July 4th weekend is upon us! It seems like summer just started yet there have already been SO MANY good festivals already. Are you all still with us? Good! Alive? Sober? Relatively sober? Good enough. Please let it be known that summer is a marathon, and there are still a ton of good shows and festivals to be had. New York City has already seen some GREAT ones thus far, but a lot of you like getting out of the city some weekends in the summer. I can’t blame you, especially come August when the garbage in the street begins to smell unbearable. If you’re looking to take a break from the city for a weekend but still want some great music to listen to, fear not. There’s a great 3-day festival Labor Day weekend that’s going to make you forget all about the NYC trash and get you into the wild for some fun in the sun… in the forest.

Lakewood, Pennsylvania is a smaller, rural town in Northeast Pennsylvania, located relatively close to the New Jersey and New York state borders. On August 29th through August 31st, tens of thousands of dedicated music and outdoor lovers will be attending the inaugural Campfire Festival. This three-day outdoor adventure/music festival is bringing the love of the outdoors and music into one memorable experience. Apparently this festival is taking place on the grounds of an actual summer camp! Remember that show on Disney Channel called Bug Juice? It’ll be like that, except a bit more booze!

For a festival in its first year, it seems to have locked in a really impressive lineup, with over 30 acts made up of rural rockers and alternative jivers. That being said, here are our picks of the bands performing that you WONT want to miss:


Delta Spirit

This west coast turned east coast indie-Americana band is a guitar band that I’ve been listening to on and off for over a year. They have garage guitar band sounds with hit single potential. Lead by tenor vocalist Matt Vasquez, whose signature sounding voice carries the band’s static, jangly guitar sounds. Some of their best songs you need to add onto your summer playlist are ‘Empty House’ and ‘Tear it Up’, both of which come off their 2012 self-titled album.


Lake Street Dive

Lake Street Drive has gotten some well-earned attention as of recently. Their hit single ‘Bad Self Portraits’ off their 2014 release titled the same name has been a favorite on 8Tracks playlists and has been able to propel the band to dozens of sold-out shows. But this indie jazz/soul four-piece isn’t the type of band riding the coattail of one song. Their attitude and emotional driven soul throughout each of their songs has been what has popularized the group since the group’s bassist Bridget Kearney won the 2005 John Lennon songwriting contest in the jazz category. Their throwback style mixed with current hooks and chord progressions make this band a must see for all types of music lovers.


Swear And Shake

Swear and Shake are a local quartet out of our good old neighborhood of Brooklyn. Their indie folk style brings good vibes and deep lyrics that bring back singer-songwriter memories like that of Carole King or Bob Dylan. You could say they’re more pop-Americana, but I say they’re folk music that’s easy to dance to. My favorite songs of theirs are ‘These White Walls’ and ‘Hand and Foot, Heart and Soul’. Don’t let some publications fool you, while they’re foundation is clearly folk-based, their 2012 release, Maple Ridge sounds more like a toned down Cranberries or Alanis Morissette album than what most folk bands might sound like.


The Ballroom Thieves

The Ballroom Thieves go from beautiful acoustic chill music to up-tempo Americana rock that would make any venue get up off their asses and dance. One minute they could sound like the Civil Wars, the next they’re up and at it like Frank Turner. I will say though that their range of dynamics and tempo keep audiences guessing and their ability to write beautiful songs with an acoustic guitar like is evident in songs like ‘Coward’s Son’, ‘Delia’, and ‘Save Me’, as they would all fit perfectly into any Nicholas Sparks chick flick. Shitty movies aside though, guitarist/singer Martin Earley, percussionist Devin Mauch, and cellist Calin Peters are fantastic together at composing and organizing catchy and smooth songs that will leave music fans enjoying their beer and warm company on a perfect summer night.


Toy Soldiers

Alright, time to turn up the volume. That’s exactly what this band from Philly does in their catchy mixture of blues and Americana rock. They almost have a scent of rockabilly in them somewhere but I wont hold that against them. Harmonicas, guitars, and all around catchy vibes set this band aside from independent rock contemporaries. You could compare them to a more roots-based mixture of The Black Crows and some old Eagles jams.

Article by: Tom Shackleford

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