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Thursday, June 8, 2017 12:03 am

Wise up to Dumb Fest

Warm Bodies from Kansas City heat up Dumb Fest around 10:10 on Saturday night at Skank Skates next to Black Sheep Cafe.


I hate to admit this to you, my friendly readers, but today my eyes would much rather be staring at beautiful blue skies than the blue screen of the Macbook in my lap. Let’s get to it, shall we?

Welcome to Dumb Fest weekend, which covers three days worth of very cool and extremely expressive bands, based mostly in the world of what one might call various degrees of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) punk rock music. Categorizing the music is like saying Woodstock was just a rock concert festival and ignoring the grand diversity of the artists performing. Along the same lines, a few weeks ago, the John Hartford Memorial Festival featured several groups related through bluegrass/acoustic sounds. To some, the bands might seem the same, but to devotees of the music, each artist has a distinct sound within the genre.

So when you go to Dumb Fest (it’s all ages with tickets available at or at Dumb Records), those of you who aren’t versed in the arts of the DIY punk-emo-pop movement should attend with open ears and eyes and be prepared for an avalanche of creativity to bop you in the brain. Not only do most of the groups come with merchandise such as vinyl records or pre-recorded cassettes (you might see a CD, but that’s not the preferred format for this bunch), the live music will be 99 percent self-penned and 100 percent original in whatever form it takes.

The happening starts at 6 p.m. Friday at Black Sheep Cafe near 11th Street and South Grand Avenue. Friday late-night music continues at 11:30 from a mysterious place called An Old Barn. Saturday’s music begins at 11 in the morning and is hosted by Southtown Studios, located across the alley from Dumb Records in the area encompassing the “compound” near Black Sheep Cafe. The big day of music continues at noon with bands playing in the BSC and next door in Skank Skates at staggered times until nearly midnight. At 10 p.m., an “unofficial” party starts downtown at Bar None for an “ages 21 and up” show featuring some six bands when we last checked. Sunday gets going bright and early at 10 a.m. in Cafe Andiamo, and continues outside back at the compound at 3 in the afternoon. Dumb Fest finishes off an incredible weekend with four bands (and counting) inside Dumb Records starting at 7. Wow!

Our man about town – Rockin’ Johnny Burgin – hits the area running early next week. Fresh from a Saturday spot at the esteemed Chicago Blues Fest, RJB kicks off his local tour with a visit to Coz’s for the Tuesday Bluesday series. He then hits downtown for a show on Wednesday at Craft Beer Bar as a duo with the acclaimed Spanish harp and vocal man Quique Gomez. Before heading back to California and a show in Santa Cruz on June 18, our intrepid blues man shows up next Thursday, June 15, at the Hand of Fate Brewery in Petersburg. This might seem like a lot of gigs in the same area for an average guy, but anyone who’s seen Johnny rockin’ knows that every show is different even if the songs remain the same. I’ve experienced this firsthand when I had the great opportunity to play bass with RJB some three gigs in a row a few years ago (featuring the astounding Steven Dougherty on drums). Go, Johnny, go!

Sundays are heating up at wineries, breweries and all kinds of -ries, plus the great and powerful Larry Gatlin is playing a solo show at the Hoogland. Who could ask for more?

Contact Tom Irwin at

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