Sept. 17 Block 5 Festival features extraordinary music

Cameron McGill

By Gary Kohn

After Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s released their debut album, Spin magazine described the band’s sound as a perfect backdrop to New York’s Greenwich Village, where boutiques and unique eateries are the main inhabitants of the neighborhood. Does this sound familiar? It should because coming up Saturday, Sept. 17, on the 500 block of East State Street, is the annual Block 5 Festival, where a community party centered in the heart of downtown Rockford will feature an extraordinary lineup of musical talent that includes the So and So’s, the edgy, pop-ish Cameron McGill and What Army and four bands fresh from the 2011 Keith Country Day School Rock Camp.

Anyone who has been to Block 5 knows the event is more than just a premier summer festival. In fact, Block 5 business owners take pride in the fact that the music and food are the main attractions, but the festival’s broader theme is about collaboration of small businesses.

Block 5 epitomizes what Rockford is capable of,” said Sandi Kohn, co-owner of MedMan Creative. “By working together, all of the businesses on this block have created an event that bridges the gap between genres, generations and cultures.”

Last year’s Block 5 hosted close to 1,000 patrons, and with this year’s lineup, attendance is sure to increase. Kohn added, “I challenge anyone who comes this year to leave without finding at least one new favorite act.”

Since their inception in 2006, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s have produced three additional releases. Their most recent effort, Buzzard, a cross between grunge, pop, rock and folk, is widely considered their best album yet, ranking among the top 100 downloads on Originally from Indianapolis, the So and So’s are on a national tour making stops in Cincinnati, Columbus, St. Louis, Madison, Wis., and Nashville, Tenn., before coming to Rockford.

While the So and So’s are the headliner, Cameron McGill and What Army is far from an opening act. Actually, McGill is the So and So’s keyboardist in addition to having his own group. Vinyl District describes McGill as “an explosion of sound complete with fantastic vocals and a strolling acoustic rhythm.” McGill’s fifth solo album, Is a Beast, has been generating an enormous amount of activity on iTunes after earning five-star reviews from several music mags, including Legit City, DeLuca Review and Remarkable.

Rounding out the music for the evening are students from the 2011 Keith Country Day School Rock Camp. Mentored by local professionals such as Miles Nielsen, Mickey Rosenquist and several members of the Good Year Pimps, patrons are sure to be impressed by the range of talent offered by these impressive 17- and 18-year-olds.

Although the music tends to be the primary draw for Block 5, let’s not forget about the incredible cuisine and festive drink specials offered by Abreo, Deli Italia, Bamboo, The Office, Social and the Irish Rose. Event officials plan to have each Block 5 business host outdoor seating so attendees have the option to order food and drinks from the main menu while enjoying the music.

Along with the aforementioned Block 5 businesses, additional event sponsors include Plush, MedMan Creative, Salon 5, REACT, RLDC, Fabiano Law Offices, Bud Light, the Element and La Monica Beverages.

Block 5 is open to all ages. Tickets are just $5 with the festival running from 6 p.m. to midnight. For details, call (815) 969-0960.

From the Sept. 14-20, 2011, issue

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