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Preview: BiMA.fest, The Baltimore Independent Music Festival

Here at Driftwood, we love independent music, reviewing many self-released albums and giving everyone the lowdown on artists signed to labels so small and independent they could carry the One Ring into Mordor. [We also freely admit that some of us are geeks.]

The Baltimore Independent Music Festival made its debut last year, and of all the attempts to bring a full-blown SxSW style festival to Baltimore, this is the one that immediately struck me as the most likely to succeed. Baltimore’s independent streak and desire to be different runs deep in the artistic community. This is a town that consistently tears down the heroes that it works so hard to build, that was home to the legendary WHFS but refuses to accept that radiostation’s relaunch with open arms when the (nearly) free-form college station WTMD is the community leader. We celebrate the success of homegrown heroes like Wye Oak and adopted children J Roddy Walston and the Business, but who knows how we’ll feel when they’re signed to major labels and achieving the kind of success that lets them move out of this dirty (and make no mistake, it’s pretty dirty) old town into L.A. or New York?

In short, the indie spirit is strong with this one.

You can check out a full list of confirmed artists — and even listen to a ton of MP3s — on BiMA.fest’s website.

TOP PICKS:

The Ottobar, August 27: On the dowstairs stage, The Egg Babies Orchestra, The Bellevederes, St. Even (check out the Driftwood review of his Baltimore homecoming show), Victoria Vox, Bright Young Things, and headliner Bosley (CD release) bring a mix of everything from ukulele pop, 1980s nostalgia, classic soul, and experimental folk rock. If that’s not enough, upstairs has Americana band June Star with Red Sammy. We’ll definitely be there to snap some pictures of this amazing night of music!

The Windup Space:  Soul Cannon (REMIXXX!!) closes out the festival for this Station North hotspot. This is a new electronica incarnation of the experimental, socially conscious and jazz-flecked hip-hop Best of Baltimore alums, debuting just for BiMA.fest.

Hit up the same venue on Friday night and you can get your fill of guitar-driven and experimental indie rock with Gary B. and the NotionsImperial China, Slow Jets, E Joseph & the Phantom Heart, The Library Is On Fire, and (The Sounds of) Kaleidoscope.

Cyclops Books: If you want something a little softer and more artsy on Friday night, head next door to this bookstore-and-music-venue and check out A Cat Called Cricket. This chamber pop big band will not disappoint.

Other bands at Cyclops that night are Brice Randall Bickford, Birds & Arrows, Gumshoe, and Butterflies.

Honorable Mention: The seminal 1980s punk band The Queers is playing at The Sidebar Tavern Saturday night.

Full schedule is available here.

—Jack Hunter and Jon Patton (Baltimore, MD)

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