AUTHOR”S/POSTER’S NOTE: My apologies for the delay between posting the review of the first night of the festival and this post. It had been a busy week and I wasn’t fully able to get this done until now. Also, due to the reach of this day in particular the review will be in two parts out of necessity.
“So how do I cover the second day of this festival?” I asked myself.
I knew this was going to be a busier experience than the night before in both number of artists and the rime required (i.e.: 12 hours versus just a few evening hours). Expecting this to be a day and night long thing meant that most of my focus would have to be in review mode as I’d be spending the whole 12 or so hours there. Like the night before I knew I couldn’t cover everything that happened, but I did the best I could in seeing as much as possible. Sometimes it was a song or two, sometimes a while set. This is my attempt at capturing the spirit of the festival on it’s fifth anniversary.
Arrived just as local blues band The Bel Airs were playing on the main stage. The long time bar band proved to start things off strong with a solid set of barroom blues, R&B, and rock songs. These guys usually manage to capture the vibe of a blues club and today they did the best they could considering they had to start playing and 11 in the morning. As I got some breakfast and listened, I knew this would be one of the better ways to get the whole day started.
After a few songs by The Bel Airs I walked over to the Peace Park stage to see what William Elliot Whitmore was about. The Mississippi bred singer/songwriter offered up a set of rootsy folk and country. After first seeing him with just a banjo and bass drum to lay down the groove, Whitmore switched to guitar and got things cooking. His set was honest and soulful, carrying a feel and an energy that some full bands don’t always capture. While I didn’t see all of his two hour set, what I saw definitely lived up to the expectation I’d built after hearing about him from friends.
Caught a couple songs from Jason Vivone and the BIlly Bats, winners of the King of the Roots contest. What I saw was a blues/R&B band that knows their niche well and seems to play to the groove. However, what sets them apart is one thing. Instead of a second guitar player, one person played an electric banjo. Admittedly there’s some hints towards jam band-ism here but it’s not too overbearing on that front.
I did make it back to Peace Park in time to catch the Flatlanders’ set. The legendary Texas trio ran with the festival so far as they delivered some Texas flavored country at its most down home and heartfelt. This is the real stuff, full of acoustic guitars, well crafted song hooks, and the occasional hint of blues and rock sifting through. Twangy yet not cliche, this band managed to harness a blend of originals and some covers into one of those performances that can move a crowd with their honesty while not being too serious about things. This was one of the sets I’d wanted to check out and I was not disappointed.
Briefly saw a couple songs from Toubab Krewe. The quintet from Asheville, NC played a world music/blues hybrid that utilized both traditional African instruments as well as traditional blues and rock instruments. Their opening track was a trippy groove laden piece that was less juke joint than journey into sonic exploration. Having read the blurb on the program I was wondering why they were on the bill. Once I heard them, I understood why. Can’t say I saw enough for a review but I am definitely curious.
Caught a couple of songs by New Grass pioneer Sam Bush. After seeing him and his band do a traditional bluegrass number complete with mandolin et al, they shifted gears as the guitarist put on a Strat and the band moved towards electric instruments for a more rock based number. The band’s skill and willingness to experiment made even a few songs an interesting experience to witness.
Sam Bush and his band.