Him, 5:45 to 7:05 p.m.: Dreamy harmonies

STS9, 8:35 to 10:05 p.m.: Electronic exploration

SUNDAY, MAIN STAGE 1

Mark Karan's Jemimah Puddleduck, 12:40 to 1:40 p.m.: Soulful blues-based rock

Max Creek, 2:50 to 3:50 p.m.: Electric jam rock pioneers

George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic: Hide the children

Furthur, 8 p.m. to midnight: The Dead lives

SUNDAY, MAIN STAGE 2

You Can Be a Wesley, noon to 12:30 p.m.: Pop rock

Moonalice, 1:45 to 2:45 p.m.: West Coast hippie rock

Zappa Plays Zappa, 3:55 to 4:55 p.m.: Son honors pop's vision

Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band, 6:30 to 7:50 p.m.: Husband-wife, rock-n-blues

NEED TO KNOW

TICKETS: Weekend passes with satellite camping and shuttle, $229 in advance, $249 at the gate; day pass for Friday, Saturday or Sunday, $89 in advance, $95 at the gate; weekend passes with on-site camping are sold out.

TRAFFIC: Oxford Police, the Oxford County Sheriff's Office and the Maine State Police, as well as festival security personnel, have established a traffic plan with a goal of keeping as many vehicles moving along Route 26 as possible. The plan, which involves routing traffic on local roads, will be implemented in stages as needed, and adjusted based on the direction and flow of traffic.

PARKING: People with on-site camping will follow Route 26 and be directed into the fairgrounds, where they will be processed and parked. Fans with remote camping -- which is all that is still available -- and fans with day passes will be directed to the Oxford Plains Speedway, where they will processed and parked and then shuttled to the concert site.

SHUTTLE BUSES: The festival has hired a fleet of school buses, which will run continuously from a staging area at Oxford Plains Speedway to the concert site, about three miles away. The shuttle is free.

LEAVE AT HOME: Pets, glass, fireworks, electric instruments, weapons, skateboards, hard liquor. Fans who can prove they are 21 can bring their own beer, but it must be in cans and is limited to two cases per person.

OTHER THAN MUSIC: There will be plenty of activities beyond tunes. There are yoga classes, roving performing artists, installation artists, a Ferris wheel and bouncy house, legal fireworks, a local farmer's market, massage tent and kids crafts area.

INFO: natevafestival.com

The Nateva Music & Camping Festival, a 50-band jam, will commence unofficially Thursday afternoon at the 100-acre Oxford Fairgrounds in western Maine, and roll through sundown on the Fourth of July. The focus of the proceedings are weekend concerts -- all day and night Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- featuring mostly jam and indie-rock bands.

The top draw is the band Furthur, scheduled for two long sets on the evening of July 4, with surviving Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh and Bob Weir performing a deep catalog of Dead songs. As many as 15,000 people will attend each day, with attendance expected to peak during Furthur's festival-closing four-hour marathon.

Weekend passes and single-day tickets are available, although on-site camping is sold out. Remote camping at Oxford Plains Speedway, about three miles away, is available. The remote camping includes a free shuttle to the concert site.

The festival is expected to create traffic problems along Route 26 north and south of the festival site throughout the weekend, although Oxford Police Chief Jonathan Tibbetts said his officers are accustomed to dealing with big crowds. The speedway occasionally draws crowds of between 10,000 and 15,000 people, Tibbetts noted, adding that his combined force of local, county and state police has been preparing for the festival for months and is working closely with the concert promoter's private security staff.

Despite persistent permitting issues, Nateva is shaping up as one of the largest summer jams in the Northeast, and the largest concert in Maine since Phish drew close to 70,000 fans to Limestone in 2003.

Nateva is a big deal nationally, said Justin Ward, editor of livemusicblog.com. "On the festival circuit, bands like Furthur, moe., STS9, She & Him, Grizzly Bear and the Flaming Lips are all a pretty big deal. For an inaugural fest to book a lineup like this could be called a big deal, yes," he wrote in an e-mail. "I'd say the buzz is that this has a potential to be a big festival and/or largely successful for years to come assuming they properly plan the logistics."

Rob Derhak of the band moe. won't have to travel far. Derhak, moe.'s bass player and singer, lives in the suburbs north of Portland. He credits Oxford for having the smarts to land a festival like this.

"I'm psyched," said Derhak, whose band spends much of the summer hopping from one festival to the next, and headlines at Nateva on Friday night. "I get up to Mt. Abram all the time in the winter to go skiing. I drive through Oxford every single time, so when I heard it was happening, I was pretty pumped. It's really cool, and it's good for Maine. I think the town will realize that it's a good event. After all is said and done, Oxford will be pretty psyched, too."

A LITTLE BIT NASCAR

The rock festival scene these days is part NASCAR, part Renaissance fair, Derhak said. The fans are rabid like NASCAR fans, and they travel well -- piling into campers, RVs and any other reliable rig and staking out turf for a weekend of music and kinship. Especially at festivals featuring jam bands, the fans are spirited and eccentric like the Renaissance folks. It's an unlikely combination of passion and personality that plays out over the course of days, all centered around a shared musical experience and common-ground lifestyle, he said.

Jake Cinninger, guitarist for Umphrey's McGee, said the best festivals tend to be those far from population centers, because they encourage people to create community.

"I think some of the best festivals are the tucked-away ones," Cinninger said. "We did a festival at Yosemite over Halloween one year. There was a certain reclusiveness to a huge rock show in the middle of nowhere. There is something about nature and technology fusing. The farther you get away from the city, the cooler the festival."

If all goes well, the Nateva festival -- named for the children, Nate and Eva, of Massachusetts-based promoter Frank Chandler -- will become an annual event. Its very existence is the product of opportunity, Chandler said.

For two years over the Fourth of July weekend, festival bands and fans trekked to tiny Rothbury, Mich., for the Rothbury Festival. It was staged successfully in 2008 and 2009, but was scrubbed this year. Seizing the opening, Chandler assembled an investment team and began pulling the festival circuit north to Maine.

"Instead of people from the Northeast going out to Michigan to hear music over the Fourth, now they can stay here," Chandler said.

Rothbury's cancellation not only meant that bands and fans had a weekend free to travel to Maine, it also enabled Chandler to hire a festival team with experience. One by one, he hired Rothbury veterans to handle each segment of festival logistics -- ticketing, camping, production, etc. Instead of working in Michigan, this year they're working Maine, he said.

Relative to Bonnaroo, which draws 80,000 fans to 500 acres in Manchester, Tenn., Nateva is small. Chandler is using about 100 acres of land associated with the Oxford Fairgrounds, as well as another 75 or so attached to or within a few miles of the fairgrounds. He is using the remote land for camping and parking, and is providing shuttle buses to and from the concert site.

While the festival officially begins Friday afternoon, there's a pre-festival kickoff on Thursday night. The Portland-based band Gypsy Tailwind has the honor of being the first band to play at Nateva, with a set scheduled at 7 p.m. Thursday on a secondary stage.

The big action begins on Friday. Music starts late morning and runs through midnight on twin main stages, which will be set up side-by-side. The goal is to alternate sets on each stage, to minimize downtime between acts. Each day will have about 12 hours of music with minimal breaks on the two stages.

In addition to the two main stages, Nateva also will run two others stages -- the Port City Music Hall stage and the Barn Stage, both under cover and away from the main concert site. The Port City Music Hall stage will feature bands before and after the mainstage acts. The Barn stage will have late-night bands only.

Chandler, the promoter, is not trying to create Bonnaroo North. He wants something different, smaller and unique, where fans of jam bands can mingle with folks who prefer their music with a harder edge.

"Our goal is to be a well-rounded festival. We started promoting this as a jam-band festival, but then we added a bunch of indie-rock bands. We want people who are drawn to the festival because they like the music, and hopefully we also can introduce them to bands they've never heard of before."

 

Staff Writer Bob Keyes can be contacted at 791-6457 or at: bkeyes@pressherald.com

 

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Additional Photos

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Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks

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Gypsy Tailwind

Moe
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moe.

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Toubab Krewe

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Umphrey's McGee

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Grizzly Bear



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