When local bands, DJs and reggae, jazz, and rock musicians alike converge to draw crowds to a corner of town for a two-night music festival, all signs point north.
Kingman’s, a Old Town bar, welcomed a total of 33 DJs, jam bands, dubstep artists and more to help kick off the first All Points North festival, held on both Thursday and Friday night last week from 7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
This was the first in what Kingman’s owner Tim Taylor believes will be a long tradition of the festival, which he created to fill the void The Dime left when it closed in early 2011, effectively ending the run of Dimestock.
“Everybody that came out loved it,” Taylor said. “The music was fantastic, all the bands were really great and they put on a good time.”
DJ Lavish and Old Town-based bluegrass band Raw Chicken kicked off the lineup on Thursday, followed by acts such as local DJ duo Digital Bonesaw Society, DJ Pandemic and UMaine student-run band The Poor Folk.
The Mallett Brothers, whose style is described as “northwoods country rock and roll” and who have made their mark on the New England music scene and beyond, played late into the night until electronica group Bootiddy took over.
Mary Plaisted, a fourth-year sustainable agriculture student, loved the music festival and appreciated its variety.
“Having the [three] stages gave me the option of jam bands or heavier dance music,” she said. “All the bands were really chill and great to hang out with after their show.”
Friday night welcomed such talents as Maine’s own Dubstank Digital and UMaine favorite Frank and the Redhots. Early in the night the crowd was sparse, but as the bands played on and the DJs dropped beats, the downstairs — known as the Jam Stage — and the upstairs — known as the Maine Stage or Rage Stage — dance floors began to fill with people eager to appreciate local music as well as some out-of-town acts.
The second floor shared space with alternating DJs and bands throughout the night, as DJs tended to take to the Rage Stage, to the right of the Maine Stage.
As the festival wore on, Bangor-area band Restless Groove took over the Jam Stage. About a week earlier they celebrated the release of their new self-titled EP at Kingman’s and have been keeping busy as they return to the local scene after spending the past few months in Portland.
Jasha Tull, better known to those on the DJ scene as Space Jesus, hails from Philadelphia and made his way to Kingman’s on Friday night to share his spinning expertise. As he performed, several people began to rhythmically spin poi on the dance floor, while another showed off her hula hooping skills.
The Hornitz from Boston were one of a few acts to end the night. They made an impression with their funky jazz numbers featuring lively bass trombone and tenor saxophone stylings. They stood out from jazz-rock bands before them with the addition of a human beatbox and well-manned keyboard to their repertoire.
Roots, Rhythm and Dub was one of the standouts Friday evening, a fusion-reggae band from Portsmouth, N.H., that combined rock, blues, classical, folk, hip hop, jazz and reggae to form a unique sound.
The official ticket sales count was not in by press time, but Taylor estimated sales at around 400. This number was lower than he had hoped, but he has learned from this first run and looks forward to another successful festival next year.
“I’m going to start promotion on it earlier,” he said. “It definitely would have been nicer to have some more people out for it. A lot of people missed out on some great music.”
The Running Gags, an alternative rock band from Windham, capped off Friday’s entertainment, a perfect lead-in to their yet-to-be released album “Yeah, no.”
The Orono-Old Town area has no shortage of local musical talent, and the crowds at Kingman’s on Thursday and Friday were proof of its relevance. All they need is a venue to showcase their talents, and Taylor gave them just that.
“I would definitely do the bands similar to the way I did it this time. The three stages worked out pretty well,” he said.