No Depression Fest!
No Depression Festival 2010
On Saturday August 21st I was lucky enough to enjoy just about one quarter of this years No Depression Festival at Marymoor Park in Redmond. Due to a prior commitment I had to leave early but I’m glad I braved the 520 closure and went for the early part. The lineup at this year’s festival was great and I had not yet been to a show at Marymoor Park. It’s a great stage in a lovely enclosed field in the park. There are some gently rolling hills near the back that create a natural amphitheater. It was early and all the prime seating area was already mostly claimed but that was OK because I wanted to get close to the stage for the Maldives.
Everyone was really mellow and quiet but that worked well for some of the slow burners the Maldives served up early in the set. With a three guitar, bass, violin, pedal steel/keys and drums set up the band sounded awesome on the giant Marymoor stage and kept a steady groove going as more and more people arrived to the festival grounds. Singer/Guitarist Jason Dodson’s soulful tunes are perfect country gems but the Maldives sound really comes together when the band joins in giving the songs more of an alt-country flair. The band kept it pretty cool for the most part until “Blood Relations” when they unleashed the gauntlet. An excellent song from their album Listen to the Thunder that builds up over several minutes into a rising chorus and then into a high powered stomp that got everyone’s blood flowing. I was particularly impressed by guitarist Tim Gadbois timely broken guitar string replacement just in time for the solo!
During the break I made my way to the back to the food and got myself a delicious soul food medley from one of the vendors. Yum! That’s when I noticed three members from the Head and the Heart drawing a small crowd as they busked just outside the beer garden. Josiah, Charity and Jon treated the crowd to some excellent stripped down versions of their catchy country pop. Gorgeous harmonies and expertly placed handclaps and foot stomps brought big smiles to the faces of the growing crowd around the band. They were able to play about four or five songs before it sounded like there was action on the stage. They invited everyone back for more at the next break. I thought that was a great idea to have them busking in between the set changes and what a nice surprise!
Up next was Sera Cahoone so I found a nice spot to kick back on the hill to enjoy her set. I’d only ever seen Sera play drums so I was excited to hear her play. Backed by a talented band Sera breezed through several songs from her album Only As the Day Is Long. Sera’s voice is super smooth blending a nice balance of beauty and strength, confidence and cool. Finger picked guitar, pedal steel and violin offered subtle highlights throughout her plaintive tunes. The sun started to peek out behind the morning clouds and if I could have I would have kicked my feet up as I watched the clouds drift above the trees.
At the break I was able to catch some more excellent tunes from The Head and the Heart. It was really cool to see the three of them so intensely focused on each other in the midst of the small crowd formed around them. I got to hear a lot of stuff from their amazing debut EP along with a couple I’d never heard before. I loved it!
As Chuck Prophet began on the stage I looked at the clock and knew I had to jet. I went up close to catch a couple of songs before I left and was wowed by Chuck’s effortless guitar playing. His beat up telecaster looked like it had seen some serious action but also seemed to extend from him like a born appendage. I was bummed I couldn’t stay cause I could tell Chuck and his band put on a great show.
So even though I missed a lot of great stuff including Lucinda Williams, Cave Singers and the Swell Season I am glad I made the trip. Next year I’ll plan better so I can stay the whole day.