Monday, July 22, 2013

Green River Festival 2013, Sunday

I woke up on Sunday for the last day of our Summer Music Tour (actually, it'll continue next month but is now on hiatus) in pretty good shape.  It helped that I had slept late in the quiet and homey Oxbow Resort Motel after a late night of sitting in lawn chairs, swatting bugs, and talking about stuff.  It was another hot one and golf was again not for me, though some of the other boys hit the links after breakfast.

Sarah and I replenished the ice supply, filled up the cooler with assorted liquids, drank lots of coffee, and sweated though our clothes before we even left the air conditioning.  Oh well, we made it to the Greenfield Community College parking lot just as the gates opened and couldn't get our exact same spot in front of the Main Stage, but settled for one about 10 feet in front of where we were Saturday, where we hunkered down and drank some more iced coffee.  This was from the "artisan beverages" booth rather than the "coffee grinders" one and they seemed insulted that I wanted just plain black coffee.  They asked me about 30 times if I wanted a shot of this or to mix it with that ... their purpose in life was to manufacture exactly the beverage the customer wanted, and they were upset when the customer wanted one off the shelf.

Well ok, the temperature was a little better than the day before, but not by much.  The good thing is that you could tell this wasn't going to be a day of adventurous weather, though in New England in the summer thunderclouds are always a possibility.  We saw:

Milton -- Had never heard of this singer-songwriter from New York, who was accompanied by an excellent bassist.  He played a very assured guitar style and did a bunch of songs on the basic folk music themes of no love and no money, but in a very clever vocal approach, mixing talking blues, intricate rhymes, literary forms, pop-culture references, and some quick melodic runs on the flat-top.  Again, very enjoyable, especially for an opening act on a hot Sunday morning.


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Heather Maloney -- Another artist we hadn't heard ... we (and some people sitting next to us) were surprised when Anand Nyack, the stellar guitar player for Daisy Mayhem, came out and tuned up a mandolin with Heather's band.  We soon figured out why: she must be a lot of fun to play with.  Her music is advertised as "adventurous folk" and I can see how for a player it would be liberating and chuckle-producing; there's always a lyrical twist or an unexpected coda.  Heather played mostly her own compositions, including a few that I absolutely loved such as Dirt and Stardust.  She then closed with a number she introduced as "a song I used to jump up and down on my bed to," Her Majesty from Abbey Road.  Now that was a surprise, especially when she arranged it as an epic romp rather than a quick ditty, though she didn't add to the words.


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Todd Snider -- I've gotta admit that I took the proto-typical hippie folk singer Todd Snider's set as an opportunity to buy food, check out the craft vendors, and basically walk around.  I got back to our seats eventually for a few of his songs, and he really is an entertaining performer, though I was a bit burned out on folk singers strumming acoustic guitars and singing about the same stuff (though he was meta-oriented enough to comment on that in his catchy songs and his self-deprecating between-songs patter).  Pretty good if you don't know him.


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Lake Street Dive -- Time for one of the most talented bands of the weekend, Lake Street Dive, fronted by the amazingly lovely and amazingly talented Rachael Price but also featuring one of the best stand-up bass players I've ever heard in Bridget Kearney (she has this twitchy habit of constantly adjusting the tuning pegs, perhaps to get the string slightly more in tune but more likely so it'll produce exactly the sound she wants at that moment, she's that good and that quick),  a wizard of a guitarist (and trumpeter) in Mike Olson, and a lovely jazz/pop/whatever drummer in Mike Calabrese.  They're all New England Conservatory-trained and  feature beautiful ensemble precision.  They write most of their own songs but also do covers and can play anything and make it into one of the most most ear-catching tunes you've ever heard.  All this and I have to admit that Rachael Price at full emotive swing is one of the most eye-catching females I can imagine.  All of the songs were sterling, but perhaps my favorites on that afternoon were Bad Self-Portraits and Don't Make Me Hold Your Hand.


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Spirit Family Reunion -- Some devil of a schedule-maker put them in between Lake Street Dive and Miller-Lauderdale, but I managed to time it right and catch a couple of their songs between the power sets at the Main Stage.  Spirit Family Reunion has made some waves with an unexpected performance at the Newport FF last year that got rave reviews, and I was dying to see them.  They sure delighted me in a short time, with their traditional/classic sound of frailing banjo, simple drums, and great group vocals.  I'd love to see more of these guys.  But then I walked as fast as I ever have and got to my seat just in time for...




Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale -- These are two of the best musicians in the world, good friends, and they've recently recorded a ... hopefully not one-off ... album together that is (or should be) at the top of any list of albums done recently.  And they were joined on stage by the legendary Fats Kaplin on fiddle, though the airline had not delivered his pedal steel.  Sarah was not at the seats and I knew she was up front for this but I wasn't sure where.  I saw my friend Kate sneak up front after a couple of songs and I followed her, as did her husband Majer.  We moved up past a few people and suddenly there was Sarah standing in front of us!  We all grooved to some of the best country music that can be.  Not only did they do most of the originals and most of the classic covers from their record (such as I Lost the Job Of Loving You and Down South in New Orleans), but they did A Wide River to Cross (which has been covered by everybody), Buddy soloed on All My Tears, and Jim soloed on King Of Broken Hearts, which he dedicated to Gram Parsons and George Jones.  We'd seen some talented people that weekend but no one that could come close to these two, they were (and are and will be) that good.


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Brandi Carlile -- Brandi's become very popular, and you have to love a musician who doesn't fall in love with her popularity and continues to play Johnny Cash songs.  Of course, she did mix a Fleetwood Mac song in there and did perhaps play a little too blaringly loud and the band did spend an inordinate amount of time rocking out and pointing to each other.  But what the heck, she was great and she set the place on fire for the last act of another fabulous GRF.  The most charming part of her set (she's got great charisma) was when she motioned to the guitar tech that she needed the big guitar, he tuned it and got it to her in record time, she strummed a chord to test it, then grinned with delight, turned it up, and absolutely wailed on it.  Jeannette, Dave, Rebecca, and some of the kids joined us for this one and we all jumped up and down ... lots of fun!


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Exiting the GCC took forever after the concert, but we caught glimpses of the almost full moon as we waited through endless phalanxes of over-hyped rent-a-cops ... oh well, we were listening to our tape of Furthur from the other night so it was ok.  Six days of music were over, but there was still a night of barbecuing, sitting in lawn chairs, and laughing waiting for us back at the hotel.

See more Green River Festival 2013 pictures ...

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