The end of the school year evokes a mix of emotions. The warm air excites you for the summer months ahead; for some, graduation is just around the corner, and the end of the school always makes you reflect on what you have learned and accomplished in the past year.
For WSUM-91.7 FM, Madison Student Radio, the end of the year signifies what management and DJs have been collectively working toward all year. Saturday, WSUM will host Party in the Park, the fifth annual three-stage, festival-style extravaganza that will be held in James Madison Park to thank listeners and fans for their continued support.
Party in the Park follows the overall mission statement of WSUM, which focuses on community outreach, education in broadcasting and providing alternative programming, all of which are accomplished through the event. Party in the Park creates an opportunity for students to take on leadership roles, since the responsibility of contacting and booking bands, fundraising and promotions are the sole responsibilities of the students.
The weather did not cooperate for the event last year, forcing many bands to cancel, but the WSUM staff has their fingers crossed and is hopeful that the sun will be shining this Saturday.
WSUM has put together a distinguished lineup that should make for a great show. On the bill are the following bands: Wookiefoot, Ulu, Dan Bern, Big Fat Ass, The Huge Family, Watershed Year, Bongzilla, Lady Microphone, Psychedelic Breakfast, Sweet Potato Project, The Dog & Everything, Buddha’s Belly, Speech Writers and Switch Focus. Also in the mix are 16 disc jockeys who will be spinning and mixing records on a third stage. WSUM DJs will also be playing during the transition periods in between sets.
Headlining the event is Wookiefoot, a Minneapolis-based act that is admired for its showmanship. The group’s crazy antics create a carnival-type atmosphere that appeals to followers of all musical genres. The group’s sound is similar to that of Sublime — hip-hop with a twist of reggae.
Ulu, hailing from New York City, also joins this year’s lineup. The quartet strives for the balance between intelligent composition and spontaneous improvisation with roots in funk and jazz. In its young history, Ulu has shared the stage with such musical heavyweights as John Scofield, The Mickey Hart Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Moe, Soulive, The Jazz Mandolin Project, De La Soul, The Greyboy All-Stars and Oteil Burbridge of the Allman Brothers.
Also traveling to Madison is Dan Bern, who many have compared to Bob Dylan over the years. Probably one of the most distinguished artists who will be performing at Party in the Park, Bern will be playing solo acoustic guitar. Bern has toured with Ani DiFranco.
From the Madison area, Bongzilla is made up of four men who put on an entertaining live show. According to the band’s Web site, “crushing heaviness blends perfectly with tortured, intense vocals and tripped-out passages of mellowed, experimental jamming. Heavy doses of slow, bluesy riffs ooze over the churning, sick thunder of the band’s rhythm section.”
For the jam-band lovers, be sure to check out Psychedelic Breakfast, who will take the west stage at 2:30 p.m. The Connecticut-bred quartet’s sound is a cornucopia of all the bands they admire: the groove burning of P-Funk, the masterful precision of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, the sonic reverie of Phish and the Grateful Dead, and the take-no-prisoners rock of Led Zeppelin.
Most of the bands playing are from outside the Madison area, so WSUM has started a new trend of moving from local bands one year to non-local bands the next.
The DJ stage will showcase the talent of several Madison-area artists as well as WSUM DJs. In past years, Party in the Park has attracted over 5,000 people because the diverse line-up caters to almost every music lover.
WSUM staffers have planned for UW student organizations to set up booths to provide greater awareness of their goals and purposes. Vendors and sponsors, as well as a WSUM booth, will be available throughout the day.
The best part, though, is that this event is completely free and you do not need tickets to attend. This is WSUM’s way to serve the community and showcase the station’s eclectic musical preferences, which mirrors its diverse programming schedule.
WSUM’S annual Party in the Park takes places this Saturday, April 26, in James Madison Park from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Go to www.wsum.org for more details and rain location.