By MIKE CHAIKEN
Live music always has been a hallmark of the now annual West End Association Summer Festival at Rockwell Park.
This year will be no different with acoustic bands taking the stage at the gazebo at the West End park and amplified acts taking the stage in the amphitheater bowl.
The Rockwell Park Festival is Saturday and begins at 10 a.m.
One of the acts performing this year is Bristol band, Lucid Empire.
The quartet consists of Michael Garcia on lead vocals and guitar, Ruben Soto on keys and sax, Larry Casey on bass, and Noel Roberge on drums and vocals.
In an email interview, Soto described the local band as “an intimate four-piece rock, reggae, R&B, and soul band, who’s eclectic-ness is noted everywhere they play. Despite everyone coming from such diverse musical backgrounds and tastes (jazz, classical, rock, punk, reggae, soul), they all manage merge it all into this eccentric cohesive sound.”
Soto said the band started in October 2013. Since that time, they’ve recorded two EPs. “Cool Beans” was released on Feb. 9, 2014 and on May 2, 2015, the band recorded its second EP called “Leeches.” Soto said, “Although notably ‘darker’ than our first EP, there are still handful of songs and many reggae undertones to keep your body moving.”
Prior to the release, their single of off “Leeches” entitled “Epitaph” was played on Radio 104.1 as well as were a few other tracks. Recently, you may have caught them tapping into the Boston market in addition to their gigs in the Nutmeg State.
“Fans have described our sound as a combination of Maroon 5 and Sublime,” said Soto. “I would definitely say our sound isn’t exclusive to one thing, but more like a morphing of rock, R&B soul, and Reggae. We all all come from such diverse musical backgrounds and are able to make it work.”
The band asked to join the roster of Rockwell Fest acts “as soon as the event was established. It was an opportunity we didn’t want to miss,” said Soto.
“We thought it was great way to immerse ourselves in the heart of Bristol and reach a community that has such diversity,” said Soto. “Being a band from Bristol, we felt as whole that we’d try our best to represent Bristol at a ‘Bristol’ event.”
“Being from Bristol myself, the thing that I like the most about this event is the sense of communion and benevolence among the Bristol resident,” said Soto.
The gig will give Lucid Empire the opportunity to take their music into the open air before a hometown crowd.
“The thing that is most alluring and appealing about playing out on the green at Rockwell is the fact that all of us grew up here in one way shape or the other. We all have memories here so it’s nice to kind of reminisce a bit,” said Soto.
“After the renovations to the park, we’re glad to see that the park is still being utilized in this fashion,” said Soto.
“The thing about an outdoor event is that there’s no seating capacity. It’s great. It’s outdoors and it’s never really ‘too’ loud,” said Soto.
“In all seriousness,” said Soto, “it’s going to be a great time for everybody.”
There will be other bands on the bill, so Soto was asked if Lucid Empire was going to keep an “eye on the competition.”
“I never view music as a competition— unless we’re in a specific competition, of course,” said Soto. “Being able to watch the other bands, for me, is great way to look back and reflect constructively on what we are doing and have to offer. I take it as an opportunity to network with other bands and really just have great time listening to some good acts.”
As for what fans coming out to the Rockwell fest on Saturday can expect, Soto said, “They can expect to be taken on a roller coaster of vibes. Mike’s pensive gut wrenching melodies are complimented by his poignant and emotionally evoking lyrics. The moments of vulnerability are genuine and organic. However, if you don’t want to be vulnerable there are songs for you.”
And what is it about that name, Lucid Empire?
Soto replied: “We all got abducted by aliens and they told us, ‘If you guys don’t come up with a band name now then you shall never come back to earth again.’ Obviously, we were scared. So we sat there in their space ship frantically trying to come up with a name. Every single name we came up with someone ended up not liking it. We were there for hours. We made the promise that it must be a unanimous decision. So finally after the third hour, we came up with Lucid Empire… and no one hated it. The End.”
About the West End Association Summer Festival
Bristol’s West End Association is hosting its fourth-annual Summer Festival at Rockwell Park on Saturday, Aug. 15. The festival, which attracted more than 10,000 visitors last year, showcases and celebrates Bristol’s West End community, its merchants and residents. It offers a wide variety of music and dance performances, crafts, food, a pie-eating contest, a skateboard tournament, kids’ activities – including a “Kids’ Zone” sponsored by Liberty Bank and presented by Imagine Nation museum – and more. Admission and parking are free, and shuttle buses running from O’Connell School to the park also are free.
The festival is held at Rockwell Park from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. It will feature many local restaurants and food vendors, crafts, and local organizations. There also will be an antique auto show, and a wide variety of musical acts to appeal to listeners of all ages and interests. Musicians will perform acoustically at the park gazebo, and the main stage will feature well-known local and regional artists. Styles will include alternative and country, blues, folk and indie rock, and traditional Cambodian music and dance.
Musical artists include Cartwheel, Unfinished Business, High Octane, Lucid Empire, Wolf Tone, Pocket Vinyl, The Educators, Jacket Thor, Woof, Orders, DemoGods, and Jason Gerrish. This year’s headliner is young phenomenon G. Rockwell, a 13-year-old guitar and banjo player with a style fusing bluegrass and rock. Rockwell has already won numerous competitive awards in banjo and band competitions, and has jammed with many well-known bluegrass performers, including the legendary Pete Seeger.
A drawing will be held on the day of the festival for a 40-inch flat-screen television donated by Bobroske Construction. Raffle entries are free, but can only be completed and submitted at Rockwell Park on Aug. 15. Winners don’t have to be present for the drawing, held late in the day. This year, the festival also will feature a free pie-eating competition, sponsored by Harvest Bakery, open to children and adults.
The sponsors include Thomaston Savings Bank, Liberty Bank, ConnectiCare, Bristol Hospital, Wheeler Clinic, Farmington Bank, Minuteman Press, Bargain Book, and the Bristol Republican and Democratic Town Committees.
Comments? Email mchaiken@BristolObserver. com.