Folk Art Not the Only Draw to Summerfest

Musical acts add attraction to event

I've been sitting in front of my keyboard for the last hour trying to remember when I first heard "Sex and Candy."

It's been a few years, to say the least, since I became acquainted with the signature Marcy Playground rocker, but the song has lived on thanks to radio stations that program Hot '90s Weekends seemingly every other day.

Yes, Marcy Playground's one hit is still around, and on June 5, I'll be unable to avoid the tune and all the nostalgia that comes with it; as one of the headlining acts for this year's Summerfest, the band will literally be performing in my backyard.

Even though "Sex and Candy" firmly planted the band in the one-hit-wonder category, Marcy Playground has some pretty inventive songs.

The guys will probably play tunes like "A Cloak of Elvenkind," "Vampires of New York," "Saint Joe on the Schoolbus" and other deep cuts that I'd never listened to until recently, but are actually better than their one smashing success.

Summerfest weekend isn't all about Marcy Playground.

The Whisky Gentry and Ed Roland & The Sweet Tea Project, which features the former frontman of Collective Soul, headline the first night of the festival on June 4.

Marcy Playground is paired with The Freddy Jones Band on June 5. For the full lineup, visit www.vahi.org/summerfest.html.

As any neighbor who has lived in the area for more than a year is well aware, Summerfest descends on the neighborhood for an entire weekend, holding residents and their cars at bay.

I have neighbors who go on trips each year to avoid the logistical headaches, and my heart goes out to those who live on Virginia between John Howell Park and Murphy's — spending a weekend with a sand art booth blocking your driveway can't be fun.

I love the festival for one simple reason: the music.

While not all the bands are notable, the acts still put on great shows, and I have the luxury of sitting on my back porch and watching the festivities. 

Folk singer Nathan Beaver, country songstress Lera Lynn and Atlanta reggae group Graham's Number open the music on Friday.

Lynn, a singer with a down-trodden, but soothing, grain to her voice, is the can't miss pick among the three opening acts. I hate to use the word Southern drawl when describing her singing — which moves as the same languid pace for ballads as it does more uptempo numbers — but that's the most appropriate term.

The other musicians are harmless, good fun. According to the homepage for Graham's Number, they did just win a Battle of the Bands competition sponsored by the Atlanta Hard Rock Cafe, so the group might be worth more than a passing listen. 

Aunt Martha — three folk rock musicians from New Hampshire — and lite-soul singer Davin McCoy prime the stage for Marcy Playground on Sunday. Both musicians seem capable of putting on an entertaining show and creating a pleasant aural backdrop to the festival.

Summerfest is actually all about art, as everyone is well aware. But after strolling by the booths before the heat hits on Saturday, I intend to retire to my porch, sit back and open my ears.


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