The Allentown Art Festival has long had an uneasy relationship with live music, dating back to Robby Takac's initial run of Music is Art festivals running concurrent with the art festival. These were always an awful lot of fun, but conflict did indeed arise, and the art festival today remains a basically non-live music event.
However, the clubs that keep Allentown a musical Mecca the whole year 'round have followed the lead established by Nietzsche's several decades back by packing the days of the art festival with sets from some of the finest bands and artists in town.
If you care about regional music in the slightest, then this weekend is a tourist's delight for you. Spend your day at the art festival and your evening at one of the clubs catching bands, or take a break from the heat and pop in and out of the venues throughout the day -- however you choose to do it, you really can't lose.
*We'll start with Nietzsche's (248 Allen St.), because Joe Rubino & Co. have been doing this the longest. For $2 each day, you can attend the club's Annual Allentown Art Fest Music Fest and catch the following:
Saturday beginning at 2 p.m.
Main stage: The Meldrum Family, the Heavenly Chillbillies, Celtic Sessions, Universe Shark, Andrew J. Reimers' Country Punk Extravaganza, Slip Madigan, the Tins, Family Funktion and the Sitar Jams, Son of the Sun, Effective Resolution, Logo City and Ramforinkus. Front stage: Scott Celani, Rick Smith, Jen Whitmore and Alasanne Sarr.
Sunday beginning at 2 p.m.
Main stage: The Moves, John and Bill, the Corrections, McCarthyizm, Shaky Stage, Randle and the Late Nite Scandals, and Erie Lackawanna Railroad Band. Front stage: Jeramy Carroll, Anne Phillipone and Jazzbollah.
*Across the street at Duke's Bohemian Grove Bar (253 Allen St.), beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday, you can catch the Steam Donkeys, the Jony James Band and the Queen City Cartel. At 2 p.m. Sunday, Neville Francis and Riddim Posse kicks things off with some reggae; at 6 p.m., you can mark the return to Buffalo of Dave Shultz and C.O. Jones, who will be joined by the likes of Gretchen Shultz, Geno McManus, Erik Abretske, Damone Jackson, Al Monti, Bob Meier anbd others. DJs Bearskinrug and the Owski will be spinning tunes all night following the live bands.
*The Bend (256 Allen St.) is presenting an all-star outfit comprised of members of Sonic Garden, Relics, the Garcia Preservation Society and Workingman's Dead. The ensemble will perform two sets, beginning at 6 p.m. Saturday.
There's no shortage of non-art fest gigs I'd love to catch and recommend you do as well.
Among them are singer/songwriter Sara Elizabeth's CD release party at 6:30 tonight in the Ninth Ward at Babeville (341 Delaware Ave.) and a "prog-rock heavyweight match of the century" at 10 tonight in Nietzsche's pits Buffalo's Peanut Brittle Satellite "against" the Capital District's mighty Timbre Coup.
There will be a blues throwdown at 8 tonight in the Tralf Music Hall (622 Main St.) with Jimmy Thackery & the Drivers being joined by our own Mick Hayes and band; tickets are $19 (box office, Walmart).
The Tune-Yards play the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.) at 8 p.m. Wednesday; tickets are $20 advance, $22 day of the show (box office, Tickets.com).
Phew! OK, take a deep breath, get your head together, and then get out there!