Sunday, September 04, 2005

THIRSTY EAR DAY TWO

(Or should it be "Day One" since the real "Day One" was all at night?)

I've got to get ready to get back to Eaves Ranch because Jeff Dowd is doing his regular shift for KSFR's Sunday Blues show, so I've got to get the KSFR booth ready.

So just a few stray thoughts about the festival yesterday.

* Headliner Rickie Lee Jones performed solo, most with an acoustic guitar, then a few piano songs -- among them my favorite Rickie Lee song, "We Belong Together" from her second album Pirates. Unfortunately, the volume was a little low and my enjoyment of my favorite Rickie song was marred by some loudmouth jerk behind me who must have thought festival goers had paid their money to listen to his mindless chatter.

Rickie was about 20 minutes late taking the stage, then, surprising, refused to do an encore, even though the audience was cheering for one. She apparently was suffering some kind of cold or allergies, as at one point she had to stop and blow her nose between songs.

* This year's surprise hit probably was soul man Earl Thomas, described by my New Mexican colleague Natalie Storey as "an attractive man in tight pants and cowboy boots." (See Natalie's coverage, including a photo of Earl, HERE.) I wasn't familiar with Thomas (or his pants) until yesterday, but I was impressed. With his music, of course. The festival propaganda compares him to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. I hear some Howard Tate in there too.

Thomas played with just an acoustic guitarist backing him. I can't help but think a full band would add a lot, but unplugged he still was quite enjoyable. My favorite song he did was a cover of "Ode to Billy Joe." (This reminded me of the late Joe Tex's cover, though Joe reworked the last verse: "And me I spend my time eatin' cold watermelon up on Choctaw Ridge/And I spit the seeds in the muddy waters of the Tallahatchie ...") Thomas said he hoped to come back to Santa Fe soon. I hope he's right.

* James McMurtry probably got the strongest audience response of the day. His deadpan drawl reciting sardonic lyrics over his loopy guitar and tough rhythm section, known as "The Heartless Bastards" is an irresistible combination. The highlight was the hilarious "Choctaw Bingo," a twisted tale of a family reunion for an Okie meth lab operator. Mike Judge should make a cartoon of this song.

* Otis Taylor also was mighty, though toward the middle of his set the rain finally convinced me to leave the area in front of the stage to the dry comfort of the KSFR booth. Otis is my favorite living bluesman (watch Pasatiempo during the next couple of weeks for my review of his excellent new album Below the Fold.) Taylor's new band isgood, though not quite as powerful as the lineup of Kenny Pasarelli and Eddie Turner, who played with him last time he performed at Thirsty Ear.

* Goshen has been around Santa Fe for 10 years or so, but yesterday was the first time I've ever seen them live -- and it was all I'd hoped it would be. Slide guitarist Grant Hayunga is the center of the group, which yesterday included Hundred Year Flood's Palmer boys backing him up -- Jim on drums, Bill on keyboards. They sounded like Bo Diddley on crystal meth.

Goshen and Flood are part of the Frogville Records clan (as is Joe West, ThaMuseMeant, etc.). Frogville definitely is the coolest thing going on musically in Santa Fe these days. I love seeing these guys out at each other's gigs, supporting each other, etc. Santa Fe has to support them too. Go to their shows. Buy their CDs.

Gots to go.

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