Folk U. (Day 2): 10 Best of the Fest Moments
Attendance during the second day of the 19th Rocky Mountain Folks Festival in Lyons, Colorado, was even better than the first, but the guitar-driven bands didn’t provide the only excitement. Here’s a look at highlights and the final four acts, each lasting about 75 minutes, on Saturday, August 15, with the scheduled times listed below.
The Final Four
• 3:45-5 p.m. — JJ Grey & Mofro
• 5:30-6:45 p.m. — Over the Rhine
• 7:15-8:30 p.m. — Susan Tedeschi
• 9-10:30 p.m. — Don McLean
1. Save of the day
The heroes of the three-day event thus far are members of a rescue team that brought injured climber Crystal Yates-White back to safety after the 26-year-old woman fell while climbing the loose rocks on a cliff east of the stage. The accident occurred about 7:30 p.m. during Susan Tedeschi’s performance, but the show never stopped while an off-duty police officer and several off-duty medical personnel were initially able to stabilize Yates-White. The injured woman reportedly suffered a broken ankle and a few abrasions after falling 15 to 20 feet. A group from the Lyons Fire Department, the Longmont Emergency Unit and the Rocky Mountain Rescue Group made the heroic recovery.
2. Girl power
Over the Rhine’s Karin Bergquist (left) duked it out with Tedeschi for the female empowerment award of the night. A commanding presence with serious vocal chops, Bergquist delivers inspirational anthems with equal parts passion and glee. She calls her performance of “B.F.D.” a “hissy fit” that’s her “version of a folk song.” Bergquist and husband Linford Detweiler, who’s also her songwriting partner and Over the Rhine co-founder, spent the entire week in Lyons as guest instructors at the Song School, participating in workshops that offered young and old alike the opportunity to hone their craft. Getting used to Lyons’ mountain elevation wasn’t a problem for the Ohioan who had a modest Midwest upbringing. “I love high altitude sex. So I hope you all have experienced that,” she said to the crowd. “It’s been a great week.”
3. Guitar heroes
Give Tedeschi (right) credit for proving that women, too, can operate heavy metal machinery. Her intense set could have easily served as she covered hallowed ground. Songs Tedeschi has co-written with Tony Joe White (“Back to the River”) and husband Derek Trucks (“Love Will”) were early gems that showed off her Bonnie Raitt-worthy blues influence, and her version of the Beatles’ “For No One” was sweet and sublime. But Tedeschi’s prayers to the guitar gods must have been answered as she skillfully tackled Eric Clapton’s “Presence of the Lord” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic,” and was confident enough to slip her signature hit, “It Hurts So Bad,” in between. Tedeschi often plays faithful versions of those Sixties staples, but on the 40th anniversary of Woodstock’s grand opening (and Clapton’s gospel-infused tune with Blind Faith released about a month earlier in the summer of ’69), the timing couldn’t haven been better.
4. Buy American
Say “American Pie” these days and, sadly, more people are likely to think of the risque teen movie instead of Don McLean’s epic and nostalgic trip back in time that chronicled “the day the music died.” While McLean (below) seemed to develop a love/hate relationship with the Folks Festival audience. “We were boring the hell out of each other, but then it changed. What happened?” McLean wondered aloud after receiving a nice reception for his warm rendition of “Brother, Can You Spare A Dime?” During a set of hits (he was able to hit the high notes on Roy Orbison’s “Crying”) and misses (a going-through-the-motions “Fashion Victim”), the 63-year-old singer closed the night’s events with a crowd-pleasing flourish. He gave everyone what they were waiting for (and more) with an even longer version of his 1971 hit, which was an anomaly for Top 40 AM radio in those days at 8 minutes, 36 seconds. McLean even tacked on a couple of extra verses and the music never died long after the singer had left the stage.
5. Southern-fried comfort food
JJ Grey and his six-piece band called Mofro continued a streak started by Will Hoge earlier in the afternoon of electric performances, delivering a lively set of nasty home cookin’ that was as tasty as an order of catfish and hush puppies. Grey, born and raised just outside Jacksonville, Florida, brought to mind Dixie-Deep-South acts such as Wet Willie that lived in relative obscurity before bands like the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynrd went national. It’s was the group’s first Folks Festival appearance, and Grey’s searing guitar solo on “Orange Blossoms” and his soulful tribute to Muddy Waters on “Got My Mojo Working” were early appetizers that left most of the crowd hungry for more.
6. Colorado connection
Over the Rhine, rarely seen in these parts with only two headlining performances since 2001, promised to return to the area on November 2, where they’ll play the Soiled Dove in Denver. Detweiler’s extended piano solo during “The Trumpet Child” was one of the highlights of the torchy set that included riveting numbers like “Ohio” and “Redemption Song” the latter including Beatlesque guitar riffs by Kenny Hutson. Now Detweiler is ready to take on his next songwriting challenge. The lanky wordsmith fascinated with “the concept of the Soiled Dove,” a Wild West term for prostitutes. “I’ve been trying to write a song ever since I heard of it, but it’s been elusive,” he said during an interview earlier this month.
7. Woodstock revisited?
A few minutes after the Tedeschi set ended, the PA announcer grabbed the microphone to update the crowd on the condition of the woman injured in the fall. While everyone was relieved to hear she was OK, his warning to the masses – “Be careful out there; there’s things you shouldn’t be doing” – was a scary reminder of another far more dramatic announcement to the young and reckless Woodstock generation. Chip Monck’s suggestion to avoid taking the brown acid remains a popular counterculture reference 40 years after the Festival of Peace and Music.
8. Horns aplenty
While most of the acts stuck with acoustic guitars on opening day, the battle of the bands was in full force Saturday, led by some first-class brass from Mofro’s Art Edmaiston (saxophone) and Dennis Marion (trumpet). The pair also busted a few choreographed moves during “Circles” that motivated the already rowdy crowd gathering near the right of the stage. Ron Holloway, a tenor saxophonist with Tedeschi’s band who played with legendary jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, made everyone appreciate the joy of sax by taking Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” into uncharted territory.
9. Made in the shades
Over the Rhine’s Detweiler did his best Ray Charles impression, proving to be the essence of cool by wearing sunglasses throughout most of their set while staying seated at the piano. The fact that dark clouds were overhead while a hard rain fell for the first half-hour didn’t deter him in the least. And even though the sun was setting as the skies eventually cleared, Tedeschi was a very shady lady during her opening numbers.
10. (tie) Flower power
Bergquist proved she has a passion for fashion. too. The first of the festival’s final four to wear a dress, she looked red-carpet ready in a fancy low-cut number with a flowery design. But she came out of the fashion closet after seeing Rufus Wainwright close Friday night’s festival. “I’ve seen Rufus more than once,” she said. “But I think last night I learned something about myself. He makes me want to be a gay man.”
10. (tie) Civil (War) ceremony
Despite being nowhere near his redneck of the woods, Grey (left) brought along some Southern hospitality, complimenting the Colorado congregation attending the festival. “Y’all got a beautiful place here,” he said. The less-than-cordial fans near the front of the stage yelled back, “Too many gated communities.”
See more festival and concert photos at flickr.com.