Preview of the Monterey Americana Festival: Dwight Yoakam, Jim Lauderdale, and Thousands of People
In general, I’m not big on festivals — music or otherwise. The thought of wading through people on blankets brings on agoraphobia, and I miss the comforts of home almost immediately.
Woodstock: fahgeddabout it, or, as Tom Waits once said, “Never touch the stuff.” I did attend Monterey Pop while a mere high school youth, but my friends and I were only able to score tickets for Ravi Shankar’s set (everyone kept looking around to see if George Harrison would show; he didn’t) and caught a free performance by Eric Burdon in the field where we were camping out (I hate camping). It was fun to run into Mama Cass at a local luncheonette, hear the historic sounds drifting over the Fairgrounds and it definitely made for a great movie. Besides, like Babe Ruth’s called shot, I can always say I was there.
Coachella: no way, though I enjoy hearing tales of my students’ intrepid trips and would consider it given the right hotel (and pool), safe transit, and an all access pass.
Still, I’m willing to make an exception for more modest ventures, and the second annual Monterey Americana Festival — also at the Fairgrounds Saturday, June 28 — is one. Last year’s event included a ripping set from Jason Isbell, and great performances by Carrie Rodriguez, Jim Lauderdale (who is making a return appearance this year), and Todd Snider and Amanda Shires, among others.
This year’s lineup features the estimable Dwight Yoakam — one of the few legit remaining heirs to the country icons of yore — as well as Antsy McClain and the Trailer Park Troubadours (Guy Clark, among others, is a fan), the aforementioned Lauderdale, youthful Idahoans Hollow Wood, and local favorite Casey Frazier.
The enterprising promoters are hoping for a stronger turnout than last year’s event, bolstered by the recent crowds at the Santa Cruz Blues Festival who caught the likes of Gregg Allman, Jackie Greene, and Trombone Shorty. Joan Osborne also recently played the Rio Theater there so there’s a good case for a roots music revival making its way up the Central California Coast.
This year, the Monterey Americana gathering — which runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., or thereabouts — includes reserved seating for those of us who like our creature comforts, though general admission is available to those less phobic about creature comforts. And, Yoakam and Buck notwithstanding, it definitely beats Bakersfield.