COLUMN WRITTEN BY MICHAEL CHRISTOPHER
For Digital First Media
Three decades on, Bethlehem’s Musikfest is one of the top festivals for food, fun and, of course, music. Taking place in the Lehigh Valley, Musikfest boasts 500-plus shows on 14 stages over 11 days. Having kicked off this Thursday, the region expects more than 900,000 people to take in the festivities.
Here, in a special edition of our weekly Seven in Seven, are the artists that you should make every effort to see.
The Flaming Lips – Aug. 7 at Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza
Formed in Norman, Oklahoma in 1983, The Flaming Lips have gone from a cult band to one of the beloved live bands in the world. Melodically, their sound contains lush, multi-layered, psychedelic rock arrangements, but lyrically their compositions show elements of space rock. Their elaborate live shows feature costumes, balloons, puppets, video projections, complex stage light
configurations, giant hands, large amounts of confetti, and frontman Wayne Coyne’s signature man-sized plastic bubble, in which he traverses the audience. Fan or not, do not miss this spectacle.
Culture Club – Aug. 8 at Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza
There is not a country in the world that doesn’t know the names of Boy George and Culture Club. Grammy Award winners Culture Club sold in excess of 100 million singles and more than 50 million albums, and were one of the biggest pop bands of the 1980s. Now, after a few false starts, for the first time in more than 14 years, all of the original band members will be performing together again for their fans with a new album slated for release later this year.
The Amish Outlaws – Aug. 8 at Wells Fargo Festplatz and Aug. 9 at Rockplatz
Four out of the original six of the members of The Amish Outlaws were born and raised in Lancaster, Pa. and had a strict Amish upbringing. In the years since Rumspringa, “which Amish children at the age of 16 have an opportunity to live free of the strict Amish code of conduct before deciding if they want to come back and be baptized into the Amish church,” according to www.amishoutlaws.com, the members of the Amish Outlaws have become very well acclimated to the pleasures and vices of the modern world… music, most of all.
Flaming Harry & The Roadhouse Rockers – Aug. 9 at Aetna Americaplatz at Levitt Pavilion SteelStacks
Long considered the premier bluesrock guitarist on the East Coast, Flamin’ Harry McGonigal and his band, The Roadhouse Rockers, comprised of Chuck Hearne on bass and John Kehoe on drums are a cohesive trio that deliver a powerful brand of progressive bluesrock. After seeing Harry in action with his guitar driven blues attitude, one can readily understand why George Thorogood has been on record calling him “the most underrated guitar player in North America.”
Forlorn Strangers – Aug. 10 at TD Community Stage on the Air Products Town Square Forlorn Strangers is a Nashville, TN based Americana quintet, with members hailing from the great states of Florida, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Minnesota. The band is comprised of five songwriters, each having their own distinct sounds and styles that blend into one cohesive voice. Their music is rooted in family harmonies and flavored with guitars, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, dobro and foot stomping percussion. Last summer the band released their second EP, “American Magic Tricks,” and are currently working on a debut LP.
ZZ Top – Aug. 12 at Sands Steel Stage at PNC Plaza
Billy F. Gibbons, Frank Beard and Dusty Hill, after touring and recording for the past 44 years, the legendary Texas trio will bring their hard rocking blues bonanza to Bethlehem. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famers will perform classic hits, ranging from “Sharp Dressed Man” to “La Grange” and “Legs” and “Tush” along with “I Gotsta Get Paid” and other new material from La Futura, their latest album with producer Rick Rubin.
Collective Soul – Aug. 13 at Susquehanna Bank Center
Born during the rise of grunge and alternative rock, Collective Soul broke into mainstream popularity when they rose to international fame in 1993 with the rock anthem “Shine.” The multi-platinum quintet has been making music for two decades since then and has a catalog of Top 10 hits under their belts. Just last week it was announced that Collective Soul are set to release their long-awaited ninth album, “See What You Started by Continuing,” followed by a tour to celebrate the band’s 21st birthday.