LarkFest Through the Years

The Young Reptiles ecstatic to be playing the first LarkFest (photo by Dave Suarez)
The Young Reptiles, ecstatic to be playing the first LarkFest (photo by Dave Suarez)

By Greg Haymes

LarkFest takes over Albany’s Lark Street from Washington to Madison avenues once again on Saturday for Nippertown’s largest free street festival. GO HERE for more info and the complete schedule of bands…

And with this year’s LarkFest celebration returning to the original mission of showcasing all-local music, we thought it was time for a look back at LarkFest through the years. While we managed to pull together quite a bit of back history, there are still a number of holes in the round-up, and the list is by no means complete. So we’re hoping that Nippertown readers can come to the rescue and fill in at least some of the blanks:

1981: The debut with a crowd of about 15,000 featuring the Units, the Young Reptiles, the A.D.’s, the Morons

1982: A second stage is added. With a crowd of about 30,000 featuring the A.D.’s, the Dads, Fear of Strangers, the Eddie Angel Band, the American Gentlemen with Mirinda, Downtime, the ASO Brass Quintet, od, Ellen McIlwaine

1983 (October 1?): The open container law goes into effect, but outdoor beer gardens were instated. A crowd of about 60,000

1984 (September 29): A third stage is added. Featuring Squareone, Bambi Manor, the Steven Clyde Band, the Gary Windo Orchestra, the Trash Knights, George Mastrangelo & Friends, Lumpen Proles, the Booze Brothers Band, Aged In the Hills, Downtime, the Jets, Biff Thuringer, the Amazing Rob & John Band, the Moonshine Swing Band, the Newports

1985 (September 14): Who Likes What, RipRoc Bop, David Allen’s “Lark Street,” the Jailhouse Rockers, the Works, Capitle, Himalaya, Lisa Robilotto, Downtime, Ellen McIlwaine, the Newports, the Bethel Baptist Gospel Choir, Donnybrook Fair, Russ Testo

1986 (September 27): Due the spiraling cost of liability insurance, the beer gardens are abolished. The third stage is relocated to Washington Park. Featutring the Teardrops, the Nick Brignola Quartet, Chris Busone & the Rain, Skip Parsons’ Riverboat Jazz Band, Mambo-X, the Stomplistics, RipRoc Bop, the Sharks, Agitpop, Doug Bartles, Josh Greenberg & the Contemporary Music Studio, Paul Strausman, Dick Stock, the Puncj & Judy Show, Dennis D’Asaro, Lisa Atkinson

1987 (September 19): Blotto, Johnny Rabb, Calm-Plex, Rockin’ Bones, RipRoc Bop, Todd Nelson, Iwa, Biff Thuringer

1988 (September 17):

1989 (September 16): Hal Miller Band, Plus 24, Greg Speck, OWS Ensemble, Visions, Fear of Flying, doubtingthomas, RipRoc Bop, Matt Smith

1990 (September 22):

1991 (September 21): The Siren Sisters, Hamell On Trial, the Hal Miller Band, the Lisa Smith Project, El Extreme, Matt Smith, Pure Clean Truth, Private Plain

1992 (September 19):

1993 (September 18): Ruff Roots, I.M.I., Hal Miller Band, Begonia, Ernie Williams & the Wildcats, Sambarama, Emilio Dabul & the Babahasens, Nobody’s Girls, the Matt Smith Band

1994 (September 17): The Hal Miller Band, Medusa Pleasure Werks, Sambarama, Ernie Williams & the Wildcats, Master Plan, Blue Jeanne Blue, A Tone of Briocks, the Jim E. Velvet Trio, the Staziaks, Paul Straussman

1995 (September 16): Hal Miller Band with special guest John Hilton, Prey For Rain, the Medusa Pleasure Werks, the George Boone Band, Marcus Ruggiero, Plus 24, Blue Jeanne Blue, Andy Follette & the Bluescasters

1996: The Hal Miller Band, Plus 24, the Lustre Kings, the Institute for Soul Research, Lughead, George Boone, Marcus Ruggiero & Higher Ground, Prey for Rain

1997 (September 20): The Hal Miller Band, Urban Gumbo, Lughead, Good Friday, Killer B, the Decadent Royals, Scotty Mac & the Rockin’ Bonnevilles, I.M.I.

1998 (September 26): The Matt Smith Band

1999 (September 18): Rocky Velvet, the Staziaks, the VodkaSonics, Show Off, Dan Dobeck-Chris Garabedian & the New Eden Jazz Quartet, the Nick Brignola Quartet, Ed Hamilton, Michael Paolo

2000 (September 16): The debut of the Acoustic Stage in the parking lot of the Trinity Methodist Church. Featuring the Hal Miller Band with special guest saxophonist Erica Lindsay; Scotty Mac & the Rockin’ Bonnevilles, Sha’Ron & the Fellas, the Vinnie Martucci Band, Red Moon, Super 400, the Wait, the VodkaSonics, Alexis D, Rosanne Raneri, Michael Eck, MotherJudge & the Urban Holiness Society, Bone Oil, Brown Cuts Neighbors, the Kamikaze Hearts, the Amy Abdou Band, Paddy Kilrain, the Intelligent Americans, Bryan Thomas , Mitch Elrod & the Hick Engine Ears, the Drum Circle Mechanics

2001: Canceled in the wake of the September 11 attacks

2002 (September 14): Mark Visconti, Rosanne Raneri, Leepfrog, the Kamikaze Hearts, Paddy Kilrain, Bryan Thomas, MotherJudge & the Urban Holiness Society, knotworking, Jump Cannon, the Hal Miller Band featuring guitarist Chuck D’Aloia, the George Muscatello/Brian Patneaude Quartet, the Adrian Cohen Quartet, Alex Torres & the Latin Kings, GreayStar, Arc, F-Timmi, Injected, Antigone Rising

2003 (September 13): Michael Eck, Steve Candlin, Erin Harkes, Katie Haverly, Maria Zemantauski & Alegria, No Outlet, MotherJudge, CountrySoulHouse, the Velmas, Public Access, Third to None, Funkshop Loomis, Sirsy, Blue Illusion, Ricky Husbands, the George Boone Blues Band, Mandorico

2004 (September 18): Super 400, Kamikaze Hearts, the Suggestions, Coal Palace Kings, Ten 27, Bryan Thomas, Sean Rowe, the Rumdummies, Begonia, Niki Lee & Mass Chaos, Alegria, Sara Ayers

2005 (September 17): The Wait, Rob Beaulieu & Raisinhead, Monkey Gone Mad, Cloud Room, World Leader Pretend, 5 Alpha Beatdown, Rock ‘N’ Roll Soldiers, Robbers on High Street, the Dandy Warhols, Ten 27, Killer Dronez, MotherJudge & her Prison Band, Dr. Jah and the Love Prophets, Pitch Control Music (with Sev Statik, Dezmatic, Shyste, more)

2006 (September 16): Phillips Head, the Velmas, Nightmare of You, Everclear, the Day Jobs, Hector On Stilts, Ism, Mohair, Venomentality, Los Traviesos, Laura Boggs, Cristo Lewis, MotherJudge, Steve Candlen and Mitch Elrod, Rick Whispers, Shyste, Paddy Kilrain

2007 (September 15): The Last Conspirators, Twiddle, the Casual Fiasco, Astra Heights, Steriogram, Ian Moore, Buffalo Tom, Palatypus, Hannah Imbesi, Jim Gaudet, Sirsy, Blackcat Elliot, Gay Tastee, Ramblin Jug Stompers, MotherJudge & Mitch Elrod, Ben Karis, Black Fuel

2008 (September 20): The Nightwatchman (aka, Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine), Eric Hutchinson, Oppenheimer, Val Emmich, Afficionado, the Sense Offenders, Maggie Mayday, Knotworking, Christo Lewis

2009 (September 19): Five stages – including a new one around the corner in Townsend Park. Featuring Moby, Company of Thieves, Bell X1, Matt & Kim, Queer for AstroBoy, Ten Year Vamp, Scientific Maps, Lunic, Matthew Loiacono, MotherJudge, Victoria Lamas, the Burnham Brothers, Lunic, Barons in the Attic, We Are Jeneric, Scientific Maps, Beware! the Other Head of Science, Sgt. Dunbar & the Hobo Banned, the Ashley Pond Band, the Ameros, Rick Whispers, Marcus Ruggiero, Courtney Biondo

2010 (September 25): Harper Blynn, Eli “Paperboy” Reed, Backyard Tire Fire, the Jim Keller Band, Chris Barron & the Time Bandits, Brendan James, Sirsy, KaiserCartel, the Ill Funk Ensemble, Skadee, Rich Ortiz, Tom McWatters & the Philo Beddoe Band

2011 (September 17): Mike Doughty, Motopony, We Are Jeneric, Diego Garcia, Jason Spooner, Alex Torres & His Latin Orchestra, Blotto, Cody Beebe & the Crooks, Faces On Film

2012 (September 15): World Party, Ryan Shaw, Headband Jack, the City Never Sleeps, the Sevendys, MaryLeigh & the Fauves, Jukebox the Ghost, Dirty Paris, Northern Faces, Erin Harkes, Lucky Jukebox Brigade, Graham Alexander

2013 (September 21): Willie Nile, the Molly Durnin Trio, Rodeo Barons, the Last Conspirators, Grainbelt, Bobby Long, Charlie Watts Riots, Barons in the Attic, Matt & the Bad Ideas, the Chronicles

2014 (September 13): The Graham Tichy Trio, the Chris Dukes Band, the Chronicles, Conehead Buddha, Holly & Evan, Wild Adriatic, Titanics, Mirk

FLASHBACK: Remembering the First LarkFest
FLASHBACK: The First LarkFest Theme Song

  1. Paul says

    2009 was by far the best. Bring back the national acts – the Capital Region’s music ‘fests’ are a joke.

  2. Maurice says

    1982 is still my all time favorite LarkFest.
    The Dad’s!!
    Wonder whatever happened to them.

  3. Mike Hotter says

    I’ve always tried to remember how many Larkfests I’ve had the chance to perform at- 3 times, with 2 different bands- wow, my absent brain cells thank you, Mr Haymes and company!

  4. michael eck says

    The Dads. Tragic. Bryan Harvey and his family were murdered on New Year’s Day, 2006.

  5. Graceful J says

    Of course I had to google, Michael; what a sad tale about the Harvey Family.

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