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Dawn of the Dread


Usually, if a festival is still solidifying its lineup just a week or so before the event, it's an ominous red flag, signifying poor planning at best and an impending debacle at worst. But the Dreadrock Music Festival gets a free pass on these grounds because its organizers must navigate through a daunting maze of red tape to ensure that some of its Trinidad-born headliners can enter the country, let alone perform in Lawrence. Passports permitting, however, local audiences should get a chance to hear Sean Bartholomew's subtly soulful voice and smart songwriting, which justify the explanation point that follows his name when he performs with his now-L.A.-based trio Sean! The group's exotic yet accessible sound should be familiar to Santana fans -- just substitute beachcombing Caribbean beats for that ageless artist's Latin flavor. Another originally Trinidad-based group, Upstream (pictured), relocated to Los Angeles in the early '90s and now boasts an all-star lineup with ties to Geggy Tah and Fishbone. Its founding members, Haile and Dereck Blackman, left behind a group (The Love Circle) that achieved immense popularity in its hometown to start from scratch in the States. Upstream's reggae roots run deep, but it isn't afraid to tinker with tradition (elements of hip-hop and alt-rock appear in its mix) or take its steady sound to the dread-free masses (it's opened for Harvey Danger and R.E.M.). Rounding out the Trini-trio is The Orange Sky, the only band of the three that's still based on the isle. Other performers include Senegal's Boujou, acoustic act Stanley Lucas, groove-heavy Orange County crew Thalamus Flynt, dirty funksters Lonely Houndogs, and jam-tastic area attractions Einstein Electric, Brent Berry and the Secondhands and Subway Mind. The lineup remains subject to change (government approval pending); keep up to date (and buy tickets) at

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