There should be no doubt in anyone’s mind that Saturday’s Jamaica Plain Music Festival was the first of many to come. The event was a major success, drawing hundreds of people to Pinebank, near the shores of , for an afternoon of musical performances
ranging from straight-out rock to jazz to hip-hop to even a hint of Stephen Foster-style classical. Lots more was in between.
Kicking off with “America the Beautiful,” sung by JP artist Margie Nicoll, the fest soon blossomed into a celebration of music, with acts switching like clockwork between a main stage and a mini-stage (one band played while another set up), starting with the trio Shepherdess churning out three power pop tunes before turning things over to the melodic rock of the quintet the Model Planes.
While weather forecasts warned of possible thunderstorms late in the day, festival promoters and attendees lucked out with a hot, sunny day that had periods of light breezes cooling things off.
Festival godfather Rick Berlin was all over the place, constantly walking the grounds to make sure everything was flowing smoothly. After sets of mellow rock by the Chris North Dream Quartet, percussive rock by the female-frontlined Brief Awakening, and driving country from Lenny Lashley’s quintet, Berlin took the stage, behind a mike and at a piano, with the horn-powered Nickel & Dime Band, and proceeded to make the already happy crowd get up and dance.
Surprise fiddler-vocalist guest and Violent Femme Gordon Gano joined the band onstage, eventually taking over the microphone to do a terrific version of his “Blister in the Sun,” which got the crowd singing along.
All the acts have at least one member who lives in JP. Gano has a sister who lives in JP, according to the Gazette. He was allowed in.
There was plenty of political presence with high-spirited stage appearances from City Councilors-at-large Felix Arroyo and Ayanna Pressley, as well as State Representative Jeff Sánchez and City Councilor Matt O’Malley, each of whom introduced an act.
But the folks spread out over the field, and standing in lines for food and water (and nice clean toilets) were there for the music and the all-round good vibes.
The jazz quartet James Merenda & Tickle Juice played jazz both hot and cool, the Old Edison offered up some good old-fashioned Irish tavern tunes, and the mom and daughter team of Tess and Molly Pope played a lilting “Beautiful Dreamer” before Molly’s band Malicious Intent, with Molly on guitar, her brother Connor on drums, and Carlos Sánchez on bass, rocked Pinebank to a fever pitch.
Due to deadline constraints, my attendance at the concert ended at the three and a half hour mark. But plenty more music was scheduled, and there’s much to look forward to at what I’m already calling next year’s edition.