(Buddha Council open for 311 on Saturday at the 5th Street Main Stage)
By Jeff Maisey
This year’s American Music Festival will feature more local bands than ever. Many of the 757 entertainment were selected because they won Veer Music Awards earlier this year.
“We felt it was important to include local talent on the 5th Street Beach Stage, if possible,” said Domenick Fini, Live on Atlantic’s event coordinator. “Giving local musicians the opportunity to share not just a festival but the same stage was exciting to us. As the 2019 VEER Music Awards winner in the Outdoor Festival category, we see that many of your readers look to American Music Festival to lead these efforts to promote local talent.”
Local bands who recently won a Veer Music Award and performing at the American Music Festival on the oceanfront August 29 through September 2 include The Fuzz Band, Bobby “Black Hat” Walters, Fox and the Bear, Roebuck, Freedom Hawk, Buddah Council, Runnin’ Shine, Turncoat Syndicate, The Deloreans (playing Sunday at 9:15 AM on 17th St stage during Rock and Roll Half Marathon), The Chong Band, Bennett Wales & The Relief, Anthony Rosano & The Conqueroos, and The Last Bison.
Live on the Atlantic, formerly known as Beachevents, works hand-in-hand with the city of Virginia Beach to program an array of festivals and events to enhance the resort area experience for both tourists and locals. These include everything from Sandstock and She-Crab Soup Challenge to Funk Fest, Monster Trucks and Stars & Stripes Explosion. The organization also hires local bands to perform nightly
“The City of Virginia Beach’s Live! On Atlantic entertainment program features local musicians on park stages and along Atlantic Avenue at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront from May through September,” explained Fini. “In addition to the nightly entertainment program, Live! On Atlantic produces festivals throughout the season that include home-grown musicians. We rely on local talent to supplement our national-level performers almost every step of the way. Coastal Virginia should be known for beaches, history, waterways and recreation and we’re going to do more to promote Virginia Beach as the place for music.”
This year’s American Music Festival headliners include Vertical Horizon, Live, Dashboard Confessional, Lee Brice, Cracker, Blind Boys of Alabama, and 311.
Virginia Beach-based The Last Bison will actually headline the 31st Street Stage on Saturday, August 31.
Back in 2011, local alternative rock radio station 96X began airing Bison’s “Switzerland,” an infectiously melodic song full of emotion blending what seemed to be a marriage of Appalachian mountain music, classical and pop.
At the time, The Last Bison was comprised of seven members — family and friends. They released the full-length album”Quill” to rave reviews.
Major record label Universal Republic signed the group and released “Inheritance,” remixed material from their debut with a few new tunes, in 2013 and quickly followed it that same year with “Sleigh Ride.”
Universal released the group, which went on to release “VA” (2014), “Dorado” (2015) and “Suda” (2018) independently.
During this period The Last Bison evolved both musically and in membership. By the time songs were being written for “Suda,” Ben Hardesty (vocals/percussion/lead guitar), Andrew Benfante (keyboards/guitar), and Amos Housworth (cello/bass) remained committed.
While “Switzerland” remains a timeless gem, the more indie-pop-rock vibe on “Suda” suits the band well. The quality songwriting, instrumentation, and Ben Hardesty’s voice continue to shine but in a new light.
“It’s sometimes hard for listeners because they’re used to a band being a certain way,” Hardesty explained earlier this summer. “For us we’re pretty excited about it. We wanted a change. We wanted to explore different things. I don’t think we’ll go backwards sound-wise. I think we’ll only move forward. When I look back at our previous records they’re kind of like stepping stones to the next version of us.
“Our independent record, “Quill,” became more lush and sonic when it turned into “Inheritance” with Universal Republic. “VA” got a little more electric and a little different. To me it has been a slow gradual evolution into “Suda,” which for us, wasn’t abrupt because there’s been a couple years working on it.”
2019 American Music Festival
Thursday, August 29
24th Street Stage: Cracker (9:15 PM) with Camper Van Beethoven (7:30 PM)
Friday, August 30
5th Street Stage: Lee Brice (9:15 PM), William Morgan (7:30 PM), Tenille Arts (6:30 PM)
17th Street Stage: The Fuzz Band (7:30 PM)
24th Street Stage: Larkin Poe (9:15 PM), Fox and the Bear (7:30 PM), Raw Beets (5:30 PM), Bobby Black Hat Walters (3:30 PM)
31st Street Stage: Bennett Wales & The Relief (7:30 PM)
Saturday, August 31
5th Street Stage: 311 (9:15 PM) with Moon Taxi (7:30 PM), Buddha Council (6:30 PM)
17th Street Stage: Blind Boys of Alabama (9:15 PM) with Roebuck (7:30 PM)
24th Street Stage: Freedom Hawk (7:30 PM), Paper Aliens (5:30 PM), mOcean ((3:30 PM)
31st Street Park: The Last Bison (9:15 PM), Josie Dunne (7:30 PM)
Sunday, September 1
5th Street Stage: Live (9:15 PM) with Dashboard Confessional (7:30 PM), The Chong Band (6:30 PM)
17th Street Stage: Brasswind (7:30 PM)
24th Street Stage: Parmalee (9:15 PM), Revelry (7:30 PM), Backwoods Co (5:30 PM), Runnin’ Shine (3:30 PM)
31st Street Stage: Anthony Rosano & The Conqueroos (7:30 PM)
Monday, September 2
24th Street Stage: Vertical Horizon (4 PM) with Turncoat Syndicate (3 PM)