Thursday was a really, really long day. Just a little context, I work full time but it’s a desk job. I have two young kids and I’m just over a year in remission so I’ve not been out partying much lately. I was sure I’d never fall asleep last night and much to my surprise I did. I was pretty useless this morning and didn’t head over to Centeroo until nearly two. Part of my not moving was also that I was able to hear Stephen Marley from my campsite. Moving and walking are really over rated. I have simple needs and sitting back and listening to a little reggae meets them very nicely sometimes. Anyway, on with the show.
First on track, Umphrey’s McGee. I only knew a song or two of their material and apparently what I knew was more “pop” than their usual work. They played long jams and while I admired the musicality I wasn’t particularly into the vibe. That can not be said for the thousands of folks completely enthralled by the performance.
I decided to move out to catch the Bluegrass Allstars. My husband was off to see the Swell Season, more on them later. These guys were amazing to hear and even more interesting to see. The line up, some of the finest musicians on their instruments. Banjo – Bela Fleck, Mandolin – Sam Bush, Dobro (a resonator guitar, looks like an acoustic guitar with a hubcap in the center)- Jerry Douglas, Fiddle – Luke Bulla, Bass – Edgar Meyer, Acoustic Guitar – Bryan Sutton. Now I am not an expert in bluegrass, merely an appreciative pedestrian but anytime I see a line up that includes Fleck, Bush and Douglas I know that it is a place to stop “and set a while”. This set proved to be no exception. Playing old time favorites as well as new compositions, a couple of which were announced to be world premieres they seemed to get tighter and more in sync with every minute. Tunes of every style from Rollin in my Sweet Baby’s Arms to Polka on the old Banjo were part of this performance with a great audience mix. The final tune of the set, forever endearing them to the hearts of the ‘roosters, a new song by Bela entitled Roo! Encore with the Whitehouse Blues and call it a day. I think I’ve got some great shots but they’re on the disposable so when I figure out how to get them here I will.
I wandered over to the Swell Season as I had a little free time. If you have seen the movie Once then you have heard the Swell Season. (If you have not seen the movie Once get off the computer and watch it, we’ll wait) If the day had worked differently I think it would have done my soul good to hear this entire set. Glen Hansard is comfortable with an audience, probably due to his years of experience as a busker but it is Marketa Irglova that draws me in. There is a delicacy in her voice that sounds so pure and true that you dare not breathe for the risk of blowing it away. Her voice brings a lump to my throat and I was walking away from the tent when they started into a cover of Into the Mystic that dragged me back. They encored with Heyday, acting surprised at the audience response and bringing us all along.
I met up with my husband at this point and we were wandering a little bit before heading over to see Willie when we stumbled across Mike Farris featuring the Roseland Rhythm Revue. I can’t tell you how many people and instruments were crammed into the Troo Music Lounge at that point but the sound was pouring out. Some serious soul and gospel pouring out and as some around here have said when we left we “had been churched”.
Willie Nelson is an icon, nothing else needs to be said. The unfortunate part is that we were a way back on the lawn and there was a ton of foot traffic around us so there wasn’t as good a listening atmosphere as I would like. I couldn’t see a thing and was getting kind of hot and tired so I did not appreciate the set as much as I know I would without people walking over and around me. Still good to hear and great to see the mix of fans.
Chris Rock is freaking funny. He’s even funny in the rain. He’s funny standing in the rain because for whatever reason the people at this set decided they needed to stand through it. Good set, some of it I’d heard, particularly the bit about Hillary not wanting to go back to the White House after Monica. I don’t remember the exact quote but it went a little something like this “We invaded Iraq and gas cost more than before. Let me tell you, if I invade IHOP tonight, pancakes are gonna be cheap at my house”.
This was the first huge show that we had been to and were still getting used to the entire herd moving. We had decided that we were going to skip Metallica and grab some rest so that we could hang later. By the time we got back to camp my feet were screaming at me and the only solution was to stick them in a cooler full of ice until they were numb. We were camping the the handicap accessible section because of them and it was at this point that one of my neighbors filled me in on the seating option. Anyway, laying in the tent, sure I’m never going to fall asleep and…..
I had wanted to check out My Morning Jacket but it was pouring and getting up from the nap was a little harder than expected. We decided to check out the Superjam. First thing, trying out the seating. Well it turns out that at the Other tent the handicap accessible seating area is under the tent, meaning out of the rain. After feet soaked in ice and a nap I was up for anything.
SuperJam was the big unknown. There had been rumors for weeks about who was going to be playing ranging from Tom Waits to Led Zeppelin and everything in between. The one I had heard the most was Les Claypool and some mix of people. So we got comfy and waited for the show to begin. Right around one am as the show was set to begin there was an announcement that there had been a flight delay and they were hoping to begin soon. Who could be coming that’s not here yet? Buzz all around.
Here’s what the line up wound up being; Les Claypool – Bass, Kirk Hammett – Guitar and Gogol Bordello, everything else. And to top it all off it was a Tom Waits tribute show. Sounds completely weird doesn’t it? I don’t know if it was the lateness of the hour, or the ability to be dry and able to see (quite a change for a 5’2″ gal), or just something they had spiked the clouds with but I was hypnotized. Is this a set i would have gone to if I had read about it? What if it hadn’t been raining and I was jamming with MMJ? Would I have left? I don’t know. I do know this. Tom Waits writes lyrics that are portraits, scenes and stories. I’ve got the best chunk of a set list as I’ve been able to find.
That’s the Way, I’ll Be Gone, I Don’t Wanna Grow Up, Cold Cold Ground, Dead and Lovely, Way Down in a Hole, Russian Dance, Green green grass, Just the right bullet, 16 shells From A Thirty-Ought Six, Big in Japan, D’s Diner
The sound of Sergey Ryabtsev, the violinist, singing Green green grass is still in my head. His singing iy makes it sound like an old folk tune. Whether it was the Russian accent or the fact that he is clearly not a 20 year old man brought a truth and a poignancy to the lyrics that has been in my ear for over a week. Add that to the image of Kirk Hammett dueling riffs with the accordion player from Gogol (Yuri Lemeshev) and it made for a fully satisfying show.
Returning to camp we were thrilled to find that the interior of our tent and stuff were dry and off to bed we went.