Dark clouds were moving into Bethlehem around the time that I was able to get ready to head down for the second Friday of Musikfest. My original plan was to walk straight down to the Red Stag Pub Liederplatz stage to catch the end of Dina Hall’s set, and work the North Side before heading over to The Ice House for Night 1 of the Lehigh Valley with Love Comedyplatz at 8:45.
Then, as I walked out the door, the skies opened up, thwarting my plans to walk down, camera in tow.
Fortunately, there’s always a backup plan at Musikfest. Mine involved utilizing my RE lot parking pass and heading instead to the South Side, where I could catch some of the action indoors. It was there that I found New York-based singer-songwriter Jessy Tomsko mid-set on the Martin Guitar Lyrikplatz stage, fittingly performing a song titled, “Go On and Rain.” I stuck around for a few tunes, including a sweet tune about her nephew that hit me right in the feels, seeing as I have a new niece that I’ll be visiting this morning.
I then ventured upstairs, because Dear Anna was rocking the Musikfest Cafe and I wanted to make sure I caught the end of their set. I was glad I did, as the foursome brought the rock and roll fire, fueled by the charisma and boundless energy of frontman Lorenzo Bubba, who’s undeniable stage presence and versatile, powerful voice stole the show during a set of mostly covers that was closed, as is typical, with a scorching rendition of Nirvana’s “Breed.”
By the time Dear Anna concluded, the rains had stopped, and it was the perfect opportunity to go outside and check out Atlanta’s The Howling Tongues on the Americaplatz stage. I originally became privy to this band through good friend of LVU John Scargall, who once shared the same manager with these guys. I even reviewed their single, “Vivian,” which was everything I knew it to be and more when performed live. These guys have it all — a big rock and roll sound, chemistry, and a commanding presence. I hope to see them back in our neck of the woods.
Switching gears again, I headed back inside with the intention of checking out local blues legend Steve Brosky and his Big Lil’ Band, but took a slight detour back into Lyrikplatz where Nashville’s Ira Wolf was performing a tender acoustic set that reminded me of Sarah McLachlan with a hint of country twang, as she sang songs about loneliness and the road.
After checking in with Ira, I then headed up to catch a glimpse of Steve Brosky before heading up for Comedyplatz. As usual, Mr. Brosky and his band of veterans — including long-time duo partner Jimmy Meyer — came across like the true professionals they are, seamlessly sharing vocal duties and getting people out of their seats with upbeat blues and rock tunes.
From there, I departed the South Side, heading back home and starting down toward the North Side on foot. I re-entered the festival at the intersection of Main and Broad, with a few minutes to spare before the 8:45 p.m. session of Lehigh Valley with Love Comedyplatz was set to kick off. However, I just couldn’t help myself — I never can — from stopping by the Provident Bank Main Street stage for a few minutes to hear Philadelphia’s The Lawsuits, whose compelling combination of indie rock and roots was accented by the vocal harmonies of Brian Dale Allen Strouse and keyboardist Vanessa Winters.
From there, I motored as fast as my tired legs could carry me to The Ice House, where Lehigh Valley with Love Comedyplatz was already underway. I caught nine sets in all between the 8:45 and 10:30 p.m. sessions, from comics hailing from the Lehigh Valley, Berks County, New York City, and Philadelphia. Particular highlights for me were New York’s Nate Marshall, whose matter-of-fact delivery featured just the right amount of cynicism, and 10:30 session host Roya Hamadani, who told hilarious anecdotes about family and culture to warm up the late crowd.
You can go to The Ice House again tonight starting at 7 p.m. for Night Two. A full lineup can be found here.