Oh well, everyone was nice and we got inside in time to grab a great piece of lawn, just a few rows behind that invisible "don't sit closer than this or you'll get trampled" border area that a lot of festivals develop. It had been incredibly sunny and hot on Saturday and we were relieved that it was overcast on Sunday, though we knew that at some point in the afternoon the clouds would gather and start dumping rain on us. Oh well, that was in the future!
Martin Simpson - Martin Simpson was another performer that I'd been listening to on radio and record for years but had never seen. He did not disappoint and lived up to his billing as a distinctive wizard of a guitar player. He came on a bit early so he'd be able to stretch things out a bit and played four songs that were cut by diamonds, they were so precise and shone with such brilliance.
Elizabeth Cook - I'd seen Elizabeth several times and had told my friends that if they were going to watch one act at the festival, it had to be her. Though it was early on a gloomy Sunday afternoon, she lived up to my expectations and exceeded them. She played the hits, like Heroin Addict Sister, El Camino, and Balls, but then she did the song of the festival. She launched into her cover of Hot Burrito #1 and rolled her head back and shook her hair slowly and hit all those changes on the rhythm guitar and sang so gently and soulfully but you could tell she was screaming from her inner being just like Gram used to about wanting no one but you to love me.
Brown Bird - Ran down to the Yonder Stage again to catch Brown Bird, a local (Rhode Island) band about whom I'd heard some great stuff. They're very eclectic themselves but also fit right in with the tradition of acoustic bands that have found their own mix of instruments and their own sound and end up producing music that sounds centuries old. David Lamb hits that guitar hard while also singing his complicated songs and beating out the rhythm on the kick drum and a wood block and/or tambourine with the other foot. MorganEve Swain sings harmony and a killer cello, double bass, fiddle ... and you get the feeling she could knock you dead with a banjo, mandolin, or ukelele too.
Chris Smither - Then ran back up to the main stage to see one of the great musicians of the day, Chris Smither. He brought a funky band this time and I managed to catch a few tunes, then break off for some more veggy/chicken wraps! No rain yet, but things were getting a bit darker.
Richard Thompson - Yes, much darker. Richard Thompson is an enthralling musician who plays guitar as well as anyone on the planet and rivets you with his imagination and his effortless stylings. He will get vibrato from bending different strings in different directions while strumming them in the same chord for an eighth note and then twist into another pretzel on the fret board while sounding a lonesome and whining tenor before diving into a baritone chorus. Though Cook had the shining moment and Rubblebucket (below) won the crowd, Richard Thompson was the star of the festival.
Winterpills - Calmed down a bit after Richard and the local indies Winterpills came on. I only stuck around for a couple of songs and then stopped by to see Kate and dragged her off to see The Good Stuff...
Peter Mulvey and the Crumbling Beauties - Because at the Meltdown Stage (a.k.a. the kids stage), Peter Mulvey (whose latest CD, "The Good Stuff" uses the same phrase as is used by Sunday Morning Country's tag line) was just starting up. Mulvey has a great band, including the ubiquitous David Goodrich on guitar. He did a number of his recent, very successful songs and should have gotten a larger audience than he did.
Rubblebucket - OK, back to the main stage area in time to get dinner (more wraps) and get totally stoked for Rubblebucket. I meant to stay back at our seats, but abandoned Sarah when they came on ... meaning to just stay up front for a song or two ... but then stayed there all set long. I was right in front of the stage, jumping and grooving with a couple of other 50+ guys and a vast sea of 20+ people. They opened with Worker, did Silly Fathers, Triangular Daisies, a couple of Blondie tunes, Came Out Of a Lady, Young As Clouds, and we all danced and danced and danced while they jumped into the crowd, ghosts appeared on stage, robots roamed through the audience, Kalmia painted faces, and Ian Hersey blew my mind with his guitar licks. If you aren't familiar with Rubblebucket, you need to get familiar. This was their third consecutive time at GRF (a record) and they had the crowd eating out of their hands. This was more fun than a universe of monkeys ... I hadn't really noticed that it had started to rain steadily during their set..
Ozomatli - It was about that time when we didn't know whether to shit or wind our watches. The steady rain that had been threatening all day continued and settled in for the long haul, but unfortunately it didn't cool things down a whole lot. Scott and Tristan showed up (the families had gone back to the hotel) and we were all exhausted, but then Ozomatli came on and we danced in the rain for another hour. Salsa rap is not my style, but these guys knew what they were doing and were kicking out some excellent grooves that kept us all jumping. They had Kalmia and Alex Toth come out and join them for a couple of songs.
Dragged our drenched asses back to the car after the GRF was totally done and drove slowly back to the hotel with the defroster going full blast. Changed into dry clothes and hung out for a while, talking about what a great concert we'd just seen and everything else. Can't wait for next year!