Most of the music I was interested in happened Thursday/Friday at the folk festival. In fact, the original plan was for Heather and me to buy a four-day transferable pass, and I was going to go with her father to Thursday-Friday; and she’d go Saturday-Sunday. Well, her father cancelled, we didn’t get any tickets in the madness that was ticket sale day, so we had to scramble to get Heather a Saturday-Sunday, and me a press pass. Be that as it may, my point is that Saturday-Sunday was more about Heather than me.
That’s not to say there wasn’t some NMM music on Saturday. My day started off with the U22 showcase. U22 is a local organization that mentors musicians under 22 and helps them with the training and resources they need – it’s an exceptional organization, and my hat goes off to them and Rhea March. In particular, the artists I was interested in at the showcase were the Command Sisters (who I interviewed for Gig City a while back, and we’ve been in touch since then), and the Scenic Route to Alaska.
The Command Sisters didn’t disappoint – I’d listened to some of their music before interviewing them and was incredibly impressed with their alt-country-folk sound. For just 16 and 13, Charlotte and Sarah are incredibly gifted. They’ve signed a publishing deal with a famed Nashville producer, who’s shopping the newest album he recorded with them around to see what makes sense for the next step in their evolution. Scenic Route to Alaska is getting a lot of buzz in the city, and were entirely awesome with their indie rock sound (hell, I had already bought their CD in my mind halfway through their first track), and general poise and leadership on the stage. You’ll be hearing a lot more from them in the future too, I imagine. Pianist/vocalist Jenie Thai has an incredible voice – possibly the best voice of anyone the entire weekend. They were rounded out by other amazing talent in the likes of Braden Gates, Kayla Patrick, and Emily Schultz; alum Samantha Schultz (Emily’s sister) also performed to close the showcase. I mean, I honestly don’t get how Rhea puts together such incredible talent year after year. Somebody would do pretty well for themselves just signing acts coming out of that program.
After a break I went to see Delhi 2 Dublin. This is another act that I think the EFMF’s Terry Wickham took a bit of a risk with – they’re certainly not the typical folk festival act, but OH. MY. GOD. They absolutely killed, and rocked stage six like it’s never been rocked before. I’m not sure they bested Brandi Carlile’s “most people attended” that stage, but they damned sure had more people dancing at a side stage than I have ever seen in my entire life. Their brand of Punjabi meets Irish meets grungy-dirty-rock-n-roll is freaking incredible. If there’s anyone from this weekend that I’d like you to listen to yourself, it’s these guys.
There was a lull in my music until the main stage started up. K.T. Tunstall has a lot of fans in these parts, and didn’t disappoint anyone in the crowd. Her career took an abrupt turn in 2004 when she appeared on the Jools Holland show (I wonder whatever became of him????) and her song flew up the charts. It’s well deserved – I wouldn’t know the names of any of her tracks, but both Heather and myself very much enjoyed her set; I think Heather will probably end up buying some of her music. It did start raining near the end of her set, though, and continued through blues magician John Mayall’s allotted time.
However, it did let up just in time for my wife’s favorite musician ever (well, save maybe Willie Nelson) – Brandi Carlile. I strained to hear Brandi over Heather at times, but she is possibly one of the best singer-songwriters to come along this century. I saw her last year at folk fest as well (mainstage and workshops), and this time she had a full band with her. She tore into her set right from the start and didn’t let up, doing an Elton John cover, a duet with K.T. Tunstall, and another cover for her encore. If you’re into singer-songwriters at all, you definitely need to check her out. Actually, if you’re into singer-songwriters, you probably already own her music.
That was Saturday; one more day left, although it’s going to be the calmest day for me – nobody I really need to see or hear, but Heather loves k.d. lang, so went super-early to get in on the gate gate lottery and hopefully find a spot for her newly purchased “festival tent”, the “Montague”. We’ll see how that goes, I’ve never known anyone to do the lotto thing.
( once again, all photos by me, Michael Senchuk )