Event president Bobby Liswell isn't even quite sure of the origins of this, his seventh Fest Of All (festofall.com), slated for June 28-July 1 at Szot Park.
"I thought it would be a nice complement to the Taste [event] we have here," he recalls. "But I also remember thinking I wanted to show people there is more to Chicopee than beer, polka and kielbasa."
Since the fateful day Liswell presented his proposal letter to the city he proudly calls home, his annual homage to audio and edibles has blossomed into a four-day affair that attracts in excess of 70,000 people each year.
"It's quite an undertaking, for sure," he adds, "probably a good 30 weeks of planning and some 200 volunteers to pull it off these days."
When it comes to the crop of musical talent amassed for the 2012 installment, Liswell says that he and his fellow organizers may have pulled off the best lineup ever assembled in the history of the "always free to attend" event.
Coverband champs Darik N The Funbags, Triple XXX and Casanova Fix have all been confirmed, to list a choice few examples. Country connoisseurs will also be happy to find scheduled performances by Cottonwood, Trailer Trash and Grand Band Slam victors Brian Chicoine and The Truck Stop Troubadours, too.
But perhaps nothing is a better testament to the Fest's success than the caliber of tribute bands that will grace the main stage this summer.
"We basically had an idea to do a theme that stems around the 2010 Rock 'N' Roll Hall of Fame anniversary show," he says. "And considering we ended up securing Unforgettable Fire, The B-Street Band and Big Shot, I'd say we nailed it."
In other news... Whether you are craving the infectious sounds of Primate Fiasco or cover kings Maxxtone or simply a taste of some of the best craft beers in the country, Theodores' and Smith's Billiards have something good for what "ales" you. The two legendary Springfield venues have pooled their resources to reboot the second annual Worthy Street Craft Beer Showcase—the perfect place to soak in both sounds and suds from more than 30 premiere breweries.
"We have asked each brewery to bring in one of their great everyday beers as well as at least one specialty," notes Smith's Billiards manager Jim Trainor. "We do this to attract everyone from the novice beer drinker to the beer geek—and the results are going to blow people away."
The Worthy Street Craft Beer Showcase is slated for Saturday, June 23 starting at noon, and will necessitate the closing of historic Worthington Street throughout the afternoon before customers pour back into the clubs that evening.
Last but not least, two new onsales are 'Vai'-ing for the ticket dollars of fretboard aficionados the area over. The first features celebrated six-stringer Steve Vai, who has just signed on to weave his sonic tapestries at Noho's Calvin Theater Sept. 14.
Vai's first blip on the international guitar guru radar came courtesy of his gig with Frank Zappa's band. Although he would go on to be a proverbial hired gun for David Lee Roth and Whitesnake (and, in his theatrical debut, the devil's right-hand man in the cult guitar movie Crossroads), it's Vai's solo body of work—amassing combined sales upwards of $6 million—that has established him as one of the most influential guitarists in history. We're talking right up there with Hendrix, to whose skills, not coincidentally, Guitar Player magazine likened those of Jake Shimabukuro—performing at the Calvin Dec. 1—with regard to his instrument of choice, the ukulele.
Shimabukuro is currently in the studio with Alan Parsons (best known for his engineering work on the Beatles' Abbey Road and Floyd's Dark Side Of The Moon), working on what all involved call "his most ambitious effort to date." The resulting product is slated to be released Oct. 2, 2012 and has a working title of More Ukulele. To purchase tickets or for more information on either upcoming Calvin affair, kindly point your browser to iheg.com.
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