[Words & Photos by Charles Izenstark]
For the third edition of the Werk Out Music and Arts Festival the producers, Alchemy House, Funky Bean Productions and the host band the Werks, picked up stakes and moved the party to the historic Legend Valley (formerly known as Buckeye Lake) a venue that has hosted many legendary Grateful Dead shows and more recently become a hot festival site having already hosted All Good and the Dark Star Jubilee this summer. With tents ringing the lower concert bowl the set-up and atmosphere were more intimate than All Good but the big show vibe that permeated the air had many immediately dubbing the experience as “smAll Good.” And with the same side by side stage set up, albeit on a slightly smaller scale, there was the same promise of non-stop music until the very early morning.
Nick Gerlach from Cosby Sweater
The pre-party proceedings began with a side stage set from the Akron based quartet Aliver Hall. I had never seen these guys before but their upbeat proggy set was a nice surprise and set a great tone for the weekend. Next up was a country/punk set from Shreveport based Dirtfoot, another band which I had never experienced before. True to their Louisiana roots, this band creates a musical stew full of Cajun/gypsy tones and jazzy rhythms that brought a smile to many a face. The beat intensified when Indianapolis based Cosby Sweater took the side stage for an early (by their standards) hip-hop tinged dance set. While saxophonist Nicholas Gerlach (from the Twin Cats) and DJ David Embry (Embryonic Fluid) are probably the best known members of this new side project, it is the drumming of Richard “Sleepy” Floyd (from The Native Sun) that truly propels this dance party and has made them popular on the late night festival scene.
Papadosio was next on the mainstage, marking the third time in a month that I had seen these Asheville based psychedelic rockers. With a new album, named T.E.T.I.O.S. (To End the Illusion of Separation), ready to be released this band was chomping at the bit to unveil their new material to the festival crowd and they delivered a forceful set that had the appreciative crowd screaming for more. Dr. Famous provided a nice soundtrack for a very late dinner.
Day one concluded with the first of three sets from festival hosts, The Werks. With Rob Chafin and Dino Dimitrouleous comprising a fierce rhythm section that continuously pushes the pace while allowing keyboardist Norman Dimitrouleous and guitarist Chris Houser to exchange raging riffs this is a band that brings a sharp prog-rock edge to their dance party. They delivered a potent set that continued to build in intensity (and included the debut of the new song “Going Round”) until it culminated in a raucous version of Phish’s “Slave to the Traffic Light.”
A quick glance at the watch revealed that there was plenty of time for a meaty encore so I was worried when stagehands to the stage in force. But it was quickly apparent that the roadies were not tearing down the stage but actually setting up more gear. And when both The Werks and Papadosio returning to the stage for a joint encore, the crowd roared in appreciation. The ensuing Werkidosio suite (augmented by Nicholas Gerlach on sax) was a funk jamboree that no one, least of all the performers, wanted to ever end. But all good things do seem to come to an end and as quiet finally swept over the festival grounds both the attendees who retreated to their tents and those who sought to continue their rage at the remote stages did so with a smile on their face.