Musikfest still offering new experiences after 35 years
The 35th edition of Bethlehem’s Musikfest offers a diverse concert playlist. The headliners are assortment of country, rock, pop, the genre-blending Gary Clark Jr., and even comedian Jim Gaffigan.
This year Musikfest gets off to an early start with a funk- and swing-themed preview night, followed by the 10-day festival Aug. 3-12.
Held at the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks Aug. 2, the preview begins at 7 p.m. with free performances by The Barrel House Brothers, April Mae and the June Bugs, Funky Dawgs Brass Band and Baby Soda Jazz Band, plus 15 food vendors.
There will also be music on the Sands Steel Stage on the SteelStacks campus. Headlining will be Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue. Also appearing will be Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and New Breed Brass Band, with special guest appearances by Big Easy legends Cyril Neville and Walter “Wolfman” Washington. Tickets for the performance are $49 in advance and $54 the day of show.
What else is new? Expanded SouthSide hours on weekends:
The music will now get underway at the earlier time of noon on weekends at SteelStacks. The Community Stage on the Air Products Town Square features tribute acts like Sugar Mountain (Neil Young), We May Be Right (Billy Joel), Experience Janis (Janis Joplin) and Keystone (Jerry Garcia). The BB&T Jazz Cabaret Stage starts at 1 p.m. and Martin Guitar Lyrikplatz offers its first performances starting at 2 p.m. Select SouthSide food vendors like Baby Blues BBQ and the Yuengling Bar & Grill will also open early. With the expansion, the festival has added more than 25 additional shows to its 2018 concert lineup. Musikfest hours on the NorthSide are 5 to 11 p.m. Aug. 3, noon to 11 the rest of the days. SouthSide hours are 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Aug. 3 and 10, noon to 1 a.m. Aug. 4 and 11, noon to midnight Aug. 5, 4 p.m. to midnight Aug. 6-9, and 4 to 11 p.m. Aug. 12.
New place to park:
An official satellite parking location, where you can catch a shuttle to the festival area, is 1550 Valley Center Parkway located off Schoenersville Road.
Craft Cocktail Bar:
In addition to the traditional beer tents, Lehigh Valley distillers and wineries will offer signature drinks at Plaza Tropical. Stop by and play a game of ping-pong, relax on an Adirondack chair and enjoy the music while trying a sangria or a signature cocktail.
Options for every-day festival attendees:
If you’re one of those hard-core Musikfesters, you can ride the North South Transfer bus for the entire 10 days for $25. There’s also a 10day parking lot pack for the Satellite IQor and Valley Center Parkway lots.
New food vendors:
Keep an eye out for Sherri’s Crab Cakes, Caribbean Islands Cuisine, Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, The Flying V, Big Country Concessions. Food vendors in a new location this year will be Bull & Bear at the Levitt Pavilion, and Humpty’s Dumplings at the Steel Stage.
The Hungry Games:
With more than 40 different food vendors scattered throughout the north and south sides of the festival, Musikfest 2018 will spice things up this year with a competition. As you dine on options ranging from vegan gyros to pig candy bacon, you can vote for your favorite signature dish to determine the Musikfest Hungry Games’ top dish. Whichever vendor is crowned the fest favorite will receive a glass trophy hand-blown by ArtsQuest’s Glass Studio artists.
L.L. Bean kayak and stand-up paddleboard courses:
From noon to 7 p.m. Aug. 8-12 at Experienceplatz you can take a 60-minute kayak or standup paddleboard course led by Outdoor Discovery School experts. Already experienced? L.L. Bean is renting gear. While you’re at Musikfest, make sure to visit the L.L. Bean Summer Pop-Up Shop at Wells Fargo Festplatz.
New visual arts programming:
Familienplatz will have Wine’d Down Workshops for adults 21+, a Paint Shack where you can paint on the walls with Crayola paint markers and paint to create a giant suncatcher and more. Fest-goers also have a chance to use a Chandler & Price Platen Press, dating back over 100 years, at the National Museum of Industrial History to print your own version of this year’s Musikfest poster.
Musikfest 35th Anniversary Photo Exhibit:
You’ll find this in the Banana Factory Arts Center Hallway through Sept. 2. The Banana Factory is at 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem.
Ken Goldstein Performance and “The Song of Bethlehem” screening:
At 5 p.m. Aug. 4 at Martin Guitar Lyrikplatz at Frank Banko Alehouse Cinemas, the 30-minute documentary film “The Song of Bethlehem” tells the story of Ken Goldstein’s visit to the Christmas City last December to lay down the vocals and music for “The Song of Bethlehem.” Goldstein’s band, The LA Hustle, will give an acoustic performance.
“Stronger Than Steel” Jeff Parks book signing:
From 2 to 4 p.m. daily at the Wells Fargo Festplatz ArtsQuest Members Booth, Parks, the founder and former president of Musikfest and ArtsQuest will sign copies of his book,“Stronger Than Steel: Forging a Rust Belt Renaissance.” The book discusses the transformation of Bethlehem since the closing of Bethlehem Steel, and the role the arts played in the revitalization of the campus of “the Steel.”
Wait. Experienceplatz? Where’s that? Where are any of these places?
Check www.musikfest. org/info/map or get the Musikfest app.
It’s still free, right?
Yes, only the shows at the Sands Steel Stage require tickets.
Thanks for providing the list of headliners, but there’s way more performances than that.
Right, it’s a very large festival. But with more than 500 performances on 16 stages, we don’t have the space to tell you all of them. Go to www.musikfest.org/lineup or refer to the app.
Musikfest traditionally ends with a fireworks display.