ESSEX — Growing in popularity over the past several years, Baltimore area cover band AWAKEN had finally been invited in 2019 to perform the annual Essex Day Festival, but they had to turn down the invitation due to a scheduling conflict. This year, they have officially joined the slate of musical guests at the festival as the headlining band, and lead singer Scott Wilson said that they are excited to perform, particularly given that two of its five members, Dean Harris and Rich Wilcox, are originally from Essex.
“Our hopes are coming to fruition,” Wilson said. “We are fortunate to have this opportunity, and it will look good on our resumes. We are appreciative of the powers-that-be that run Essex Day for giving us another look, because we were afraid we would not get asked back again.”
AWAKEN, named after a song by rock band “Yes” (a favorite of founders Wilcox and drummer Brian Beyer), plays mostly rock, while dabbling also in pop and country.
“Generally, we are able to please everyone,” Wilson said, “from the musicians who want to see the more technical side of music, to non-musicians who just wants to hear songs they’ve heard on the radio.”
Perhaps the main reason for AWAKEN’s success is the band’s Baltimore Tribute Set, medley of cover songs from different Baltimore artists that they have obtained the publisher’s permission for. Many of those music groups said they are honored that AWAKEN is covering their songs to keep fresh the memory of their music, according to Wilson, and some of them have even agreed to perform them with AWAKEN live on stage.
“On Essex Day,” he said, “we will stick with the formula that has been good to us over the years, which includes songs from our Baltimore Tribute Set.”
Wilson added that AWAKEN will play a lot of the “staple songs” that people have come to know them for, with one or two curveballs thrown in. He expects to play Boston’s “Foreplay / Longtime” and Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” but might interject a country song as well, such as Big & Rich’s “Save a Horse (Ride A Cowboy).”
“We want people to see the diversity and variety of songs that AWAKEN is capable of playing,” he said.
AWAKEN has played together for 26 years and formed from mutual connections in social networks in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Wilcox and Beyer started the band by jamming in their basement, and after Wilson came along, they all started making connections to play regular shows.
Wilson, now a full-time musician, had loved music since he was a kid and has heard stories from his parents about him walking about the house singing into a pencil. Although he has other side projects, he said that AWAKEN is his “baby,” and the thing that he puts the most effort into.
“I have loved music since I was a child, and I am fortunate to sustain a living doing it now,” he said. “Myself and the rest of the band members are extremely happy about the way things are going with AWAKEN as of late and are looking forward to rocking out on Essex Day.”
Essex Day Main Stage Line-Up
12 p.m. — In-Tension
Energetic radio rock performed by seasoned Baltimore musicians, covering 70s to today — classic to heavy.
1:30 p.m. — Sugar Jack
Fun music! Sublime to AC/DC, Bob Marley to Weezer, and add in some grunge like Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots!
3 p.m. — Glamour Kitty
Glamour Kitty represents The Nation’s Ultimate ROCKSHOW Experience, rocking around the edges of the Decade of Decadence, with everyone’s favorite hits from Bon Jovi and Def Leppard, to AC/DC and Guns N’ Roses.
4:30 p.m. — Awaken
Good ole’ Rock ‘n Roll… and a little bit of everything else!