Steamstock 2013 and the Steamstock Caravan
by Mark Rossmore
Come one! Come all! To the biggest anachronistic festival of them all!

5 Cent Coffee
Official Site: Click Here

Frenchy and the Punk
Official Site: Click Here

Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer
Official Site: Click Here

Psyche Corporation
Official Site: Click Here

The Cog is Dead
Official Site: Click Here

This Way to the Egress
Official Site: Click Here

Unextraordinary Gentlemen
Official Site: Click Here

Official Site: Click Here



If there's one thing many gentleman explorers of the Victorian Era had in common, it was ambition. They weren't content with the status quo. No, they wanted to push things as far as they could and make some serious history. New lands and new treasures won't just discover themselves, you know?

Brian Gardner and his able crew have boldly gone and pushed the envelope, creating the Steamstock music festival in California. Last year saw its first iteration widely lauded as a brilliant success. A multifaceted combination of bands, performers, dancers, and vendors treated its attendees to a vivid spectacle.

Not content to rest on their brassy laurels, Gardner and his team have expanded 2013's Steamstock II festival to two entire days of bands. Performers include bands from across the continent--and a headliner from across the Atlantic pond! The journey to and from the festival itself is an adventure on its own. Three of the bands are riding by train to and from the  East Coast to California, playing shows along the way.

Now, as the festival date quickly approaches and the train tour takes off, Brian Gardner gives us the lowdown on this steampunk festival-gone-national.


Steamstock 2013 is coming to the San Francisco Bay Area July 27th and 28th. Why, that's right around the corner! How long ago did the planning start and how does it feel knowing that all of your efforts are finally coming to fruition?

The planning started about 2 hours before the end of Steamstock I, and that's really how it should be. You want people to go home knowing when to come back. As far as how it feels, our efforts aren’t close enough to fruition to feel good about just yet. Check in with me again shortly after the show and I can get you a better answer. :-)

The gathering crowd of steampunks at Steamstock 2012.

Of course, the two day festival is just one part of the madness. There's also the Steamstock Caravan, where three bands--Frenchy and the Punk, The Cog is Dead, and This Way to the Egress--go galavanting across the country by train playing shows in at least seven states. What inspired this train tour?

Honestly, it was part necessity, part of a larger goal, and probably part fate. The necessity part is easy: as huge of a success as Steamstock I was, it wasn’t a financial one. So, I had to look at where we could fix that and one place was paying for transportation. With that need percolating in my brain, I started lamenting that Steampunk is such a divided scene, with each city having its convention or events, but no one really national event and no single thing that people are working together on. Those two ideas started combining and the idea of a National Tour started coming together... a tour linking some of the more major Steampunk scenes, that all of the different local promoters could work together on.

That’s where the fate part came in. We had always patterned ourself as another timeline’s Woodstock. Well, it turns out, there was a train tour across Canada the next year [after Woodstock] (

The big surprise for many was the headliner, chap hop legend Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer. What inspired you to pursue him?

Three main things inspired me to pursue him:

1. I see Steamstock as a Retro-Futurist Music Festival more than a Steampunk Music Festival. Thus the subtitle, “An Antiquarian Exposition.” That means there’s plenty of room for Chap Hop... and in fact, it leaves us almost begging for it.

2. He’s a phenomenal performer.

3. I want Steamstock to be a place and a reason for things to be done that aren’t being done otherwise. Despite being an utter sensation in Europe for years, no one had brought Mr.B over stateside yet and I found that dreadfully ironic, given that Professor Elemental is popping up everywhere and his breakout song, “Fighting Trousers,” was calling Mr.B out. He’s the new kid on the block, why’s he get to have all of the fun, I thought.

Yes, I frequently think in bad music references.

Beyond Mr. B, you've got a huge list of performers, each bringing their own angle to steampunk music. Psyche Corporation. Vagabondage. The Cog is Dead. Each sounds unique, yet instantly fits within the steampunk world. What do you say to people who think steampunk should have a defined sound?

I guess I’d start by asking what they think that sound should be, because I’m not certain it’s possible. The joke is that, “Steampunk is what happens when Goths discover Brown.” Okay. Do The Smiths sound like The Cure or Depeche Mode? Does Siouxsie sound like Bauhaus or Sisters of Mercy? “Goth” started in the late 70’s, has never had a defined sound, and is still not in danger of going away. The point being, that there is precedent in our culture to have a “genre” of music that is defined not by its sound but by its ethos and presentation.

That said, combining different pieces of new and old worlds IS on some level a definition of a sound, so I guess even I am a little bit guilty of it. If someone came and played straight rock and claimed Steampunk, I probably wouldn’t buy it. Less so if it was Pop.

The Complete List of Steamstock 2013 Performers!
Saturday 7/27 from 3pm-12am* Sunday 7/28 from 3pm-11pm*
Mr.B the Gentleman Rhymer
(Surrey, UK)
Frenchy and the Punk
Psyche Corp
This Way to the Egress
(Philadelphia, PA)
Hannah Thiem
The Cog is Dead
(DeLand, FL)
Unextraordinary Gentlemen
(Los Angeles, CA)
Good Co
(Seattle, WA)
5 Cent Coffee Lee Presson and the Nails
Vagabondage Victoria and the Vaudevillains
Poplock Holmes Saints of Ruin
Thee Hobo Gobbelins BloodWire
Brass Farthing Dance Lessons: Waltz
Parlor Tricks DJ Persephone--
Dance Lessons: Swing with Lee Presson as MC
DJ JsinJ--  
with Scott Levkoff as MC-  
Cirque and Variety

Continuous performances by the AEther Brigade
Dance performance by Blackhoodygrrl
Dance performance by Bramani Quinn
Dance performance by Jill Baker
Aerial Rope for Hannah Thiem by Kameko (SF)
Dance performance by Mercy Beaucoup
Aerials by Sommer Strangelove

Craneway Pavillion
1414 Harbour Way South
Richmond, CA 94804

*Exact schedule and performers subject to change.

The festival's back at the Craneway Pavillion. It's an amazing venue, isn't it?

The only way to express how amazing this venue is to see it. The building is also known as the “Old Ford Motor Factory.” It’s right next to the Rosie the Riveter Museum and at one point pounded out tanks for World War II.

There’s still a huge crane hanging from the ceiling. The walls are now all glass, so even while “inside” you can see the Bay off in the distance. Including The Bay Bridge and The Oakland Hills to the South and Napa and the North Bay mountains off to the West. As the show progresses, the sun sets and the view changes drastically. Cameras just can’t catch it due to depth of field, but you’ve got a band playing, inside, while the whole Bay just keeps being beautiful behind them without stopping.

The original Steamstock in 2012 was already huge. Now, Steamstock 2013 is literally a nationwide, coast-to-coast event, between the main two day event in California and the Caravan stops. What drives you to keep pushing the envelope?

I want to see this culture flourish. I think it’s important to recapture some things that we’ve lost now, before we lose them forever. Partner dancing, woodworking, machining, leatherworking, science. Okay, now it just sounds like I’m listing off merit badges, but I’m serious.

You’re talking about how great it is that we had Thomas Dolby last year and that we have Mr.B this year. Well, that’s just the start. I want to leverage the connections that have been made through the train tour to do this again. I desperately want to work with our comrades in Texas, who, completely against my will, got skipped this time.

Mr.B and Professor Elemental are logistically easy because they’re just one person. I’d love to work with a bunch of local promoters to bring over some of the bands from the UK that none of us can alone. I’d love to get a really big name headliner and help even more people find out about Steampunk.

Steamstock Caravan Tour Dates as of July 16, 2013

Date City Venue Important Links
Wed. July 17th Atlanta, GA The Shelter
2101 Tula Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30309
Venue Site
Fri. July 19th TBA TBA  
Sat. July 20th Philadelphia, PA DoubleTree Hotel
237 South Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Event Site
Mon. July 22nd Detroit, WI Tangent Galery
715 E Milwaukee St
Detroit, MI 48202
Event Info
Tue. July 23rd Chicago, IL Wise Fool's Pub
2270 N. Lincoln Ave
Steampunk Chicago
Event Info
Thu. July 25th Denver, CO Roxy Theatre
2549 Welton St
Denver, CO 80205
Venue Site
July 27th & 28th Richmond, CA STEAMSTOCK
1414 Harbour Way South
Richmond, CA 94804
Event Site
Thu. Aug 1st TBA TBA  
Fri. Aug 2nd New Orleans, LA Prytania Bar
3445 Prytania St
New Orleans, LA 70115

An event like this has to be a team effort. Who's got your back, helping you make this whole thing happen?

You mean other than half of San Francisco, because that’s how it feels sometimes? Alyssa Rosenbloom and Laura Ozburn are really my two rocks. They each manage one of the stages with the help of about 3 people each. Sandra Forrer handles all of the vendor recruitment and managing, and does a phenomenal job at it. And of course, there’s her husband, Gene, whose idea this really was and who is always so supportive and available to help out. Ruth Sears does a lot of the record keeping and the note taking. She also fills in as a sort of co-producer at times. Emily Marshall is doing my food truck wrangling and acting as House Manager. Will Bauer is doing lay-out and logistics. Danielle La Fors is handling marketing and radio station outreach, particularly for the train tour.

Many of the people that I just mentioned also put on Clockwork Alchemy, but a bunch of the people that I didn’t mention also help with both events. We’re kind of like sister events, who both believe in interactivity, how vital music is as part of our culture and also that the primary goal is to have FUN!

What aspect of Steamstock 2013 are you most excited about?

That we get to do it. All of it. And you know what I really love? It’s looking at all of the pictures throughout the week and hearing how much everyone loved it.

Thanks for taking the time out from your preparations. Good luck with the event! I can't wait to see all of the footage that's sure to be available.

Thank you for everything that you and do! You're an invaluable resource for the community.


Find out everything you need to know about Steamstock 2013 via the links below!

Author Bio: Mark Rossmore
Mark Rossmore has released three atmospheric albums of steampunk-inspired music as Escape the Clouds. A multimedia artist who enjoys telling dramatic stories, he has self-produced three acclaimed music videos and is a published author of steampunk short fiction, aviation articles, and music-related non-fiction. Learn more about his music, videos, and writing at: .

It means something different to everyone. To see how the artists themselves define it...
Ohio, USA