Wednesday, July 25, 2007

All Good recap, Mamou Playboys, DJ Williams

Hi-de-ho! Only a couple gigs to talk about this week as we have hit the usual late summer concert doldrums in Richmond. Then I'll give you my All Good Festival recap.

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys bring some fine Cajun music to the Capital Ale House Downtown on Thursday night. Show starts at 8 PM. Tickets are $15.00 at the door.

DJ Williams Projekt play at the Canal Club on Friday night with their blend of jazz, funk and rock. He's not a DJ, that's his name. Doors open at 8 and its only $8 to get in.

Now onto the All Good recap. Our caravan (three vehicles, seven people) reached the line to get in at 3 PM on Thursday. They weren't supposed to open the gates until 5 PM but they opened early so we pulled into the lot at about 5 PM and were pleased to find that they were allowing car camping. Car camping means you camp where you park your car which meant no hauling stuff from car to camp, you could keep a lot of stuff in your car so your tent didn't have a lot of crap in it and you could use your car for sleeping if one so desired. Here is the view from our campsite.

As we pulled into our spot, Angie jumped out of Wyatt's van like B.A. Barracus from the A-Team and had about three tents laid out on the ground before I even left my car. We had a pretty sweet camp set up in about an hour with a living room (Wyatt's carport), kitchen (Phil & Angie's screened-in tent), shower (camping shower stall) and everybody's tent set up around all of that. Here's Wyatt standing in the "living room", with the kitchen behind him and my tent in the foreground.
We also had the good fortune of being very close to the Ropeadope stage, the smaller third stage, where the Thursday night early bird show was taking place. That started with Charlottesville's own American Dumpster, a band in which the lead singer reminded us of a cross between Tom Waits and Iggy Pop. He also did a little firebreathing ala Gene Simmons. They were pretty raw and still in bar band stage but may be worth a look. This also began the sound problems that night as the vocals could barely be heard. Ozric Tentacles and improvisational electronica band were next and they reminded me of late period Jeff Beck. I'm not sure if they ever do vocals or not because again there were sound issues with the vocal mikes and it now seemed the entire speaker stack on the left of the stage was giving out. Dark Star Orchestra, the Dead cover band, was the headliner and when the sound problems continued as they started the crowd was beginning to get ugly. Some sound guy earned his money because they fixed the problem toward the end of DSO's second song and it was smooth sailing from then on. DSO "recreated" a show from October '77 (DeKalb, IA) and they were excellent as always. The close proximity of stage to camp also meant easy access to beer for us and a nice retreat to camp during set break.

Was up by 9:30 the next day and since the music wasn't starting until 3 PM, just puttered around the camp. Joe was supposed to arrive early that day but had to finish something for work so called to say he was coming later. Phil and I walked over to check out the Bindlestiff Family Circus, a small traveling circus that was a fun way to pass an hour. We particularly liked the guy who spun things (lariat, Argentinian bolos(?)) and the gymnast. Here's a picture of the gymnast.

Went down to the main stage area, which consisted of two stages right next to each other so you had constant music and didn't have to walk anywhere to catch all the bands. We got funky nice and early with PBS, which consisted of two guys from the Funky Meters of New Orleans (Porter (bass) and Batiste (drums)) and the guitarist from the Neville Brothers (Stoltz).
I learned quickly that Candy was always up for getting down to the stage nice and early every day and we were always the first ones down there from our little group. Candy was also kind enough to drive with me to the fest and back and we had a good time talkin' music, bashing GW Bush, hitting dark bars in WV and avoiding overzealous police in Garrett County MD. Thanks, Candy!
After PBS, the Pietasters were on the second stage and they were a fun ska band. I could definitely see having a good time watching these guys at the Canal Club and, in fact, they'll be playing there soon. After the Pietasters, Yonder Mountain String Band gave us some good bluegrass styled music and also brought us the first rain of the weekend. Click HERE to hear the show. The rain lasted for about an hour after they were done and also brought us a beautiful large rainbow. I didn't get a picture because that was about when Joe finally arrived so we were spending some time getting him settled and eating dinner.

That night we saw Keller Williams and the Keels who were very good, much better than Keller alone. Highlights included "Doobie In My Pocket", a song about his worries about a doobie in his shirt pocket in his luggage as he goes through airport security, and their twisted bluegrass version of "Another Brick In the Wall, parts 1, 2, & 3". Bob Weir also came out and joined them for a few tunes, the Dead's "Loser" (with a little bit of Beck's "Loser" thrown in) and "Dupree's Diamond Blues".

Bob's band, Ratdog, was next. The first half of the show was very slow. The Casey, Miracle and Hell In a Bucket seemed to be played at a much slower tempo then normal. I don't know if this was due to Kimock playing with the band. Steve Kimock is filling in for regular guitarist Mark Karan who is having chemotherapy. Kimock is a very jazzy guitarist. A lot of people I talked to were very disappointed and bailed after the first half of the show. You could see the crowd wanting to dance and yell during the rockers and the band just didn't pick it up. As much as I appreciate Kimock, the man does not seem to want to rock on the rockin' tunes. When the band looked to him to play the big crunchy opening riff on Hell In a Bucket, he kind of wimped out.
That being said, the mellower stuff was certainly more Kimock's cup of tea. Dark Star, TN Jed, and Come Together (Beatles tune) were very good and the addition of Keller on Uncle John's Band was nice. The band finally got the crowd rocking on Throwing Stones. Overall, I gave this show a 5 out of 10 because of the slow first half. Click HERE to hear the show.

The next day was up around 9:30 again and was the first one to hop in the shower. A beautiful sunny day with highs in the low 80s. I decided to wait until right before we went to the stage before applying my sunscreen rather then put it on right away. (Danger! Danger, Will Robinson!)
Here we are hangin' out at camp.

We were down at the stage at 1 for Assembly of Dust who kicked things off well. They laid down a cool 70s country rock groove, but not in a bad way and a little funkier, and they have an excellent guitarist in the band. Perpetual Groove was next and they were OK.

Here is the view from the top of the hill overlooking the main stage area. Our camp was just over the first hill in the distance.

Then came my big find of the weekend, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. This band played a great set of blues rock and Grace has a voice that will just floor you. I really hope she comes down to Richmond soon. Petition Toad's Place now. Click HERE to hear her show at All Good.

Drive-By Truckers were next and they rocked but I did miss departed guitarist Jason Isbell. On the bright side, with Isbell gone, the slide guitar came to the forefront on a lot of songs. I also thought their song selection was a bit downbeat for a daytime appearance. But they played "Let There Be Rock" and fit in a little of Springsteen's "State Trooper" and all was well. Click HERE to hear the show.

It was about this time that I realized I had forgotten to put on sunscreen but was feeling OK. Went back to camp, scarfed down dinner and a beer and headed back to the stage to watch Les Claypool. His set was very surreal, in a good yet disturbing way. When he donned the pig mask for a few songs and with sitarist/theramin player Gabby La La looking like an Oompa-Loompa gone bad in her shocking pink wig and giant sunglasses, things got really bizarre. By the time they were down, my mind was melted and I realized I had been quite baked.....by the sun. Though I wanted to see Michael Franti, who was coming on shortly, I had to go back to camp, rehydrate and chill for a while. At least I had the opportunity to watch a beautiful sunset over the mountains as a refreshing cool breeze kicked in. I went back down and caught the second half of the Franti show from the edges of the crowd. He got everyone jumping as usual as we spread the Peace vibes throughout WV. Click HERE to hear his show. Back to camp for a little more chill and hung out with Wyatt and Joe. Discovered a cool band called Kicksville on the Ropeadope stage instead of going down to see moe. I just didn't want to deal with the giant crowd at the main stage yet. Kicksville use a lot of samples and looping but are definitely a rock band and mixed rhythmic rock with sonic soundscapes and a multimedia show with taped spoken word pieces, both humorous and revolutionary, set to videos. I would definitely like to check them out again. One of those bands that will free yo' ass and yo' mind. Click HERE to check out some Kicksville videos.

Finally headed back to the main stage to check out The Slip, who rocked, and the Late Night All-Star Jam Hosted by moe. The All-Star jam was very good, with the highlight being Grace Potter and moe doing Neil Young's "Cortez The Killer". Click HERE to hear the All-Star Jam.

Went to sleep only to be awakened around 6 AM by the wookies in the camp near us who were still up on something, rockin' out and talkin' shit. I crawled into the back seat of my car, which was farther away from their tent, popped in my earplugs (I will never go to a festival again without these. But only for sleeping purposes. Tried to use them once at a concert many years ago but I need the loudness. I'm hoping they invent bionic ears before I'm 60.), and got my best sleep of the weekend, awakening at 11:30.

On Sunday AM, found Joe had left early, probably assisted by the loud wookies, with Joe mumbling something to Candy about having to go to Atlanta on Monday. Went down to the stage around 1 to see Sam Bush and his "newgrass". I am liking him better every time I see him. Rain started up again as Sam ended. We retreated back to camp and said goodbye to Emily & Keith (who had been with us from the start) and Matt & Stephanie (Matt is a co-worker of Keith). Our little All Good family was beginning to shrink. The sun came back out and Candy, Phil, Angie (here's Phil & Angie)
and I hit the stage again (Wyatt stayed at camp to rest his ailing hip) for the last round of music from Soulive (some good funk), Bob Schneider (surprisingly good rocker) and finally, the Leftover Salmon reunion. Leftover Salmon was quite enjoyable. As they were playing their last note, the skies opened up for the biggest, hardest rain of the weekend. I took refuge in a port-a-john (which didn't smell too bad thankfully) and rode out the worst of it, before heading back to camp to find our living room gone (it done blew down). I ate my gyro in the kitchen and we hung out in there and the van. Rain lasted until maybe 8:30, but by then I was asleep in Wyatt's van and I crawled into my tent at 10:30 for a good night's sleep.

I thought I might have dreamed this but I have the pictures to prove it. Here are some of the interesting creature wandering around on Sunday.The next day was up by 7 and headed home by 9.

Definitely a splendid time and despite the final rainstorm, the weather was great. Can't wait to do it all again, though it may be a few years away as new baby comes in September.