Free beer and music festival in Albany features Everclear


There’s an inside joke among journalists — a lot of them; no, really, follow Overheard in the Newsroom if you’re still into the social media platform formerly known as Twitter — about press releases touting a “first annual” event.

It takes a lot of hope, chutzpah even, to declare something the first annual anything. It means you’re so sure your event is going to be successful, you’ll be willing to put in all that hard work and do it again next year.

So excuse us if we glance askew at your press release. Don’t mind if we edit that to “first-ever” and add, “what organizers hope becomes an annual event.”

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Don’t get us wrong: We’re thrilled you’re trying out something new, and we’ll likely promote it in Mid-Valley Live. We’re happy to write about new events. But we’ll stop short of calling it the “first annual.”

So imagine our surprise when we got a news release for a second annual event, and we’d never even heard of the first annual.

And it features known recording artists.

Yeah, got a little sloppy cooking my breakfast this morning; could someone hand me a towel to wipe that egg off my face?

It’s called the Second Annual — deserved, here! — Albany Block Party. It’s a music and beer festival. We love music.

(In our defense, we did not receive anything about it last year. My email filing system is legendary, and after running a search, nothing came up.)

Last year, the story we missed was that Nate Smith, viral TikTokker-turned-signed country artist, would perform. This year, it’s ’90s alternative band Everclear. From Portland.

When you think of the 1990s, a lot of bands probably come to mind: grunge legends Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden for sure. But also post-punk Green Day, post-funk Red Hot Chili Peppers, minimalist White Stripes, and female pianist powerhouses, like Fiona Apple and Tori Amos.

But I’ve been cruising a lot of best-of lists, and Everclear is there too. Most include “Santa Monica,” a song that doesn’t include the seaside town’s name in the lyrics, so we’ll excuse you if it doesn’t immediately come to mind. 

Here, let us help. These are the first two lines:

I am still living with your ghost,

Lonely and dreaming of the West Coast.

Now you remember, right? But Everclear is hardly a one-hit wonder. (That’s the domain of flashes-in-the-pan Semisonic with “Closing Time” and Chumbawamba’s “Tubthumping.”)

Ironically, Everclear has a song titled “One Hit Wonder.”

Everclear had a solid five songs spend a total of 75 weeks on the singles charts, according to officialcharts.com (I have no idea how official this site is, but come on, official is in the name!). You know them, songs like “Wonderful” and “Everything to Everyone.”

Not exactly the lyricist stylings of say, someone like Fiona Apple (seriously, “You fondle my trigger, then you blame my gun” from 1999’s “Limp” is downright female anthemic, and no, we’re not talking actual guns), Everclear wrote some very raw songs expressing the hurt of a little boy from a broken family.

From 1997’s “Father of Mine.” And:

Promises mean everything when you’re little

I just don’t understand how

You can smile with all those tears in your eyes

Tell me everything is wonderful now

That’s a gut punch, and I come from a really loving, intact nuclear family. Someone had to sing for the betrayed 9-year-old, and it was Everclear singer-songwriter Art Alexakis, the only original member still with the band.

Alexakis has had his own struggles: divorce, not only his parents’ when he was 5 but also his own; a teen girlfriend who committed suicide and an attempt of his own; sobriety from cocaine and heroin (he has it now); and a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis seven years ago, according to many published reports.  

That rawness in the lyrics has been earned.

You can hear it for yourself. At the Second Annual Albany Downtown Block Party. Here are the particulars:

Place: Greyhound Tavern, 220 Second Ave. SW, Albany.

Cost: Free to attend, drink tickets ($7 to $9) and T-shirts on sale at https://bit.ly/3QVYQH3. A party pack with a tee and four craft drink tickets is $55 before the event at the same website. 

Schedule: 1 p.m. Cornhole tournament

3 p.m. Main stage events, including a roller rink set up by NorthWest Skateland (first-served rentals free of charge); skateboarding; food and beverage vendors, including an outdoor beer garden; kid-friendly activities like bounce houses and face-painting.

You can bet, if there’s a third annual, you’ll read about it here.

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Penny Rosenberg is regional editor of three Lee Enterprises news publications in the Pacific Northwest. She can be reached at Penny.Rosenberg@lee.net and 541-812-6111.

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