The space between ... the Black Horse Pike and the bay

That would be Bader Field, left, which Atlantic City officials announced Wednesday would be the site of a three day Dave Matthews Band Caravan Festival this summer, with a lineup better than it had any right to be. Immediately after signing the agreement with the DMB people last week, officials set the site on fire (left, in a Press of Atlantic City photo by Vernon Ogrodnek). No, not because they were outraged by the return of the jam band masses after last year's awesomely groovy Phish Halloween encampment at Boardwalk Hall, but because the old municipal airport site had been unused for so long it needed a good old fashioned controlled burn to get into shape for the caravan, which will be held between June 24th to June 26th. Ticket request period begins March 14th and tickets go on sale to the general public March 25th. No matter what you think of the Dave Matthews Band (I don't hate them as much as some), the supporting lineup of bands should warm the hearts of any XPN listener worth his or her salt (and some day maybe XPN will increase its signal enough to actually reach Atlantic City).  Supporting acts over the three days include: David Gray, Ray LaMontagne, The Flaming Lips, O.A.R., Damian Marley, Bassnectar, Dr. Dog, Amos Lee, Thievery Corporation, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Warren Haynes Band, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Guster, Lotus, Rebelution, Fitz and the Tantrums, Carolina Chocolate Drops, Lisa Hannigan, Punch Brothers, From Good Homes, Delta Spirit, Big Gigantic, Alberta Cross, Mariachi El Bronx, TR3, Vusi Mahlasela, The Budos Band and Bobby Long. Not too shabby.

Having a festival like this is a great coup for Atlantic City, it's one of four venues the DMB caravan will be dropping by this summer. There's also talk of fixing up the long-abandoned Bernie Robbins nee Sand Castle Stadium as a music venue. And why not?  Asbury Park has successfully marketed its resurgence around its music ties and is hosting the too-cool-for-school All Tomorrow's Parties music festival this summer. Remains to be seen if the festival makes money for the city and the city's businesses, but part of the agreement calls for local businesses to be food vendors. And associating Atlantic City with anything close to hip can only be good for the old resort's future. When Phish was at Boardwalk Hall, officials banned tailgating, which forced the masses to break their bean burrito in a parking lot habit and go in search of local food, which was bad for the burrito guy, good for local businesses (especially, perhaps, all the good Mexican restaurants). Bader Field, long empty and awaiting a good idea and a concensus (casino? no casino?), is finally being put to good use, at least for three days. I'm hoping it leads to permanently turning the water front land into a public park and recreation zone, like the old Berlin municipal airport, in which runways turn out to be excellent for bicycles and roller blades, and an old airport can find a new place in the municipal mix.