April 1, 2010

Summertime and the Livin’s Easy

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It’s spring. I don’t care what you say, I don’t care that you tell me it’s still 20 degrees at night, that you’re still wearing boots to class, whatever — it’s spring. The great thing about Ithaca is that you appreciate the spring more than you would anywhere else (so stop griping everyone!). I’ve lived in Tompkins County for every single one of my twenty-one years, and I LOVE spring. Enjoy it!  Interestingly enough, I’m not here to talk about spring, I’m here to talk about summer. We know summer is coming because spring is here, you see?  And summer in my hometown means GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, notorious at Cornell, which I have attended more years of my life than I have not attended. You should go. You should all go, at least once before you graduate. And, oh my god, I’m graduating next month. But I digress.

So, why, you ask, am I talking about GrassRoots now, in April? Because, I say, the band schedule for this year’s festival was released last week, and this is a music column is it not? Yes, you say, tell us about the bands. Ok. Will do.

There are, as usual, many of the usuals back this year — of course Donna the Buffalo and Sim Redmond Band. Not to knock Sim, cause I know so many Cornellians love him, and I do too, but after 10-15 years there’s not much new to see about either of these groups. Get a little tipsy and go dance to Donna, and if you haven’t seen Sim before you’ll definitely want to, but there are other cool regular acts to check out as well. John Brown’s Body revamped their style in the last couple of years, moving from all classic reggae all the time to a mixing of genres that has turned out something pretty interesting. Thousands of One is always worth heading to the dance tent for — shake your groove thing for world peace, ya’ll! Also, you absolutely have to check out The Sutras. They’re not just you’re average indie-rockers with synths, they’re legit musical craftsman. Everything about their live show is impressive. And fun.

Local bands Jimkata, Hubcap and New Neighbors will be playing as well — several of which I also know you all love. Many of you are familiar with Jimkata, the IC boys whose brand of electric rock is starting to garner some epic hype. Always a rollickin’ live show. Hubcap is less well-known up on the hill but rocks somehow soothing indie pop-punk and features a Cornell librarian, so how can you go wrong, eh?  New Neighbors (or the band formerly known as IY) are one of my favorite local groups. A bunch of former IHS students, one of whom graduated from Cornell last year, New Neighbors just released their final album a couple weeks ago, so you should be sure to check them out quick, because they live in four different cities now and shows don’t happen very often. The music is really best described as happy — catchy indie rock that’s guaranteed to have you dancing and smiling.

And finally, let’s talk about some of the headliners GrassRoots is bringing in this year. First of all, Rusted Root is coming back, again, which is amazing because I could listen to “On My Way” for the rest of my life. Don’t want to associate them with that one hit only cause they’ve got other great music too but it’s their fault — they put it in Matilda, and then in Ice Age, and they knew it would make me super happy (I’m sure they did). Arrested Development, the eight-piece hip-hop/R&B group will also be returning, which is cool, since I missed them last year. Probably a great chance to get your dance on.

Country music Hall-of-Famer Merle Haggard will be stopping by as well. Now, I’m not much of one for country music, but I hear Haggard is ‘the poet of the common man,’ and that, if we can add the common woman to the equation, is something I am definitely down for listening to. The guy’s music is gritty honky-tonk (if such a thing exists) and is easy to listen to. Could be pretty cool. While we’re talking about serious musical successes, Grammy-winning reggae artist Burning Spear will also be performing, a show that promises to make you love music even more than you do now, you won’t be able to help it. Bluegrass rockers (contradiction in terms or brilliant brainchild?) Railroad Earth and Zimbabwean mixed-genre pop/traditional artist Oliver Mtukudzi round out the big names bill. So it ought to be awesome as usual, and I most certainly hope to see you there. For the full band listing check out grassrootsfest.org and ENJOY SPRING (cause summer’s just around the corner, I mean it).

Original Author: Julia Woodward