Musikfest, Day 3: Craig Thatcher, Cubbage, Summer Scouts and More!

I got down to Musikfest a hair later than each of the first two nights, rolling up (on foot) to Red Stag Pub Liederplatz as my entry point for the day around 6 p.m. That was where Atlanta, GA’s Caleb and the Gents had already hit full stride with their hybrid of jazz, blues and country. This quintessentially southern band kept things uptempo for the brief time I was able to check them out, with a sound that got members of the audience up on their feet.

From there, I was on my way to see Summer Scouts at Plaza Tropical, but made another pit stop — this time, it was because I noticed Appalachian Gypsy Tribe at the Provident Bank Main Street stage in the middle of a jam. Not a seat around the stage was empty — and the makeshift, asphalt dance floor in front of it was full — as the band’s groovy rhythms kept the people enticed.

Moving onward, I got to see our friends Summer Scouts bring their high-energy, all-black-everything brand of power pop to the Plaza Tropical stage. It was the third consecutive year for the band on that stage, and they performed old favorites alongside new material from their forthcoming release. It was also at this point that I realized media has backstage access — thus, the few photos in this gallery that were taken from behind the band. Expect more of that going forward, through the duration of the festival.

After hanging out with Summer Scouts for a while, I decided it was time to take a trip back up to Main Street. I stopped by the Hotel Bethlehem Stage one more time to see 3 AM play a healthy number of classic rock and blues rock standards to please fans of the era.

Then, for something entirely different, I took a trip back up to Provident Bank Main Street to see The Dull Blue Lights. The well-dressed and funky Philly indie rockers were playing loose and having fun, but appeared and sounded quite polished as they delivered an enthralling set that garnered a lot of positive attention. Also, the distinct voice of Todd Fausnacht is unlike anything I’ve heard in indie rock, and it’s what gives this band its unique edge.

By this point, I realized something: I haven’t covered the ‘Fest’s South Side at all yet! Fortunately, I knew just the person to get us started. I got in my car and used my coveted RE lot parking pass to head down to Martin Guitar Lyrikplatz, where Cubbage was just beginning his set.

I’ve praised Cubbage before for his songwriting, his voice, and the overall quality of his work. With that, I’m going to make a bold prediction: If there’s a present up-and-coming Lehigh Valley artist who will one day headline Musikfest’s Sands Steel Stage, it’s him. He and the musicians surrounding him have everything they need to go as far as they want to take this thing, from ability to presence. Their live playing takes already-strong material and makes it even more fun and interesting to listen to, maintaining the pop accessibility of Cubbage’s recordings while freely exercising the spirit of improvisational jazz. For sure, Cubbage turned a lot of heads last night. Expect big things.

Afte that captivating experience, I knew that I had to head back soon to prepare for Monday. However, that wasn’t before grabbing a giant chocolate/coconut gelati from Bethlehem Dairy Store and settling into Craig Thatcher’s scorching brand of blues rock at Americaplatz. Thatcher was most notably joined by world-class violinist and long-time partner in crime, Nyke Van Wyk, and proved why, year after year, thousands of blues heads keep flocking to Americaplatz for more.

P.S.: Shoutout to Fauxest Gump, a spot-on street performer who has been wandering the streets of Bethlehem all week. Taking this photo was a fun highlight of my Sunday.

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