Here's a quick look at the Sparklefest highlights. See www.sparklefest.com for ticket information and a complete listing of the performers.
Thursday, Oct. 11
Paula Kelly, formerly of the band Boy Wonder (not to be confused with Rist's Wonderboy), will be sharing lush pop songs from her new Nothing/Everything. Among the other acts areClone Farm, specializing in Beatles' solo-era covers, and Winston-Salem's Suitcase.
Friday, Oct. 12
Good Lord, where to begin? There's Cliff Hillis (formerly of Baltimore's stellar Starbelly), lead guitarist of the John Faye Power Trip (led by ex-Caulfield Faye), who's supporting his wide-ranging solo album Be Seeing You. Atlanta's Kenny Howes and The Yeah are returnees from last year's fest; Rist calls Howes "one of the best performers out there right now." Florida's Barely Pink consistently impress on disc with their willingness to expand on the power-pop formula with unexpected touches like horns and swampy organ. Rist will be making his first Sparklefest appearance with his band Wonderboy. His chuckling response when asked whether seeing that tidbit in every article about him is getting old: "Hey, it's on the resume. And besides, what am I gonna do, deny I was on a show that has achieved certain cultural iconhood and has been on television, almost nonstop, for 30 years? Getting old? No. I'm more blown away than anything. I mean, it was six weeks of work."
Saturday, Oct. 13
We'll let Nicholson start. "The Shazam laid waste to the club last year," he says of the Tennessee power trio, one of the headliners of the inaugural fest. Think the power of The Who and the harmonies of The Hollies, then factor in that the band shares their name with the title of a classic record from The Move, and you're starting to get the picture. "We don't deliberately set out to be like British bands, but most of my all-time faves are British, so what can you do? Try to sound like Weezer?" asks Shazam leader Hans Rotenberry in an article in the current issue of the pop mag Amplifier. Tim Lee and Bobby Sutliff are getting together for a Windbreakers reunion, local hero Terry Anderson will convince you that he's Dave Edmunds' American nephew, and The Jellybricks of Mechanicsburg, Pa., will make sure that you remember them for more than just their unusual name. And Rist will once again hit the stage, this time as fill-in lead guitarist for Seth Gordon's band The Mockers, the Virginia Beach-based outfit whose album, Living in the Holland Tunnel, might just be the power pop record of the year. Laments Rist, "It's so not fair to have to learn songs you wish you had written!"