A flock of folk, indie and rock bands are migrating to the BellTower Concert House for the Birds on a Wire Mini-Fest 2011 Sept. 25 to Oct. 2 in Pullman.
The mini-fest is being put on by the BellTower and Stereopathic Music, who teamed up in spring of 2010 for the Birds on a Wire Festival. The previous festival was a series of shows that featured performances from 35 bands in the span of two days.
The bands headlining the Birds on a Wire Mini-Fest 2011 include The Moondoggies, Vetiver, Cataldo, Jesse Sykes & The Sweet Hereafter and The Wandas. Two to three bands will open for each headliner, making each night’s show about three hours long. Included in the opening acts are local bands Ironwood Run, New Lagoon and singer/songwriter Dan Maher.
Andrew Forsman, general manager for the BellTower Concert House, said the Birds on a Wire Festival in 2010 was a jam-packed two days of great bands.
“There were a few artists who left audience members speechless,” Forsman said. “Between songs you could hear a pin drop. People were just waiting for what would come next.”
However, Forsman thinks the mini-fest this year will be twice as popular as last year’s festival.
“Vetiver and Cataldo dropped albums two to three years ago, but you can tell they spent time agonizing over the quality from track one to the last song,” Forsman said. “Jesse Sykes is a great country and psychedelic rocker, but her vocals are kind of out there, not gonna lie.”
In addition, the acoustic scheme of the BellTower has undergone modifications since last year. Forsman said besides using higher quality sound equipment, the addition of acoustical blankets above the stage will cut out piercing high notes and pads in the corners of the building will slightly deaden the sound.
Ironwood Run has played shows across the state of Washington. Lead singer Alex Forrest said he is particularly excited to see The Moondoggies, who Ironwood Run has opened for previously, and The Wandas perform. Ironwood Run will provide the mini-fest with some rock ‘n’ roll to go with the softer folk music many of the other bands play.
“Our sound is whatever ... we want it to sound like at the moment,” Forrest said, “which as far as I know is rock ‘n’ roll by my definition. It’s heavy rock ‘n’ roll, heavy in an emotional sense as well as a sonic sense.”
Forrest said the name Ironwood Run originates from the farm Forrest and his brother grew up on, which is where they made their first batch of recordings.
“It’s also about the Midwestern Americana frame of mind,” Forrest said. “It’s from Ironwood, Michigan, which is halfway between The Band’s stomping grounds and Bob Dylan’s hometown.”
Newly formed local band New Lagoon will perform its debut show during the mini-fest. Guitarist Luke Taklo, also of the band Moss Champions, said New Lagoon is looking forward to getting the chance to play alongside The Moondoggies and in the same festival as Vetiver, Cataldo and Jesse Sykes.
“This is an awesome opportunity for those who live in the Palouse to have bands like this coming in all in the same week,” Taklo said. “It’s something people don’t want to miss out on.”
Mini-fest passes are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Single night tickets can also be purchased. Tickets and the full schedule are available at belltowerpullman.com. Doors open at 7 p.m. for all shows and music starts at 8 p.m.