Great music to kick off Belfast Harbor Fest

Posted Aug. 14, 2012, at 2:22 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 1, 1970 12 a.m. to 12 a.m.

Location: Belfast Harbor Fest Launch Party, Steamboat Landing (foot of Commercial St), Belfast, Maine

For more information: Toni Mailloux; 207-930-6763

The Launch Party on the Belfast waterfront, which is kicking off the Belfast Harbor Fest for the third straight year, is ramping it up, adding a third band to the mix. The Milkman’s Union, out of Portland, will open the celebration on Friday, Aug. 17.

The Milkman’s Union will begin playing around 7 p.m. Bangor Daily News arts and lifestyle writer Emily Burnham describes the group this way, “The Milkman’s Union sways between a propulsive indie rock rhythm, with Henry Jamison’s thoughtful guitar work locked in formation with Peter McLaughlin’s nuanced drumming, and a gentle country-fied swing. It’s often extremely pretty music, bringing to mind the quieter side of Yo La Tengo, a less neurotic Mountain Goats and hushed, emotionally charged songwriters such as Bon Iver or Cat Power.”

For the second straight year, the featured band will be Toughcats. While the Toughcats are not touring this year, they have agreed to return for Harbor Fest. They will start playing around 8 p.m.

The Toughcats have been described by Burnham as “old-timey picking with a rock edge, all buoyed by a sense of humor, some wicked vocal harmonies and a whole lot of energy.” While the Toughcats use words such “Energetic. Catchy. Fun. Exciting. Danceable. Memorable. Loveable. Beautiful. Amazing.” to describe their unique musical style, which they say is “a blend of old timey bluegrass, thoughtful indie rock, and classic pop twitches a la early Beatles.”

A Severe Joy, also out of Portland, will take the stage around 9:30 p.m. Jose Ayerve is also bringing his energetic dancers with him. Earlier this summer, they performed at the Free Range Music Festival in Belfast.

Last year, Ayerve left his old band, Spouse, and, according Burnham, turned “himself into the mysterious masked musician known as A Severe Joy (an anagram for Jose Ayerve). Like Bruce Wayne becoming Batman, Ayerve’s gone from mild-mannered indie rocker to dark, sexy performance artist…” She also applauds his “dynamic, totally unique way of performing.”

The Launch Party is hosted by Marshall Wharf Brewing Company. Among the beers available will be Toughcats IPA, which was introduced at last year’s Launch Party. The Toughcats IPA was so popular that it now brewed year-round. There will be other beers on tap as well, along with wine and soft drinks. There will also be food available for purchase.

There is a $10 cover charge and the event will be held rain or shine under a 9,000 square foot tent. All ages are welcome with wrist bands designating whether the attendees are 21. The gates open at 6 p.m.