Guy Clark and then Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women
The River City Music Festival has a new venue. No longer in the Convention Center, participants were excited not only for the slate of musicians, but for the opportunity to jam through the night. I got there in the after dinner time, with a few minutes to peruse the vendors and exhibitors before heading to the main stage in the grand ballroom for Guy Clark.
He took the stage with Verlon Thompson, a singer song writer in his own right with whom he has played for years now. The Texan and the Okie bantered between one another, telling jokes, painting portraits of those more famous artists who have recorded Guy’s songs, and praising one other whole heartedly. The ballroom was full, and all comers were delighted that Guy made it. They loved him and his set, though he was not feeling his best. They even loved when he asked for an emergency ant-acid. He had a certain brand of ornery-but-sweet that few could resist. And, his own renditions of his songs were heart felt and deeply moving, with the whiff of mortality on them that those in the generations that follow him cannot evoke. Verlon played a handful of his songs, and let loose on them with some serious guitar picking. I had not known him before this performance. That’s one Okie I am glad Guy rescued from the tractor seat life.
Next up was Dave Alvin. I had seen Dave twice in the last 9 months, both scorching sets that left me reeling and giddy with their ferocious and mind bending guitar assaults. That man is on fire these recent years, I have to say. But, for this Bluegrass Festival in transition, he played a mostly acoustic set, complimented by all those insanely talented Guilty Women. Another new face to me was Laurie Lewis sitting in on fiddle. I had thought we’d have a fiddle when posted to Dave’s Facebook earlier in the day was a photo of he and the Women and a lady fiddler playing in a hotel room with the caption, “Get out of my room, hippy.” Laurie is from Berkeley. We were glad she was there, and right in sync with the rest of that fierce and expressive band. If you have never seen them play, do it, for more than just the Dave Alvin love. Not only are they all incredible and generous players, but I love to watch them playing and working together. With this crew, you can see the magic being created, savored, and reformed, again and again, every time. And, of course, it rocks. Even the low key, bluegrass festival version.
OK, back for a couple sets of night two!