Penguin goes to the north for Fest


The Mac and Juice Quartet. Contributed photo

Published: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 2:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 2:51 p.m.

Descriptions of the bands in the Penguin Music Festival appear at the end of this story.

Facts

GO

What: Penguin Music Festival
When: Saturday, May 31
Where: 111 Cowan St., downtown Wilmington (between PPD and the Isabel Holmes Bridge)
Tickets: $35 in advance (available at Gravity Records, Momentum Surf & Skate and online), $45 day of show, $70 VIP. Free for children 10 and under. Festival re-entry permitted
Details: More info at http://983thePenguin.com. Get tickets at http://ticketf.ly/1onymI8

In June of last year, the inaugural Penguin Music Festival was held in downtown Wilmington's up-and-coming Castle Street area.

This year, the festival, which features seven acts on two stages and is headlined by the Americana-flavored jam band Leftover Salmon, will move to another up-and-coming area – the north side of downtown. (See 3D for schedule and band descriptions.)

Beau Gunn of Hometown Wilmington Media, which owns the popular AAA-format (“adult album alternative”) radio station The Penguin 98.3 FM, said the festival began as a way to celebrate the station's 10th anniversary. Now, he sees it as “an opportunity to celebrate the musical heritage of the Penguin,” which plays everything from contemporary Americana and country rock to funk and R&B, as well the occasional classic blues and country cut.

Gunn said last year's festival drew a decent crowd to Castle Street. “I would love to have kept it on Castle Street but there were some issues where the city wouldn't let us do that,” he said.

The festival's new location, on the former Dean Hardwoods site between PPD and the Isabel Holmes Bridge, is “kind of relevant to what's going on what's going on the city,” Gunn said, as it's near the expanded Riverwalk, Cape Fear Community College's new arts center (which is under construction), and a park, marina and condos, all of which are under development.

In building the festival, – the Penguin is partnering with Pipeline Event Management and Huka Entertainment to put it on – Gunn said he's tried to incorporate the things he likes about music festivals while cutting out all of the things that bug him.

For example, people will be able to leave the festival and re-enter so that they can pop into downtown Wilmington for a bite or a drink and then return to hear more tunes. A festival shuttle will run between Slice of Life pizzeria at Second and Market streets and the festival site all day.

“When you look at it from a promoter's point of view, you don't allow re-entry because you want them to stay and drink your beer and eat your food,” Gunn said. He's doing away with the hated rule because “it's about the whole experience, not as much about that cash grab.”

Because he wants it to be a family-friendly festival – kids under 10 get in free, and there will be activities for children on site – the music is largely low-key, bluegrassy Americana this year, Gunn said, although he added that he could see the festival expanding to two days in the future to encompass a broader range of the music that the Penguin plays.

With two stages side by side, one band will begin shortly after the previous one ends. And because several of the bands on the festival lineup have Colorado roots, including headliners Leftover Salmon, Gunn said he expects to see a fair of amount of musicians sitting in with their friends' bands.

These acts aren't touring together for the most part, Gunn said, so “you won't be able to see that (combination) on any other stage.”

John Staton: 343-2343

On Twitter: @Statonator

SCHEDULE

8:30 P.M. LEFTOVER SALMON

Most recently in Wilmington for a concert at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater in October of last year, acclaimed Colorado jam band Leftover Salmon return to town, this time with keyboard player and vocalist Bill Payne of country rock icons Little Feat in tow. Payne and the Salmon have been collaborators for years, working together on the 2004 album “Leftover Salmon,” which was re-released in February. The rootsy, string-based act will be playing a mix of tunes from their album with Payne as well as old favorites and new tunes released last year. www.LeftoverSalmon.com

6:45 P.M. KELLER WILLIAMS

A frequent visitor to Wilmington over the years, Williams, who often performs as a one-man band, is known for musical wizardry that he employs to turn quirky funk tunes into cosmic space jams. http://KellerWilliams.net

5:30 P.M. JEFF AUSTIN TRIO

A master mandolin player formerly with the Yonder Mountain String Band, Austin is now touring with Danny Barnes (banjo and vocals), Eric Thorin (bass and vocals), and Ross Martin (guitar and vocals). Austin's work combines the Americana and jam genres, but he also co-wrote the song “Fiddlin' Around,” featured on country singer Dierks Bentley's Grammy nominated 2010 album “Up on the Ridge.” www.JeffAustin.com

4:15 P.M. HOLY GHOST TENT REVIVAL

North Carolina Americana rock band that just recorded a new album, “Right State of Mind,” that it's raising money for on KickStarter. http://HolyGhostTentRevival.com

3 P.M. MANDOLIN ORANGE

One of the shining stars of April's MerleFest in Wilkesboro, this male- and-female-fronted duo has drawn comparisons to indie folkers The Civil Wars. www.MandolinOrange.com

2 P.M. MAC & JUICE QUARTET

Well-known in the Wilmington area for frequent shows going back several years, the acoustic guitar-based band occasionally ventures into swamp rock and funk territory. www.MacAndJuice.net

1 P.M. NICK & THE BABES

North Carolina band has a song on Ramseur Records' Christmas sampler “My Favorite Gifts” along with the Avett Brothers, Paleface and others. www.NickAndTheBabes.com

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