September 17, 2009


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Going up the country in Dover
Great Bay Festival to close out summer
By Michael Witthaus

The organizers of the first Woodstock festival had to wait 25 years for a do-over. For the second Great Bay Music Festival, it only took a year. This weekend, a tasteful blend of national acts and homegrown talent will gather in bucolic Dover, N.H., for a summer-ending “three days of peace and music.”

There’s more than a fleeting connection with the 1969 event. Michael Wadleigh, whose documentary film had as much to do with Woodstock’s cultural impact as the actual event, was living on Back River Farm, Great Bay’s site in Dover, as last year’s festival unfolded.

“Because we were flying by the seat of our pants, making it up as we went along … he was probably seeing a lot of what Woodstock was like,” said Chad Fillion, who is again co-promoting the three-day show with Dave Roberge. “We had six weeks after I came on board to put it together.”

They’ve been more methodical this time around. “If we do this right and plan early, this could be something special,” Fillion said the pair decided. They set about to cover every contingency. 

At this point, the only wild card is the weather: “If we can suck up that sun for one last shot, we’re gonna be golden,” he said.

They hope to draw 1,000 or more fans to hear a varied array of musical styles.

Bigger names include the experimental funk of Rubblebucket Orchestra, the gonzo Paranoid Social Club, and tight jamming from Entrain, a band Fillion became interested in after seeing them at party in the summer of 2008. When he told the organizing committee, “We gotta get these guys,” he learned that Back River Farm owner Bert Huggins had wanted the band for last year’s festival.

This was prior to Fillion’s involvement. “It was probably a month before,” he says. “[They] didn’t have a budget or anything. So I’m really pleased to see Entrain joining us this year.”

Several returning local bands, like SOAK, Roots Nation and Superfrog, “help make it a true statement as part of a homegrown feel,” Fillion said. “They provide a good backbone for the festival.”

For additional event support, the organizers turned to regional companies like Magic Hat and Rock Springs, which is contributing 500 gallons of water.

After a TV crew from Maine approached them, arrangements were made to film the weekend for a future DVD release.

“They’ve offered to share the proceeds with us,” Fillion said. Money from that and other efforts like beer sales and vending space will go toward the opening of a wilderness learning center, a longtime dream of Back River Farm owner Burt Huggins.

Danny Klein’s Full House will perform Saturday. Klein, a founding member and bass player of the J. Geils Band, talked to The Hippo by telephone last week from his home in the Boston suburb of Hyde Park. 

Who’s in the band?
Besides me, there’s Dave Quintiliani on keyboards and vocals. He’s also the music director, which means he gets all the crap work. Anything I don’t want to do I tell him to do. We have Steve Gouette on guitar and vocals, Artie Eaton lead vocals, Jim Taft on drums and vocals, and Richard “Rosey” Rosenblatt on harp. He used to own Tone Cool Records, and he’s a great harp player.

So it’s a J. Geils type configuration?
Right. Sometimes we use horns, but for the Great Bay show we’re using a six-piece like the original Geils Band.  It’s a celebration of Geils music is what it is — basically all J. Geils music. At the time I started this thing, two or three years ago, Geils hadn’t gone out since ’99 on tour, and nobody was playing it. So it seemed like the perfect thing to do. I missed playing the music.

You have another project, which debuted last June in Gilford at a benefit for the Ryan Charland Memorial Scholarship.
Rockphoria … it’s a mixed media classic rock kind of thing. It’s gonna be like three video screens and we do ’60s, ’70s and a little bit of the ’80s. It’s less playing all the songs than playing a lot of medleys, parts of songs that morph into other ones. We’ll do some mini-sets by the greats like Dylan and the Stones, then an outro which will involve three or four singers. We’ve been working on that for a while now, for a couple of years. We’re looking for funding now. [When we played in Gunstock] I met Chris Smith of SOAK, who’s also doing the Great Bay Festival — that’s how my playing the festival all came about.

The J. Geils Band recently reunited to open the House of Blues in Boston. What are the odds that Geils fans are going to see more shows?
We decided we’d ease ourselves into it and play a gig here and a gig there. See how we felt and how the people felt and that’s pretty much what we’re doing right now. I wouldn’t count out that we do a tour, but for the time being I think when we go out we’ll probably do two or three or four and then take some time off.  Do it that way, ease ourselves in.  We’re still great on stage, but we’re older than pepper at this point.

You didn’t lose a step on the 1999 tour.
The feedback we got … was that we were just as good as before and we try to be. So yeah, I think there will be more shows. I don’t know if there’s demand for a whole tour, but right now we’re gonna do a few at a time and keep doing it because there’s no substitute for being with the guys and doing the original stuff. 

What: Great Bay Music Festival, featuring Among Criminals Band, Cantonese Traffic, Cure For Static, Dan Walker, Danny Klein’s Full House, Duty Free, Entrain, Fletcher Munson, Gnarlemagne, Goodnight Sunlight, Heather Maloney, Heavens To Murgatroid, I.M.4.I.M., One Fine Morning, Paranoid Social Club, Porous Yorick, Pure Decibels, Roots Nation, Rubblebucket Orchestra, Ryan Ordway & The Full Band, Sara Osgood, SOAK, Spiritual Rez, Sub Navy Roamers, Superfrog, The Fiends, The Fifth Business & VulGarrity

When: Friday, Sept. 18, from 6 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, Sept. 19, and Sunday, Sept. 20, from 11 a.m. to midnight
Where: Back River Farm, 111 Bayview Road, Dover
Tickets: three-day pass $50; one-day pass $25

Great Bay Schedule
Sun Stage
Friday, Sept. 18
• 6 p.m. – Superfrog
• 7 p.m. – Gnarlemagne
• 8 p.m. – Paranoid Social Club
• 9 p.m. – Spiritual Rez

Saturday, Sept. 19
• 11:30 a.m. – Cantonese Traffic
• 1 p.m. – Among Criminals
• 2:30 p.m. – Ryan Ordway & The Full Band
• 4 p.m. – I.M.4.I.M.
• 5:30 p.m. – SOAK
• 7 p.m. – Duty Free
• 8:30 p.m. – Danny Klein’s Full House
• 10:30 p.m. – Roots Nation

Sunday, Sept. 20
• 11 a.m. – One Fine Morning
• 12:30 p.m. – The Fiends
• 2 p.m. – Heavens to Murgatroid
• 3:30 p.m. – Rubblebucket Orchestra
• 6:30 p.m. – Entrain

Moon Stage
Friday, Sept. 18
• 8:30 p.m. – Dan Walker

Saturday, Sept. 19
• 11 a.m. – Goodnight Sunlight
• 12:30 p.m. – Sub Navy Roamers
• 2 p.m. – Fletcher Munson
• 3:30 p.m. – Sara Osgood
• 5 p.m. – Porous Yorick
• 6:30 p.m. – Pure Decibels
• 8 p.m. – Cure For Static

Sunday, Sept. 20
• 1:30 p.m. – The Fifth Business
• 3 p.m. – VulGarrity
• 4:30 p.m. – Heather Maloney