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Tipp Hill Music Fest enters its 7th year

Ed Zacholl emphasizes that the West Side’s Tipp Hill Music Fest is about two things at the core: music and community.

Tipp Hill

Tipp Hill

The 7-year-old fest will feature 20 bands from Central New York, with styles spanning reggae, rock and rhythm’n’blues. Each of the bands has a connection of some kind to the Tipperary Hill community, and fest-goers are often past or present residents of the traditionally Irish neighborhood. This year, the non-profit event will take place on Saturday, Sept. 21, noon to 7 p.m., at Pass Arboretum, corner of Tompkins Street and Avery Avenue.

“There are no egos,” Zacholl says of the festival. “All the bands are listed alphabetically on the fliers. It’s about the music community getting together and representing Tipp Hill.”

The theme for this year’s event— “Branch Out!”—was designed with the goal of expanding the musical palette, and friends of the community, even further.

“I go to music fests a lot, and as I was going to the Grey Fox {Bluegrass} Festival in July, I was listening to a David Bromberg show,” Zacholl says. “He had all these guests with him, and I kept thinking that I had seen him, but not with him, or him, or him. He branched out, and it was cool to hear something different. That’s the beauty of festivals: People who normally wouldn’t play together, get to.”

Festival organizers, which include Zacholl, Mike Lounsberry and Joe Henson, decided to make it a point to encourage bands to bring musical guests to their stages at the fest. Zacholl also knows about some of the event’s guest appearances, and those surprises will make the day that much more intriguing.

In addition, the Casual Dog Band, a Tipp Hill-based group popular in the 1980s and 1990s, will reunite this week, starting with a show on Thursday, Sept.

19, at George O’Dea’s, 1333 W. Fayette St. The band played O’Dea’s nearly every week from 1986 until 2000, when it was Dooleyz Tavern.

“It was one of the longest running things,” Zacholl recalls. “It was a scene. Lots of musicians would go and hop on stage; Colin Aberdeen was always there.”

Colin Aberdeen

Colin Aberdeen

Given the open nature of the group and fluctuating start and end times of the gigs, “the name was appropriate,” Zacholl adds with a laugh. Throughout the long history, more than 30 members, including players like Scott Ebner and Pat Shaughnessy, at one time called themselves a Casual Dog. Many of them will return for the reunion weekend.

The fest also works as a reunion for Tipperary Hill dwellers, old and new. The bands have ties to Tipp Hill, and many attendees are residents, were at one time or have family or close friends in the community. It makes for a warm weekend where 2,000 friends enjoy a day of tunes.

Although the event takes a lot of work, Zacholl seems satisfied with the result. About two dozen sponsors help make the music possible, which is the highlight for organizers.

Zacholl gets excited when he starts looking through the list, recalling great acts of the past and additions for the future. “Brownskin knocked it out last year,” he says. “Members of Count Blastula live on Tipp Hill, so that will be great.

Colin Aberdeen has never played the festival even though every other member of Los Blancos has, so we’re happy to have him. I love reggae, so I’m excited for Akuma Roots. Sirsy has been there at least twice before. And bands are usually playing at the same times at night, so they get to see each other there. It’s great to see everybody.”

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