May 3, 2013 in Features, Seven

Rockin’ the race course

For musicians, Bloomsday provides a diverse audience – and a different kind of workout
Isamu Jordan Correspondent
 
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Bloomsday bands

 Bloomsday organizers say they look for a family-friendly sound from a wide variety of genres when selecting the course entertainment. Laurel Warner of the Bloomsday Entertainment Committee said bands apply beginning in January, and the approved groups are given locations along the race course.

 The performers range from the Cathedral Choir of Our Lady of Lourdes and the sci-fi/fantasy enthusiasts from SpoCon to the father/son rock band Dave Dirt and his Clods and country singer Tori Whitten. Genres include bluegrass, Christian metal, rock – classic, contemporary and in between – blues, pop, rockabilly and folk. The accordion band the Portatos will entertain crowds at the STA Park & Ride at the Valley Mall.

The Angela Marie Project has a policy when they play at Bloomsday: No breaks.

“There may be 50,000 participants, but each one of them deserves the music so we don’t want to miss playing for anyone,” Marie said.

Marie has been an avid runner for 28 years, so she knows the importance of the spectator to the runner.

“The spectator can give a runner a boost they couldn’t have found on a solo run,” Marie said.

Now put that in the context of 30 bands and you have staggered mile markers of inspiration as the runners go by.

Marie and her band will provide some of that inspiration at Bloomsday for the third year, playing their brand of progressive pop near Spokane Falls Community College.

“I often have a hard time singing through my tears as I truly feel and am personally moved by the runners,” she said.

Marie said she had to rethink her no-breaks policy last year at Bloomsday when a man suffered a heart attack near where the band was performing.

“I wasn’t sure whether to keep playing. With much consideration and after some strong wordless communication with the medical staff, we kept playing,” Marie said. “Later the staff thanked us profusely, saying the music was key to keeping people moving and redirecting attention away from their necessary work.”

Along with AMP’s no-breaks rule, they also have a policy that they aren’t finished until they play their last song for the cleanup crew.

“The volunteers are vital to this event,” Marie said.

Josh Crites has performed at Bloomsday on numerous occasions, as a member of his previous bands, Small Town Nation, Hero of Time, and his current band, heavy rock outfit Nixon Rodeo, which will be staged at Doomsday Hill.

“You have 50,000 people you get to play in front of and you get to see everything, the sprinters and the people walking with strollers. They give you positive feedback, high fives and thumbs-up,” Crites said. “We try to play the heavier stuff to get people pumped at Doomsday Hill. We don’t stop until we see the last of the walkers come through. That’s, like, four to five hours. By the time, we’re done we feel like we played four shows.”

Nixon Rodeo prides itself on playing a variety of rock styles and learns a batch of cover tunes just for Bloomsday.

“It’s nice to build a set where we’ll do 30 minutes of covers and then do it again. Bloomsday is like a fun, four-hour band practice. It gives us a chance to play songs we wouldn’t play at our shows,” Crites said. “Bloomsday is great because it’s a bunch of people who’ve never heard you before. Instead of playing the same shows over and over, this gives us a chance to step outside of our comfort zone.”

Sometimes, Crites said, the spectator provides the entertainment for the band.

“The most memorable thing at Bloomsday was the second year we did it. Some guy dressed in a legit Spider-Man costume walked over and before I could say, ‘Hi!’ he went Spider-Man crazy, doing black flips, roundhouses and cartwheels. It was so cool to see a guy two feet in front of you do a double back flip and land in the Spider-Man pose,” he said.

Playing at Bloomsday is like being in a musical relay race, Crites said.

“It’s kind of cool. They only hear us for 30-40 seconds, or a minute or two, whatever time it takes them to cross over the bridge, then halfway up the hill there’s another band,” he said.

Steve Gavin has played six Bloomsdays in a row as a part of cover band Stranglers of Bombay. For him, the quasi-annual Bloomsday show is a signal for spring.

“It’s more fun when the weather is great,” Gavin said. “Besides, when can a local band say we actually played for 60,000 people, even if it’s only a couple at a time?”

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