As fall is fast approaching, it seemed like a great idea to get out to one more festival before the nice weather subsides. The festival I chose was appropriately called the Sterling Stage “Last Daze of Summer,” located in Sterling, New York. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but right from the get go this festival offered a great low key, intimate vibe. With a total attendance of far less then 2000 people, it was clear that we would all get to know each other pretty well over the next four days.
On Friday afternoon, I walked into the beautiful evergreen and redwood forest surrounding the campgrounds with great anticipation. Upon walking in, I immediately grew comfortable and excited with the way the festival was set up. Music could be heard from anywhere on the grounds, and it was nothing more than a short walk from the stages to the campgrounds. This convenience set the mood for the day, as I set up my tent to the great tunes of Stir Up The Gravy, a funky jam band which got me moving instantly. After I set up, it was time to get down to some music, so I went over to the main stage to check out a very fun band called El Ka Bong. The stage showed off some cool art fixtures making up the bottom portion of the elevated stage. Next came a great up and coming band called Sophistafunk. This was the dance party of the weekend, as they mixed together various styles of funk, reggae, electronic and hip hop to get the whole crowd moving, boosted by lead singer Jack Brown’s high energy presence. Their positive energy set the bar high for the rest of the festival, and the next act, Rubblebucket, was up to the task. A fun mix of rock, horns and dance beats, they kept the Sterling Festival crowd dancing throughout. I loved every second of this set and really enjoyed their diversity. The combination of Sophistafunk into Rubblebucket was my favorite part of the weekend, as both bands kept the crowd moving and interested from beginning to end. If you have not heard these bands, I highly recommend giving them a listen. Following this was more of a calm, acoustic-ambient vibe from Zach Deputy. He did a good job with what he does, but it was an interesting choice having him play after the two high energy bands before. Nonetheless, a good performance from him. The rest of the night consisted of some very fun bluegrass, and acoustic jams from Free Grass Union and Kevin MacConkey & Friends respectively. As the night began to cool, it was a great way to close out the first day, sitting around the fire and meeting plenty of wanderers looking for friends.
Coming into this festival, I was told the only negative was usually the cold weather. But the weather could not have been better, and it set the perfect mood for the festivities. As I awoke on Saturday morning, there were still bonfires going on, and music playing from all around the campgrounds. Around 2 o’clock I headed over to see Lucid moving their equipment from their 1960’s style bus to the stage. The bus added a great element to the background surrounding the stage.Their mixture of blues, funk and rock hit the spot for this early afternoon set. Following Lucid, the Interstellar Funkateers really brought the funkiest tent party of the weekend, and did a great job setting up the “headliners” for Saturday night. For the next 6 hours, I had the pleasure of witnessing one of U-Melt’s last shows ever and an absolute throw-down by The Breakfast. The Breakfast took the stage first, led by frontman and guitarist Tim Palmier, bringing the festival into it’s most psychedelic jams of the weekend. After about an hour and a half it was time for U-Melt. Instead of doing a traditional walk off the stage switch, the bands did what I like to call a “Breakfast Melt.” Members of U-Melt began to slowly come out onto the stage one by one until the whole band was out there jamming with The Breakfast. After a real great jam that took me from upbeat dancing to staring off into the tremendous light show, The Breakfast walked off the stage. I felt really honored to see one of U-Melt‘s last performances… it was a really great time. It’s sad to see a NYC band like U-Melt go.
After the hours of amazing music coming from the main stage, it was time to check out a Beatles late night tribute led by Ted Palmier. This experience could not have been done any better, as many festival goers sat around a small stage hidden between tents in the woods, and helped Tim do a real touching recreation of The Beatles. I have to give full marks to the job Tim Palmier did this weekend, as he played for hours on the main stage, and then came and did a 2 hour late night set. This man is extremely talented and after the performance he put on this weekend, has definitely garnered a bunch of new fans.
After a truly magical ending to Saturday night, the weather began to switch to a more overcast, rainy Sunday afternoon, and it was clear the festival was coming to an end. Despite some great acts on Sunday such House On A Spring and Digger Jones, it was time to call it quits and put an end to my daze of a summer. I give Sterling tremendous props for the type of festival atmosphere they put on this weekend, and highly recommend anybody who has not been to check out one of the many events they have in Sterling, New York each year. These include Last Daze of Summer, String Fling, Folkfest, and a very special 4th of July festival which is known to be the biggest of the four.
Again, some notable acts I highly recommend checking out are Sophistafunk, Rubblebucket, Lucid, The Breakfast, and House on a Spring.