CRAFT LATINO TO UNVEIL THE FIRST BATCH OF 
CLASSIC FANIA VINYL REISSUES
CELIA CRUZ & TITO PUENTE’S ALMA CON ALMA, 
WILLIE COLÓN’S THE HUSTLER, 
FANIA ALL STARS LIVE AT YANKEE STADIUM AND 
CELIA CRUZ & JOHNNY PACHECO’S CELIA & JOHNNY
AVAILABLE OCTOBER 25

Los Angeles, CA (August 13, 2019) – In 1964, a young musician from the Dominican Republic by the name of Johnny Pacheco teamed up with ambitious Italian-American lawyer Jerry Masucci for the creation of a record label in New York. Named Fania, the brand-new company captured the sheer excitement of Afro-Caribbean music as it was just beginning to incorporate elements of soul, R&B and jazz into a vibrant sonic stew known as salsa. 
Fania grew in sales and scope at a rapid pace, documenting the New York Salsa Explosion of the ’70s and establishing itself as the Latin equivalent of Motown. Its catalogue of masterpieces from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s remains one of the most prodigious bodies of work in all of Latin music.
On October 25th, Craft Latino, the Latin arm of Craft Recordings, will unveil the first batch of vinyl reissues to be released since the Fania catalogue was acquired by Concord in 2018. Cut from the original analog masters by Kevin Gray at Cohearent Audio, these four LPs offer an exciting and intriguing sample of Fania’s salsa magic. There’s Alma Con Alma — an electrifying collaboration between Cuban powerhouse Celia Cruz and timbales king Tito Puente. Released in 1968, The Hustler is the second album by visionary producer Willie Colón and his partner in crime, Puerto Rican singer Héctor Lavoe. The Fania All Starsdouble-LP set Live At Yankee Stadium captures the label’s own mega-orchestra recorded in concert at the height of its powers — an album that was inducted into the National Recording Registry in 2003. Lastly, Celia & Johnny, the Queen of Salsa’s 1974 artistic tour de force, in collaboration with Fania co-founder and flautist Johnny Pacheco, is a salsa masterpiece that will be available exclusively through Vinyl Me, Please Classics as the October Record of the Month!
Strategically designed as an ideal introduction to the Fania aesthetic, and timed to coincide with Hispanic Heritage Month, the releases also illustrate the label’s breadth. From salsified Cuban standards and funky boogaloos to raucous jam sessions and trombone-heavy dancefloor scorchers, this initial collection paints a vivid picture of Afro-Caribbean music as a genre marked by wide stylistic variety. 
During the late ’60s, Fania thrived on contrasts. On the one hand, it championed the albums recorded by the prolific Johnny Pacheco, honoring the Cuban roots of tropical music with elegant charanga instrumentations and a certain innocence of spirit. At the same time, it was also the label of choice for young musicians of Nuyorican and Puerto Rican origin who wanted to disrupt the cultural status quo with the rebellious energy of fresh sounds.
Trombonist, singer/songwriter and producer Willie Colón was one such artist, and his 1968 LP The Hustler still breathes with unpredictability, raw arrangements and the kind of visceral approach to Afro-Cuban beats that would come to define the essence of ’70s salsa. In retrospect, The Hustlersounds remarkably self-assured for a sophomore effort, particularly thanks to the timeless vocalizing of Héctor Lavoe, the closest to a rock star that salsa has ever known. On tracks such as “Que Lío” and “Eso Se Baila Así,” Lavoe’s soulful singing brims with humor and personality, while the piano licks by the late Markolino Dimond are, just by themselves, worth the price of admission. This reissue is pressed on 180-gram vinyl with the original artwork faithfully replicated on a classic tip-on record jacket. 
Released in 1970, Alma Con Alma is a relatively obscure LP — one of a handful of masterpieces that Tito Puente and Celia Cruz recorded together between the late ’60s and the early ’70s. In later decades, both artists would remember these releases as some of the best work of their careers, lamenting the fact that poor promotion at the time caused these excellent albums to go virtually unnoticed. But the inspiration is certainly there, as demonstrated by the exotic strains of “Sahara” — with a solemn Celia chanting about the desert — and the exuberant energy of “Salsa de Tomate,” where Puente’s brass section and syncopated percussion are placed at the service of Celia’s powerhouse vocals. Pressed on 180-gram vinyl, Alma Con Alma also features faithfully replicated artwork printed on a tip-on jacket.
Whereas Alma Con Alma could find redemption as a newly discovered masterpiece, the Fania All Stars Live At Yankee Stadium is widely known as a testament of the salsa concert experience. It is difficult to imagine the Anglo equivalent of this band — picture John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchelland Elton John performing together as part of a touring group, and you’re beginning to get a feel for the star power involved in the Fania All Stars. But in this particular orchestra, even the instrumentalists — keyboardist Larry Harlow, bongosero Roberto Roena, conguero Ray Barretto— were bandleaders and legends in their own right.
By the time the Fania All Stars performed at Yankee Stadium in 1973, the salsa explosion had already become a mainstream phenomenon. Here we get a snapshot of a genre at its ultimate peak, and the performances are appropriately epic, from Celia Cruz’s 12-minute long “Bemba Colorá” to Héctor Lavoe’s moving “Mi Gente” — a Johnny Pacheco composition — and the warmth in Ismael Miranda’s delivery throughout the jazzy “Qué Rico Suena Mi Tambor.” Live At Yankee Stadium Volumes 1 & 2 are released here as a 2-LP set for the first time!
If one had to pick a single Celia Cruz LP for the proverbial desert island, 1974’s Celia & Johnny would be the obvious choice. In a way, it crystallizes Johnny Pacheco’s entire career as an impossible dream that comes true: a musician who grows up idolizing Cuba’s La Sonora Matancera, then ends up recording a best-selling album of modernized classics with the orchestra’s former star singer. Cruz always collaborated with superlative producers and musical directors, but there was something about her partnership with Pacheco that brought her best qualities to the forefront. She sounds positively blissful on “Químbara” — an essential salsa nugget to this day — then travels to Peru for an earthy take on “Toro Mata,” before showcasing endless amounts of tenderness on the velvety bolero “Vieja Luna.”
On October 25th, Vinyl Me, Please will be releasing exclusive 180-gram collectible color variants of these Fania titles. The Hustler in custard yellow vinyl, Alma Con Alma in olive green vinyl, and Live At Yankee Stadium in fire red vinyl. Click here to pre-order.
More LP reissues will follow soon, continuing an ongoing exploration and reevaluation of the Fania treasure trove.
—ERNESTO LECHNER

Craft Latino to unveil first batch of classic Fania vinyl reissues

PREVIOUSLY UNHEARD 1969 SOLO ACOUSTIC STUDIO SESSION 
IF THE EVENING WERE DAWN
 
AND 1972 SOPHOMORE ALBUM, BACK IN PRINT ON VINYL 
AFTER NEARLY 50 YEARS 
 
AVAILABLE OCTOBER 25
ON CD, LP, DIGITAL, AND LITA-EXCLUSIVE DELUXE BUNDLES

Los Angeles, CA. (August 13, 2019) – Light in the Attic Records carries forth the legacy of the enigmatic folk-hero and songwriter Jim Sullivan with two new releases: If The Evening Were Dawn, a collection of previously unheard solo acoustic recordings and the first-ever official vinyl reissue of Sullivan’s eponymous second LP, which includes a robust booklet with rare archival photos and new liner notes from Jason Woodbury, featuring interviews with legendary bassist Jim Hughart and producer Lee Burch. 
Out October 25th and available to pre-order beginning today (8/13), both records are available on LP, CD, digital and together in a Light In the Attic Online Store ExclusiveBundle (available only at LightInTheAttic.net). The bundle (seen below) includes both LPs pressed on colored vinyl, a Jim Sullivan T-Shirt and silk-screened poster designed by Chris Campbell, and a riso printed Jim Sullivan song folio containing sheet music of Sullivan’s compositions designed by Clay Hickson

THE JIM SULLIVAN STORY:
In March 1975, singer-songwriter Jim Sullivan mysteriously disappeared outside Santa Rosa, New Mexico. His VW bug was found abandoned, his motel room untouched. Some think he got lost. Some think the mafia bumped him. Some even think he was abducted by aliens.
By coincidence – or perhaps not – Sullivan’s 1969 debut album was titled U.F.O. Released in tiny numbers on a private label, it too was truly lost until Light In The Attic Records began a years-long quest to re-release it – and to solve the mystery of Sullivan’s disappearance. Only one of those things happened, and you can guess which.
Light In The Attic’s loving re-release of U.F.O. (released November 16, 2010, marking the first time on CD and first LP reissue) introduced the world to an overlooked masterwork and won him, posthumously legions of new fans. 
Sullivan was a West Coast should-have-been, an Irish-American former high school quarterback and seventh son whose gift for storytelling earned him cult status in the bar where he performed nightly in Malibu, California. Sullivan was always on the edge of fame; hanging out with movie stars like Harry Dean Stanton, performing on the Jose Feliciano show, even stealing a cameo in the ultimate hippie movie, Easy Rider.
Friend and producer Al Dobbs thought he could change all that and founded a label – Monnie Records – to release Sullivan’s album, enlisting members of the legendary Wrecking Crew (Beach Boys, Phil Spector).
U.F.O. was a different beast to the one-man-and-his-guitar stuff Sullivan had been doing on stage; instead, it was a fully realized album of scope and imagination, a folk-rock record with Axelrod-like strings, a Memphis groove and its ambitions in the sky. Sullivan’s voice is deep and expressive like Fred Neil, but with a weathered and worldly Americana sound like Joe South.
With no music industry contacts, the record went largely unnoticed, and Sullivan simply moved on, releasing a further album in 1972. By 1975, amid the break-up of his marriage, Sullivan left for Nashville and the promise of a new life as a sessioneer – but he disappeared, forever, en route.
We know scraps of details. He’d been stopped by the police for swerving on the highway; he’d checked into a hotel, the La Mesa Motel, and he’d been spotted at the ranch of a notorious local family, whose land he’d strayed onto. His car – found abandoned on a desert road – and his hotel room contained, among other things, his twelve-string guitar, his wallet, his clothes and several copies of his second album. As for Sullivan, it was as if he had simply vanished into thin air.
That self-titled second album – integral to Sullivan’s story – is now being given the Light In The Attic treatment as well. Another LP you’ll rarely see in the wild, this is by no means the poor man’s follow up to U.F.O., but rather a big stride into country, folk-rock and swampy blues, mesmerically finger-picked, brass-bedecked and with that uniqueness of phrasing – part crooner, part jazz singer – that makes Sullivan such a rare performer.
It’s accompanied by another new Sullivan release, and this one has never been heard before: a solo acoustic studio session from 1969 which includes over a half dozen previously unheard compositions written by him. This, then, is in many ways the record Sullivan wanted to make, an intimate session focused on songwriting rather than production. 
Tracking down the truth behind Sullivan’s mystery – and the extent of his recorded output – has become an obsession for Light In The Attic’s co-founder Matt Sullivan (no relation), who happened upon a copy of U.F.O. and was mesmerized by the music. Which led Matt to take a cross-country pilgrimage in search of master tapes and truth, involving private detectives, telepathy, palm readings and meetings with Sullivan’s wife, son and producer along the way. For more info on this mysterious tale and Matt’s search for answers, check out Matt’s interview with NPR and read his words on Aquarium Drunkard, where he documents the trip.

More about If The Evening Were Dawn:

If The Evening Were Dawn contains 10 acoustic solo recordings that have never seen the light of day. Whereas U.F.O. was bolstered by legendary sessioneers The Wrecking Crew, this is Jim Sullivan on his own terms, stripped down and soulful as ever. Recorded at a Los Angeles studio circa 1969, the session contains acoustic versions of a handful of U.F.O. tracks, alongside a half dozen previously unheard songs. This, then, is the closest thing to those fabled Malibu-bar performances at which Sullivan was first noticed.
According to his wife, Barbara, this was the album Sullivanalways hoped to record. It serves as an unprecedented glimpse into the mysterious, larger-than-life figure who’s become the stuff of legends. This recording serves as an unexpected missing piece of the puzzle; this is Jim Sullivan’s true swan song.
Available October 25th at LightInTheAttic.net on CD, vinyl and digitally.
Track listing for If The Evening Were Dawn:
1.    Roll Back The Time
2.    Sandman
3.    Walls
4.    Jerome
5.    What To Tell Her
6.    Grandpa’s Trip
7.    So Natural
8.    Whistle Stop / Mama
9.    What Is My Name
10. Close My Eyes
More about Jim Sullivan:
The self-titled LP was originally released on Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner’s short-lived Playboy imprint. Horns sweeten this funky and bombastic session driven by Sullivan’s unmistakably larger-than-life voice and exceptional songwriting chops, alongside a cast of legendary session musicians including bassist Jim Hughart. Another LP you’ll rarely see in the wild, it is by no means the poor relation of U.F.O., but rather a big stride into country, folk rock, and swampy blues, mesmerically finger-picked, brass-bedecked, and with that uniqueness of phrasing–part crooner, part jazz singer–that makes Sullivan such a rare performer.
Each of the 11-tracks could have been a bonafide radio hit, but with spotty promotion, the self-titled album suffered a fate known all too well and fizzled out. While Sullivan’s disappearance remains unsolved, his music endures and is finally gaining him the recognition he deserves, albeit long overdue.
Available October 25th at  LightInTheAttic.net on CD, vinyl and digitally; with the LP and CD packages containing a booklet with new liner notes from Jason Woodbury (featuring interviews with legendary bassist Jim Hughart and producer Lee Burch) and rare archival photos. 
Track listing for Jim Sullivan
1.    Don’t Let It Throw You
2.    Sunny Jim
3.    Tea Leaves
4.    Biblical Boogie (True He’s Gone)
5.    Lonesome Picker
6.    Sandman
7.    Tom Cat
8.    You Show Me The Way To Go
9.    Amos
10. I’ll Be Here
11. Plain To See

Light In The Attic carries forth legacy of folk-hero Jim Sullivan w/ two releases

Los Angeles, CA (August 14, 2019) —This fall, Craft Recordings will reissue three titles from Social Distortion’s independent catalog on vinyl. Set for a September 27threlease, the LPs include the band’s 1983 debut, Mommy’s Little Monster, their 2004 studio album, Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll, and 1995‘s Mainliner (Wreckage From the Past), which compiles early singles and rare B-sides. Celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, the enduring So-Cal punk icons just kicked off their extensive, two-month North American tour with Flogging Molly yesterday (8/13) in Dallas (full tour itinerary below).
Click to pre-order Mommy’s Little Monster, Sex, Love and Rock ‘N’ Roll, and Mainliner (Wreckage from the Past). Limited edition color variants also available via the official Social Distortion web store. 
Social Distortion formed in Orange County, CA, with front man Mike Ness and guitarist Dennis Danell at the helm. With their distinctive blend of punk and primitive rock ‘n’ roll, the four-piece (whose bassists and drummers would fluctuate over those years) found equal influences in bands like the Sex Pistols, the Ramones, and the Clash as well as the early country music of Hank Williams and the classic blues of artists like Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf and Lightnin’ Hopkins. Their 1983 debut, Mommy’s Little Monster was released on the band’s own label, 13th Floor Records. Full of raw vocals, powerful guitar-driven hooks, and plenty of attitude, the seminal album gained Social Distortion a national following and went on to inspire the likes of the Offspring, Rancid and many other well-known artists. Standout tracks include “The Creeps (I Just Wanna Give You)” and “Another State of Mind.
The next two decades would bring the band continued lineup changes, a rehab stint for Ness—who has maintained his sobriety since 1985—a major label deal, some of their highest-charting singles (“I Was Wrong” and “Bad Luck”), and two Gold records (for 1990’s Social Distortionand 1992’s Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell). In the late ‘90s, the band returned to their indie roots and signed to Time Bomb Recordings.
2004’s much-anticipated Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll marked the group’s first studio album in eight years, following 1996’s White Light, White Heat, White Trash and two solo records from Ness. The band had also taken time to refocus after the sudden death of founding member Dennis Danell at just 38. Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll found a grieving Ness looking inward, but it also produced some of the band’s most acclaimed material. AllMusic called it “Potent, hard-hitting rock & roll with real heart and soul behind it.” Adding that Social Distortion had “Held onto what made them great while growing and changing in the best ways, and the result is one of the best albums this band has made to date.” Highlights include the opening track, “Reach for the Sky,” which became one of the band’s biggest hits, as well as the introspective “Live Before You Die,” and the hopeful “Don’t Take Me For Granted,” written for Danell. Sex, Love and Rock ‘n’ Roll also featured a new guitarist, Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham, who remains with Social Distortion today. 
The final reissue, Mainliner: Wreckage From the Past, offers Social Distortion’s earliest singles and B-sides from 1981, the majority of which never appeared on any of the band’s full-length albums. Released in 1995, the compilation gives fans a peek into the group’s creative development, when they were still teenagers, with fan favorites like “1945,” “All the Answers,” and “Moral Threat,” plus a cover of the Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb.”
With a current lineup of Mike Ness on vocals, guitarist Jonny “Two Bags” Wickersham, bassist Brent Harding, and Dave Hidalgo Jr. on drums, Social Distortion shows no sign of slowing down. With seven studio albums under their belt, the punk godfathers’ searing guitars and locomotive rhythm section sound as alive today as they did in the early ‘80s, as do Ness’ hard-luck tales of love, loss, and lessons learned. As Craft continues to celebrate the band’s immense 40-year (to date) legacy, stay tuned for more announcements coming soon.
Track Listings:
Mommy’s Little Monster
A1. The Creeps
A2. Another State of Mind
A3. It Wasn’t A Pretty Picture
A4. Telling Them
B1. Hour Of Darkness
B2. Mommy’s Little Monster
B3. Anti-Fashion
B4. All The Answers
B5. Moral Threat
Sex, Love And Rock ‘N’ Roll
A1. Reach For The Sky
A2. Highway 101
A3. Don’t Take Me For Granted
A4. Footprints On My Ceiling
A5. Nickels And Dimes
B1. I Wasn’t Born To Follow
B2. Winner And Losers
B3. Faithless
B4. Live Before You Die
B5. Angel’s Wings
Mainliner (Wreckage From The Past)
A1. 1945 – Posh Boy Version
A2. Playpen – Posh Boy Version
A3. Mainliner            
A4. Moral Threat    
A5. All The Answers              
B1. Justice For All  
B2. Under My Thumb            
B3. 1945 – 13th Floor Version
B4. Playpen – 13th Floor Version
B5. Mass Hysteria 
2019 Tour Dates
Tues, August 13: Dallas, TX @ The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
Wed, August 14: Houston, TX @ Revention Music Center
Fri, August 16: Orlando, FL @ Orlando Amphitheater
Sat, August 17: Atlanta, GA @ Coca-Cola Roxy
Sun, August 18: Raleigh, NC @ Red Hat Amphitheater
Tue, August 20: Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
Wed, August 21: Baltimore, MD @ MECU Pavilion
Fri, August 23: Virginia Beach, VA @ Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater at Virginia Beach
Sat, August 24: Philadelphia, PA @ The Met Philadelphia
Sun, August 25: New York, NY @ The Rooftop at Pier 17
Tue, August 27: Buffalo, NY @ Canalside
Wed, August 28: Boston, MA @ Rockland Trust Bank Pavilion
Fri, August 30: Westbrook, ME @ Maine Savings Pavilion at Rock Row
Sat, August 31: Asbury Park, NJ @ Stone Pony Summer Stage
Sun, September 1: Lancaster, PA @ Freedom Hall
Tue, September 3: Toronto, Canada @ RBC Echo Beach
Wed, September 4: Cleveland, OH @ Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
Fri, September 6: Detroit, MI @ Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill
Sat, September 7: Chicago, IL @ Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
Sun, September 8: Minneapolis, MN @ The Armory
Tue, September 10: Des Moines, IA @ Water Works Park
Wed, September 11: Council Bluffs, IA @ Harrah’s Stir Cove
Fri, September 13: Denver, CO @ Mission Ballroom
Sat, September 14: Denver, CO @ Mission Ballroom
Tue, September 17: Bonner, MT @ KettleHouse Amphitheater
Wed, September 18: Nampa, ID @ Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater
Fri, September 20: Portland, OR @ Veterans Memorial Coliseum
Sat, September 21: Seattle, WA @ WaMu Theater
Sun, September 22: Eugene, OR @ Cuthbert Amphitheater
Tue, September 24: Sacramento, CA @ Papa Murphy’s Park
Thu, September 26: Berkeley, CA @ Greek Theatre At UC Berkeley
Fri, September 27: Paso Robles, CA @ Vina Robles Amphitheatre
Sat, September 28: Las Vegas, NV @ Downtown Las Vegas Events Center – DLVEC
Sun, September 29: Mesa, AZ @ Mesa Amphitheatre

Craft Recordings to reissue 3 classic Social Distortion albums on vinyl

Beneath the gaze of the beast all things are possible. Reflected in those eyes, bleeding liquid malice, all is inverted, all is perverted, all is deconstructed; from your morals to your dreams to your flesh. The world becomes a crimson tableau of a broken natural order, where art is found in the tearing of flesh and the breaking of bones and love becomes defilement, debasement and destruction. Brutality so extreme it is alien to even the most warped of human consciousness runs in thick, congealing streams where once there was the milk of human kindness…and sweet music becomes the sound of hideous, unending slaughter; an eardrum-rupturing torrent of filth…

Formed by members of Bookakee, Soiled By Blood and The Outborn, NecroticGoreBeast have erupted from Quebec’s savage underground music scene. Combining an absolutely staggering drum onslaught, guitars that circle, biting at your flesh like a frenzied shoal of blood-crazed piranhas, bass that delivers concussive blows like a sledgehammer and monstrous vocals, utterly inhuman in their ferocity, this band are the next level in remorseless, relentless aggression. Lyrically crafting nightmares of nauseating barbarity, dioramas of depravity that will haunt your every waking moment, NecroticGoreBeast are an assault on the senses. Their self titled debut album, housed in the dark, visionary artwork of Andreas Christanetoff (Putrified J, Aborted Fetus etc) features guest appearances from Jack Christensen (Kraanium), Alex-Antoine Chamberland (Soiled By Blood) and Diogo Santana (Analepsy) and represents the ultimate in brutal, slamming death metal. It simply doesn’t get any heavier than this. 

Despite only forming a mere two years ago, NecroticGoreBeast have created an album that destroys most of the competitors in their field, sweeping them aside with casual ease. The Canadians have, of course, found their home at Comatose Music and on October 11th the world’s premiere brutal death metal label will release this staggering debut album that absolutely epitomises the genre. Prepare to have your understanding of brutality redefined. NecroticGoreBeast are coming…and you’re on their list.

Line-up: 
John Mayer – Vocals
Michael Chamberland – Guitar
JP Bouchard – Drums
Alexandre Brochu – Bass
Also featuring guest vocals from: 
Jack Christensen
Alex-Antoine Chamberlain
Diogo Santana

Further Information: https://www.facebook.com/Necroticgorebeast

Genre: Brutal Death Metal
For fans of: Devourment | Skinless | Internal Bleeding | Putrid Pile

Comatose Music unleash the devastating onslaught on NECROTICGOREBEAST’s self titled debut album on October 11th

Tool have just released their first single and title track from their upcoming album Fear Inoculum, which marks their first new song in 13 years. 

The song is 10-minutes long and features mystical drums and vocals.

“Fear Inoculum” is a slow song that ends on a big note, and it seems like an appropriate way to introduce fans to this new decade of Tool. 

Hear “Fear Inoculum” below, pre-order the album here:

http://smarturl.it/TOOLFIa

TOOL DROP TITLE TRACK “FEAR INOCULUM” AS FIRST MUSIC IN 13 YEARS

Wacken Open Air is one of the world’s biggest heavy metal festivals. What started as a village music festival 30 years ago meanwhile draws metalheads from all over the world. Here is what makes W:O:A so unique.

Party time in the village 

Every first weekend in August the “population” of the tranquil town of Wacken explodes: Its 2,000 residents take on some 80,000 metalheads. During the three-day event, the festival goers turn the village into the third-largest city in the German state of Schleswig-Holstein. The organizers provide the necessary infrastructure, including a tent city, showers, toilets, signposts and utility poles.

Mecca for metalheads

More than 150 acts on nine stages — Wacken Open Air is one of the biggest metal festivals in the world, along with France’s Hellfest and the Belgian Graspop Metal Meeting. The visitors and the bands are international. Top act in 2019 is US thrash metal band Slayer. After more than three decades on stage, the band is retiring, so this is their final festival show in Germany.

How it all began

In 1990, two metal musicians from Wacken had the idea to stage a festival dedicated to their favorite music in the village gravel pit. The pit was already tried and tested for mass events, as a local motorcycle club also met there; in the early days, the club members even provided the security at Wacken. The first festival welcomed 800 visitors, today the event draws 80,000.

Pilgrimage to the ‘holy land’

The W:O:A festival area is huge, spread out over an area bigger than 330 football fields and surrounded by 45 kilometers of fencing. The heart of it all is the “Infield” (photo) stage area, affectionately called “Holy Land” by the metal-loving crowds. It is not just a simple field, either: drainage systems, gravel and compactors help make sure visitors don’t fall into holes or sink into the mud.

Faster, harder, louder 

The village welcomes the who-is-who of the metal scene. They rock one of the nine festival stages — with the three main ones named “Faster,” “Harder” and “Louder.” Motörhead and Iron Maiden are regular festival guests, alongside other metal legends such as Alice Cooper, Judas Priest or Deep Purple. The Rammstein concert shown above is from 2013.

Orderly metalhead tent city

Metalheads at Wacken have demonstrated they aren’t particularly violent. Even though festival goers consume some 10,000 liters of beer per hour, only 20 bodily injuries were reported in 2016, and that number went down to 12 in 2017. Perhaps headbanging helps people get rid of potentially aggressive feelings.

Defying the weather is a tradition

Wacken is a summer festival, but in northern Germany that is not necessarily a guarantee for sunshine. On the contrary, W:O:A is rained on regularly. Mud battles are legendary and reliably provide spectacular photos. This year’s weather forecast adds hail and squalls to heavy rain — a truly hardcore gift from the heavens for the 30th festival anniversary.

Parallel worlds I: Wasteland

Don’t these metalheads look like warriors from the “Mad Max” movies? Welcome to Wasteland, another part of the festival, an area designed in post-Apocalyptic style by the Wasteland Warriors artist collective. The costumes are always homemade and coordinated, and they add to the eerily beautiful end-of-time mood.

Parallel worlds II: Wackinger Village

From an Apocalyptic future to the past: Wackinger Village is built to resemble a medieval market and has developed into an independent medieval event. There are bagpipes and fire-eaters, medieval rock on stage and honey wine at the bar, while knights in shining armor tackle each other on the battlefield.

Endless beer supplies

Germans are known for their beer, and for being thorough. Wacken Open Air offers an amazing alliance of the two, namely the legendary beer pipeline. In the past, trucks hauled in beer in huge quantities, which made for even muddier grounds. Thanks to miles of pipeline, that’s history. Quick tapping systems ensure the constant flow of beer.

Hallelujah, Wacken!

Most of the village’s residents look forward to the festival despite all the noise and garbage. Many help with the construction, tapping beer and showing visitors where to pitch their tents. The local shops love the crowds. A veritable “Metal Church,” the village church is part of the festival program, with folk and medieval music and metal services.

30 years of Wacken: How a village became a heavy metal mecca

Breaking stereotypes, and showing that you are never too old to rock and roll, a group of senior citizens is attending the world’s biggest heavy metal festival in northern Germany. 

Wacken Open Air, the biggest heavy metal festival in the world, starts this week in the fields outside a rural German village north of Hamburg.

The frequent wind, rain and mud, along with the hard rock and 70,000 metalheads, mean the festival is not for the faint of heart. But don’t tell that to 13 senior citizens who have taken a bus from a local nursing home to join in the revelry.

On board the party bus is 92-year-old Ilse Schaefer, who sticks her fingers out like horns in the ubiquitous heavy metal sign, and cries out “Wackeeen” as the 12 other elderly metalheads follow her lead. The oldest person in the group is 95 years old.

It is the 6th time the “Haus am Park” (house on the park) nursing home in the nearby town of Heide has organized a trip to Wacken. Visiting the festival has become a highlight of the year. 

It is Schaefer’s third trip to the festival. She said she was skeptical of the music at first, but was taken in by the atmosphere of the festival. She enthusiastically greets astonished younger festival goers with her best heavy metal sign. 

The trips to Wacken began six years ago after a 59-year-old AC/DC fan at the nursing home suffering from multiple sclerosis told manager Susann Kroos that he’d always wanted to attend Wacken. Kroos organized the first trip as a surprise birthday present for the man. 

Most of the seniors at the nursing home are familiar with the festival, as they come from the area and have children and grandchildren who often attend. Kroos said that by attending Wacken, the residents of the nursing home learned how friendly metal fans can be.

Wacken Open Air, running until Sunday, is celebrating its 30th birthday in 2019 and 75,000 fans are expected to attend.

Local senior citizens rock out at Wacken Open Air heavy metal festival