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The Joker, Jim Dandy & the All Roads Music Festival in Belfast


It’s a 64 second blast of pure energy, bombastic angst, raging testosterone and uninhibited fun.

It’s rock n’ roll.

The All Roads Music Festival May 16 in Belfast, Maine featured some of the best independent music talent in the state: Lady Lamb, the Mallett Brothers and Spencer Albee, to name a few. But for me the highlight was watching three kids barely out of high school set off a rock n’ roll bomb in the basement of a former elementary school.

The group is Jim Dandy:  Two guys. One girl. A guitar. A bass. A drum kit. Maybe six chords and 100 words –  at least seven of them not suitable for print in a family blog.

Jim Dandy is punk to be sure, but a good punk band can do something more to you than loud guitars and screaming. Kurt Cobain knew that, so does Billie Joe.

Music is at it’s best when the performers don’t care about money, art or current trends. They just want to have a good time and impress their friends. It helps if a band has a little charisma, working chemistry and knows the rules before they smash them to pieces.

I first saw Jim Dandy play an unsanctioned show in a parking lot during a now defunct Belfast music festival two years ago. They ran an extension chord out the back door of an old downtown brick building, plugged in a PA and played for about 30 minutes. The crowd grew to 50 people before the teenagers ran out of songs.

If I remember right, the group ended its performance with a hilarious version of “Coconut,” a 1971 hit novelty song by Harry Nilsson.

As I walked up to the Waterfall Arts building Saturday afternoon, where Jim Dandy was scheduled to perform, a rumble leaked from the chain link covered basement windows. It was a Jim Dandy sound check. The song was a cover of another ubiquitous 1970s hit: “The Joker”


These are kids born at the dawn of the Internet. They don’t listen to the radio. They don’t have turntables. How do they know about Steve Miller and why would they bother playing his silly old song?

Well it turns out “joker/toker” rhyme and wolf whistle guitar part wins over a crowd no matter the age. The song turned into a giant singalong for both the old and young in the room.

That’s how good rock music connects the generations.

Following the first song in the Jim Dandy set, the singer shouted out: “How does it sound, ma?”

“Yahhhhh” yelled a blonde woman wearing a red & black checked shirt. The next song started and she was lost in a tornado among the kids on the dance floor.

And for 64 seconds you get to be 20 years old again.

That’s rock and roll.


From → Music, Out and about

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