Beyond the Valley: Meet Mike Mains and His Feel-Good Jams

In addition to 10 free performances presented by Lehigh Valley Underground at this weekend’s SouthSide Arts and Music Festival, patrons who purchase a pass at will have the opportunity to check out 20+ paid shows from regional- and national-touring artists.

Enter Michigan native Mike Mains into that equation.

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#LVURoadTrip: Fest Friday at Launch Music Conference

We deem it official: festival season has arrived!

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#LVURoadTrip: LAUNCH Music Conference 2018 Begins

It took me a minute to realize that one of my favorite weekends of the year has finally arrived. Through sitting in traffic on 222 (three times), to making sure I got to LAUNCH Headquarters on Prince St. to pick up my badge, I had a busy and eventful afternoon.

Once my feet touched down in downtown Lancaster, however, I knew I was in for a good time.

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LAUNCH Music Conference & Festival Announces 2018 Panelist Lineup

Entering its tenth year, LAUNCH Music Conference & Festival is set to return to Lancaster, PA on April 12-15, 2018. The event is full of panels, seminars, parties, events, and performances, as well as music executives to speak and perform to a crowd of artists and industry go-getters.

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Apply to Play LAUNCH Music Conference 2018

Last month, LAUNCH Music Conference & Festival announced that its 2018 edition — the tenth in its history — will take place from April 12-15, 2018 in downtown Lancaster, PA.

If you’re a musician, you have a chance to play!

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Musikfest, Day 2: A Perfect Saturday

Overnight rainfall Friday into Saturday meant that temperatures cooled off from opening night, setting up for an absolutely perfect Saturday afternoon with a breeze and temperatures in the upper 70s. Now that, my friends, is great ‘Festing weather.

I didn’t get out until a bit later in the afternoon but, by 5:30, I found myself squarely in front of New York alt-Americana band Evening Darling, who I was looking forward to seeing after doing a little Q&A with them last week. They were as good as I expected, with folk sensibilities and heartfelt lyrics that shine through their music’s well-crafted pop rock exterior.

From there, I started down from Liederplatz toward Plaza Tropical, where I was looking forward to hearing the R&B-infused stylings of JuTaun. However, I encountered The Tillers, a bluegrass band from Cincinnati, on the way down. They looked like they were having a ball, so I stopped by for a few photos.

Then, it was on to JuTaun who, as expected, blew the roof off of Plaza Tropical. Their technical mastery, versatility, soul, and harmonies blend into a sound that is just as much Motown as it is alt-rock, and it earned this group of talented young men a well-deserved standing ovation.

Afterwards, it was back to the new Yuengling Lagerplatz, where an acoustic rendition of Good Charlotte’s “The Anthem” let me know that I was within earshot of Philly pop punks, Above the Mendoza, who were playing to a full tent who had gathered around to hear their stripped-down, but high-energy set.

It was at this point that I realized that our coverage so far was missing a very important, long-standing Musikfest tradition: polka. Fortunately, the Austrian Boys Band was over at Festplatz to the delight of ‘Festers young and old. What was particularly interesting was the band’s willingness to step outside of the box; briefly venturing away from traditional polka to break into genre-friendly covers of everything from Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” to the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air theme.

After that, I found myself in need of two things: food and a phone charge. So, I quickly marched to get myself a Mexican sundae cup and went over to the Wells Fargo charging station to give my phone enough juice. Once I was done, I ventured briefly off the official festival grounds to The Wooden Match, where Another Day Dawns was rocking the place as only they can. Frontman Dakota McGeehan seemed to love every minute of the performance, during which it seemed as though he shared a pulse with the venue’s high octane crowd.

Before heading home to edit photos and prepare for Sunday — and by that, I mean “succumb to sleep before I could do any of that,” I stopped by Plaza Tropical once more for a glimpse of world-renowned Bulgarian violinist, Svet. Svet played electric violin interpretations alongside popular music hits of today and yesterday, mixed in with a message of positivity (while I was there, he dedicated a rendition of “I Will Survive” to the cancer survivors in the audience which, on a personal note, won me over).

Now, it’s on to Day 3. As always, keep an eye on LVU, because there is much, much more in store from Musikfest!

This Saturday, Say ‘Good Evening’ to Evening Darling

New York City alt-Americana band Evening Darling has a unique sound that has gained a lot of steam beyond the confines of the Big Apple. Their debut, self-titled album (which you can hear at the bottom of this article) is an exciting blend of influences that range from new wave to the folk and Americana of their previous incarnation, The Hunting Party.

We checked in with the band in advance of its performance this Saturday, August 5 at the Red Stag Pub Liederplatz stage at Musikfest to hear all about what makes them tick, and what we have to look forward to when they come to town this weekend.

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Meet the ‘Fest Vets: Nick Capozzolo

In addition to chatting with Musikfest rookies to get their thoughts on performing for the first time at the nation’s largest free outdoor music festival, we also wanted to catch up with those who have been there — whether as attendees, performers, or both.

Nick Capozzolo, bassist for Nazareth-based harmonic soul band, The Moondogs, has performed three times at previous Musikfests, and was one of the first to offer his thoughts on what the experience means to him.

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Musikfest Preview: Meet Some ‘Fest Rookies

In addition to old favorites who perform at Musikfest every year, the festival boasts a healthy offering of first-time performers each year. Whether they are local, or they come to us from afar, ‘Festgoers have a guaranteed opportunity to discover something new for ten days in August in downtown Bethlehem.

We reached out to a few ‘Fest rookies to get their thoughts on their upcoming debut at the nation’s largest free outdoor music festival. They are…

008Neil Grover, local singer-songwriter, performing Wednesday, August 9 at 7 p.m. at Martin Guitar Lyrikplatz, and Thursday, August 10 at 8 p.m. at Yuengling Lagerplatz (amid the Festplatz site).

007Kara Hartzell, singer-songwriter and bassist for Alex Mery & The Townsmen, performing at Fegley’s Bethlehem Brew Works on Friday, August 4 at 9 p.m. (unofficial Musikfest performance); Wednesday, August 9 at 9 p.m. at Martin Guitar Lyrikplatz (w/ Alex Mery & The Townsmen); and Thursday, August 10 at 2:30 p.m. at the Provident Bank Main Street Stage.


Jim Rea of Springfield, MO-based bluegrass quintet, The HillBenders, performing Monday, August 7 at 7:30 p.m. at Americaplatz, and Tuesday, August 8 at 7 p.m. at Volksplatz.


029Zach Russack, Hackettstown, NJ-based singer-songwriter, performing a full-band set Thursday, August 10 at 3:30 p.m. on the Provident Bank Main Street Stage, and a solo set at Red Stag Pub Liederplatz on Sunday, August 13 at 2 p.m.

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So, You Weren’t Selected to Play Musikfest…

We are fewer than two weeks until Musikfest gets underway in Bethlehem on Friday, August 4. This is one of the more opinionated times of the year on our music scene; folks will take to social media to express their opinions on the matter in a polarizing manner that is second only, perhaps, to the period surrounding the Lehigh Valley Music Awards every March.

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