Strange Daze 1999 SpaceRock Festival: Nelson Ledges, Ohio August 20-22, 1999

by Keith Henderson and Jerry Kranitz
Photos by Roger Neville-Neil (except W.O.O and Tombstone Valentine photos by Deb Kranitz)

From Aural Innovations #8 (October 1999)

Well, both Jerry and I worked on our own individual reviews of the third annual Strange Daze SpaceRock festival here in our home state of Ohio. But as you might expect, the joyfullness of the occasion (and Jerry's early bedtime) led to both of our experiences and memories being incomplete. So for the sake of completeness, I will simply alternate between our separate accounts (Jerry's words in italics), such that you will get a full review of the events still roughly in chronological order. Jerry gets to start...


Ohio has been HOT this Summer. Record temperatures and lots of discomfort. That the days leading up to the Strange Daze 1999 SpaceRock Festival were the first comfortable break in the heat and humidity was perhaps a premonition... maybe just good luck. In any event, the result was a gorgeous weekend full of outstanding music, the chance to meet many friends I'd only previously communicated with on the internet, and the opportunity to make many new friends during the weekend of August 20-22.

Debbie and I wimped out on the camping this year, opting instead for a Roadway Inn just a few miles from the festival grounds. We arrived about 3 PM and I dropped off the SD'99 Programs that Keith had made. Aural Innovations has grown quite a bit over the past year so I decided to have a vendor table plugging the mag. This proved to be the best move I could have made, as being so visible facilitated all the placing of faces to names. After dropping our luggage at the hotel we dashed over to the Nelson Ledges where a large tent was set up near the stage. Nelson Ledges Quarry has a strict 11 PM curfew on the music and festival host Jim Lascko wisely opted for the tent to feature quieter acts into the wee hours of the morning. Jim had the Strange Trips table set up in the back of the tent selling t-shirts, loads of Hawkwind CDs, and the new double CD Strange Daze '97 set.

For my part, in addition to Aural Innovations I had some CDs of my own and even ended up being something of an unoffical vendor for many of the scheduled bands. Band after band came up to me asking if they could put their stuff on the table. I was more than happy to do so, and was glad to give more prominence to their music apart from them just saying "come see us after the performance" from the stage. In fact, the stock was slowly growing and several festvial-goers kept coming back to see what had been added.

Originally scheduled for Friday evening was Oránj Climax, Helios Creed, and Tribe Of Cro. Tribe Of Cro had cancelled their entire US tour a couple weeks earlier and Helios ended up as a no-show. But did this put a damper on Friday evening? Absolutely NOT! Thom The World Poet was once again our charismatic M.C. for the weekend and he took the stage right around 4 PM to kick off the event with a bang. First up was Oránj Climax as scheduled. The band is a three piece from New York and includes Charles Delozier, John Pichardo, and John Ortega who I was already familiar with as a member of Escapade. Oránj Climax is an electronic trio with Ortega doubling on bass... or was it a guitar? The music is ambient electronica that reminded me a bit of the Tangerine Dream school, but I detected elements of funk at times and also heard some cool tribal electro percussion. The atmosphere was often dark which for this listener makes electronic music far more interesting.

OK, well, my departure for the Ledges was delayed as usual, due to various commitments here at the office. But at 2:15, I began the three-hour journey from Columbus, and with a pretty good traffic situation, got there in time to catch the last bit of Oránj Climax' set. Of course, I was frantically grabbing stuff out of my car both for camp and for setting up my little stand next to Jerry's official table for Aural Innovations. I brought around 125 CD's of my own that I'd picked up in various second-hand and closeout bins in stores around the country, and a few online. I wasn't looking to make much of a profit (probably a stupid idea), since I've only ever been a 'dealer' on this very occasion, so I kept them cheap and as a result was popular once again. I'm glad to provide this service for folks who likely don't spend as much time as I searching for spacerock bargains. My hope is that these goodies I'm passing on to Strange Daze attendees becomes something that makes them decide to come back next year.... that's the idea, anyway. So this is the only festival where I actually come home with *more* money that when I left! But still, I now am the proud owner of about a dozen new titles I hadn't ever found before. So my only recollection of Or'anj Climax is that it was spacey ambient music that seemed an appropriate 'intro' to the festival as a whole. I can't tell you a lot more about them, but I know Jerry has a copy of their disc 'e-Noise' and so eventually I'll have the pleasure of hearing them in a more conducive setting (i.e., not so preoccupied).

Filling an open spot on the bill next was Canis Minor, seasoned veterans at stepping up to the plate when needed. For the unititiated I'll repeat the story from last year. Due to circumstances well beyond their control, Architectural Metaphor was a day late for their performance at SD'98. Canis Minor had come to attend the fest but were performing informally at their camp site. No Arch Met... need a band... they took the stage and impressed everyone. Now invited back to SD'99 to do an ambient performance in the late night tent, Canis Minor was again called upon to fill a spot on the main stage. This turned out to be a benefit to the audience because the set they did was far more aggressive than what was planned for the tent. Canis Minor is a duo of Thom Karshish on Chapman Stick and Joe Silver on Keyboards. They have been joined at both Ohio Strange Daze fests by Billie "Captain America" Capozzi, the lead "vocalist" in Thom and Joe's other band Finally Balanced. I put vocalist in quotes because what Capozzi does isn't exactly singing. Billie is a poet and what he does is a sort of monologing over the music that Thom and Joe produce. The music is very trippy, but there are moments when Capozzi goes on a rant and the music follows suit. The effect is quite intense and gives Canis Minor a unique sound... not an easy achievement. At times the music got a bit on the heavy side, and even ventured into experimental avant-garde territory. But overall these are very cosmic soundscapes that also manage to jam.

Again, it was competition with more friends and shoppers that took my attention away from the first Canis Minor performance, but here the duo (with a guest or two) did some interesting proggy stuff with the Chapman Stick giving them that unique sound for a 'space' band. There was one cool tune that I remember that I swore had some guitar soloing in it, and I looked and looked and saw no guitarist, so I thought it must've been a DAT recording piped in along with what they were playing live. But now I gather it was really live Stick playing by Thom... anyway, it was really an excellent piece.

The fact that neither Tribe Of Cro nor Helios Creed were present didn't put a damper on the Friday night festivities at all. A headliner in the form of Born to Go was called and the band ROCKED the Nelson Ledges house. I was pretty excited about this because I had missed Born To Go's Sunday performace last year. Born To Go does not have a regular CD release out and my experience with their music is from the 'Robots On The Rise' video which features two concert performances. Born To Go is a five piece of guitar, bass, drums, and two synths that takes the best from Hawkwind and Motörhead to produce a heavy rockin' space brew that left noone disappointed that Friday night. Bassist, vocalist, and frontman Marc Power is an enthusiastic frontman who leads up to most of the songs with stories of nuclear plant destruction in New Mexico, love between man and android, and robots rising up to attack mankind, among others. Briefly chatting with Marc the next day he commented something to the effect of feeling he should abbreviate his stories, but I think they're all part of the fun. One of the big standouts seeing the band live was hearing Louis Boone and Carl Howard's synths more upfront on the mix, unlike on the video. This is spaceROCK folks and the song "SpaceRock City" could almost be the bands' anthem tune. And a 20+ minute version of "Orgone Accumulator" was a kick ass finale to a rockin' show. It's amazing how far a one-riff song can go. Smokin'! I should also mention that I was blown away by the Solar Fire Lightshow that evening. I've seen them at a number of shows but many slides and films have recently been added, making the nightime Born to Go performance all the more special.

It was sometime just after Canis Minor's set that I talked for Jim for the first time, and the first thing out of his mouth was 'You know, Helios isn't here.' Jesus... I spent all that time worrying over whether my program was going to be accurate - I guess there really wasn't any way to prepare for these sorts of occurrences. Perhaps next year, the program will say 'To Be Announced' for each and every time slot! Well, anyway, I don't understand why they weren't there for their set, but if they don't want to show, we'd just as soon see someone else who did! And that turned out to be Born to Go, and boy did they ever show!! Going on just as it was getting dark, they got the added advantage of playing with Solar Fire's excellent lights. Wow... every performance from this lot is more impressive than the last. Above the stage was the obligatory projection 'screen' and there were lots of newly-acquired NASA-type stills to go along with the usual projection wheels and such. Well, anyway, back to the music... Born to Go plays bass-heavy space blanga tunes that are reminiscent of Doremi-era Hawkwind. And why not? The robots were lounging back at the hotel I hear, or they would have made an appearance for the show... oh well, their signature 'Robots on the Rise' was still scary enough as it was. So after ninety minutes of killer original space tunes, we all could see by our watches that there was still thirty minutes before the main stage curfew was invoked. Hmmmm.... what to play then to fill up that time? OK, how 'bout a 25-minute version of Orgone Accumulator! So in a sense, it was perhaps a little ridiculous to play a few simple chords and sing a few simple lyrics over and over again, but for me it was the most enjoyable moment of the entire weekend! Those of you there, perhaps you even noticed!

A new feature of Strange Daze offered this year was the 'late-night' tent, which also acted as merchandising center (and temporary rain shelter) during the day. To keep the neighbors from complaining, the after-midnight music had to be kept relatively quiet and so the performing acts were chosen accordingly. First up on Friday night was Drumplay, a local-based percussion combo that seems to grow in size and dimension each time I see them. Last year's Sunday morning performance was quite nice, but this one was trully impressive. Each piece is spontaneously created... you can think of it as kind of a 'professional drum circle.' But then the addition of Matthew Abelson on the hammered dulcimer and an additional guest on the vibraphone created additional lead 'voices' (to James Onysko's xylo-marimba) that really gave the unit a fully-orchestrated feel. And there was even a brief appearance by Thom the World Poet, who stopped by to offer one of his unique musical wordplays. Towards the end, the fire-eater who goes by the name 'Insanity in Motion' came by and provided even more colorful entertainment (and some much needed warmth). Quite a few folks decided to hang around on this pleasant late evening, and they got to catch one of the weekend's many highlights. And as I strolled around the campsites nearest the big tent, I found folks were grooving along to the music drifiting through the trees, and not their own boomboxes (thankfully!).

Sometime around 2 AM, the Boston-area electronic duo Bionaut brought out their loads of gear and set up to do an additional late-night show. I think having the tent was a fabulous idea, but I discovered the attention span of the festival as a whole runs out at about 1:30. So only the hardy few hung around to see them perform their improvised space-borne electronics, though I've heard people say they could hear the music from across the lake. By then, the music was only competing with crickets and the crackling of campfires. It was a time for me to wind down and prepare for what I expected to be a restful night of sleep (which unfortunately didn't happen), so Bionaut's ambient sounds were just the thing. And as it turned out, they got a 'real' chance to play for the SD'99 crowd on Saturday afternoon, and then they played some pieces that were really interesting and quite a bit more lively.


Saturday morning I was sitting in our room in the Roadway sipping coffee and listening to a yet-to-be-released Drumplay CD that James Onysko had loaned me. I had seen the band open for Gong in Cleveland in June and was quite impressed. They are a percussion-based band and Didier Malherbe sat in with them on sax during that performance. I told James I had to have my own copy of this disc as the sax and hammer dulcimer both give the music a jazzy but out-in-the-cosmos feel (See reviews on page 44). Having hit my caffeine quota we headed over to the Ledges about 10 AM and set up our table.

Saturday was a great day for meeting friends. The list of people I FINALLY got to meet is endless. My publishing collegue Adam Strider was high on my list of those I hoped to see and indeed the flypaper effect of the AI table drew him in. ALL AI readers should be familiar with his Strider News. The man with the Spaceship Eyes, Don Falcone, stopped by and we got to chat a bit and he even shared some of his new Spirits Burning project. I recall sitting in Don's rental car grooving to the disc and at one point I looked out the window and saw Uncle Nik sitting on a truck tailgate blasting away on his sax. Wordsmith Roger Neville-Neil travelled all the way from Portland and it was great getting to chat with him a bit after much email contact. I got to meet lots of AI subscribers and a reward is in order... Eli Friedman of Merrick, NY gets the Aural Innovations Father Of The Year SpaceRock award for healthy musical indoctrination while raising his children. Eli was at the AI table with his daughter who yelled out a loud and proud "Hawkwind!!!" when asked what her favorite band is. Ahhhh... the list goes on. Lots of old friends and new.

The festival proceedings opened with my Columbus homeboys quarkspace and National Steam. There was way too much activity at the table to give them much attention, but I could tell the set consisted mostly of tracks from quarkspace's new double CD release 'The Hidden Moon'. Stan Lyon sat in with the band during the National Steam set, an offshoot of quarkspace including guitarist Dave Wexler and drummer/keyboard player Paul Williams. Both bands, plus a solo acoustic set by bassist/vocalist Chet Santia, played at Little Brothers in Columbus the Monday night after Strange Daze where I was able to give them my undivided attention. The band was in wonderful form and I found Stan to be a noteworthy second guitarist. The jams were spot on and the quark tunes were nearly flawless. quarkspace is actually unique in the spacerock world as the first band to fuse space music and world soccer. Go QPR!

Saturday opened with quarkspace firing up right on time at 11 AM, and fighting off the delerium of a restless night (thanks in part to Mr. Barky, the dog next door), I eventually was able to groove along with the cosmic sounds. I'm a bit spoiled in having quarkspace in my back yard, but the band seems quite difficult to mix correctly, and this was one of the rare occasions where I got to hear *all* the instruments cleanly. Usually, either Chet Santia's bass, or Dave Wexler's gliss-style guitar, or Jay Swanson's keys... something's almost always buried in the mix, but not this time. The band played mostly material from the brand new 'Hidden Moon' double CD, including some of the very best, like the very Floydian 'The Circle' and the journey down the 'Outerspace Highway.' And I even really got into the techno-ish tracks (like 'Starbridge Freaks'), since Paul Williams' programmed loops weren't so invasive on this day.

What I thought was the end of the quarkspace performance turned out to just be a temporary break in the action, since Texas' Light Bright Highway failed to show. I guess they used the hurricane as an excuse, which I could easily accept if they were from Houston. But being from north of Dallas, I don't understand it! Anyway, Paul and Dave kept their stuff on stage and went back to do a set as their alter-ego National Steam. Not too different from quarkspace, especially towards the end when they went into full improv mode and Chet and guest guitarist Stan Lyon showed back up to join in. I was a little busy with merchandising efforts (a brief rainshower or two brought the folks into our tented area) so I wasn't able to focus too heavily on the music, but I enjoyed what I heard as always from this lot... and I'm not saying that just because they're friends of mine!

Next up on the Saturday Strange Daze bill was Bionaut, who had also performed in the tent the previous night. Bionaut is an electronic duo of Chris Green and Paul Eggleston of Architectural Metaphor. The music was at times a bit on the minimalist side, developing very slowly and including some taped voicings. There was certainly a good amount of trippy electronica and there was a heavier tune in the set that had a riff that reminded me of The Animals "We Gotta Get Out Of This Place". Chris and Paul will probably be shaking their heads when they read that.

Bionaut's second impromptu performance (as I said before), featured some things that I got into a little more. The funny thing was, after nearly an hour of playing, I thought they'd finished and so I went back to my 'table' and was chatting with folks nearby. A bit later, I casually asked Jerry what they were playing over the PA (thinking it was just a tape or CD), and only then discovered it was still Bionaut on stage! My thought was that I wanted to find this disc and add it to my collection, and so weirdly enough, I simply stood up and grabbed Bionaut's newest CD (Big Causeway to Gone) from Jerry's table and handed over the money. Easy enough, eh?

Next up was Alien Planetscapes who absolutely ROCKED the Ledges. Josh Gazes was on guitar in place of the departed Rob Alfonso and indeed his style gave a more acid-psych edge to the band, which was particularly noticable on tracks from AP's 'Life On Earth' CD. The band rocked through heavier tunes and I heard a bit of spaced out funk as well. Alien Planetscapes's set wasn't the last we saw of Doug Walker either as he was to be quite prominent on the Strange Daze stage on Sunday.

Alien Planetscapes are always a treat! The band have been hit with some recent health difficulties, which you might think would've slowed them down a bit, but they were as vibrant and rockin' as ever. Doug Walker's synths were maybe a little less prevalent in the mix this time, but then every so often I used to feel he went a little overboard, so his spaced-out effects were just perfect on this afternoon. The newcomer Josh Gazes was impressive on guitar, and they cranked out a lot of new tunes I didn't recognize and is now making me very anxious to hear the upcoming 'Victims of the Blacklist' CD. They're a headlining quality band that probably gets way too little respect in their home territory. Us midwesterners really appreciate their journeys to Strange Daze.

The rest of the evening was to consist of Anubian Lights followed by Farflung, followed by Farflung backing Nik Turner. What an evening! Roger Neville-Neil at one point during the day passed on that Farflung were selling advance CD-R copies of their new album "The Myth Of Solid Ground" and I dashed over to pick one up, along with a 7" and a t-shirt. Debbie ended up falling in love with the t-shirt which resulted in me having to pick up another one the next day. Anubian Lights came on and played their brand of Middle Eastern electro psych, though I have to admit this doesn't turn me on nearly as much as their other projects. Seeing Pressurehed at SD'98 was great but Farflung is the combo that really trips my trigger. Farflung rocked hard and the crowd was very clearly into them. Sun Machine guitarist Steve Taylor joined the band for the set and when Nik Turner hit the stage in his red freaked-out rubber alien outfit everyone poured up front.

Classic tunes were the order of the evening as Nik opened with "Sonic Attack". This was a truly cosmic performance with multiple aliens, some covered in lights, floating about the stage. "Brainstorm" is a tune I never get tired of and having broken down the table before sundown I was free to bop around with the crowd. Other classics included "Watching The Grass Grow", "Ejection", "Freefall", and "Master Of The Universe". The phenomenal lightshow was provided by Rob Jacobs who had done the Pressurehed lights last year. I spoke with Rob briefly the next day and he explained that he always starts with a set list so he can effectively choreograph the lights, though as improvisation invariably comes into play the challenge for him is to be able to work with that aspect of the show. The planning is most apparent in the lights and the effect and embellishment on the music is fantastic. For his part, Nik has still GOT IT in every way and he certainly rocked this festival attendee's socks right off.

General anticipation and socializing (and rum!) dimmed my recollection of Anubian Lights' performance, which was limited by sustained daylight putting the kibosh on Rob Jacobs' excellent movies and images (they worked very nicely indoors at Sunday night's Symposium show). And then Nik never came out to play flute with Len and Tommy, though they did include the Soul Herder track in the main performance later. Eventually, the band morphed into Farflung, and my memory gets kinda hazy at this point. I do remember being a little disappointed it wasn't nearly loud and heavy enough for my current mood. That, and "Where the hell is Nik?" I was hoping to hear Belief Module stuff, but couldn't begin to tell you if they did any of that. It seemed more spacey and hypnotic than I expected, without much of that crunchy buzz-guitar you expect from this lot. They saved that for the Hawkwind tunes I guess.

Eventually, Nik did come out and put on a stellar show. I'd only seen Nik on the '94 tour here in Columbus, a terrible gig mainly due to the abysmal sound. But this show was outstanding. D-Rider just ruled. And Free Fall... how cool was that?? Rob's skydiving videos were perfectly choreographed with the music. (Note: Tommy did the vocals, not Nik... and he did them straight from Calvert's performance on Sonic Assassins EP. And he did them very well! Nik played flute bits here and there.) Of course, the obligatory Brainstorm and Master of the Universe were offered. Super-sub Steve Taylor (a local musician who's played with the likes of Nick Riff and Sun Machine) was guesting as lead guitarist and his playing was really quite impressive. (In fact, I think he was better in this role than as fill-in bassist for last year's StrangeWind ensemble.) At some point in the show, Solar Fire's Scott Kuti reprised his role as the Spaceman as he had done last year with Pressurehed. At 11 or so, the Saturday show ended only to have Nik come out to do his patented solo sax jam, taking requests from the audience. Versions of Silver Machine, Little Black Egg, Space Invaders, and In the Mood were to be heard.

Here's the setlist, entirely from memory (i.e., not exact order): Sonic Attack, Brainstorm, some heavy instrumental jam I didn't recognize, Opa-Loka, Soul Herder, Free Fall, Watching the Grass Grow, D-Rider, The Awakening, Ejection, Master of the Universe, You Shouldn't Do That (band encore)

After the show, I found myself in the company of a trio of poets (Roger Neville-Neil, Don Falcone, and Thom) and Thom was running through a rapid fire delivery of concepts and anecdotes way too abstruse for my brain to comprehend at the time. So I wandered back to the tent where I'd earlier seen a bunch of strange people engaging in antics that I couldn't figure out. I realized then that they were the Circus Kaotica as advertised, and that they were *supposed* to be there. I guess one of their tarantulas got loose in the process only to be found later by some unsuspecting folks, which no doubt was one of the more memorable happenings!

Anyway, eventually, Canis Minor came on for their second performance of the weekend, and it was really quite excellent. Scott Kuti had busted his ass all day to get the lightshow prepared, and it turned out awesome. The far end (where the band set up) had been closed up, so that when the fog machine was cranked up, the place turned into a soupy mist amongst which the rotating colored beams would dance and fight to penetrate through. Canis Minor played ambient trance music all along, and it really soaked into my being in my near-vegetative state. The lateness of the hour and the lack of sleep on Friday really dulled my senses, though the chill of nightfall helped keep me awake. But it wasn't until Bob Lennon (Hawk-US) nudged me that I even realized that Nik had come by to play a little flute with the duo. I think they played for about two hours (or more), but it seemed like one single timeless moment. Strange Daze should have something like this every year!

I think it was about 2:45 AM when it seemed like things *must* be coming to a close, but Mike Burro's Sloterdijk was still left to get his tent-time. Like Friday, the tent crowd thinned to just a few, so Mike gets the award for 'Most Underappreciated Artist of SD'99. Which is too bad, since his brand of ambient music was worthy of praise also. Burro (with guest percussionist Jay Adcock) used frequent voice samples to color the electronic throbbing and then the occasional stream of guitar would slice through the thickening haze. By this time, Scott was going crazy with the fog (I don't think I ever really saw the band actually), and I can only imagine that it looked like a spaceship landing scene from the other side of the lake. Thom the World Poet again came by and delivered some more of his inspired 'musical-prose' through a crappy PA that made it seem like he was speaking through a megaphone or a stadium loudspeaker from a long way away. Actually, it was a rather cool effect, even if unintentional. I think it was around 3:30 when the power was finally cut, and this time I fell asleep almost immediately upon crawling into my tent, not to wake until well after sunrise. I needed it!


Despite the uninterrupted rest, it was still difficult on Sunday morning to walk upright and erect. I managed to remember to eat, and then make a little conversation with folks who were far more alive than I. But promptly at 11 AM, the music started up once again, and soon I was recharged once more. W.O.O. Revelator came on first, an improvisational psychedelic/jazz trio (for lack of a better term) and they were all over the place. At times, they would diverge into a no-man's land of atonal and tempoless sound, but then just minutes later be fixed into a steady groove that would prove to be outstanding. There were two or three occasions when the WOO clan simply were brilliant without peer. The 'star' of the trio is colorful sax/flute-player Bonnie Kane, but Ray Sage is a truly phenomenal drummer. He's almost too good for 'spacerock'! If they'd just refrain from the random high-pitched sonic squeals (my ears are a little sensitive), I think I could hang with WOO for another ninety minutes.

Das Ludicroix is a Massacusetts-based 'band,' but they also featured guests Doug Walker of Alien Planetscapes (synths) and Doug Pearson of Primordial Undermind (violin). And they're less a 'band' than a collection of acquaintances from over the years, so this unit was an assemblage of people who had hardly met, let alone played together. (OK, since I wrote this, drummer/leader Larry Boyd corrects me by saying that Das Ludicroix has existed, on and off, since originally coalescing after the Hawkwind 1991 tour. Though given that their eight gigs scattered over eight years have featured 22 different musicians... I think my original point was valid.) So it was evident a time or two from the funny glances or a brief rough spot that the group was unrehearsed, but still I enjoyed every minute of their performance. I think that the Das Ludicroix bunch came closest to re-creating the sound of Space Ritual-era cosmic blanga, Ron Scott playing the part of Lemmy and Carl Anderson's strings and foot petal playing the part of Dave Brock. Ron was a monster on the bass in fact, and it surprised me when Carl told me that he knows nothing of spacerock, as he could easily become Bass Assassin No. 3. The mix was randomly evolving through the performance such that some instruments would be lost for a spell, but eventually Doug P.'s violin came through and it was a perfect fit. Soon thereafter, I thought we'd lost him again only to realize he'd switched on some effect that made it sound like an additional synth. All in all, a really strong performance by a band who (up 'till then) were probably more linked through cyberspace than in real life.

A good number of folks hung around until the final bell, and they were all rewarded with a strong performance from Indianapolis' Tombstone Valentine. A five-person unit with no drummer, they came across with a number of organic, hippy tunes that floated out across the lake with ease. Musically-speaking, there really isn't that much there, but Richelle Toombs is a vocalist of rare talent, a powerful yet beautiful voice with perfect vibrato control and a soulful quality that carries the music to exceptional heights. I couldn't hear Randy Schwartz' violin much at all, and the music was generally heavy on the simple, repetitive basslines of Rick Wilkerson, which I rather like. Gave it a 'hippy krautrock' feel. Amazingly, their set ended within a minute of 4:00 PM, the scheduled closing time, and topped off a three-day schedule (wrought with cancellations) that 'seemed' to go off without a hitch (though far from it, I'm certain) and was exactly on-time all the way through. Amazing.

Well, to sum up, I'd have to say that SD'99 was a more enjoyable event than SD'98. From what I hear, there were a lot less folks than last year (which is rather disturbing), but it never really seemed that way to me. I guess that the ones who came this time were just more into the music, since I believe that the daytime bands got perhaps even more notice and hopefully sold more product. The tent was a perfect addition, both as a 'community/merchandising' center and also as a late night venue, though (as I hinted at before) there should probably only be one act booked each night to be fair to the performers. Some people think the Ledges is a crap venue and future fests should be moved into an indoor facility in a major metropolitan area. Perhaps it would attract more folks, but I'd argue against it. Outdoor festivals have a charm that couldn't exist in a sterile, policed environment like a city theatre. (Here, the police only bothered people *outside* the grounds.) Let the prog folks do those festivals... spacerock belongs outside in open space.

Hopefully, Jim Lascko sold enough T-shirts and SD'97 CDs to cover the losses from running this year's event, such that SD2K will become a reality. Talk of the Ozrics performing has already gotten out, and is starting to produce some excitement already. Let's keep the momentum rolling and actually find some bands who have the dedication to actually show up at the venue! And let's encourage the lazier folks that didn't make the effort to come this year, to get up off their butts and head to SD2K wherever and whenever it takes place. We thank you for your support!

For more information on the Strange Daze festivals and the Solar Fire Lightshow you can visit the Strange Trips web site.

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