Sunday, May 31, 2009

FROGFEST 2009

Frogfest '09: Ya Shoulda Been There!

Festival season is starting early in Santa Fe this year. The Thirsty Ear Festival, which traditionally has been held on Labor Weekend, currently is scheduled for June 12-14. And Frogfest, which normally is in August, was held yesterday.

But I, for one, was happy it was earlier. I had to miss last year's Frogfest because that was the day I had to drive to Denver for the 2008 Democratic National Convention. And the year before, Frogville took a break from the Festival. So I hadn't been to a Frogfest since 2006. As the old Wolf Brand Chile ads used to say, "Well that's too long!"
Hundred Year Flood
Yesterday's festival was a fine show indeed. Thought I thought I was running late, I was actually got to the Santa Fe Brewing Company just in time to order a burger before the music started. I did have to leave for a couple of hours to go see my son's drama presentation at Capitol High (sorry, Taarka!), but otherwise I was there for the whole shebang.

Once again, it was a great reminder of what a cool little record label Frogville is and how lucky Santa Fe is to have it and all the acts associated with it.

Here's some random observations:
* This was the first time I've seen Hundred Year Flood since Jim and Kendra went on hiatus a few months ago to raise their little one. (Jim played with Goshen earlier in the day, while Kendra was there for most of the time there with the mighty Oak Palmer). Flood has John Courage filling in for Kendra on the bass and Andy Kravitz on drums. Plus they've added a second guitarist, Justin Lindsey. The new members fit nicely in the band. And Bill and Felecia soared. Damn, every time Felecia opens her mouth to sing it's goddamn magic! Flood's set included at least a couple of new songs, which Bill said are going to be on a new album that they plan to start on shortly.
Joe West & Mike the Can Man sing "Okie from Muskogee"
* Joe West not only writes some great tunes (he did my favorite last night, "Reprimand"), but he has a knack for choosing covers that make great sing-alongs. He sang "Like a Rhinestone Cowboy" and "Okie from "Muskogee" with his pal Mike the Can Man. The Joe West Situation is a heck of a band too. He's got mandolin angel Sharon Gilchrist, guitarist and Bob Dylan interpretter Josh Martin, bassist Margaret Burke (more on her below) and a drummer, whose name I didn't get. (Sorry!)

* Speaking of guest stars, the stage was crawling with them during his set. Among those was Terry Diers, who recently moved back to Santa Fe. I hadn't seen him in years. I'll never forget the time back at Club West in the '80s when I was interviewing Screamin' Jay Hawkins between sets. Terry, if I'm remembering this right, was in Hawkins' pick-up band. The two got in some kind of weird argument. At first it seemed like friendly banter, but Hawkins got more and more agitated. At one point he exclaimed, "You crazy, man!" When Screamin' Jay calls you crazy, that means something.
GOSHEN
* Goshen's set was blistering! Grant Hyunga was pounding out his most intense blues, including some great slide numbers. Goshen would be right at home on Voodoo Rhythm Records along side of Thee Butchers' Orchestra, Stinky Lou and The Jukejoint Pimps. Too bad it was so early in the day that the crowds had yet to arrive.
Tiny dancers
* Boris McCutcheon & The Saltlicks were fortified on several songs by singer Stephanie Hatfield (who has her own band, Hot Mess.) Boris' daughter, who must be 3 or 4, commanded the dancing area during her favorite song by her dad, "Pony Ride."

* The surprise of the day for me was The Strange, who played a short second-stage set inside. The group includes Justin Lindsey, HYF's new guitarist and singer Lynsay Ayala, who wails. Good boogie rock. Santa Fe should be seeing more of them.
Margaret Burke
* Margaret Burke, who played bass and sang with Joe West and Bill Hearne, has to have more fun on stage than any performer I know. She's not flashy and doesn't engage in crazy antics. She just beams and it's infectuous.

* Bill Hearne's still a hell of a honkytonker. His Roadhouse Review, including Margaret, steel guitarist Augie Hayes and guitarist Bob Goldstein are aces.

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