Friday, August 8, 2008

FloydFest Day 3: Sunday

On Sunday, I started the last day of FloydFest intending to see Oneside’s final act of the weekend. However, technical difficulties delayed their set so I instead headed to the beer garden to watch The Speckers one last time. This trio really impressed me: the fiddles blazing and Mr. Specker stomping in rhythm. The last song I heard from them, as I spotted Oneside taking the stage, was an interesting song from the 1770’s. Yes, the 1770’s. Apparently Mr. Specker heard the lyrics from a French Canadian, who had a distant relative serve under Lafayette in Washington’s army. The song pays homage to General Washington and he created a score for “a top 40 song from the ages”. When the song ended, I returned to the Streamline Hill Holler stage as technicians verified all microphones and amps were working. Oneside started slowly this time, playing Josephine and Lisa – allowing the audience to build and get settled. They played Paradise earlier than usual, which was a big hit. The group behind me kept mentioning how good the song was during the entire set - to anyone who passed by. The band really started rockin’ with Got to Go, Last Radio, and Out of My Tree, and a cover of The Band’s Ophelia. By this time, the band and spectators had thrown their fatigue and hangover overboard and were singing, clapping, and dancing. By the time they closed with The Letter, they had nailed the set. It was great watching the band grab an audience and holding them throughout the show.

After saying what I thought were final goodbyes, I headed up the hill to the VA Folklife Workshop Porch to listen to couple songs by Cadillac Sky. Apparently the band just returned from a trip to France – playing a couple of festivals in that country. They also have a new CD, Gravity's Our Enemy, which I heard a few songs from. The band is scheduled for several festivals on the east coast that I hope to attend. They deserve a longer listen.
Crooked Still was performing on the Main stage, so I grabbed my first ice cream of the day and stood near the stage. They started with an Ollabelle Reed cover, "Undone In Sorrow", and then proceeded to play “Oxford Town” – which got the crowd dancing early. At this point in the show, Chris Hersch, Oneside’s Banjo player joined me and mentioned that he and Aoife O'Donovan had attended the same music school together, As a result he follows the band closely. And Ms. O'Donovan told me afterwards that there were over a dozen artists from that program performing at FloydFest. Chris also instructed me on Dr. Liszt’s distinct style on the banjo – something like most banjo players pluck with three fingers, but he uses four. Crooked Still continued with several songs from the new CD, Still Crooked: Captain, Captain; Pharaoh; and Oh, Agamemnon. It was nice having Chris around because he told me the background to songs such as Pharaoh, an old Georgia Seal Island song. My favorite song of the set was “Come On In My Kitchen”. They received a contribution from the Mill House ice cream engine when the engine popped – at times - in unison with the bass cello. They entire show can be summed how Chris described one song, “That was tight.”

At this point I decided to walk 10 minutes away to Villa Appalaccia Winery. The winery was selling their wines at the beer garden and was located in the neighboring property so, it was an opportunity not to miss. For those who didn’t taste their offerings in the beer garden, here they are.
I returned to the festival to catch Tony Trischka and Double Banjo Bluegrass. Crooked Still’s Dr. Gregory Liszt and Brittany Haas joined Trischka and his band on stage for 75 minutes of picking and fiddling. His previous CD, Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular, contains songs where he was accompanied on banjo by several other notables such as Béla Fleck, Bill Emerson, and Scott Vestal. Dr. Liszt took their place on stage and the ensemble played songs from this CD as well as his latest: Territory. Watching Trischka is a treat and 2007 was a good year for the performer. He was given an IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award for Banjo Player of the Year 2007. Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular received IBMA awards for Recorded Event of the Year, Instrumental Album of the Year and a Grammy Nomination. Not bad. After playing professionally for over 35 years, he is also somewhat a bluegrass historian – probably the best around.

Soon it was time for Gospel Hour; basically this is how the The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band had advertised their Sunday show. The set opened with only Reverend Peyton taking stage, explaining that the band was going to slow things down a bit and played a longer version of the soft part of “I Shall Not Be Moved”. At some point into the song, Breezy and Jayme entered and casually picked up their instruments. Then, on queue, the three exploded in chorus for the fast section of the song – and the tent erupted. "Slow things down", right. They did play most of the gospel tunes from The Gospel Album, but this is still dance music – a musical style I wouldn’t hear from our parish chorus. They played “Blow That Horn”, “Glory Glory Hallelujah”, “Let Your Light Shine”, and my favorite “Tell All The World John”, with Jayme pounding the pickle bucket. The Reverend also displayed his guitar prowess by instructing us how he creates a bass sound – since there’s no bass player in the trio. He plays the top two strings with his thumb and pointer finger, while simultaneously playing rhythm with the remaining fingers. He started out slow, and then slowly increased the tempo until both hands were flying in unison. Awesome. He also had a great segway into “Mama’s Fried Potatoes”, describing all the great food one group of attendees had given them over the weekend. They finished with “Two Bottles of Wine” as an encore, and then were invited back by the promoters for one last curtain call and song. What an act; look out for the main stage next year.

I took one last look into the Beer Garden and found singer songwriter William Walter playing with Tucker Rogers. I was able to catch one song – which shows that artists have the same problems as everyone else: "Love is Clinging Closer". I’m going to keep an eye on this artist, particularly since his band, William Walter & Co, won the 2008 FloydFest winner of the Emerging Artist Series. Congratulations. I waited around for The Avett Brothers, but after 20 minutes, I decided to call it a weekend. With a 5½-hour drive waiting – as well as dogs in the kennel – I couldn’t wait any longer. Too bad – it was a great weekend. On the walk to the shuttle, I ran into the Villers of Blacksnake Meadery, thanked them for yesterday's visit and headed home. The drive was remarkable painless. Accompanied by the new music from Crooked Still, Blind Corn Liquor Pickers, Oneside, and The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band, I was on Interstate 66 in no time. I finished the trip listening to the The Gospel Album, twice – all the while mimicking Jayme on the pickle bucket. However, beware, listening to this album may lead you to lose control of your life (as my Dad would say), While singing and drumming, I didn’t notice the orange fuel light illuminated until I had pulled into my driveway. With perhaps some divine intervention, I had returned home safely. Glory Glory Hallelujah.

No comments: