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Millennium Music Conference, Night Four

February 21, 2008 - Jim Price

(This is the seventh and final part of a series of blog recaps from the 12th annual Millennium Music Conference, which happened last weekend, Feb. 14-17, in the Harrisburg area.)

The Radisson and local rock station 105.7 “The X’s” Sunday night local music program, “Under The Radar,” were closing out the Millennium Music Conference with a twelve band showcase of local and regional talent, which started late Sunday afternoon.  The show kicked off with a celebration of youth, as two bands comprised of teenagers – Reading-based Comic Book Heroes and Harrisburg-based Pink Yard Flamingoes – commenced the music.  Up third was Harrisburg-based alternative rock foursome Brothers Unaware, who demonstrated a U2-like sound, with soaring melodies and a constant jangly guitar presence.  A name familiar to Altoona audiences, Rise Phoenix Rise, then performed their lively, action-packed brand of punk-infused modern rock, showcasing songs from their CD The Land of Oohs and Aahs.  Harrisburg’s Friction Broadcast followed with their style of hard, progressive-leaning modern rock; defined by intricate melodies with interesting and unexpected chord progressions and choruses.  Harrisburg pop/rock veterans The Jellybricks followed with a fiery set, as they previewed some of the songs from their forthcoming new CD, Goodnight to Everyone.  The Jellybricks again demonstrated their knack for catchy tunewriting, combined with tight and aggressive playing.  Baltimore’s Fourth Element kept the energy level high with their style of driving, metal/emo-flavored modern rock.  Another seasoned veteran act of past Millennium Music Conferences, Lancaster modern rock quintet Negative Space, next performed a powerful set which previewed a number of tunes from their forthcoming new CD, Storylines, dropping in March.  Negative Space still puts on a tight, high-energy set, and based by the large crowd in front of the stage, remains one of the more popular names in this part of the state.  York-based quintet Evelyn’s Ashes then introduced their sound, which combines clever, intriguing melodies with a heavy modern-rocking backdrop.  I stuck around to catch part of one more band’s set, from Scranton’s OurAfter.  A five-piece band, OurAfter performed hard-edged, fast-paced modern rock.

At this point, I departed the Radisson and headed into downtown Harrisburg to see a band I met earlier in the afternoon during the aforementioned radio panel seminar.  The band was Williamsport-based co-ed fivesome Sarah Fleck & the Palpitations, who were kicking off the weekend’s final showcase line-up at Molly Brannigans.  I had learned earlier in the afternoon that two of this group’s members, singer/guitarist Garrett Williams and bassist/singer Kristin Gdula, were from the Johnstown area and attending Lycoming College in Williamsport, where the band first formed.  I didn’t realize until I heard Kristin’s last name announced during this night’s show that I had actually seen her perform several years ago, as part of a Cambria County-based early-teen all-girl rock band, Midnight Peace, during a church festival in Dunlo.  It was rewarding to learn that Kristin has stuck with music since then, and was now showcasing during the Millennium Music Conference.  Named after their drummer, Sarah Fleck & the Palpitations played a bright, fun mixture of classic- and blues-flavored rock.  They spotlighted songs from their 2007 debut CD, Blue Jeans & Daydreams, and mixed in playful renditions of classics from Chuck Berry, Creedence Clearwater Revival and The Band.  There set was lively, with Garrett serving both as the primary singing voice and circus ringleader.  Their energy, enthusiasm and smiles quickly caught on with the Molly Brannigan’s audience, and they had won a number of new fans by the end of their performance.

I then hit the road once again, to head to one final destination to conclude my Millennium weekend.  That destination was Johnny Joe’s, a roadhouse-styled venue in Mechanicsburg, which had played host to a number of harder rock and metal acts during Millennium weekend.  I arrived in time to see another band representing our local region, the Clearfield/State College-based quintet This Ends Now.  Frontman Frank Rumfola is a veteran of the local hardcore and metal scene, previously fronting 969, At Hope’s End and Vengence.  Texas transplant B. Randon plays lead guitar, Ed W. plays rhythm guitar, J. Belinda plays bass, and Nikky K. plays drums.  This Ends Now was easily the heaviest-rocking band I witnessed this weekend, unleashing a furious, pulverizing, full-aggression style and sound.  The drums boomed, the guitars and bass roared, and frontman Frank unleashed the beast with a feral, angry, full-vent snarl.  This Ends Now’s all-out ferociousness and intensity won the approval of this crowd; and defined the upper reaches of metal and hardcore heaviness this crowd would witness this night.

One more band remained; local Camp Hill-based hard-rocking foursome Tukurpa.  As it turned out, Tukurpa had their own fireworks to offer in the form of a storybook ending to the weekend that would unfold during their set.  Named after a Hopi Indian word for “eternal dream world,” Tukurpa introduced a sound rooted in the 70’s/80’s classic heavy rock of Black Sabbath and Judas Priest.  Atop weighty rhythms and thick guitar chords, lead singer James Leaman demonstrated a powerful, high-ranging vocal howl as the group performed a selection of original songs. 

The storybook ending started to take shape shortly after my arrival, when Tukurpa’s bassist, Carl “Craig” Hancock (who I met earlier at the conference) came over to me and pointed out a blond woman across the room.  He told me her name was “Teco,” and he was going to propose to her during Tukurpa’s performance, as he fingered a small case in the pocket of his jacket, containing an engagement ring.  Sure enough, four songs into Tukurpa’s performance, with Teco already on the dance floor during a song the group just finished, Carl asked her to turn around, and popped the question and presented the ring.  Teco’s jaw dropped in shock, before the two held a long embrace on the stage to the resounding cheers of the audience.  (I assume this means that she said “yes!”)  I then observed as Teco stared, with mouth open, at the ring for nearly ten minutes afterward.  Obviously she never expected that this would be such a special night for her.  After a weekend filled with musical highlights and conference excitement, this storybook ending slammed a special exclamation point on the end of what truly was a great weekend!

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Larry Kennedy, lead singer and guitarist for Harrisburg-based band The Jellybricks, during their showcase performance at the Radisson.


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