OTW—how to hear all the bands in one night…

On The Waterfront weekend is the Rockford event that all surrounding areas look forward to during the long summer days.

It’s the transitional event for students to let them have one last fling before they have to bear down and study. It’s the festival that let’s local bands actually get heard by mass quantities of people instead of just their bar crowd and friends.

But it is close to impossible to be able to catch all the good music, since one would have to walk across the entire downtown to get to the Miller Lite Great Lawn Stage from the Rockford Register Star GO! Stage to try to see bits of your two favorite bands. Sacrifices must be made, and choices executed to have a good time.

Friday night

The highlights of Friday night, if anybody missed them, were Kweku Ananse & the Sweet Vibrations and Laisser Les Bon Temps Roulers at the Ethnic Village Stage; the first being a West African group fueled by positive sounds and drum beats, the other, a

Cajun Zydeco group (and who doesn’t like Zydeco?).

The Verizon Wireless Left Bank Stage had a great lineup of Rockford’s own Ms. Arlene Masters & the Blues Transit and Australian groove group Fruit. Angelique Kidjo also performed afterwards. Local H rocked the night at the Rockford Register Star GO! Stage, and The Waterfront Café Stage was filled with the sounds of the Coon Creek String Band, The Melodious Thunks and The Fabricators.

Saturday day & night

A good way to approach Saturday’s events was to see Frank Calvana at 12:15 p.m. at the Left Bank Stage, drop by the Rockford Register Star GO! Stage to hear Airbag, return to the Left Bank to check out Steve Ditzell and Dave Kaye with The Blue Lightning Band (2002 Best of Rockford winners), and then take a rest.

At 5 p.m., one should have gone to the Café Stage to hear The Seed Band (they don’t really need a description, do they?), race over to the WIFR Jazz Junction to catch the last hour of the Liz Johnson Quintet, and eat dinner.

A must-hear were The Kissers at the Ethnic Village Stage; a sort of traditional Celtic group with a slight edge vaguely reminiscent of The Drop Kick Murphy’s with less amplification and distortion. Their cover of “Whiskey in The Jar” was phenomenal. Then, of course, one should have checked out CCR, just to say that they did.

Sunday & night

Sunday’s highlight events were hands down, the California Guitar Trio, C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band, Yid Vicious, The Silent Treatment and Alice Cooper.

Rockford has hosted the California Guitar Trio via Charlotte’s Web in the past, and their performances are always sharp, melodic and entertaining.

Yid Vicious, a klezmer group consisting of upright bass, acoustic guitar, clarinet, drums, French horn and tenor sax was perhaps the most entertaining, though. The tad sloppiness of the group added to the appeal, and the traditional Yiddish songs had many people dancing in ways that they perhaps don’t normally do…

The Silent Treatment at the Rockford Register Star GO! stage did not have as large a crowd as they deserved. As a sophisticated rock group with an emo/indie rocker sound and poignant lyrics, those who did get a chance to hear them were impressed.

Is it necessary to explain why one should see Alice Cooper? The man is a great act and an excellent theatrical performer.

On The Waterfront brings Rockford performers together with a wide and diverse audience, as well as gives locals a chance to see big names without having to drive to Chicago. So OTW doesn’t get names like The Backstreet Boys or Britney Spears; Rockford doesn’t even want that anyway.

On The Waterfront does a fine job of catering to local musical tastes and entertainment appreciation. Diversity was a key factor this year, with bands and performers representing various cultures and countries all over the downtown area. ’Til next year, OTW committee!

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