Sunday, September 02, 2007


Actually it's Sunday. I was too exhausted to write anything last night, especially after processing my photos.

Speaking of those pictures, I hope you people appreciate 'em. My right ear is still ringing from standing too close to the amps trying to get decent angles. The sacrifices I make for this blog!

It's no secret how much I love this festival. Hard to believe it's been going on since 1999 (except for one year ). Along with Fiesta, it's become my end of summer ritual. There's friends and acquaintances I see at Thirsty Ear that I never see any other time or place (which might just prove what a relative hermit I'm becoming in my middle age).

There's also a lot of music. Friday night, as has been the case with the festival in recent years, is basically a night for local musicians. I made it to the Eaves Ranch Friday in time to catch Michael Hearne' s South by Southwest (who did a fine version of Eliza Gilkyson's cool Elvis song, "Tennessee Roads") and local blues wunderkind Ryan McGarvey.
Saturday was an especially fine day of music, from the opening act on.

Songwriter Todd Snider opened Saturday's festival. It was just the man and his guitar and he reminded me of a younger John Prine. (Snider actually recorded a few albums on Prine's Oh Boy label these days.)

He didn't perform his song that was a kind-of local hit about 15 years ago, ("Alright Guy"), but he did his song about D.B. Cooper , his talking blues about "Louie Louie" and Marilyn Manson ("The Ballad of The Kingsmen"), one called "Conservative Christian, Right Wing, Republican, Straight, White, American Males," and a weird little ditty called "Enjoy Yourself," which he said comes from a Doris Day record that his parents used to dance around the kitchen to.

GUY DAVIS Acoustic bluesman Guy Davis was next on the main stage, also doing a solo set. He's played Thirsty Ear at least once before and as always he was a delight. Davis, son of actors Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, has a wonderful gravel-throat voice that makes him sound like a melodic Froggy the Gremlin. He plays guitar, banjo and harmonica. My favorite song he did Saturday was the double-entendre laden "Chocolate Man."

I later saw Guy roaming around the festival grounds and interrupted him as he was eating a Roque's carnita.

BE GOOD TANYAS with the FLOWERSI've had a turnabout with the next act, The Be Good Tanyas. When they played the festival last year, I was frankly unimpressed. I didn't even blog about them. But a few weeks ago I heard a recording of a few songs of that very performance on Southwest Stages (which airs on KSFR just before the Santa Fe Opry on Friday nights.) It sounded great. I guess I just wasn't in the mood last last year. They do play a brand of soft girlie folk, so I do have to be in the mood, but there's plenty of dark edges in their music.

They did a good set yesterday, even though one of the Tanyas (Tonya Harding I believe) was missing.

Joe Louis Walker
Acoustic time was over when blues guitar stud Joe Louis Walker took the stage. The crowd was ready to rock and so was Walker and his excellent band.

Basically, Walker does the basics. He plays good, steady blues without a lot of cheap flash and dazzle. He's not trying to be the next Hendrix, he just plays electric blues in a way that made us love the blues in the first place.

Did I mention his excellent band? Especially impressive was his keyboard player (whose name I didn't get). We actually were lucky to get to see Walker yesterday. He missed his plane Saturday morning but was able to make it to Santa Fe without significant delay. Maybe the brief rain storm in the afternoon was a stalling tactic.

When Robert Earl Keen's band started playing, the band launched into a mellow, lopping groove with a guitar part that started sounding more and more familiar. It took me a second, but I realized they were playing the intro to The Grateful Dead's "China Cat Sunflower." But then Earl started singing his own song, "Dreadful Selfish Crime."

Keen did a strong set including some of his best-known songs including "Gringo Honeymoon" and, of course, "The Road Goes On Forever." However he sounded hurried singing that song, which was his encore, as if he were late to an appointment. My only other complaint was that, unlike last time I saw REK, Terry Allen didn't join him on stage. Keen did acknowledge Allen as the songwriter though.

But the real disappointment was Rosie LeDet & The Zydeco Playboys. Not the band. They started off rocking. But right when they started, so did the rain. And it didn't let up. When the thunder getting as loud as the drums, Rosie and band decided, wisely, to play it safe.

Let's pray the weather holds up today. The Flatlanders, Beausoleil and others are on deck.

Come say hi to me at the KSFR booth.

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