JONATHON GALYON is in Kingston, Tennessee on a Tuesday morning, talking about a music festival about to take place 2,500 miles away in Portland, Oregon.
You could say Galyon first dreamed up North West Hesh Fest as a teenager growing in Tennessee attending rock shows—from sweaty punk affairs to lit-up arena performances. "Almost every band is connected to some part of my past," he says. "I never imagined I'd be doing this."
Galyon's Southern drawl is still thick, but his connection to the Pacific Northwest is not so distant. He moved to Portland from Kingston in 1999 and lived here until 2003 (he also did a short stint in 2007)—years during which he worked at Dante's and went to plenty of rock shows. Galyon has spent the last few years in Austin, Texas, where he started American Icon, which specializes in vintage rock tees. From there he's expanded the company to include a record label, and now a series of small festivals, including a SXSW showcase called Heavy Metal Parking Lot.
It seemed only a matter of time before Galyon would do something in Portland. In addition to bands like Pentagram and Acid King, North West Hesh Fest—his first production here—includes plenty of local heavies and rock 'n' rollers, including Sons of Huns, P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. and Dead Moon. "To me Fred Cole is up there with Johnny Cash," says Galyon. "He's a great American songwriter who did everything from scratch."
He knows what he's talking about. Here's a rundown of what to expect from Hesh Fest.
Pentagram—These seminal '70s doomsters finally came out of hiding in the mid-'80s, and don't seem interested in resting on their laurels. Bobby Liebling—Pentagram's original vocalist—and a not-so merry band of thrashers release a new record, Curious Volume, on August 28. It proves again that Black Sabbath weren't alone in conjuring the soundtrack to the apocalypse.
Electric Citizen—Another in the new generation of bands bringing back the black light-influenced hard rock of 1971, Electric Citizen combines sinewy riffs with lyrical imagery right out of a Frank Frazetta painting. Perfect for séances and beer busts.
Sons of Huns—A free 1976 Camaro should come with the purchase of Sons of Huns' latest album, While Sleeping Stay Awake. These riffs are made for blazing down the highway with the windows down—and no one else needs to know what's stashed in the center console.
Dead Moon—What needs to be said? Portland's best and longest-running rock band continues to play unconditionally and uncompromisingly. Fred Cole will turn 67 on the night of their performance, so wish him a happy return, and raise a glass to a band that still does it for all the right reasons.
Fireballs of Freedom—Rock 'n' roll from Portland's very own gutters. Formed in the early '90s, these ramshackle trash rockers out-punked the punks, out-grunged Seattle, and kicked everyone else out of the garage. They're the equivalent of running your ears over a cheese-grater... only greater.
P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S.—These guys are so punk rock, they played the release show for their latest LP Another Day at the Sandy Hut. P.R.O.B.L.E.M.S. includes members of Poison Idea and Pierced Arrows for your punk pleasure.
The Last Dancers—Chicago's Last Dancers sound like they could have jangled, punked, and twanged on Bloodshot Records in the early '90s. Frontman Adam Mackintosh used to play in Portland's Gruesome Galore, and found his true calling while living in Memphis, Tennessee. American roots rock that actually rocks.
DRC3—This unit features members from ghosts of Portland's rock 'n' roll past and present—Eat Skull, Audios Amigos and Goddamn Gentlemen—and the result is what you might expect: Twang! Clang! And bang!
Yob—Yob just keeps getting better. Need proof? Listen to their latest, Clearing the Path to Ascend. Or see them live. This year the band has been roaming the land, landing an opening slot for Tool and demolishing big festivals like All Tomorrow's Parties and Maryland Death Fest. My doomsday prediction: Yob will take doom metal all the way to doomsday.
Acid King—Stoner metal before getting stoned and listening to metal was made fashionable. More than two decades on, frontwoman Lori S. is still the queen of Acid King, whose influence can be felt both in the genre they helped birth, and in the growing number of female-fronted heavy rock acts today. Earlier this year the San Francisco trio released Middle of Nowhere, Center of Everywhere—their first album in a decade—and it feels as though they never left us. In spirit, they never really did.
Sweat Lodge—Greasy, Southern-fried choogle from Austin that's sure to encourage heavy drug use, Satanism, and ZZ Top worship. Just like the perfect life partner.
Diesto—The riffs on Diesto's For Water or Blood will lodge themselves deep into your epidermis and pull the veins right out of your arms. But don't be scared—this is one of Portland's finest metal bands.
School of Rock performs Judas Priest's Sad Wings of Destiny—Get there early, because this is going to be incredible. School of Rock takes on one of Priest's best slabs—live. At least show up to witness a room full of battle-vested heshers brought to tears upon hearing youngsters play the opening riff to "Victim of Changes."