Bigger and bolder, Summit Festival shows no signs of peaking

Aug 21, 2007 at 6:31 pm

Paradigm: is one of the acts playing this year’s Peak Summit Festival at the Rustic Frog.
Paradigm: is one of the acts playing this year’s Peak Summit Festival at the Rustic Frog.
Next year, Myron Koch might need a staff. The founder of this weekend’s Peak Summit “dance and groove festival” has overseen an event that went from one night in St. Matthews five years ago to a multi-day smorgasbord of artistic endeavors — all while planning the whole thing by himself.

This year’s festival brings rock, jazz, reggae and sounds in between to The Rustic Frog in New Albany for the first Peak Summit with no age restriction. More than 30 bands will share indoor and outdoor stages, with fire dancers and artists offering breaks from the music that starts in the afternoon and won’t stop until the early morning.

One of those bands, bluegrass outfit Cast Iron Airplane, has sown the seeds of stardom since its inception two months ago.

The collection of four Louisville-area super-pickers appeared at the Kentucky Bluegrass Music Festival earlier this month and will head down to Nashville for the International Bluegrass Music Association’s World of Bluegrass in October. Guitarist Chris Brandstatt said he hopes Cast Iron Airplane will have enough original material for an album in January or February, with an eye on taking the band national next summer.

“We’ve got a lot of people (who) back us, and we can go as far as we decide to take it,” he said. “It’s so far, so good.”

Brandstatt was at Koch’s first music festival attempt, an ill-fated afternoon at the Iroquois Amphitheater called the Louisville Local Association of Music Artists’ Music and Art Fair. Only 12 people showed up, and it cost Koch half a year’s salary. Brandstatt has seen positive changes since.

“It’s definitely moving in the right direction for regional acts,” he said. “It’s just musicians having their own party and everyone’s invited, and that’s what I like about it.”

Cast Iron Airplane plays downstairs Friday night, technically Saturday morning, at 12:45 a.m., easing Peak Summit into its second day.

Also playing that day will be six-piece band Romeo Laureano. Frontman Jay Goldstein says the group’s original music plays like the soundtrack of the New York where Goldstein grew up, evoking the stuff of Northeast legends like Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel.

“We’re not a bunch of 16-year-olds in an indie rock band,” he said, also citing Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound and Motown as influences.

 The group, which took its name from an oral surgeon in Bardstown, cut a five-song EP with Label X and plans to work on another CD soon.

Romeo Laureano has played in town here and there, but they’re working on playing out more. Even still, they’ve handled their share of diverse audiences. “I figure if I’ve had Mormon dentists and 15-year-olds not walk out, we’re doing something right,” Goldstein said.

Laureano handles upstairs stage duties Saturday from 6-7:15 p.m. at the festival, with a playlist that touches on topics ranging from illegal immigration to being a teenager in the Big Apple.
So Romeo Laureano and Cast Iron Airplane can provide the backdrop for grooving at this groove and dance festival, but what about the dancing? Enter DJ Spinlove.

Spinlove, aka Matt Murphree, mans the turntables three times between sets Saturday night on the upstairs stage. He’s one of three turntablists to spin that night, with one DJ assigned to each stage. Murphree began DJing two years ago after first trying his hand at guitar. He gave it up, saw some shows and began to mix music on his computer and then moved on to his current setup of combining mp3s and vinyl.

Murphree says that his multiple sets, and the bands playing opposite him, may inspire him to throw in some Afrobeats and “something more avant-garde” than his standard mix of house-oriented electronica.
One of the perks of playing at The Rustic Frog: different stages. “I was at Longshot last year and Lucky Pineapple was downstairs. Those guys are pretty loud,” he said. “This time, there won’t be as much overlap.”

Murphree, Cast Iron Airplane and Romeo Laureano will join more than 100 other artists for Louisville’s closest thing to Bonnaroo, right down to the campground. Kids can hang out at the Moon-bounce while parents take in the music or pull a groin at the volleyball pits or horseshoe lanes.

So finally, after five years, Peak Summit may have found its possible home. With three stages at one venue and two days of music, there’s a chance next year’s event could be even bigger.
Time to place that help-wanted ad.

Peak Summit Festival
Friday, Aug. 24
The Rustic Frog
1720 Old River Road, New Albany
(812) 944-0576
$25 (weekend), $15 (Sat.), $5 (Sun.); 6 p.m.