CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival Reveals Initial 2017 FallFest Lineup August 08, 2017 15:13

Photo by Craig Baird: Home Team Photography

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Festival organizers have revealed the initial lineup for CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival, which returns Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL for the fourth consecutive year on October 6th - 8th and will presented by Land Rover of Birmingham. The bi-annual, grassroots music and arts festival has seen tremendous growth with each year, and this fall looks to be no exception. FallFest will feature arguably the festival's exciting lineup to date with BIG Something, The Heavy Pets, Backup PlanetFreekbass, lespecial and Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose rounding out the first wave of bands. A very limited amount of early bird tickets can be purchased today by clicking here.  VIP ticket packages and advance general admission tickets can also be found at  Stay tuned for future artist announcements, exclusive artist interviews, and everything you need to know about CukoRakko!

Get To Know The Lineup:

BIG Something

A 6 piece powerhouse with a sound that is both unique and timeless, BIG Something fuses elements of rock, pop, funk, and improvisation to take listeners on a journey through a myriad of musical styles. It's no secret why this group has quickly become one of the most exciting new bands to emerge from the Southeast. Soaring guitars, synths, horns and alluring vocal hooks rise to the top of their infectious collection of songs and represent a sound that has caught the ears of such revered Summer circuit stalwarts as Galactic, moe., Robert Randolph, and even The B52s who have all tapped Big Something as direct support.

This past February the group released their 4th full-length studio album, Tumbleweed, which was recorded once again with the help of grammy nominated producer John Custer (Corrosion of Conformity). He has produced all of their albums including Truth Serum, which was named 2014 Album of the Year by The Homegrown Music Network, making Big Something the only band ever to win this award 3 times with 3 different releases (2010, 2013, and 2014).

Watch BIG Something perform "The Flood" with Jake Cinninger of Umphrey's McGee here:

The Heavy Pets

The Heavy Pets are a funky-ass rock and roll band from South Florida. Called "a living, breathing force of nature" by Relix magazine, they are known for their songcraft and powerhouse live performances. The band has been a mainstay on the national touring circuit for over a decade, and will release its fourth full-length studio album in September 2017.

The Pets are a seasoned live act, playing over 1200 shows across the country since their inception in 2005. The band's energetic, extended sets have been described as "full blown musical salvation" that embodies the sound of their Florida home, weaving together elements of indie rock, funk and reggae into a style that is uniquely their own.

The group became an instant Sirius radio sensation upon the release of their debut album Whale in 2007. The crossover sound on their self-titled release, named a "Top 10 Album of 2010" by The Huffington Post, propelled them into the periphery of mainstream music. 2011 saw the release of Swim Out Past The Sun, an acoustic affair featuring longtime Jerry Garcia collaborator David Grisman. Beginning in 2013, The Heavy Pets put out a series of EPs recorded at the legendary Power Station studios, and will release its fourth full-length album in September 2017.

Watch The Heavy Pets perform "Dewpoint" > "Jackie Bones" here:

Backup Planet

Rock ‘n’ roll epitomizes escapism in its purest form. It’s not just artistic anesthetization either, but rather a galvanizing force that inspires us to keep pushing through life’s trials and tribulations. That’s why we still listen to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Rush, and countless others all these years later. It’s the same reason audiences will be talking about Backup Planet’s second full-length album, Reactions, for a long time to come. The Nashville, TN quartet—Ben Cooper [keys, vocals], Chris Potocik [drums, vocals], Gavin Donati [guitar, vocals], and Blake Gallant [bass, vocals]—write arena-size anthems echoing with progressive intricacy, funk swagger, and even a little metallic edge. Giving listeners an inspiring and invigorating aural haven, their moniker couldn’t be more apropos…

Watch Backup Planet perform David Bowie's "Fame" here:


Born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Freekbass was an only child who initially wanted to be a magician. He later developed his own obsession for cartoon superheroes and comic books, relating to the underlying themes.

Living in Cincinnati exposed Freekbass to genres of music he may have missed otherwise. While most kids were listening to Nirvana and Green Day, he connected with the bottom-heavy sounds coming out of the boom boxes like Zapp and Midnight Star. While working in a music shop to pay off his first electric bass he had in lay-away, he began to study the classics of Larry Graham, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder, Parliament and Bootsy with a bass in one hand, and an MPC2000 in the other.

Freekbass has released six full-length CDs, including “Concentrate” with guests Bootsy Collins, DJ Spooky, Adam Deitch, and Steve Molitz, and “Junkyard Waltz” which includes guest appearances by Phish bassist Mike Gordon, guitarist Buckethead, keyboard wizard from P-Funk/Talking Heads Bernie Worrell, and is produced by funk legend Bootsy Collins. Also, national music DVD instruction company, The Rock House Method, recently released two Freekbass instructional DVDs “Learn Funk Bass with Freekbass (Level 1 & Level 2) “, and just released the instructional DVD/download “50 Freekbass Licks You Must Know” . In 2010 Freekbass connected with DJ Logic, and Particle keyboardist Steve Molitz to form the funktronica trio, Headtronics. 

Going into 2015 Freek has a lot of things on the table. He just released his next album , “Everybody’s Feelin’ Real”, which is produced by Duane Lundy (My Morning Jacket’s Jim James/Ben Sollee) and includes P-Funk/Rubberband keyboardist Razor Sharp Johnson, horn man Skerik, and Trey Anastasio Band vocalist/trumpet Jennifer Hartswick . Also, he was a part of this year’s London Bass Guitar Show in the UK giving a master class and performing. Plus he will be doing extensive touring with his mainstay funk group, “Freekbass & The Bump Assembly” which also includes funk legend Razor Sharp Johnson on keys/synths and George Clinton & P-Funk alumni Rico Lewis on drums. And recently, he signed with the esteemed label Ropeadope Records.

Watch Freekbass' music video for "Mama's Like A Cowboy" here:


Hailed as a breakthrough act to watch in 2017, lespecial, based in Boston and upstate New York, have established themselves as innovators and tastemakers on their own unique trajectory. “Disguised as an average power trio from Boston, lespecial creeps around corners and reaches into the darkest depths of the absurd. lespecial is meticulous, creative and defiant; eclectic, multi-talented and driven. The band prides itself in extending the boundaries of musical ability, rebelliously laying waste to the limits of popular music.” (Ragin Randy Entertainment)

Labeled with such unique descriptions as “dark future groove” or “death funk” to “trance metal” or “haunted house party music”, it is tough to put one’s finger on this dangerous and determined trifecta’s distinct sound. A lespecial set brings their signature blend of psychedelic metal infused funk along with deep, thumping synths and 808s that will have your hips swaying as quick as your head banging. From the band’s origins as three friends in high school in the woods of Connecticut who shared a passion for building unique instruments and hitting them with drum sticks, through studying music at a collegiate level to now running their own music school and studio, The Music Cellar, in Millerton NY, Jonny Grusauskas (guitar/synth/sampler/percussion/vocals), Luke Bemand (bass/synth/percussion) and Rory Dolan’s (drums/samples) unique chemistry is what gives them their incomparable personality.

As Steve Morse, Boston Globe writer and Berklee College of Music professor, claims, “They are virtuoso players- and they really listen to each other closely, which is what raises them apart from today’s progressive wannabees”. After several, eclectic EP releases, their debut album, “Omnisquid”, released in 2015, finds the band “jumping through periods of hypnotic rhythms, catchy riffs, and synth grooves fit for a club… throw in a healthy dose of heavy metal and punk influenced guitar, and you have one of the most interesting new albums out there.” (Monkeygoose Magazine). ITDJENTS claims “For fans of King Crimson, Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Battles this is definitely the album for you”. The band’s expansive catalogue of singles and videos, including arrangements of everyone from Kanye West to Skrillex to Fela Kuti, is keeping all eyes and ears on lespecial as they prove in clubs and festivals nationwide why Relix Magazine claims “Amidst the rest of the noise, lespecial is the squeaky wheel that demands attention.” 

Check out lespecial's recent set from Disc Jam Music Festival here:

Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose

Mr B began freestyling and recording mixtapes as a highschooler in Phoenix, AZ. He first came in to the public eye after viral youtube video "Wendys Drive Thru Rap". Soon after, he hit the road in support of acts like DMX and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. It did not take long for Mr B to realize he wanted to perform with more than just himself, and that's when the Tribal Hoose came along. With every member hailing from a different state, the group began as friends improvising live jams with Mr B as he freestyled at local house shows. They quickly realized they were on to something unique and captivating. The band has since grown and had the opportunity to perform at festivals with likes of Soulja Boy and Ying Yang Twins to name a few. They will B releasing their debut album in the Spring of 2017, followed by a tour to promote their album and movement.

Watch Mr. B & The Tribal Hoose perform "It Ain't All Good (But It's All Good) here:


The Road to CukoRakko: A Conversation with Freekbass September 28, 2015 08:40

Our latest segment, "The Road to CukoRakko," consists of a series of interviews leading up to the festival held this weekend at Horse Pens 40 in Steele, AL.  We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the one and only Freekbass for our latest interview.  Freekbass & The Bump Assembly are set to play CukoRakko at 12:30 PM on Sunday, October 4th.  The Bump Assembly consists of Big Bamn on drums and Jason Burgard on saxophone.  Freebass recently signed with Ropeadope Records, and is scheduled to a release his new album, Cincinnati, on Friday, November 20th.
You've been at this thing for roughly 20 years now.  When did you first begin playing music, and what are a few of your first memories of playing on stage?
FB:  Yeah, I started playing live when I was about 14 with a lot of the places being before I was legally allowed to be there if I wasn't in "the band". I read where Keith Richards said that the stage is the place that most feels at home, and I definitely feel that way. I couldn't tell you what I ate for lunch but I think I can remember almost every stage experience since I started. It's a unique place to grow up. Probably one of my earliest stage memories is when we played the 8th Grade talent show. Everyday in the lunchroom there was this big, pretty intimidating looking cat that would always call me names and threaten to beat me up. At the talent show I played guitar and we played "The Jack" by AC/DC. That next day the same dude who acted like he was going to pulverize me, acted like he was my best friend with a huge smile on his face full of positive energy. That was one of the first times I realized the power in music. 

Who were some of your earliest musical inspirations?  Can you point to anyone specifically who drove you towards being a full time musician?
FB:  I worked at a music store the summer going into high school to pay off a bass I wanted.There were always older musicians who were gigging for a living coming into the store talking about the lifestyle, touring, and recording. They would compare stories with each other about where they had been, what gear they liked, crazy road stories , etc. It was fascinating to a kid just starting to play. Then a lot of times they would sit down and play and let me play with them. That is how I learned how to thump and pluck on the bass. One person from an r&b/funk group would come into the store and start thumping on the bass Louis Johnson style. It sounded magical, so I asked him if he could show me how to do that on the bass. About once a week he would stop in the store and have me mimic back and forth what he was doing and little by little I would "get it". 
I've read that the legendary Bootsy Collins can be thanked for giving you the name "Freekbass." You've been fortunate enough to collaborate with Bootsy a number of times over the years.  How did that all come together?
FB:  Bootsy's singer from the original Rubberband, and a member of George Clinton's Parliament-Funkadelic, Gary "Mudbone" Cooper, had heard about me around Cincy and asked me to play bass on some of his demos. One day he called and said he was working on a track for a new compilation album for P-Vine Records (funk label out of Japan) which were songs written about Jimi Hendrix. A different funk collaboration would do each track. Muddy was doing a track with Kidd Funkadelic/ Michael Hampton and asked me if I would like to play bass on the track. I said of course and asked him where we would be recording it. He said Bootsy's, and Boot would be producing and engineering the track.
As you can imagine I was pretty excited. We went to Bootsy's studio and he and I hit it off great, and a couple of weeks later he asked me back out to the studio to write some songs and record together. Definitely a huge turning point in my career. That is when he gave me the name 'Freekbass' too. He had a bunch of bass effects at his studio and I always used a lot of my own too and he would always say "do that Freekie thing with your bass" and folks around the studio picked up on it and everyone started calling me "Freek" or Freekbass and it stuck. 
One of your first groups, Sleep Theatre, was signed to a major deal just as you guys were officially parting ways?  How did that experience affect you as a young musician?  
FB:  Wow, you are going back right after high school days. Right when we got that deal (which was a big indy label distributed by a major) was right when SHAG (the funk band I toured with right before I started the Freekbass band ) was starting. So for a while I tried doing both bands. But SHAG started touring so much it became really difficult to do both things and I didn't think it was fair to the ST band to suffer or take a back seat to what I was doing. So I made the decision to move on with SHAG. It was tough to do because I had been playing and writing with those guys since early high school days, but it felt like the right move. 

You have had the opportunity to share the stage with many of the music scenes most accomplished musicians.  Can you share a few of your favorite collaborations from years past?
I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have gotten to play with some incredibly gifted folks. We already talked a bit about Bootsy which was and always is incredibly inspiring when we get together. Playing and writing with Bernie Worrell has been pretty amazing. Bernie is one of those folks that it is very easy to use the word genius with. He has been on a few of my albums , and I got to play with him at Moogfest a few years back which was incredible since him and Moog are so closely linked. 
Also, playing and recording with Mike Gordon has been great. He and I met at Bass Player Live (event put on by Bass Player Magazine) few years back. I asked him if he would like to be on my album and he was down. Since then we have become pretty good friends usually spending a lot of the time talking bass geek stuff like the newest pedals and effects. He is a great bassist with his own very unique voice and such a good guy. 
You're scheduled to play this weekend's CukoRakko Music & Arts Festival at Horse Pens 40 on Sunday afternoon.  For those who have yet to see your live show, how would you best describe what they can expect?
We try to take the approach to how a DJ runs a set where each song breaks into the next bringing the audience to different areas of sonic movement and space. 
Over the last 20 years, you have seen the digital music revolution evolve in front of your eyes.  People essentially expect all new music to be free these days.  What advice would you give a young, up-and-coming artist who is just getting started in the midst of this new age?
Be very good live! No matter where technology leads us nothing can replicate a great live performance!