Another great weekend of the powers of Music. Every act that graced the stages at Folks Fest this weekend said something about how much they all missed playing to a live audience and how powerful it was for them and made them feel soooo good to be able to do what they love and get a positive response from everyone there. It finally really hit me after Saturday night just how special music is to all of us, it was like a slap upside my head. The realization of the importance of live music in all our lives was a bit overwhelming, but without it we are not whole. During the pandemic we were not ourselves and couldn’t be without the joy of live music. It is essential for our well-being.
Amy Speace in a long flowing white dress and an old Gibson J-45 with a terrific mandolin player graced us with her soaring voice and expertly crafted original tunes.
My first Steve Poltz show made me a lifelong fan. What an outstanding performer he was jumping all over the place telling his stories until he sat on the edge of the stage to talk to his audience. He left us all laughing and smiling and entertained.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones put on a big show with lights, smoke and Paul wrapped in a sequenced cape singing his ass off. The band kicked it up a couple of notches and Paul’s vocals were breath taking and his falsetto was thrilling. The crowd loved them.
Bonnie & Taylor Sims played mostly with a rhythm section Saturday afternoon and wowed the crowd with their original tunes. Bonnie & Tay as always put on a great show with Bonnie working the crowd into a frenzy, putting everything she had into her performance especially on their big hit “I See Red.”
The Brother Brothers had good songs and great singing. Siblings usually have special harmony, and these identical twins were no exception.
Mary Gauthier is a master songwriter. She just wrote a book “Saved by a Song” based on her song-writing workshops with Veterans’ wives. She read a few short passages from it – very interesting. No matter who joined her on stage (even Darrell Scott), her songs and fine voice shown through.
Darrell Scott’s Electrifying Trio was next (even if he did add a horn player to make it a quartet). I’m a big fan of Darrell’s singing, guitar playing and songwriting, so I was knocked out by the electric band– quite different for him and quite good. Bryn Davies on upright bass is always a treat.
Shawn Colvin did her whole album “Steady On,” marking its 30th year anniversary, and it was spot on. What a professional – her banter- her voice- the songs, all first rate. Not easy for a solo act to hold the audience and deliver one and a half hours straight without a glitch. Very impressed.
Shakey Graves took the stage himself to open his set with a lot of electronic feedback, smoke and lights. Then the band came up, and so did the crowd who danced the night away to their thunderous sounds.
The Ghost of Paul Revere, a quartet from Maine, not quite bluegrass, not quite country, and not quite rock & roll, but kind of all combined. Their career started off acoustically with what they called Holler folk, and evolved from there to what they perform today. Three fine vocalists added to their sound significantly.
Sierra Ferrell had a quintet with her on guitar, backed by fiddle, mandolin, upright bass and local Charlie Rose on steel peddle guitar for a nice country sound. Her songs really fit together very well, and her vocals brought back the sounds of the classic female country artists we all love like Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn.
Bonnie Paine and friends were one of my highlights of the festival. I counted 11 people on stage for a while and all local musicians. Bonnie’s songs, arrangements, and beautiful soaring vocals were amazing. The band was terrific and obviously had lots of fun. I only hope Bonnie can continue with most of these musicians so I can go see them perform again. Sonically their sound was very strong, while also being smooth and quite lovely.
I had no idea what to expect from Hiss Golden Messenger and was pleasantly surprised. Formed by MC Taylor in 2007 this 5-piece band from Durham N.C. put on a whale of a show. Featuring great vocals and musicianship. They were nominated for a Grammy in 2019 for best Americana album. And, influenced by the Beatles, Byrds and Buffalo Springfield. It’s no wonder I enjoyed them.
Gregory Alan Isakov perfectly ended the weekend as the consummate folk singer/songwriter. Joined by a fine upright bass and electric guitar player the Boulder-based farmer writes some of the best songs around these parts. And, the addition of Bonnie Paine for a couple of songs played right into his set. Very ethereal sounds covered the darkness as the happy fulfilled crowd packed up.