Review: CMF5, Side A

I had a lot of fun this weekend because of Bill Sundahl. The tireless force behind Spice of Life Productions held his fifth annual Crossroads Music Fest this past Saturday, with pre-parties the night before, and it was a gas. Not just any gas, though. A noble gas. Like xenon.

On Saturday, more than two dozen local acts performed at the Brick, the Czar Bar, the alley at Mercy Seat and the main stage and Skylight Room at Crosstown Station. We made our picks, mainly as a way of covering the event in some kind of interesting way beforehand. However, just about every act I saw at the fest was solid if not better, and there were good crowds at all the venue, especially as it got late. From what I saw, all the places were packed out around 11. Not capacity, but not far off.

It actually started Friday night, for me, with some pre-party action at the Czar Bar. Here’s a band-by-band highlight reel of what I saw both nights, with an emphasis on the new (or at least, stuff I haven’t spilled much ink on yet). For more reviewage, flip over to co-coverer Berry Anderson’s Side B.

Dead Voices. 9 p.m. Friday at the Czar Bar. This new group has a strong pedigree, with Dave Regnier of the Afterparty on lead vocals and guitar, Jason Beers of the Brannock Device on bass and Mike Stover of Mr. Marco’s V7 on pedal steel. Not as somber as the name implies, the group rambles to upbeat-Dylan folk-rock shuffles, penning tunes that sound kind of like outtakes from Highway 61 Revisited or The Basement Tapes. They even covered a Rick Danko song (I think). But rather than aping Dylan, they layer on some of their own tastes and modern, indie-folk sensibilities, recalling acts like Blitzen Trapper. Regnier, who does backup vocals and lead guitar in the Afterparty, has a strong, clear voice and plays the frontman role well. He seems, in a word, inspired.

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