Green River Festival 2012, Part 1. July 20, 2012Posted by littlebangtheory in music.
Tags: 2012, David Wax Museum, green river festival, Greenfield MA, hula hoops, Lake Street Dive, music festivals, Pokey Lafarge, Rachael Price, Sarah Lee Guthrie, schwing!, Shenandoah, Woody Guthrie
Whoa. This is going to be a monumental set of posts, with photos culled from nearly a thousand shots taken.
I know, this is a cross I constructed for myself to carry, but the opportunity to try lots of photographic ideas and techniques made me run my ass off for two days, elbowing old ladies out of the way and kneeing little children to get to the money-shots…
The Green River Festival began as a balloon festival with a little music, and has evolved into one of the Northeast’s premier summer music festivals, with hot air balloons as an aside.
To balloonists, this is a palpable loss.
But if you love live music, this event is still worthy of a spot on your calendar, and I’d like to suggest that you look forward to 2013 – my 2012 “early-bird” tickets cost me $60 for the weekend, compared to the at-the-gate price of $75/day.
Well, this year there was WAY too much music and humanity to document in a single post, so I’ll expect to spread it out over three or four posts.
Saturday kicked off with folks setting up camp down by the stage:
…and the opening act of Sarah Lee Guthrie, totally winning over a crowd who came for the headliners:
This past Saturday was Woodie Guthrie’s 100th birthday anniversary, and his son Arlo would close this day’s events with a Guthrie Family Reunion, including grand-daughter Sarah Lee.
At any rate, Sarah Lee was excellent, and easy on the eyes as well:
She’d later return for the evening’s Main Event with her Dad Arlo:
…but that was much later.
Next up was Pokey Lafarge and the South City Three, a roots music outfit which slipped the novelty noose with virtuosic playing, fun material and a compelling delivery:
…not to mention the best pompadour I’ve seen since they took Pee Wee away in cuffs:
Pokey gave it his all:
…as did his harmonica/washboard player:
They took the crowd back to the ’50s Midwest, which seemed appropriate for the Guthrie theme, and the audience loved it:
Next up was the David Wax Museum, another mix of Americana and modern sass. David played the pants off of a ukulale and a little acoustic guitar and sang with conviction:
…assisted by a helluva fiddle player:
…who also stroked the jawbone of an ass to spectacular effect.
…and a concertina (I think) player who had it happenin’:
I’m going to apologize right here for not getting the bass player, who hung back in the shadows, and the drummer, who was buried behind his cymbals.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.
At any rate, they rocked the crowd, which was by now stretching off into the distance:
There was a lot going on here – three stages of music, arts and crafts vendors, children’s activities, and great food prepared by a slew of excellent local restaurants.
And Hula Hooping provided by Shenandoah, a local woman who teaches the art:
If you’ve never considered hooping to be an “art,” you should see what she does with that lucky thing.
(‘Scuse me while I open a couple of windows…)
…ok, where was I?
Oh, yeah, at the Green River Festival! 🙂
The next performers on the Main Stage were Lake Street Dive, a quartet with its genesis at the New England Conservatory of Music, where trumpeter Mike “McDuck” Olson assembled the line-up and declared them A Band, then spent the next several years searching for their present sound:
I didn’t make the journey with them, but if this is the destination, I have to believe it was well worth the wait.
Mr. McDuck also played commendable electric guitar, but spent the great majority of the set on trumpet:
…which totally blew me away. Thanks, Mike.
Drummer Mike Calabrese made magic with a simple kit, never standing out but always standing in, singing and playing with a level of class which denied the band’s simple structure:
Layer onto that the extraordinary upright bass playing and wonderful vocal harmonies of Bridget Kearney:
…and something quite unexpected happened – the nimble bass, sensual trumpet and two harmonizing voices created a richly textured tapestry onto which was laid the powerfully evocative vocals of Ms. Rachael Price:
Oh. My. God.
I can’t remember when I was last so blown away by a singer, one who knew just how to fondle a ballad, then send a soul song soaring! If you’ve never heard the name, join the club, but expect to hear it more in the future.
Plus, she’s got that, how you say, look:
Between the 90 degree heat and the hormones, I was, well…smitten.
People, Hot Tip of the Whole Post: LAKE STREET DIVE.
All of this was happening on the Main Stage, with two other stages honking simultaneously, and I haven’t even got to the Big Names! Obviously, I’ll need to move it along if you’re ever going to hear the whole tale.
But it was all so good…
*A photographers’ note:
In the past I’ve liked the stage-side look of photos taken looking up at musicians with a 50mm or shorter lense; they have an immediacy which curls a viewer’s fingers around the lip of the stage. But they aren’t always flattering to the performers, especially if big hips and a tiny head aren’t what you’re gunning for.
So this time ’round I spent a lot less time lying on the ground amidst stomping dancers (though you’ll probably see a few of those) and a lot more time backed off, with my 400mm Gizmo on a mono-pod, sometimes with a 2X tele-extender. The results are most apparent in the face-shots, which I’m seeing as both intimate and artsy.
I hope you’ll agree.