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Pearlpalooza 2010 - Daily Gazette

It was a gigantic dance party on Pearl Street on Saturday when Pearl-Palooza headliner Rusted Root came on stage.

A crowd dominated by young people but also including older adults and children clapped and danced as the jam band played their hits like "Back to the Earth," new music from recent albums and even a cover of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds."

The streets and bars on Pearl Street were packed with people attending the free music and arts festival, a stark contrast to most Fourth of July weekends when Albany's downtown can seem more like a ghost town.

Brieanne O'Hearn of Cohoes said she was too busy to get away for the weekend and was glad to have something fun that she could do locally. Her mother Katherine O'Hearn, a big Rusted Root fan, traveled from the Finger Lakes Region to enjoy the concert with her daughter.

"I really love Rusted Root and I didn't go away for the Fourth of July, so it was nice to have something to do in downtown Albany," Brieanne O'Hearn said.

Shane Spillenger, whose family owns Jillian's of Albany and the Bayou Cafe, said he helped organize the festival to give people a reason to stay in Albany for the holiday weekend.

"It's normally really slow on a July 4th weekend. Sometimes we get a little bit after the fireworks, but it's usually really slow," Spillenger said. "I saw an opportunity in the success of LarkFest and Tulip fest, so I called 'EQX right after Larkfest last year."

The musical acts for Pearl-Palooza were organized and booked by the Vermont radio station WEQX 102.7 FM. WEQX was long the primary promoter for the LarkFest music festival but recently broke from its association with that festival and the Lark Street Business Improvement District. WEXT 97.7, owned by public-broadcasting company WMHT, is now promoting and organizing LarkFest.

Amber Miller, WEQX program director and disc jockey, said her radio station saw an opportunity in the normally slow Fourth of July weekend to set up what they hope will be an annual music festival.

"We've got the fireworks happening Sunday night [and Pearl-Palooza Saturday]," she said. Price Chopper's Fabulous 4th and Fireworks Festival is from 3 to 10 p.m. today at the Empire State Plaza.

The other bands performing on the Pearl-Palooza main stage included We are Scientists, Civil Twilight and Locksley.

Travis Bradley, a 19-year-old illustrator from Ballston Lake, said if it weren't for Pearl-Palooza he probably would have spent the day at home working on his own art instead of coming to Albany. He said the band he came to see was We are Scientists.

"They're kind of still an underground band. They really put their heart out even though the crowd wasn't as big when they played and I love it when a band does that," Bradley said.

Miller said she was very impressed with the performance by Civil Twilight.

"I think all of the bands have been great, but I really think Civil Twilight could be the next U2. They really have this 'bigger than what they currently are' thing happening for them," she said.

Local and regional bands performed inside the participating venues in between the sets of the major acts.

Spillenger said bands requiring larger stages, like Dirty Paris, performed at bars like Jillian's while smaller acoustic acts like Matt Durfee played at venues like the Envy Lounge.

There was also food, inflated Bouncy Bounce devices and vendors selling art at the festival. Albany-based artist Tim DeVall had a tent selling his artwork, most of which focuses on social commentary. He said he hopes Pearl-Palooza will become an annual event.

"I think it's nice that they are using the downtown during a time when it's normally be underutilized overall," he said.

Jason Subik, Daily Gazette
July 4, 2010


Rusted Root @ Pearl-Palooza, 7/3/10

July 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm by Greg Haymes

By GREG HAYMES
Special to the Times Union

ALBANY – OK, it wasn’t the massive free-for-all street party that LarkFest has become in recent years. And that’s a good thing.

On the other hand, the bands and their handfuls of fans certainly did look a bit lonely during the early going on Saturday afternoon at the first Pearl-Palooza street festival in Albany.

A bit of back-story – Vermont radio station WEQX-FM has been the primary media sponsor and music provider for the City of Albany’s annual September LarkFest celebration, the Capital Region’s largest free street festival. But LarkFest and WEQX have parted ways, and the radio station has thrown in with the seemingly endless string of bars on North Pearl Street to try to bring the big street-fest vibe downtown.

Was it a success? Well, yes. Despite the sparse attendance during the early part of the day, by the time headliners Rusted Root took the stage shortly after 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, there was a pretty sizable crowd on North Pearl Street, pretty densely packed and stretching back for several blocks. Was it LarkFest numbers? No. But for a first time out, it was an impressive start. And it certainly attracted a bigger crowd than LarkFest ever did in its early years.

Wisely, WEQX-FM featured a fairly wide spectrum of musical styles. Pittsburgh-based Rusted Root had their heyday back in the mid-’90s, and their new album, “Stereo Rodeo,” is their first in seven years. But their percussive-heavy brand of world music jam-band has held up surprisingly well, and fans were dancing and jumping and twirling in the street to older favorites such as “Voodoo,” “Welcome to My Party” and the band’s signature song, “Send Me On My Way.”

The core of original members – black-clad lead vocalist-guitarist Micheal Glabicki, vocalist-percussionist Liz Berlin and bassist-vocalist Patrick Norman – were bolstered by a strong new support team, and selections from the new album – most notably “Dance in the Middle,” “Animals Love Touch” and a surprisingly effective cover of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds” – carried the band’s sound and their fans’ enthusiasm into the 21st century.

Opening band Locksley served up a straight forward blast of retro power-pop, including the opening “21st Century,” the bouncy “One More Minute,” a cover of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” and especially “There’s a Love,” which sounded almost exactly like the early Beatles covering a ’60s girl-group tune. South African rock trio Civil Twilight were considerably more serious and artsy, with Andrew McKeller attacking his guitar with a violin bow on the opening “Perfect Stranger.”

The three-piece We Are Scientists proved to be the most successful band of the day, balancing the humor and pop hooks of Locksley with the edgy, angular attack of Civil Twilight.



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