DUMMERSTON — A five-piece, New York City band whose sound incorporates funk, jam and disco will be headlining the fifth New England Street Food Festival.
"We really always want to play for crowds that are ready to stand up and dance. We think of ourselves almost like an instrumental electronic dance music act," said Sawyer Adler, bass player in Stolen Gin. "The kind of music that's most associated with dancing is usually not one that actually has live musicians in it. So we're almost like a live dance band."
Stolen Gin will perform a three-hour set at the free, family-friendly festival, set for 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of Kampfires, 792 Route 5, featuring a wide variety of local food vendors, plus a few local artisans. Local duo Jill & Chris will open for Stolen Gin. There will be performances by New England Center for Circus Arts at 1:30 and 3:30 p.m.
As for the main event — the food — options will include barbecue, vegan, street tacos, local brews and more.
"It really is the first time it feels like street food vendors," said Richard "Bud" Lolatte, Reformer advertising representative and event organizer. "It's the food that you would find on any street corner in the city. Nothing fancy. Very simple, very good. And just very everyman food — every person food."
Tim Mertic, general manager at Whetstone Station and Brewery, said the foods he is thinking of bringing include andouille sausage and corn chowder, a beer-battered fish sandwich, the Whetstone's classic poutine and a pulled pork mac and cheese. He is still mulling over a vegetarian dish. Whetstone also will have a beer truck and a specialty cocktail.
"I did work it last year, and I had a lot of fun. The event's really great," Mertic said. "This year, I know after speaking with Bud from the Reformer, that there's going to be a lot of diversity and food and everything there, which is great, because that's really a big part of the draw."
Jordan Brechenser, president and publisher of Vermont News & Media, owner of the Reformer, Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal, called the Street Food Fest one of the company's signature events.
"With many events in the prior years being canceled, we knew how important it was to organize this year's Street Food Fest and give folks something fun to do as a community," Brechenser said. "From various musicians to unique foods and drinks, plus entertainment, this year's Street Food Fest has a little something for everyone to enjoy. And best of all, it's free to attend, thanks to our community sponsors who come together to make this possible."
Lolatte said he's excited to have Stolen Gin making its Vermont debut at the festival — a sentiment echoed by the musicians.
"We've never actually played in Vermont before," Adler said. "We're really, really pumped about this gig for a couple of reasons. One is that it's in Vermont, which is basically, the ancestral homeland of jam band music. The other reason is that it's a three-hour set, so we're going to be able to really stretch out and really bring that jam idea to our music."
In New York City, Adler noted, the band doesn't have frequent opportunities to play long sets like the Vermont bands they enjoy, such as Phish and Twiddle.
"For the more hardcore fans, they really give you everything you're looking for," Adler said. "They open the songs up, and we're really excited to go to a place where we're able to do that stuff a little more than we can necessarily do it in New York City."
Among the band's popular tracks on the streaming service Spotify is the danceable "Analie," driven by a digital drumbeat.
"The drums on there are digital drums, and at the time, it was primarily due to budget constraints," Adler said. "But it's actually come to really make a lot of sense for our kind of sound, which is essentially fusing electronic dance music with a traditional jam band."
With the band moving in what Adler describes as a more disco-focused direction, "Analie" is a good example of the sound Stolen Gin is going for on its new record.
"The reason that song did so well," he said, "is because it really puts the disco element, or the electronic element, at the front of the song, at the foreground."
Another popular track is "Tension Release," one of the first songs Stolen Gin recorded together as a band, using real drums, "real bass, real everything." This was shortly after Evan Jacobson joined as the saxophone player.
"So he has like, his minute-long sort of sax feature at the end," Adler said. "And since then — it's been a little over a year that he's been with us — the saxophone has really become an integral part of our sound. I think you can sort of trace that back to that song."
He said the band plans to play both originals and covers.
"We like to pick covers from all time periods, so that the parents in the crowd, the older folks, have something to dance to, and you know, there's chart stuff for today," Adler said.
Stolen Gin is Jackson Larder on guitar and vocals, Evan Jacobson on saxophone, Will Adler on guitar, Sawyer Adler on bass and Harry Smith drums. For more information on the band, visit stolengin.com.
The event is presented by the Brattleboro Reformer and Whetstone. Sponsors are Whetstone, Kampfires Campground, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Berkley & Veller Greenwood Country Realtors and Brattleboro Area Realty.
There is no entrance fee, but a donation to the Windham County Humane Society is appreciated. BSA Scout Troop 461 is assisting with parking and a small donation to them is also welcome.
Lolatte noted that the event is accessible, with a small number of handicap parking spots and the option to drop off attendees at the site.