"This is our fifth year running, and it truly just keeps getting cooler," says Jim Thorpe, the booker and boss behind DVT Entertainment, while talking about his fifth annual Liberty Musicfest, this year being held at DVT's home base, Manayunk's Grape Room (or the Grape Street Pub, depending how old you are).
Not only does the live music indoor portion of the Liberty Musicfest run from Thursday Aug. 18 to Sunday Aug. 21 with music industry how-to sessions on the Grape's second floor — they're closing down Grape Street to driving traffic on Saturday and Sunday with free outdoor stages from noon until 8 p.m.
As always, Liberty Musicfest remains nonexclusionary. "We have 80 bands this year, and as usual, there's never one genre," says Thorpe. "Rock, funk, punk, rap — we like it."
Thorpe and his DVT partner Vince Volz have bounced between venues in downtown Philadelphia and Manayunk for the party during the last years and, since they're celebrating this milestone, decided to return to Liberty's roots. "We've definitely grown, just as the festival has in its time, and have more bands than ever coming from all over the country," states Thorpe, after having received many more submissions this year from more independent acts throughout the United States. Here are several of our favorites and DVT's.
Joe Jordan Experiment (JJX)
in a world where blues guitarist Gary Clark Jr. is a star, Philly six-stringer Joe Jordan should be a supernova. Around town for the greater part of this decade, Jordan makes sleek, fast-paced punk-funk that would make Red Hot Chili Peppers green with envy.
Axl Rose and the rest of Guns N' Roses have nothing on this NYC-based metal-blues Mob fronted by raspy female vocalist Blackey Deathproof. The tough but beguiling quartet manage to be both elegant and downright nasty on slower, more soulful songs and even won the approval of GNR bassist Duff McKagan when he caught Midnight Mob headlining the CBGB Music Festival.
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The spooky indie-rock toast of Lexington, Kentucky, the trio behind Noble Giants has always seemed too big for the bar scene of the South with its epic choruses and eerie similarities to U2 and Radiohead.
The Presence of Wolves
Progressive rock usually gets a bad name (think of the genre's bloated elders like Yes and Genesis). This young beardo New Jersey quartet makes the mood music frenetically modern with a sound more like Primus and Between the Buried and Me with just enough old-school Rush influence (and no unicorn or pixie imagery) for good measure.
Another great, raw femme-fronted band from New York City (see Midnight Mob, above). Only this time, the quixotic quartet is totally aggressive '70s punk — think HBO's "Vinyl" — with a pretty, but powerhouse, vocal edge courtesy singer Amanda Mac.
Funny name but cool concept for this Philly art rock-funk band (imagine Talking Heads meets Muse) whose debut recording "Escape" has a grand concept to it, and who released a childlike comic book at the same time they did the album.
The fifth annual Liberty Musicfest runs Thursday Aug. 18 to Sunday Aug. 21. Tickets and information: dvtevents.com