Blogging from Wakarusa 2012: Friday I’m In Love with Waka
I hoped to be blogging to you live through the last day of Wakarusa 2012, but there was a delay. Blame it on the rain storms, the insanely good music I was busy seeing, or the caprice of a carefree weekend that I never wanted to finalize. Forgive me for not posting every day; it’s been a busy weekend and there was so much to do and report on. I have some pictures on my phone and digital camera which will be posted as I get a chance, but unfortunately I couldn’t get my memory card to work properly most of the time, so I’ll just have to describe the sound experience with words; besides, walking from stage to stage with a bulky camera tends to get in the way of boogeying.
Friday afternoon I had the privilege to meet the band Dirtfoot in person and offer them congratulations for winning the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. I remember the band’s first performance at Wakarusa 2007 and find them well-deserving of the award, which granted them an opportunity to record a video from inside of the John Lennon Tourbus. Dirtfoot is a Shreveport ensemble who describe themselves as a moveable party with instruments. Dirtfoot played two late sets this weekend with their usual Saturday Morning concert and free breakfast called “Chompdown.” It’s worth the wait to get some fresh fruit, eggs, and coffee, or just about anything that has been donated by the volunteers. Chompdown is the legacy of John “Rabbit” Cabrera who orchestrated the movement through the Wakarusa.com forums. The legacy of Rabbit has spread to other festivals including the Harvest Festival held on Mulberry Mountain in the fall. Here is a clip of the 2009 Chompdown at Harvest: (notice the bean cans, passed out by the band 🙂 )
Seeing Dirtfoot perform win front of a hungry crowd is a special thing, and their home is the festival atmosphere where they take you out of the daily grind and invite you to get your feet a bit dusty. Dirtfoot has a refreshing gypsy-funk blues sound that is hard to pin down, but incredibly fun to dance to and interact with. Meeting them was my last formal interview of the weekend, though I followed it up by listening to two other must-see bands, Dumptruck Butterlips & Mountain Sprout, whom I later met up with on the festival grounds. These artists love to hear feedback from their fans and never hesitate to tell you the reason they continue to make music: the chance to share it with others makes it all worthwhile.
In the afternoon I repeated a lot of my favorite acts from Thursday. I caught Split Lip Rayfield again, this time under the Revival Tent. There was plenty of room to move and still a fun crowd who cheered for their favorite songs. Word of Rubblebucket’s energetic set was spreading like wildfire, and they had another good turnout.
I saw Heartless Bastards perform once more, this time on the Backwoods stage which really wasn’t suited to projecting soulful sounds and instrumental notes. I hope next year the acoustics are taken more into consideration or that bands with less dependence on harmony can be scheduled for the Backwoods stage. It’s a good place to go for foot-stomping or picking, but the sound just didn’t carry out from the boxy stage as it was meant to.
The Friday main stage hosted Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, and I heard diehard fans were pleased to see him in such positive spirits at Wakarusa. I found the performance to be vastly overshadowed by the very next mainstage act, arguably the best show of the weekend, The Avett Brothers, who had the crowd completely captivated. The real star of this show was Joe Kwon on his cello, who managed to provide just the right energy to the brothers’ set. Dancing around with a large string instrument is probably not that easy, but it got us dancing, too. The Avetts played a good selection of old and new tunes and had people talking excitedly for hours afterward. I wore myself out dancing and singing along.
I couldn’t keep myself awake much longer that evening, but I heard that Ghostland Observatory had a great late-night set and pretty stellar light show beneath the Revival Tent. I tried to listen in on Balkan Beat Box and Girl Talk but my trusty cot was calling to me, so I decided to save my energy for the last two days of Waka.
I have some notes to sift through before I bring you coverage of Saturday and Sunday, so stay tuned! I had a marvelous time and want to share all the musical talent I soaked up. The first two days left me hungry for more, and little did I know that my dedication would soon be tested by approaching weather.