by Becky Petchenik
Aug 7, 2013 The Activation Music Festival in Fuguson, NC, coming up this weekend, Aug 9-11, is expected to be quite the blowout. With sunrise/sunset yoga, vendors, artists, workshops and an impressive list of musicians and performers, the festival is going to be one of a kind. For $30, camping and admission is all included, and everyone is welcome, though under 18 requires an accompanying adult patron. Activation stresses their Matter Out of Place policy which means that all patrons’ trash must be moved out after the event.
The festival is committed to focusing on the Boone community and creating a spirit of camaraderie and fellowship in the High Country. With two spectacular stages under a covered pavilion, one of which being the Solar Stage from Bonaroo and the second being comparable in size and power, can accommodate over 300 people. The 14-acre campground can accommodate up to 1,000 people.
The Fritz makes their point with electronic funk and attitude. Heavily influenced by soul and improvisational jazz, they blend slinky guitar and low-end harmonies with impressive syncopated drum beats in such a tight and in-tune way that the line between rehearsed and improvised is blurred constantly.
Favorite sons of Athen, Ga., Sumilan takes electronic and blends it seamlessly with pop. Upbeat and catchy, their ambient rock tunes stand alone. The members’ specific skills and tastes combine to form an experimental and innovative sound that is set apart from their contemporaries. Novel in their own right, Sumilan are worth an honest listen. Their involvement in the festival will mark a spectacular event with a spectacular performance from a spectacular group.
Aligning Minds is an electronica duet that combines elements of dubstep, breakbeat, techno and IDM. Daniel Merrill and Michael Folk are the progenitors of this intelligent and thoughtful project, and their passion for musical expression and intense drive to create a unique and genre-bending experience that explores emotional connectivity through music. Based heavily in low-end grooves and innovative melodies, their eclectic blend of electronic genres creates an atmosphere of both contemplation and feeling.
Empire Strikes Bass, the ragtime revivalist octet out of Asheville, NC, brings second line style New Orleans street music to the high country for a performance that wows. Funk, rock, jazz and blasting brass come together seamlessly to form an original yet classic sound that is richly steeped in the musical traditions of the bayous of Louisiana. The first and only second line band in the Asheville area, Empire Strikes Bass is more than a simple street band. Their talent and dedication produce an upbeat groove that will get you on your feet and, oh boy, do the swing.
Henry + The Invisibles, Henry Roland’s one-man act, is funk and soul at to the core; James Brown and George Clinton would be proud. The heavy bass and spritely electric organ overlaid with Roland’s funkadelic infused vocals would be difficult for an ensemble group to pull off, let alone just Roland. Reminiscent of Sly and the Family Stone and Prince, Roland can wail and wallop with his musical skill. A master musician utilizing a Fender Stratocaster, Fender P-Bass, drumkit and synthesizers, Henry pays true tribute to ’70s style.
In a step away from the funk and soul theme of the festival, Michael Garfield is a folk and roots inspired musician with a serious talent. His slow and soulful melodies show that the ukelele isn’t a joke instrument. His skill with Spanish-style finger picking is understated, nestled beneath lonesome and inspired vocals that draw on elements of Appalachian traditional music as well as old time folk.
Spacey and psychedelic, Medisin takes weird to a new level. Synthesized and slick, Medisin has an eastern tint and an air of electronica that isn’t in any particular genre. Medisin is eclectic and experimental, and as an act wows with their blatant disregard for convention.
Vertigo, a jazz project based in asheville, applies rock instrumentation and ideologies to improvisational jazz. Utilizing both electric blue notes and folk-inspired melodies with hints of synth and beach rock, Vertigo can’t be specifically nailed down to a particular genre. They can only really be classified as quality music with a quality performance.
Wave Lynx are native to Boone, and well known throughout the area. Their cross-genre explorative music is heavy in intricate melodies reminiscent of Eric Johnson with a funk twist. The slap bass and slunky guitar riffs blend seamlessly to create a different sort of experience.