Starting Friday, musicians from throughout the greater Lehigh Valley and across the country will converge in Bethlehem for 10 days of live music.
This year’s lineup of Musikfest performers is as stacked as ever, with 16 stages of entertainment to absorb. That may sound a bit daunting, but do not fret.
To help make the scheduling of your Musikfest itinerary just a little bit easier, here are 19 free stage acts you don’t want to miss:
ROI AND THE SECRET PEOPLE
No facades. No faking it. Roi and the Secret People play no-holds-barred rock ‘n’ roll with gusto and the stiffest of upper lips. You would be hard-pressed to thumb through the Musikfest guide and find a performer who leaves as much sweat and literal blood on the stage as singer Mike Roi.
9 p.m. Aug. 2, Liederplatz (Main Street)
5 p.m. Aug. 10, Lagerplatz (Main and Spring streets)
Singer-keyboardist Carly Commando and her husband, Tom Patterson (drums), have been creating waves from the Lehigh Valley to the shores of the United Kingdom (from which the duo just returned from a brief tour promoting their latest release, Heavy Banding). And for good reason. Their music combines pop sensibilities with a snarling punk attitude, encased in a glossy New Wave outer shell.
11 p.m. Aug. 2, Community Stage at SteelStacks
8 p.m. Aug. 4, Plaza Tropical
Summer Scouts bring to the table bombastic, full-throttle power pop that also happens to be ridiculously catchy. One of the most energetic, and fun, live bands in the region.
5 p.m. Aug 3, Lagerplatz (Main and Spring streets)
3 p.m. Aug. 10, Zinzenplatz (Main and Lehigh streets)
Any band that can take the theme song to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and turn it into a screamo-thrash-metal opus deserves your attention. This up-and-coming post-hardcore quartet continues to show promise with some serious heavy-metal muscle and a no-frills approach.
3 p.m. Aug. 4, Plaza Tropical (Main and Spring streets)
Ruby Dear is a powerhouse power trio made of up singer-guitarist Jenny Founds, bassist Jesse Braun, and drummer Jon Braun. Their musical elixir is a delightfully potent blend of garage rock, punk, and lo-fi indie rock.
3 p.m. Aug. 4, Zinzenplatz (Main and Lehigh streets)
4 p.m. Aug. 5, Community Stage at SteelStacks
3 p.m. Aug. 8, Lagerplatz (Main and Spring streets)
Spicy is in their name. And spicy is their game. Currently promoting his debut EP, Better Late Than Never, guitarist-vocalist Shane Reimer and his band, Them Spicy Boize, have been turning up the heat at venues throughout the Valley with their temperature-raising fusion of rock, blues, and funk — not to mention some serious six-string sparking power.
3 p.m. Aug. 3, Zinzenplatz (Main and Lehigh streets)
5 p.m. Aug. 9, Lagerplatz (Main and Spring streets)
Hometown: Asbury Park, New Jersey
Take two parts Blondie, one part The Cardigans and throw in a pinch of Metric for good measure and you have the fuzzed-out garage-punk sound of Garden State rockers Dentist. Cavities or not, don’t be late to this appointment.
1 p.m. Aug. 3, Lagerplatz (Main and Spring streets)
4 p.m. Aug. 3, Community Stage at SteelStacks
Unflinching, bone-shattering hard rock with an emphasis on harmony and vocal melody and a side of squealing guitars. Need I say more?
7:30 P.M. Aug. 5, Plaza Tropical (Main and Spring streets)
Hometown: Syracuse, New York
Singer-songwriter Jess Novak’s music takes its cues from sultry, contemporary jazz-pop (a la Amy Winehouse and Duffy), adding in delightfully robust flavors of funk and modern soul.
5:30 p.m. Aug. 2, Musikfest Cafe
Straight out of Nazareth, The Moondogs’ bark is just as big as their bite. With a focus on tight grooves and an eclectic catalog of, rhythm-oriented rock ‘n’ roll, The Moondogs will leave you howling for more.
7:30 p.m. Aug. 6, Musikfest Cafe
Flash and a truckload of substance are the foundation upon which Phillipsburg’s Mosey Beat construct their tower of sound — utilizing a musical took kit equipped with deep pockets of funk, jazz, jam rock, and shifting time signatures (often layered upon another in the same song.)
1 p.m. Aug. 7, Lagerplatz (Main and Spring streets)
6:30 p.m. Aug. 7, Main Street
Think Jane’s Addiction meets Rusted Root with a worldly, modern twist — and an electric ukulele. ITO not only has lots of heart, but they have the chops to back it up.
4 p.m. Aug. 7, Community Stage at SteelStacks
Twenty-year-old Seth Witcher uses the semi-hollow guitar he built during high school as a vehicle for a passionate delivery of acoustic storytelling filtered through a prism of coffeehouse pop, hip-hop, and alt-rock.
8 p.m. Aug. 2, Lagerplatz (Main and Spring streets)
3 p.m. Aug. 10, Plaza Tropical (Main and Spring streets)
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Straighten your checkered tie, lace up your Doc Martens and practice your best skanking moves for an evening with ska band The Pietasters, best known for their quirky 1998 hit “Out All Night.”
9 p.m. Aug. 4, Volksplatz
Hometown: Portland, Maine
Punky garage rock fuel the barrage of sound — souped-up Rilo Kiley, if you will — that is Weakened Friends, a dynamic that is reflected on their 2018 debut album Common Blah.
9:30 p.m. Aug. 6, Plaza Tropical (Main and Spring streets)
Hometown: Los Angeles
Hawaiian natives Crimson Apple take the best of modern pop heavy-hitters Florence + the Machine, Paramore, Walk the Moon (and, yes, even Taylor Swift), boil it down and transform it into a ear-bending sound all their own.
5 p.m. Aug. 3, Americaplatz (Levitt Pavilion at SteelStacks)
6 p.m. Aug. 4, Plaza Tropical (Main and Spring streets)
Philly soul — enchanted by colorful swatches of funk, blues, and Phish-infused jam rock — is the engine that drives the dynamic sound of vocalist Nik Greely and his band, The Operators.
11 p.m. Aug. 3, Community Stage at SteelStacks
7 p.m. Aug. 9, Volksplatz
Fronted by energetic guitarist/front-man Lorenzo Bubba, Dear Anna knows and plays to their strengths: kick-you-in-the-teeth rock ‘n’ roll with a dusting of radio-ready pop.
8 p.m. Aug. 5, Lagerplatz (Main and Spring streets)
11 p.m. Aug. 5, Community Stage at SteelStacks
LEHIGH VALLEY WITH LOVE COMEDYPLATZ
Hometown: Lehigh Valley
Rather choose just a single comedian from the bunch, I decided to lump the whole group into one pick. Laugh it up with comedians Nataly Aukar, Aliya Brown, Jason J. Brown, Steve Clark, Geoff Colella, Darryl Charles, John Deary, Dan Fitzpatrick, Kirk Griffiths, Roya Hamadani, Janeer Hankerson, Bob Hansen, Derek Humphrey, Maureen Ferguson, Minna Gorry-Hines, Doogie Horner, Michael Kelly, Boris Khaykin, Alan Massenburg, Kyle Neff, Chris O’Connor, Brett Peveteaux, Emily Poche, Shanell Renee, Ryan Roe, Tyler Rothrock, Paul Spratt, Jim Tews, Glen Tickle, and Ian Webster. Support homegrown standup comedy.
Musikfest will be held Friday through Aug. 11. Click here to see the full schedule of free and ticketed performances.