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The Accidental Music Festival:
The Story of Top of the RocStock

CHARLESTON, Ill. – Few music festivals begin by accident.

Festival planners craft an event around a theme or genre of music as part of a carefully orchestrated event. For Scott Walus, the originator of Top of the RocStock and founder of Cavetone Records, the music festival was happenstance.

Top of the RocStock owes its lineage to Free Music Friday, Charleston's longest running original live music showcase. While Free Music Friday runs all 12 months of the year, it has a break for the winter holidays from mid-December to January.

This winter holiday gap led to the inception of Top of the RocStock as an opportunity to include all of Charleston's major music events before the break.

“At the end of 2013, we had a band who wanted a farewell show, two bands who wanted to release CDs, a band on tour who needed the date, and a band who wanted to have a debut show,” said Walus, “We already had two bands booked on the date, but we rolled the dice on a seven band bill and called it Top of the RocStock.”

Top of the RocStock provides the punctuation for a year of Free Music Fridays. Run not for profit by Charleston record label Cavetone Records, Free Music Friday annually hosts an average of 55 bands from the region as well and the greater Midwest. The showcase has hosted bands from Tennessee, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, and Illinois.

The 2014 edition of the festival has increased the number of bands from seven to ten. While the line up includes regional bands such as Dinofight from St. Louis and Dog of Panic from Springfield, Top of the RocStock has a decidedly local slant.

“Charleston has always had a rich tradition of creativity and weirdness in our music scene,” said Jake Pope, drummer for The Cruddites.

This creativity and weirdness is exemplified in the eight acts from the Coles County area on the bill ranging from the “seedy beatnik pop” duo The Ex-Bombers to the “macabre cartoon punk” of The Tim Blys to the flannel-infused folk rock quintet Carlos Danger's Inbox.

The other five acts, The Cruddites, Victim to Victor, Keating Etc., Pretty and the Useless, and Travis Shoot, all occupy the intriguing sonic spaces born and raised in the musical oasis of Charleston.

Doors open at 4 p.m. for the event and music begins at 5 p.m. at Top of the Roc at 410 Sixth St in downtown Charleston, Ill. There is no admission fee.


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