Thursday, July 29, 2010

FloydFest9 Day2 - Saturday

We woke early Saturday to the sound of portables being cleaned and shook off the drowsiness to examine the day's schedule. Like all festivals, there were many difficult choices to make on who to see. Like most Floydfest mornings, the day started with Kat Mills in the Beer Garden. No beers served yet, just nice acoustic music to allow us to collect our thoughts and literally charge our batteries. We decided to plan our afternoon around seeing Hackensaw Boys again and Joe Pug with our evenings revolving around the Main Stage: JJ Grey & Mofro, Old Crow Medicine Show, and the Levon Helm Band. What a core lineup, right?

From 10:00 am until 2:00 pm, we basically criss-crossed back and forth across the festival grounds listening to parts of many artist's sets: Mitch Barrett, William Walter & Co., Rocknoceros, Blue Mule, Rising Appalachia, Hackensaw Boys, Holy Ghost Tent Revival, and the Ralph Roddenberry Band. Except for the first and last, we had seen these acts before, all incredibly entertaining. Yes, we could have slowed down and stayed at the same stage - but then you end up missing so much good music. The biggest surprise among these was the Ralph Roddenberry Band - this year's festival theme appeared to be more roots rock and less bluegrass.

The afternoon ended with the main event - finally being able to see a live performance from Joe Pug. We've followed this artists since receiving a two song demo containing Nation of Heat and Hymn #101. We worked instantly hooked; the songs are full of powerful vocals and lyrics. Pug continued this craft with Messenger - just an awesome CD. And today we finally heard live sets to these songs. I don't want to come over as too dramatic, but his performance was chilling - spectacular. We missed his Front Porch performance that day, but we heard Jon Lohman sing his praises for Hymn #101. Watch out for this guy - he is going places.

In order to catch our breath, we headed to the beer garden to hear Possum Jenkins before returning to the Hill Holler stage and Mountain Heart. Foothills Brewing had also recommended Possum Jenkins and since Big Daddy Love was a hit, we figured why not. Plus we were able to try the brewery's awesome Sexual Chocolate stout. We enjoyed that brief interlude - good music and good beer - but returned to meet Echo Propp from WAMU Bluegrass Country. Echo has posted her travelogue of the festival that we recommend reading. Plus she had highly recommended that we see Mountain Heart - a very good "choose". The band is basically a bluegrass band that "crosses over" to other styles. How else to explain their rendition of Whipping Post. This band has the entire package - instrumentals, harmonies, Jake Stargel, humor; you name it. Definitely planning to see them Sunday at the Front Porch.

Besides Joe Pug, the other artist that was a must see was JJ Grey & Mofro. Since our first exposure at ACL in 1994, we watched and listened to Grey mature from a raw blackwater blues artist to a funky, soul, R&B, blues sensation. And now he's touring with a full band - not just Grey and Daryl Hance - but a full band: horns, keyboards, a third guitar. And he did not disappoint - from playing Lochloosa to Everything Good Is Bad to The Sun Is Shining Down to Orange Blossoms. Not convinced that Grey compares to the greatest soul singers of our generation - listen to A Woman. Hats off to the promoters for scheduling JJ Grey - that was the highlight of the day.

While the main stage was being cleared we decided to get a beverage from Starr Hill Brewing, The River Company Restaurant and Brewery, or Foothills Brewing, and see who was playing. The first band turned out to be Tennessee Boltsmokers, a bluegrass band out of Memphis. They had a nice Americana vibe to them as did the next act - Dangermuffin. Our friends, Steve and Jo from Blacksnake Meadery, had recommended this band so we pushed back our return to OCMS to see about the fuss, which is, the trio gets more sound out of an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, and a drum kt than most five or six piece bands. Let's head to the beach.

Instead we headed to the main stage and the rest of the Old Crow Medicine Show. This band has been playing for a decade now, hard to believe, since their breakout CD Old Crow Medicine Show. They are worthy of all accolades, but sometimes I wonder why the Hackensaw Boys haven't reached the same level. Maybe the absence of a hit song? And whereas the crowd exploded when Wagon Wheel started, I prefer their more bluesy roots tunes: Tell It To Me or James River Blues. In any case OCMS puts on a good show and they definitely set the stage for the Levon Helm Band.

This was the second time in four nights that we got to see the old master perform - following their Wolf Trap performance. Even though the set list was practically identical it was still a thrill watching Helm interact with the crowd and the band. And what a band: his daughter Amy Helm, bassist Byron Isaacs, Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, keyboardist Brian Mitchell, Jim Weider, and the entire rhythm section. I could listen to Amy Helm sing all night and Williams vocals on Long Black Veil were still chilling. Then there's Campbell, Williams, and Weider; who all masters of their craft. But the crowd was ready to hear Levon and he mustered all the energy that his frail body can exert and electrified the audience. And the photographers; the paparazzi was out in full force. But the crowd loved him - and we could barely hear the stage when they played The Weight. Another great performance.

After a quick refresher at the VIP Tent it was back to the beer garden and the second set from
American Aquarium. And they didn't disappoint. These guys can rock - their set from yesterday was more alt-country - tonight was pure jamin'. The crowd was all in and demanded a second encore. Good for them. This second encore forced us to drink a few more Starr Hill beers waiting for Rose's Pawn Shop - alt country from the west coast. These guys can also play and were quite impressive with a now standard lineup: acoustic guitar, electric guitar, fiddle, upright bass, and drum kit. That works for me.

Thanks again to the promoters and all the wonderful volunteers for making this another amazing day. And once again more photos are available at the MyJoog Gallery.

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