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A Weekend Of Music! July 21, 2008

Posted by littlebangtheory in music.

Ah, Summer – hot sun, cold beverages, finger food and outdoor music. Throw in some little cotton dresses, and I’m all over that!

…Figuratively speaking, of course πŸ˜‰ !

The Granddaddy of music festivals in these parts is the yearly Green River Festival, featuring an eclectic mix of performers on two stages, a nice selection of fine restaurants representing on-premises, craft vendors and hot air balloon rides (although with those going at $225 per person, I’ve concluded that ballooning is a spectator sport.)

This year’s festival began with a free show in downtown Greenfield on Thursday evening and ran through a scheduled Sunrise Balloon Launch on Sunday. The Pagan Sphinx and I got together with our daughters, Elder Progeny and Ultimate Spawn (or Supergirls 1&2, if you’re you’re a Pagan ) for the Friday evening and Saturday shows, braving an unsettled weather forecast in true New Englander style.

We arrived at Friday’s show a little late (just in time to hear the first act get cut short by a sudden rain squall, which we sat out in the parking lot. Then in we went, getting to see Eilen Jewell:

…Local Gurrrl Made Good, and her excellent band, featuring Jerry Miller on guitar:

Remember when people who looked like that played clarinets and accordions? I do!

But on Friday night, Jerry played the bejeebus outta his red electric, laying down a mix of Texas Swing and good ol’ rock-n-roll and quite effectively stealing the show.

Which was unfortunate for headliner Jimmy Vaughan, who was up next and seriously suffered from the comparison. He put on a helluva show, though:

And sang up a heartfelt storm, for which I have nothing but praise:

We all hoovered vendors’ food, stuff like Elmer’s legendary jambalaya (’twas guuud!), Thai spring rolls and fried whole belly clams (yeah, I know, it’s rabbit food for the next month! πŸ˜† )

Saturday was an epic Summer outing, with the first band starting at 1pm and the last scheduled to wrap it up around 11pm. We got a late start (three-ish,) electing to endure the record heat and humidity for a couple less hours so as to hopefully have some energy left for show-closer Lucinda Williams.

The day was indeed tumultuous, with record crowds sweltering under brooding skies

while the rockin’ music was punctuated by the crackle-and-boom sound of reeeeally close lightning:

Fortunately we got not much more than a couple of brief showers, just enough to bring out a sea of umbrellas and, thankfully, cool things down incrementally. We learned later that the entire area had been ringed by violent, damaging thunderstorms, while our happy expanse of sun cabanas and high voltage wiring was spared.

Pretty cosmic, eh, man??

Anyway, the afternoon was tons of fun! We ate like piggies, with Elder P making good on her stated intention of learning to cook this summer by assembling a delicious Portuguese tuna salad and a spectacularly good batch of salsa; PS brought a variation on her prosciutto and watermelon salad, which was excellent, and I brought chicken quesadillas and guacamole.

Oh yeah, and a big batch of margaritas on ice. ‘Cause I read something about electrolytes being important on hot days πŸ˜‰ .

But as good as the food was, we came for the bands, and every time they started I was up and moving toward the front, drawn to the music, which was as excellent as it was varied. Forro In The Dark took me by surprise, being a standing line-up of guys playing the kind of instruments which might wind their way down a cobbled Columbian back street, including a drum worn around the neck, played on both sides and lacking none of the insistence of a full kit

and a player of flutes and horns who was a total crowd-stopper:

Followed by Crooked Still, a barely categorizable blend of genres melding banjo, fiddle, cello and double bass with gorgeous vocals:

Followed by Los Straight Jackets, a south-of the border surf band with an, um, original sort of stage presence:

Yeah, that’s right, stretch masks. I gotta wonder what they thought about the black tuxes and spandex masks in the 200% humidity which came along with the 95-degree weather. And then to hold this pose

…for a ten minute drum solo… Seriously, some ideas are better on paper. But they tore it up on the twin guitars, kicked my ass really, with a South-of-the-Border Surf Thing happening which was technically brilliant, and still made me sweat!

Then came Mavis Staples, a Living Legend on her Last Leg:

She roared through a set of classic Gospel and R&B numbers before collapsing in a metal folding chair and fanning herself with a program, letting her band take a half-hour solo which I never regretted, ’cause they were great! Seriously, catch this Legend while you can, because nothing lasts forever, even if it’s this good.

Then came the Grand Finale, Lucinda Williams, who refused to stand still for a photo, but totally rocked the house:

Very cool.

And all the while, the hot-air balloons rose and sank in the background, occasionally synchronizing their “blows” in a musically informed light show:

It was a good show, right down to the last ghostly revelers leaving the Second Stage dance tent:


1. Heather B. - July 22, 2008

Do you also do the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival? It is just over the new York border…. I used to go every year, and I really miss it now that I am too far away……

2. Randal Graves - July 22, 2008

I’ve never been to an all-day gig that mixed up the genres like that. I’m not sure how successful I’d be at shifting the emotions from one thing to another, but it sounds like it was a good time!

3. sherry - July 22, 2008


i’ve been able to access your blog thru google cause my bookmarks were not working for the past 2 weeks i guess it’s been. but, if i tried to leave a comment the whole damn thing froze up and i had to restart my computer.

wanted to let you know i’ve been ejoying your stuff.

yours was the only blog that wouldn’t / couldn’t let me comment. phooey. ; )

4. DCup - July 22, 2008

What a great weekend for all of you. And Lucinda Williams? Yowza!

Love that balloon picture. It’s really, really good.

5. Pagan Sphinx - July 22, 2008

You got some beauties, CR! I’m with D on that hot air balloon photo. It’s so evocative of Friday night. And the rainbow. Friday night was, with the rainbows and the balloons, a really spectacular night. Saturday was brutally humid but well worth hanging out all day for. What a great scene. Happy people, Happy Valley.

Thanks for the pics. Especially since my camera ran out of juice. I have one good shot of YOU, my friend. I’ll have to forward it on.


6. TheCunningRunt - July 22, 2008

Heather, I’ve not been to Falcon Ridge, both because it’s expensive and an hour and a half away, and because folk music isn’t my main interest, though I have to say that I enjoy it immensely when I encounter it live. Jazz and blues fire me up most readily, and guitar-based rock takes me back to happier times. I got two out of the three this weekend, and that’s guud!

Randal, switching gears was easy, as most of the bands were intense enough to rope in an attentive listener. I’d have to say that the folksier outfits suffered most from the transitions, as it’s hard to get an audience into a mellow groove when their’s an Afro-Pop dance band tearing it up down in the Dance Tent!

sherry, I’m sorry my blog was a little pissant to you. Baaad Blog!

Glad you finally got through. πŸ™‚

DC, Hiya, Gal! Yeah, Lucinda did a great show, though she looked like the road had been long. I got that feeling a number of times throughout the weekend; the veterans looked tired.

Frankly, I don’t know how they do it. I spend a weekend diggin’ ’em, then I go home to spend a week recuperating and they go on to tomorrow night’s show. What a life.

PS, sorry to be so scarce through it all, I got really caught up in the scene and wanted to play with my camera. I struggled with the balloon shots, they never really captured the feeling of the scene, so I settled on a group shot which at least was colorful, if not dramatic. Maybe next year I’ll anticipate the moment and be better positioned to capture it. πŸ˜‰

And yeah, that was the hottest I’ve been in at least a year – brutal for New England, though with Teh Internetz being all global and such, I’m reluctant to complain about what might be considered a balmy day in the tropics!

7. Laurie B - July 22, 2008

And this is just one more reason why we love living in the valley. Y’all come visit, then Go HOME AGAIN, do not move out here!!

Thanks for all your photos, I see, but don’t photo, all of the miracles we have out here.

Cheers, from Swampfield.

8. Pagan Sphinx - July 23, 2008

I thought the balloon photo captured a teensy part of the evening, anyway. It’s a beautiful picture, in any regard. πŸ™‚

9. Jane R - July 24, 2008

Gorgeous. What fun!

10. littlebangtheory - July 24, 2008

Yes, it was. πŸ™‚

Thanks, you two!

And Laurie, seeing it is being it. I don’t get more than a small fraction of what I see into my camera and onto this page, so I think I know what you mean.

11. Bookmarks about Theory - January 19, 2009

[…] – bookmarked by 2 members originally found by nmcbean on 2008-12-21 A Weekend Of Music! https://littlebangtheory.wordpress.com/2008/07/21/a-weekend-of-music/ – bookmarked by 6 members […]

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