Well, there are just not enough hours (24) in the day to handle sleeping, driving in and out, main stage, campfires, eating, etc... so, here i am at the new folk concert, bringing it to you "live" via email..
It's in the 90's, dry as a bone.. i've grabbed a little spot of shade, but there aren't many of them to be had... luckily, until late afternoon, the stage is in shade so the performers don't have to suffer. the evening show 6 and 7pm time slots are pretty bad, with the 6pm opening slot being the equivalent of "1 week in the box" at some prisoner of war camp..
Tom Rayne just finished, and now there's a brother and sister act from maryland (the markely's).. but i digress, this is a report on kerrville day 3, not day 4..
Yesterday, due to the heat (and me being out of shape), i decided i had to pass on the ballad tree, and hold off going onsite until the evening concert. Arriving at 5:30, my favorite spots were taken, but i still was able to get a good seat (with my portable chair) off on the left, IN THE SHADE!!.. (that IS the number one priority). I also find a spot in the 5th row where i can drop my towel and come back to later for some of the performers when the sun goes down.. (the reason it's open is it's still in the sun) this evening promises to be one of the best, if not the best night of mainstage entertainment of the entire festival...
we start off with Adam and Kris from portland Oregon. High energy, in your face music with a political bent (major criteria by me) in the annie di franco mold.. this is their 4rd (that means i don't remember if it's 3rd or 4th) year here, and they've progressed from the campfires to the threadgill, to the main stage (i think this is their second main stage year in a row).. they're excellent, and i think i'll be bringing a cd back for the "debriefing weekend".. (you guyz pick the weekend, just check with my office).. The crowd gets higher and higher with each song, climaxing with their "what world is this" finale. Their encore is a stirring rendition of sympathy for the devil, and as soon as the first riffs rang out the crowd was on their feet... not easy to get a crowd rolling in this heat...
Next up is pierce pettis with accompanyment of his wife, a percussionist and a bass.. while not having the kick ass energy of adam and kris, we haven't gone down in quality.. (AND THE SUN IS DOWN!! yeah)
Caroline aiken follows and is her usual great self.. For one of her songs, she's joined on stage by chris chandler doing one of his performance pieces. Why they don't just give this guy a mainstage slot i don't know.. maybe he just is more effective in 5 or 10 minute doses per hour (campfire format)
Next is floyd domino, a piano bar snare drum vocalist trio along the lines of dan hicks.. very enjoyable and different for the festival.. you get a lot of different here.. it really is not a "folk" festival.
As the evenings proceedings run their course, i see more and more of the "regulars" have gotten to the festival.. people who i recognize from previous years, sliding onto the dance section over to the left, or walking through the milling crowd at the back of the seating/blanket area.
The mainstage area is one of the more "strange" physical layouts that you'll see.. because of "hill country", it has to fit in the geography
joel cage of brighton mass just finished, they'll be a 10 minute intermission, then small potoatoes..
back to our regularly scheduled review...
the mainstage is at the south end, facing north. the audience side on a slanted hillside., with the right (as you sit) section of the seats higher than both the rest of the seating, and the stage itself (by 5 or 6 feet). the hillside slants down towards the left, with the left section of sating below the level of the stage be 3 or 4 feet. the seats are 25 year old handmade wooden benches from hell.. without additional protection, the butt and back can only stand so much torture.. behind the benches are where most people who bring their own charts and blankets sit. alongside a few of the benches are little spots where you can squeeze in 1 or 2 chairs.. luckily for me, a number of these spots are also shade enabled.. that is where i usually end up. so in summary it's sort of modified slanted bowl format on drugs..
Then come the limeliters.. for you age-impaired readers, the limeliters go back to the 50's when you had the chad mitchell trio, the kingston trio, and the limeliters (among others). a few weeks after last year's performance, lou gottlieb, one of the remaining 2 original members died. so this year, they're back with one origianl member, one tenor who's been with them for a few years, and a new banjo picker. even though the new guy has been with them for almost a year now, he's not well integrated, and not up to par.. he seemed to be a half step off too often.. They're still great, and come back out for 2 encores, not a common happening at kerrville..
ok. gotta go for now... small potatoes is cookin...
30 seconds into their wallflower(?) waltz, the audience is hooked... they're GREAT!! insert picture of tony the tiger here) i feel so good that my first reaction was bang on.. one minute into listening to them at pete's im march, i said to myself "this belongs at new folk"... The judges were laughing as well as the audience.. if "performance" was a criteria, then they're be in like flint. but they're judging only the songs, so you can't tell.. we'll find out tonight.. everyone keep your fingers crossed..
ok, back to day 3..
the limeliters got the best audience reaction, and the largest standing o so far tonight..
Now here's sara hickman.. To date, i've been somewhat unimpressed by most of the female artists i'm hearing for the first time on main stage this year. a couple a chords into this lady's performance, and the difference is obvious.. the depth, and quality, the fullness of the voice and the presentation gets your immediate attention.. Sara is singing with Kristen (kirsten?) something or other (CRS disease again) a wonderful backup singer who performs a few times each year on main stage (god... so much beauty and a voice & smile to match). while there was a little too much commercial quality, and a little to little political content, the performance was electric..
The closing was david amram, one of the festival icons. as much as i appreciate what he's done over the years (classical, world music, symphonic composition and lots more..), his shtick and current lack of political bent are a disappointment.. His group is composed of 10 - 20 excellent musicians who react to whatever david throws at them, whether it's playing 2 pennywhistle flutes at the same time, or coming up with a tune that none of the band members have heard before. The last song, they are joined by the "no-audition kerrville choir and players" they have literally picked up during david's passing through the festival site, or as paths crossed elsewhere.. It's good, but it could be much more with some politics or depth..
The evening's music is closed by bobby bridger's festival anthem, heal in the wisdom. played by most of amram's guys as well as others, it's the highlight of the last hour.
I spend the next couple of hours at camp sing-kerr-nicity listening to caroline aiken, dayna kurtz, annie wenz, steven taylor, and a host of other wonderful musicians. bread handouts for the day to annie wenz and the camp mom at singkerrnicity. When i offered alan rowath a piece of bread earlier that evening he said:"You baked the bread annie handing out!!.. She's a regular johnny appleseed with that bread.. everyone's sharing"
that's it for now...
i need peggy's home address, will someone please post it to the list or privately to me. thanks...
Oh the conflicts that life presents us with... Life, knowing i planned to leave after the new folk show and rest up and send this email, presented me with a PRIME parking spot upon my arrival.. So do i go back to the hotel and end up parking another half mile away (in this heat), or say fuck it.. and hang out for the whole day and night... decisions... decisions.... And then, there are my responsibilites... if i don't go back to the hotel, you won't get day 3 until day 4 is completely over.... decisions... decisions...
One of the most difficult things is the occasional aloneness one must confront when attending a festival by yourself... Whether it's at the end of the mainstage and your conflicted about how much energy you have left, and should you go to the campfires, or just head to the hotel and get some sleep...sleep sounds very attractive when you can't hold your head up.. or when it's just too hot, and even though you've been pouring fluids in, you still feel like you've been on spin cycle for 4 or 5 hours.. when you're alone, you must pull this energy up from within yourself...
Brian (Breadman) Wolfsohn http://www.cus.com
CUS Business Systems Ft.Lauderdale,FL
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