Naukabout: the Cape's home-grown music festival
By: Elise Hugus, August 1, 2011
After three years curating its laid-back sound, the 4th Naukabout Festival promises to put Cape Cod on the musical map.
Held each year at the Barnstable County Fairgrounds, the all-day event brings an eclectic range of nationally touring artists together with solid performers from around New England.
Four-year Naukabout veteran Ryan Montbleau headlines this year, a testament to both his rising stardom and festival founder Jeff Conley’s close connections with the North Shore singer-songwriter.
“Every band on the bill is a friend. It’s a small community in a way, so we all find ways to help each other out one way or another,” Conley says.
A full-time musician himself, Conley takes care to select artists that fit in the festival’s wide-ranging “acoustic bluegrass indie rock folk jam” genre.
The hardest part, he says, is narrowing down the lineup to fit into one day. With 17 acts booked on three stages, there is a little something for everyone.
The family-friendly event attracts people from both sides of the bridge, who spread out on blankets on the grass and practice their hula-hooping and yoga skills while The Jason Spooner Trio and “island-infused drum n’bass ninja gospel soul” artist Zach Deputy rock out on the two main stages.
There’s a distinctly Cape Cod vibe at Naukabout this year, with local acts Funktapuss, Highly Suspect, Jackson Weatherbee, Barefoot Truth, and the Adam Ezra Group sharing the stage with Boston-based folk rockers Will Dailey and Sarah Blacker.
A new “busker’s stage” rounds out the festival this year, giving regional acts that didn’t quite make the festival cut a chance to play for change, à la Harvard Square.
While Naukabout has generated a following over the past few years, Conley said he wants to keep the festival small and intimate.
“There’s something intimate and unique about a show that’s small. People feel like they have ownership of it,” Conley says.
"We're based on the concept of doing what you like to do after work to relax. The festival is a way for us to bring people together.”
The meaning of Naukabout
Based on feedback from Naukabout devotees, the festival has achieved its goals. Conley said one family holds its annual reunion at Naukabout each year; a couple met, got engaged, and is even thinking about getting married at the festival.
"My dad used to tell us to change from our school clothes and put on some knock-abouts when we came home," Conley says.
These childhood memories inspired the Centerville native to launch Naukabout as an online clothing company with his brother, Brook Conley and partner Russ Gentile some years ago.
Although the trio originally organized concerts as a way to promote their clothing line, now music has taken center stage.