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Candler Park Festival Keeps the Free Music Flowing

Midtown Music and Food Festival set for June 18

In the of Musical Musings, I wrote about the nostalgic smorgasbord that is music programming during Summerfest. The neighborhood transformed into a weekend-long party, with Marcy's Playground and the lead singer from Collective Soul as the hosts.

(I have to admit, it was pretty cool when the Playground launched into "Sex and Candy;" the same sentiments don't apply to the stripped-down, acoustic version of "Shine" I heard Saturday night.)

The next free music festival worth noting will require a bit more transportation, but the aural payoff is much, much more substantial than anything heard last weekend.

I am, of course, talking about the Midtown Music and Food Festival on June 18 in Candler Park. (Funnily enough, musical nostalgia reigned supreme at the event last year, when Better Than Ezra headlined the concert.)

Starting at noon, local acts Webster Humpage and Stevie Monce open for a lineup that would be worth paying to see. Ponderosa, Dirty Guvnah's, Dr. Dog, JJ Grey & Mofro and Robert Randolph & the Family Band all take the stage starting at 2 p.m. I plan on showing up at 5 p.m. for Dr. Dog and staying for the two other bands. 

The "food" part of the festival involves food trucks from around the city, including the Good Food Truck (featuring the amazingly brilliant Poodle hot dog), Westside Creamery, King of Pops and about a dozen other vendors I've been itching to patronize.

Back to the music.

Most people at least have a passing familiarity with the blues brilliance that is JJ Grey, the ever-shifting indie approach of Dr. Dog and the party atmosphere Robert Randolph can conjure up with a single note, but less familiar, no doubt, are the opening acts. 

Stevie Monce — a local boy who went to Paulding County High School — plays a polished brand of Southern rock backed by Ben Forehand on guitar, Trey Lander on bass and Russ Fitzpatrick on drums. Monce's is a sound that would have been at home on rock radio about 10 years ago.

That doesn't mean he's bad; actually, it's just the opposite — his 2009 disc, The Broadcast, showcases an inventive songwriter who knows how to put together strong, sit-back-and-relax tunes perfect for a summer afternoon.

Monce is even a savvy businessman, parlaying his song "One for the Lovers" into an endorsement deal with a condom company. According to his website, these Monce-branded prophylactics are free at all the band's shows.

Webster Humpage is a somewhat less polished jam band that will nevertheless be fine for a noon-time opening set. The guys do a classic rock kind of thing that will make people dance, but only to a point. Check out "Shakedown Street"to see for yourself. For that matter, if you want to check out any of the bands, click on over to www.midsummermusicfestival.com

If you get to the festival early, these two local bands will do a fairly nice job of preparing you for the music ahead; if you can only manage to get to the park by the crack of 2 p.m., don't beat yourself up. 

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