It all started in 1975, when brothers Jad and David Fair founded experimental punk group Half Japanese, says Shakemore MC and longtime friend of the Fair brothers, Barbara DeCesare. "Everyone has been influenced by Half Japanese, bands like They Might Be Giants. Even Kurt Cobain was a Half Japanese fan." DeCesare went on to divulge how the Fair brothers' musical style and values ultimately evolved into the Shakemore Festival, which on August 8th and 9th, returned to Shippensburg for its second year at The Thought Lot. "Jad and David believed that musical precision wasn't as important as art," DeCesare says, and they had plenty of musician friends who felt the same way. Essentially, Shakemore began as a collective of bands (many of which shared the same members) who just enjoyed jamming and performing for each other, and they didn't want to adhere to any musical conventions in the process. "Shakemore lets everyone be a rockstar," DeCesare states when asked why the festival is such a special event.
The first Shakemore took place in a Maryland field in 2007, with the intention of being a last hurrah for all the musicians who had been playing together for decades, who wanted to formally get together and celebrate with their music one last time. However, instead of being the end of an era, it was the beginning. Shakemore was such a hit, that David began organizing one each year as an annual event. Eventually, the need to seek out a larger venue was apparent, which ultimately led to Shakemore finding a new home at The Thought Lot in 2014. "Shakemore is important because it's about alternatives," David himself said on Saturday, the first day of the 2015 festival weekend. "It's more intimate. In a place like this, people are exposed to all kinds of music they aren't going to get at a huge show." It was a concept that surely seemed to be a hit with the audience, with David stating that Saturday's turnout was one of the best he's seen.
Shakemore weekend proved that rock and roll has no age limit, as young children, 20-somethings, and members of bands that have been around for decades grooved together in front of the stage to high-energy acts like Go Pills, The Signifiers, and of course, Half Japanese. "The creativity in this room makes people more willing to express themselves," said Vincent Smith of Shakemore's feel-good vibes. Smith is one half of quirky folk/alternative duo Friender Man K, who have been a staple in Shakemore's eclectic lineup since the early years. Speaking of his experience as part of the festival, he says, "It's not really a show, it's a bunch of people being themselves."
The creativity in this room makes people more willing to express themselves. -Vincent Smith of Friender Man K
It's true that no one has to be afraid of judgement during their time at Shakemore. After all, the very foundation that it's built upon is absolute freedom of expression, and that's what makes it such an important institution for creative minds, young and old alike. After the festival drew to a close on Sunday, an attendee standing outside of The Thought Lot said to David Fair, "I felt like I was crashing somebody's family reunion, and I was completely welcome!" So for anyone looking for a place where their ideas, creativity, and weirdness are all embraced, keep an eye out for when the celebration that is Shakemore returns again.