Bill Meredith

Bumblefest story - August 31 issue of Florida Weekly

Omnipresent area music promoter and [i]PureHoney[i] magazine publisher Steev Rullman often wears both of those entertainment-related hats simultaneously, and never more so than during the annual festival thrown for his publication's anniversary.
An all-night musical block party, Bumblefest 2017 is subtitled "The Return Trip," since it's the second annual such event taking over the 500 block of Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach -- even though it celebrates [i]PureHoney[i]'s sixth anniversary. The Sept. 2 festival features more than 20 different bookings by Mr. Rullman on four different stages, and includes national and regional headliners as well as some of the best of South Florida's local acts.
"Bumblefest in name actually just began last year on our fifth anniversary," Mr. Rullman said. "Prior to that, we just had a one-venue party and show."
That's changed in a big way over the past two years. The 2016 Bumblefest headliner was Pennsylvania act the Stargazer Lillies, who, along with nearly two-dozen area performers, drew what Mr. Rullman estimated at more than 1,000 attendees. This year's locals include John Ralston's Shadows Band (led by the namesake vocalist and guitarist who has multiple releases on the Los Angeles-based Vagrant Records label) and Lindsey Mills & the Lazy Lovers (led by the young vocalist and guitarist who also moonlights as the bassist/​vocalist for international, West Palm Beach-spawned rock act Surfer Blood).
"I'm excited to continue to be a part of what Steev is doing with everything, including Bumblefest," says Mr. Ralston, who's based in Lake Worth. "I'm just honored, really, to continue to be asked to play these things. Steev has created this culture where you don't have to fit into any certain mold to be a part of it. It's not a scene, or a genre, it's more like an atmosphere. If you're doing something interesting, cool, Steev is probably into it, and into helping you in some way. He's very generous with his time and efforts, and clearly loves the arts enough that he continues to have the energy to explore what's out here in this weird part of the world."
This year's headliner is Austin, TX-based psych-rock quintet Holy Wave, and Mr. Rullman has also booked what he terms a "sub-headliner" in St, Petersburg, FL-based swamp-rock trio Pleasures.
"We've been dying to make it over to Steev and [i]PureHoney[i]'s neck of the woods since we began Pleasures a couple years ago," said vocalist/​guitarist Katherine Kelly. "This will be our first time doing an event with them, and we're super stoked to play at Voltaire, the new spot, with so many awesome other acts."

A Boynton Beach native and Lake Clarke Shores resident, Mr. Rullman's six-year-old publication is one of the latest impressive accomplishments in a 25-year area career that's included being a lead vocalist in several bands, a music promoter, and being involved with publications from the [i]Palm Beach Post[i] to [i]Closer[i] magazine and [i]PureHoney[i].
With its full-color graphics and foldout format, including midsection posters, [i]PureHoney[i] has succeeded while many other modern print publications have failed. Also featuring a strong online presence, the 'zine's monthly band and club listings, plus Soundcloud playlist of local and touring artists, have resulted in a print distribution between 8,000 and 10,000.
Other participating Bumblefest venues include Respectable Street, in business since the 1980s and one of the longest-lasting alternative music nightspots in the Southeastern United States, and the comparatively-new Subculture, across Clematis Street slightly to the east. Voltaire, which opened last month, is likewise owned by Rodney Mayo, whose impressive spiderweb of influence includes strands through numerous nightclubs and restaurants throughout South Florida.
Mr. Mayo has worked with Mr. Rullman since 1998, and Voltaire is their latest joint venture. And, it appears, the challenge that finally tired the otherwise tireless Mr. Rullman.
"Between getting the next issue out, opening the new venue, and planning the fest," he said in mid-August, "this might be the most ridiculous month of my life."
The remaining Bumblefest artists, spread along both sides of Clematis Street's 500 block, will include Peyote Coyote, the Water Colors, Dead and Loving It, Nervous Monks, Other Body, Jellyfish Brothers, Backstage Escort, King Complex, Turtle Grenade, JaiaLai, Deaf Poets, Heavy Drag, Wilkes Oswald, Pocket of Lollipops, Keith Welsh Music, Grey & Orange, and Brother Sundance.

Bumblefest runs from 6 p.m. to 4 a.m. on Sept. 2 on indoor and back patio stages at Respectable Street, 518 Clematis St. (561-832-9999), plus stages at Voltaire, 526 Clematis St. (561-408-5603), and Subculture, 509 Clematis St. (561-318-5142), all in downtown West Palm Beach. Admission at Subculture is free; $5 gains access to the other three stages at Respectable Street and Voltaire.

Selected Works

Much has changed for singer Chris Robinson since the 1990s, when his commanding voice and presence demanded attention in large-scale venues with one of that decade's biggest bands, the Black Crowes. On hiatus since 2015, largely because of infighting between the singer and his co-founding younger brother, guitarist Rich Robinson, the elder brother has led his funkier, simpatico and ironically-titled band, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, since 2011.
Palm Beach County music promoter Steev Rullman also started his monthly publication [i]PureHoney[i] six years ago, and invited Austin, TX-based psych-rock quintet Holy Wave, St. Petersburgh, FL-based swamp-rock trio Pleasures, and more than a dozen local acts to perform for its Bumblefest anniversary party on Sept. 2.
Sixty-two-year-old percussionist Bobby Thomas Jr. played in iconic jazz/fusion band Weather Report from 1980-1982, and he now furthers that group's mix of tradition and transition with his new band, The 7th Realm.