Forcing the dream has been good musically

I’m writing this post for my mom. It’s not my general way to write post-show and this is late even by post-show standards. I’m supposed to be the cheerleader that convinces you to go to the show. That said, after talking to my mom yesterday about my experience at the Dreamforce concert with Beck opening for Fleetwood Mac, she was fairly insistent that I write about it and I guess I’m humoring her (though auto-correct changed that to ‘honoring’ and maybe I should have left that correction).

So, let’s just start with Fleetwood Mac, specifically Stevie Nicks. I have a handful of albums that I remember as firsts. I don’t know which were really first but in my mind, there’s Linda Ronstadt’s Greatest Hits, the soundtrack to Grease, Tom Petty’s first album (first album I purchased for myself from Downtown Records and also relevant for this post IMO) and Fleetwood Mac ‘Rumors’. I remember hanging out in my friend, Jen’s, bedroom. She lived up the road from my house and was one of the few kids in our semi-rural neighborhood. She had one of those stereos that had a microphone and an auxiliary jack. We would take turns singing along with Stevie Nicks. I’m sure we were terrible but we loved it and we loved Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac and Rumors. We also loved The Sugarhill Gang but that’s a different story.

Getting to see Stevie Nicks live was like a dream. It could have been better. If I had realized that there were going to be entry restrictions that had no basis in reality, I would have gotten there earlier and made sure my friends didn’t go capitalize on the free food after Beck finished his set. Lessons learned and all that… let’s see if I actually learn this one.

The beginning of my dream was where I finally got to see Beck. He lives in SF. Everyone I know has seen him and yet… not me. Well, no more! He opened with ‘Loser’ which was a little bit of a bummer cause I was still struggling to figure out how to get down to the field and herding my cats who wanted free beer and free food. Priorities people!

And to that end, some of my peeps weren’t up for the pit so I took off. I had people following me but when I turned around, they were all gone. So I found a place on the wrong side of the pit to watch Beck and was thoroughly enjoying when John walked up behind me and tapped me in the shoulder. I do not know how he found me; it’s a huge event and yet suddenly there he was. We were perfectly content til this Giant came and stood right in front of us, blocking our view of the stage. Nonetheless, we were being entertained by Beck. I actually had not realized how much Beck I know. I feel like he hit them all except his new single ‘Saw Lightning’ that I’ve been thoroughly enjoying. Im sure there were others that were missed but I didn’t notice, so happy was I with my show!

Waiting for Fleetwood Mac, we debated trying to get into the not Mac-capacity pit. Don’t believe the signs. We can clearly see the pit is not full! However we felt we had a good spot on the rail so we decided to stick with it. This may not have been the right choice but we were surrounded by people who actually were there to see Fleetwood Mac, not the DF-ers who just wanted to talk through the entire show and get drunk on the free beer. Even the drunks near us were there to see the show. We sang along to *every* song!

They opened with ‘The Chain’ and then they played every freaking hit that I knew with the exception of ‘Tusk’. Stevie commanded the stage and the crowd went wild with every single little spin she executed. She held us in the palm of her hand, being the witch she is. She was everything I had hoped for and more. While she no longer has the range that she once had, she knows her limits and has adapted and it is beautiful.

I feel strongly that Christine McVie made some pact with the devil. She sounds exactly the same as she did on the ‘Rumors’ album and she looks pretty much exactly the same too. Mick Fleetwood clearly has all the right drugs! He must be at least 20 years older than me and that man *never* stopped. Okay, he may have taken a short break but then he was dancing around the stage with a drum and I can’t figure out where he could have gotten that energy, other than drugs.

The fact that Lindsay Buckingham had to be replaced with two people (Niel Finn and Mike Campbell of the Heartbreakers) was not lost on me. It was delightful to hear Niel Finn and Stevie Nicks sing Crowded House’s hit, but I’m thinking Niel Finn should give up on ‘Secondhand ‘News’. While we all still sang along, I was strongly feeling the lack of Lindsay on that one.

So Much Good Music This Week

My job is terrible right now and I can’t take the time to write all that I’d like to say so…

Tomorrow, Thursday, December 12th — KOLARS at the Independent.  You can search the blog to see what we’ve written about KOLARS in the past, but suffice it to say that they won our first Jammies! Go!

If you don’t go there, then you should go see Vintage Trouble. Another amazing band. I believe they are playing at the New Parish. You can consult my Bay Area listings to confirm.

Friday, December 13th — The Brothers Comatose at the UC Theatre. I’d have preferred a different venue, but I’m in! Me and at least 7 of my friends. I suspect more! See you there?

Saturday, December 14th — The T Sisters at the Freight. I am honestly not sure if I have ever seen a full show of the T Sisters since the first time I saw them open for The Brothers Comatose oh-so-many-years ago. I catch a song here and there and fundraisers or guesting with someone else, but not them and never them headlining. I’m excited!

If you have a car and you aren’t in for the T Sisters, you should head up to the North Bay and check out Willie Watson! He’s wonderful!

Okay, I gotta get back to work….

Rhett Miller and Charley Crockett decided to perform on the same bill (at GAMH this Thursday 11/7) for my birthday!


So you should come and help them celebrate my birthday with me. I mean seriously, there are so many reasons to go.

  1. Rhett Miller — If you don’t know Rhett Miller, you should. He’s the lead singer for the Old 97’s. He also has his own solo career and writes poetry, etc, etc., a regular renaissance man.  If that’s not enough for you… He’s as cute as a button and has the prettiest eyes, the best butt wiggle and a fabulous windmill arm. You should really come see him!
  2. Charley Crockett — It’s more likely that you don’t know Charley Crockett. He’s a little newer to the scene, but he, too, is fabulous and pretty.  Charley is a little more country (and bluesy) than Rhett, but he and his band are fantastic. I mean who isn’t impressed with a piano player who can play the trumpet simultaneously and can also play the accordion. (One of my biggest regrets is not having my Uncle Joe or my Pop-Pop teach me to play the accordion.) Plus Charley has a couple dance steps that I suspect he’ll dust off for us. There’s also this great World Cafe Live interview with Charley.  Check it out!
  3. Texas Musicians — Both of these fellas have Texas roots and so Andee would support you attending this show as well!
  4. It’s my birthday (well, the day after my birthday).  *And* I don’t really drink anymore, so you won’t have to buy me a drink or anything. You can just come and see a fabulous show and that’s your gift to me (as long as you don’t talk during the music). If we are really lucky, some of the LOLMs will be there too and so we might get to hang out with those fabulous ‘ladies’ as well!

So maybe I’ll see you on Thursday night? If not, check out the other shows that are coming up in the Bay Area in the near future. Don’t forget to get out there and support live music!


HSB2019 Jammie Awards — And A Recap

Friday, October 4, 2019

Day 1 and what a day it was….

Sure there was increased security that forced me to buy a whole bunch of clear plastic bags and there were very specific places to enter the park, but my holiday began on the first Friday of October and in the end, it was the same old Hardly Strictly… maybe a tiny bit fewer people than usual. No complaints here!

We arrived earlier than we normally would on a Friday because gates opened at 9. We got ourselves set up at Banjo and ran into Jay right away. Reunions begin! We ran over to Rooster to get ourselves set up over there as well and started making friends.

We hung out and waited for Chastity Brown to start her set. I thoroughly enjoyed her set and thought she was a great way to start the weekend, especially with her comment that ‘Nature reminds us that life will never be easy, but it has the possibility of being beautiful.’ And I will argue that life is beautiful, especially during HSB surrounded by my Friends & Family!

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears. [JM] I liked the last song they played; turns out it was a Wilco cover. This is definitely *not* my jam!

We caught the end of Bill Frisell’s set with Petra Haden , Hank Roberts and Luke Bergman when we headed back to the Rooster stage to see Shooter Jennings.

It had been a few years since I last saw him and it was good to see him again, even though we couldn’t stay for his whole set.

We had Will Kimbrough to visit at the Bandwagon stage. — Long recommended (thanks Brian); finally seen! And worth it! He and The Red Dirt Boys were awesome and I’ll be looking to see him again.

From Bandwagon to Banjo for Tanya Tucker — A True Legend! Totally exceeded my expectations. HSB19 Jammie award winner!!! Check out this video to see why!

St. Paul & The Broken Bones followed Tanya Tucker. They were so much freaking fun which was exactly what I expected but it was news to some in my group! Also, there were a lot of drunken shenanigans by this time in the evening. Good times!

A ride home and Chinese delivery brought Day 1 to a close!

Saturday, October 5th – Day Two

After getting set-up, we started the day at the Porch stage with Whiskerman. We were joined by Steve Mongon and Whiskerman was joined by The Rainbow Girls.

[ACO] (Whiskerman is the band with the sitar. LOL. I liked them and the sitar did give them a bit of a Beatles; Sgt. Peppers feel but when the Rainbow Girls came out I couldn’t help but feel like they didn’t really want to share their stage with the ladies. [JM] Totally agree on this point which may have added to the meh-ness in my opinion. Why invite them on stage if you don’t want to play nice together?)

[JM] I stayed for the beginning of Mary Gauthier who was wonderful as always, but I left early to catch Mercury Rev & Beth Orton. I probably should have stayed for Mary Gauthier. Beth Orton’s voice was lovely, but ho-hum! I did get to see Renee and find Lala and others so it wasn’t a total loss.

[ACO] (Agreed, Beth Orton was just ho hum. I really like her too but the performance was boring.)

Next up: Hayes Carll!!!! What can I say, I love this man! LOVE!!! It was Peter’s first time seeing Hayes and he couldn’t get past the lyric ‘wine bottles scattered like last night’s clothes’. Me, I always go for ‘you be the sinner and I’ll be the sin’ though there are so many good ones, it’s difficult to pick just one.

I listened to Tank & The Bangas from the Swan Stage. They played ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ which I thoroughly enjoyed when I saw them at the Fox Theatre in Oakland last year. I didn’t feel like I needed to go to the Swan stage since I saw them at Thing in August.

[ACO] (I opted to see the Flatlanders instead, who are always wonderful.)

[JM] I caught the beginning of Robert Earl Keen before I darted to Rooster to see Yola. She started with a god song which scared me, but then I enjoyed her and she did play ‘Walk Through the Fire’ which is the song that caught me for starters. I couldn’t stay though cause the sweet siren call of Margo Price was beckoning me to the Banjo Stage.

Miss Margo totally rocked it. She was really awesome!

The New Pornographers. Two Words — Neko Case

Robert Plant — [JM] Listened to the beginning from the Swan Stage; didn’t sound like anything I hadn’t heard the last time I saw Robert Plant (who is also a legend) so went in pursuit of my lost jacket (which it turns out was at Robert Plant) and John Craigie. I caught the smallest amount of Steve Earle & The Dukes in pursuit of aforementioned lost hoodie and then headed to John Craigie who was perfect. Great songwriting/singing mixed with some great patter. While I was enjoying the AOC song, ACO was enjoying Robert Plant and ran into my favorite local musicians, Ben and Alex Morrison and Erika Tietjen.

[ACO] (Yep, that happened. It was my first time seeing Patty Griffin’s Driver (Robert Plant) and it was really incredible. The crowd, while peaceful, was a raging mess and it was perfect. To move through, you just had to ride the wave, moving one small step at a time. Eventually we found our place and our friends Andy and Carla! Then we found the Morrison Brothers after the show! The day turned into dusk as he sang Ramble On and we all did, making our way home after a perfect second day.)

Sunday, October 6, 2019 — Day Three — Another Amazing Day

We started the day with the Emmylou soundcheck. It’s my favorite part of HSB and this year, she played a song for us even though she didn’t think they’d be performing it that evening.  It was so lovely! And I’m glad it happened since I didn’t make it to see her for closing; too many good options. I think there was a time during SXSW when Andee described this as ‘love the one you’re with’ and so we did!

[ACO] (Um, Jenn, didn’t you say that? I feel like that’s something you would say.)

[JM] Andee – I agree that it sounds more like me, but I swear you said it about Lukas Nelson when we were at the Rachel Ray party and you wanted to go inside to see someone else but there was Lukas and sunshine… it’s entirely possible I’ve created this version of our story. It’s probably not the first time, nor will it likely be the last!


From there, we headed over to the Rooster stage and a little Robert Ellis and some ‘Topo Chico and Lime’ and then tried to catch Moshe Volozny at the Porch stage, but left Rooster too late.  (We heard/saw one song and we liked it.) We caught Parsonsfield (and Renee) and am excited for them to return to SF. I’ll be checking for those tour dates. They reminded me a little of Darlingside, but for different reasons. Renee and I also got to compare notes about John Craigie and discussed seeing him at The Freight in November. He did *not* mind sharing his stage with The Rainbow Girls.

[ACO] (I was looking them up to see if this was the band with the sitar and saw a “you might also like Darlingside”, so I guess you must know what you are talking about Jenn. Who was the band with the sitar that I liked and you meh? [JM] That was Whiskerman. So ho-hum!)

Headed to the Banjo stage for Liz Cooper & The Stampede and had my suspicion that I don’t really dig Liz Cooper confirmed for me. Left Banjo to grab something from one of my clear plastic bags left the Rooster stage (Don’t tell! There were lots of announcements not to leave bags) on my way to Fantastic Negrito and caught the beginning (and later the end) of Rayland Baxter. He’s loud; that’s about as much as I can say.

[ACO] (I really like Rayland Baxter and was looking forward to seeing him live but I do have to admit that it’s not the most engaging live show.)

Fantastic Negrito was… well, fantastic! Yes, I really enjoyed him and his message and I would go see him again and again. He makes me feel things!

[ACO] (I went to see Judy Collins because I was raised on her. She was great and her voice still rings like a bell. Her stories, especially the one about creeping down from her room to listen to Bob Dylan write Mr. Tambourine Man were great.)

Joan Osborne gave it her all; in fact, she succumbed to heat stroke during her final song ‘One of Us’. We were on our way out when this happened, so we didn’t actually know til we ran into Dan and Eric back at the Banjo stage. I am super glad that I went to see her; I would definitely go see her again!

The reason for darting to the Banjo Stage was so that we could catch Mandolin Orange. They were great; they always are. [JM] I got to tell someone the story of how they saved my life (even though it was really the giant adirondack chairs and the shade that truly saved my life, but they were the soundtrack to that particular rough morning).

[ACO] (I love Mandolin Orange and if they hadn’t been so far away on such a big stage, they may be taking home the Jammie. Remember when we saw them on the tiny Bandwagon stage a few years ago? So good. [JM] So so good!!!)

Booked it from Mandolin Orange to Jackie Greene at the Swan Stage and so glad that I did. Shannon Saunders and band were with him, including all 4 of the McCrary sisters and the horn section. Sadly I left my boots at the Banjo stage and my jacket at the Rooster stage and I was wearing a sleeveless festy dress so things got a bit chilly with Jackie, but he kept me moving for the most part and so therefore warm enough til I was reunited with my things.

Austin guys were at Wood and Wire and said it was their nomination for the Jammie awards, but since neither Andee or I were there, they can’t really win.

[JM] From Jackie Greene, I went to pick up Pat (and warmer clothing) at the Rooster stage and scoot up front for The Punch Brothers who were such a good time. Plus, Pat! See how cute we are, dressed in our fall colors at Pat’s favorite stage (also known at GG Park’s disc golf course).

And Monika and Sarah! Thanks for the photo, Monika! I can’t believe The Punch Brothers photo-bombed us! Awkward!

[ACO] (Meanwhile, I went to see Kurt Ville for a bit before heading across the park to finish out my day at the small Porch Stage to see the Wild Reeds. They were incredible! Funny and well put together, all three females took lead during different parts of the show. They sounded, looked and performed like one unit but definitely showed their various personalities and the crowd loved it. I really enjoy the infectiousness of a great crowd and this one had it all. This was my Jammie for HSB 2019 but since Jenn wasn’t there, it’s only a partial Jammie… a Jam I guess?)

We all reconvened back at the Banjo Stage and packed up our stuff and walked over to Ton Kiang for dim sum (and a gorgeous view of the GG Bridge) and it was delicious and then we Lyfted home and another HSB was in the books! It went so fast but it was so much fun!

I can’t wait for next year!






My co-worker sent me a link to the THING festival months ago and on an impulse (and because I was already going to be partway up the coast), I decided to go. This is my summary of Sunday. Lobster corn dog. Black Belt Eagle Scout. Puget Sound. Phosphorescent. Tank and the Bangas. Russian dumplings (they were so good on Saturday, I had to get them again on Sunday). Calexico and Iron and Wine (in the shade cause the sun tried to kill us during Phosphorescent). Some band that I can’t remember their name (it was unusual). Free ice cream. Jeff Tweedy (who is the reason I came here and it was his birthday and he was wonderful). Then ended it, musically, with The Violent Femmes who ended it with ‘Add It Up’. A lantern parade. A free sandwich for the shuttle ride home. Beautiful weather. Fantastic!

Maybe I’ll include a review for Saturday at a later time but suffice it to say, this was a good festival and I’m super glad I came. Thanks Damaris!!! Also thanks to Damaris’ family who put up with me and to my ‘wife’ and Crystelle and Lynn for enabling and contributing to this adventure

It’s another post about community

And gratitude attitude and a little bit about music too.

Awhile back, English Steve invited me to go see a band that he liked, El Radio Fantastique. Two bands were opening, one of which (Junk Parlor, pictured below) had previously been highly recommended to me by Pat and Teri.

I went to the show with English Steve and Lala and ended up being blown away by the second opener, Rikkha. This is not to say that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy all three bands, but Juliette from Rikkha totally had me from the minute she took the stage.

She is sexy and she tells a great story in her frenchified English which only makes her sexier. Mmmmh! I had decided that I was going to go to this show but figured I’d be going alone and had never been to the Ivy Room before so was not super jazzed about it. More like resigned… it’s a tough life I lead. 🤓

At Jill’s birthday party in Stern Grove, I must have mentioned Rikkha and the next thing I knew, Debbie was in. As a long shot, I mentioned the show to my friend, Catherine, who had also been at Stern Grove and had mentioned that she was sans kids for a bit. I didn’t expect her to say yes cause it was a school night, if you will, but she did! Then I mentioned it to Pat because he lives in the east bay and because Junk Parlor was opening and because Catherine was going so why shouldn’t he? He was not a definite but was definitely interested. Then I thought to text Lala who was already trying to get off work so she could go to the show (or at least that’s how I understood it).

Flash forward to the Sunday of the show. I’m exhausted, having spent the entire day before on a Tahoe/Truckee River float adventure (which was fabulous, but a long day in the sun). I really did *not* want to go to the show but I committed. So I go…

And shit am I glad! It was ah-mazing! I love the Ivy Room. Everyone shows! And… it turns out that my friend Karen’s niece, Rebecca (who I’ve met at random parties over the years) is friends with Juliette (and was in her cabaret in the past) and so was also at the show. And Lala brought Travlin! It was seriously awesome. Plus we had Junk Parlor in the audience with us. Good Times! And that’s why you should always go to the show!

And even though I have a buttload of work to do, I’m on my way to meet friends for another show in the East Bay. See you at Phosphorescent? At the New Parish if you aren’t sure.

RWRVII Highlights

TLDR: Gratitude Attitude and eventually highlights of RWRVII

So there is no Jammie awarded at RWR as the other half of DidWeJam is not represented. However, there are always highlights and we will get to those shortly.  Right now, it’s the day after the festival ended (okay it’s way past that now, but it was when I started this ramble). I’m already back in my own bed. I’m clean and more importantly, I’m chilly. I’ve returned to the loving embrace of Karl and I couldn’t be happier about that.

I’m also extremely grateful for this life I have and for these people in my life that I call friends. I woke up this morning feeling a little emotional; I’m not sure why today but it’s all wrapped up in the gratitude thing. There’s no guarantee that you’ll have a tomorrow and I see that more every day. There’s the friend that you thought you would visit this summer on the drive up to Washington as you pass through Portland that you learn you won’t be seeing — ever again.  There’s my cousin, Jamie, that I cannot believe is gone; Shovels and Rope announces a show at the Fillmore near my birthday and I’m immediately thinking of you. (Digression: I’m secretly considering this show a pretty even trade for the trip to Greece that appears to be postponed. Now I just gotta get to the Fillmore to get my ticket!)

And I could go on with my list of people I lost; we all could at a certain age… but what I really want to say is that I’m so grateful for Red Wings Roots and the connections that it has both re-established and the new connections that I’ve made. I feel like these connections become stronger because of this festival. It’s an annual ‘guarantee’ that I will see one of my former college roomies; that I will see her mom (who takes such good care of us when we come and invade her home with our camping stuff, some of which never leaves — yes, my thermarest now lives on the East Coast); that I will see her brother and his family (I still remember him from UD days when he would visit and trips to OCMD with the family; we were so young then); that now her sister (also a friend of mine) and our friend, Amy, will also make the trek across the country to join in the festivities; that I will see my new friends, like Burt and Eve (Burt and I met at Hayes Carll at RWRII — speaking of people that you should have come back to the festival, bring Hayes back!); and my WNRN birches, Susan and Rayn who became our friends at RWRIV when we arrived in a downpour on a Thursday night (just like this year) and began to set up our campsite in front of theirs. They say they knew we would be friends when they watched us throw up our Easy-Up, grab our chairs and some liquid refreshments and plant ourselves under the Easy-Up to await the end of the rain and watch others’ arrival antics. I’m still not sure what other people would have done. The fact that they ‘knew’ we would be friends didn’t stop them from later watching/judging/laughing at us as we erected our palatial tent (replaced this year by Big Agnes who is also palatial and has a welcome mat and a very sunny disposition — c’mon, she has a welcome mat!).

So I’m getting a little rambly here, but what I really want to say is that I appreciate the fact that I have a job that allows me to take an awful lot of vacation, that I have friends that I love and that love me in return (despite my quirks and flaws) and that I have a place to go to celebrate that love and that place that I go has all of this amazing energy and brings all of this fantastic music and these fantastic people together in such a beautiful space. Standing out in Natural Chimneys looking up at the almost full moon and seeing Jupiter glowing oh-so-brightly…. there really aren’t words, though I’m obviously trying.

So it’s a couple days later and I’m still feeling incredibly grateful, despite the fact that it was a tough week, work-wise. Every week seems to fit that description these days and I just have to remember that a contributing factor to the challenges is the amount of time that I like to not be working and that I love the flexibility that my job provides.

So this is a long-winded way of saying that I’m a lucky bitch and I know it and though I might complain, I know what I have. I count my blessings. I know there are no guarantees and I’m gonna live hard to make sure I take advantage of it while it’s here. And I’m gonna encourage each of you to do the same; within your means and your ability. Each day I deliberately think about one thing for which I am grateful. Today, it is Red Wing Roots.

And now for the complaining… boy was it hot! Chimney Ridge provided no shade in the am, nor did the main stages. The beer garden provided shade (and beer – I drank more this week than I have since SXSW; surprise! Also it turns out that I’m kind of a lightweight now, me = cheap date. One Hopwork Orange 🍊 did me pretty nicely for several hours. Two was all that I could handle in a day.).

So on Friday, I hadn’t acclimated and so I had to stay in the beer garden, venturing forward oh-so-briefly into the killer sun to see a few acts. But the visits were brief, just a little something to whet my appetite so that I’ll have to try even harder to see these bands in other places in the future.

Allison de Groot and Tatiana Hargreaves opened up the official festival and I definitely would have liked to hang with them and hear more of their songs cause what I heard I liked and could definitely be included in he ‘Fuck the Patriarchy’ playlist.

Then there were The Hollering Pines from Utah. I discovered them at a prior RWR but have not been able to see them again. And sadly, I could only handle a couple songs before I had to retreat to the protection of the beer garden blankets. It was good to see then again and I’ll continue to be hopeful that they’ll come to see me in SF one of these days.

Next up was Cedric Burnside but I just couldn’t. I saw him before and he’s not my jam; I think this probably coincided with my decision to have my first Hopwork. Mmmmm!

The Hush Kids were one of the bands that I wanted to see based on my pre-RWR Spotify listening preparation. The sun (my frequent frenemy) prevented much up-close and personal so will have to try again in the future.

The East Pointers sounded great from the beer garden and when I ventured forth to fulfill my pretzel mission, I stopped for a quick photo but that was the best that I could do.

Also isn’t the woman serving me my pretzel beautiful? Not only because she fed me, though it doesn’t take much…

Peter Rowan was up next and while I enjoyed him from the beer garden and I thought I would get a photo, instead I got my photo taken with Mandolin Orange. The sacrifices that I make. Thanks WNRN!

After the fan photo with Mandolin Orange, we darted over to Charley Crockett, who did not fail to impress. If you haven’t seen him, do yourself a favor and change this. He can dance. He can sing. He can play. His piano player also plays the accordion AND can play the trumpet at the same time he plays the piano. Swoon!

Then it was back to Mandolin Orange. I don’t even know what to say about Mandolin Orange. They always make me happy. I’ve previously said they saved my life the year that I discovered them at RWRII. In retrospect, I believe it was actually the amazing Adirondack chairs that saved my life, but Mandolin Orange certainly helped. Friday was Emily’s birthday so the audience sang Happy Birthday to Emily right before we waltzed about whiskey which many of you know is a favorite of mine.

The Lil’ Smokies were really good. I’m glad that I finally caught them and look forward to seeing them again when they return to my city by the bay.

While I was slightly disappointed in the lack of dancing By The Wood Brothers during their performance, I was *not* disappointed by their performance. Please keep inviting them back, RWR!

After The Wood Brothers, I found my remaining birches and we lined up for the trolley ride back to camp. And what a ride it was; I’ve definitely been trolleyed, even if I don’t have a shirt that says so! There is so much to say about this ride but let’s leave it with I had to hold a dude up by his belt loop to prevent him from falling into people or spilling his food onto people. He mistakenly took that as an invitation to follow us/me back to camp. Key word: mistakenly. We encouraged him to go find his own friends.

And then there was some discussion of highlights over snacks and beverages and then Day 1 was in the books.

Saturday started warm; every day started warm. Global warming is killing the music festival, a song that we are developing, practically wrote itself at RWR this year. Though the heat and humidity of RWR this year couldn’t hold a candle to Kate Wolf in 2017. And every other year that I went to KW; there’s a reason I stopped going to KWMF.

So musically Saturday started with Locust Honey and a little clogging. Quite enjoyable and then the bass player (John) left the stage and the fiddle player, Chloe, suggested that we join John under the tent at the Roots Stage next where she would be performing again.  Since I previously saw Jordan Tice both on his own and as a part of Hawktail, I felt good about this decision and skipped Jordan’s performance.

John R Miller and the Engine Lights were a good time. Chloe was a great Engine Light; I would go see them again.

After they finished, I wandered around (probably scrounging food) and then ended up in front of the Cedric Watson Trio. It was HOT, but I stayed because they were FUN! Cedric says he’ll be playing in the Bay Area in the new year, so I’ll be looking for him.

Lula Wiles was a part of my RWRVII mission: a band I had been told about before RWR, but had not listened to or investigated in any way. They played under the Roots tent and while I felt like it took them a couple songs to get their groove, they got it and boy did I like them. They did a cover of Tom Petty’s ‘Stop Dragging My Heart Around’ that was amazing. Maybe I’ll post that video on our youTube channel. They also performed a new song that I really enjoyed called ‘It’s Cool. We’re Cool. Everything’s Cool.’  Can’t wait til they record it. I was gonna go buy merch and meet the band, but then I decided I needed to carry on with my adventures and go see the little ones that had come to visit us in the beer garden. Merch is still needed!

I stopped by to see the Lonely Heartstring Band who were fantastic, but mostly I listened to them from the beer garden and socialized and tried to stay cool.

Della Mae was way better than I remembered them and I’ll stop talking about their mom jeans and instead talk about how much I want to see them again. I wish it hadn’t been so hot cause I would have loved to be right up there with them, especially for this song they sang that I can’t find on Spotify (but I did find a video on YouTube). The lyrics are ‘If it hasn’t happened to you, it will happen to your sister. And if it hasn’t happen to her, it will happen to another. You are a headlight in this dark night. They might not believe you, but I do.’ It was some freaking powerful stuff.  Their whole set was pretty powerful. I’m all about them now!

Feufollet was a part of the Cedric Watson Trio and they were also a good dancing time. Plus Cedric was in the audience dancing with us.

The Steel Wheels are a highlight for me because they only play the West Coast once a year if I’m lucky and I do think they are amazingly talented. I really would see them so much more if I could. Over they course of this weekend, they played their entire new album. It was the only purchase I made during the festival (besides food and a fan).

I didn’t go see The Fruit Bats. I was tired. I listened to them from the beer garden. I thought there was a woman singer, but halfway through the dude switched from singing in a falsetto. Fascinating!

I did stick around for Lucinda Williams. I’m glad that I did, but I won’t lie that I won’t pay to go see her again. As Susan and I discussed, watching her perform ‘Righteously’ with these super non-sexy hand and body movements was awkward and it was ever more awkward to have these tweens (maybe not even tweens) behind me singing and dancing along to lyrics ‘When you run your hand, All up and run it back down my leg, Get excited and bite my neck, Get me all worked up like that’. It felt wrong. That’s the best way I can describe it.

So the ride back up the hill was much less of an adventure since the trolley had been discontinued and we were now using golf carts to make the journey. Apparently this was not true for all of us, but it was for me and my late night crew.

After another evening of snacks, beverages and highlights, we retired only to be forced out of our tents early (some of us had to sleep next to the road on a blanket and hope that 3:00 didn’t come around and yell at us for having something other than a car ‘parked’ next to the road. There was some discussion of drawing wheels onto Amy, but we decided not to risk the wrath.)

Sunday is always my favorite day because it starts with the Gospel Set; it’s the best way to start the day. The Steel Wheels and friends, including The David Wax Museum, perform songs that they define as gospel and it totally works for me. Also during the gospel set, Lindsay Lou performed and almost knocked me off my feet. I’ve seen her before, but this was different. It’s like she’s come into her own and it made me really look forward to seeing her set later in the day (which I did not see).

This year, Sunday started with the WNRN breakfast where we got early access to the beer garden and free food from our friends at WNRN. I’m good with this change! Also WNRN might have saved my life this year when they gave away the bandana that were such a nice vehicle for ice and cold water. Here’s a pic of me with my life-saving bandana, reunioning with Burt.

After the gospel set, we had Dead Horses and boy do I love this duo. They are mellow and pretty and soft and oh-so-wonderful. I can’t recommend them enough and have been following them since I saw them open for Elephant Revival years ago!

Next up was Sean McConnell. I missed this story, but apparently he arrived without his band and without his equipment. I still enjoyed his set, so I’d see him again. He was a bit curmudgeonly and told people not to clap. I know another singer that I love who has scolded his audience for clapping and singing and he just announced a date in the Bay Area (Justin Townes Earle — November 1st at August Hall). I’d check Sean McConnell out again.

I was worried that I had talked up Birds of Chicago too much, but no… they brought it, just like they always do. My friends loved them. I loved them. I can’t wait to see them again. We got our picture taken with them afterwards (thanks again WNRN) and got to talk to them. Go see them if you haven’t.  Really!!!! Please keep bringing them back RWR!!! They belong here.  Their song ‘American Flowers’ brought me to tears (not for the first time, but I was still surprised).

Tim O’Brien seems a bit like a misogynist asshole. I might be wrong about that, but there were enough other things to do at the festival that didn’t involve watching him, so I didn’t and I didn’t feel a loss.

I was going to go check out Lindsay Lou, but the timing and location was a conflict with the Birds of Chicago photo op and additionally, the band playing at the Roots Stage (closer to photo op) had been recommended by Chuck and Judy. I thought I’d catch the end of Lindsay Lou and so I followed Susan to the Roots stage for Fireside Collective. I’m so glad I did because these boys were rocking!! In some ways (all stringed instruments and 5 young guys), they reminded me of The Brothers Comatose. They had the audience dancing and they were fun! We had to stop watching them so that we could go in for our photo op, but we could still hear them and they were a delight! I’m hoping they’ll make it to SF one of these days. Also, in case it wasn’t clear, I never made it to see Lindsay Lou and now I’m gonna have to make an effort to see her when she tours out here because she really was impressive both during the Gospel set and then during the Tribute set as well.

The Tribute Set was next and instead of tributing a person this year, they tributed an album by Tony Rice, Jerry Garcia and David Grisman called ‘The Pizza Tapes’. I thought it was an amazing tribute and I truly enjoyed the songs and the bands that performed them.

Though there is always a band after the Tribute Set, I rarely catch that band. So it was back to the beer garden for The Gibson Brothers, coming out at the end to catch the last songs and to catch The Steel Wheels come sing us home with Red Wing. We made our way back up to our camp (some of us singing Red Wing in our head all night) and used our new fire pit to burn the ‘wood’ we collected over the weekend. We did our best to finish everything in the cooler. I ate a lot of carrots but despite my carrot-eating, I’m pretty sure that next year I’m not going to be allowed to buy carrots.

And that’s my story about the festival. The highlights. The gratitude. The heat and humidity. The people and the friendships. The memories and so much laughter in such a beautiful setting! Yeah, I’ll be back again next year! Maybe I’ll see you there!





Red Wing Roots VII

And suddenly it’s a week away…

Anyone who has met me in person knows that I talk incessantly about this festival. It’s pretty much the perfect festival for me. I mean, sure I ‘complain’ that the coffee place won’t open until 11 am or some ridiculous time, but the truth is that I have my own coffee connections thanks to Rayn and Susan and also, I’m pretty darned resourceful when it comes to the drugs needed to make the experience.

And of course I ‘complain’ about the sun and the heat and the humidity, but I have friends who will have staked out a place in the shade in the beer garden and I will go there to collapse (and drink a delicious local beer, perhaps) and recuperate (and still listen to the music). Also, I will have my annual chance to see fireflies (which were called lightning bugs as a kid growing up in PA); they’re not something that I get to experience in my SF life.

I don’t know how it’s suddenly a week away. I feel like I just bought my plane tickets. I feel like I’m not ready but Spike has sitters and what do I really need besides our tickets (in email) and a valid form of ID to board the plane and some ear protection? Mags will make it super simple for me, as always, by having our palatial albeit a bit dilapidated tent and an EZ-Up and chairs and sheets and pillows and all those things. My thermarest decided to live in Gaithersburg, MD (thanks Doll!) so I will reunite with it there. So I’m ready, I guess, besides work deadlines (always — have you met me?).

So today I finally start to look at the final line-up and the schedule and I was like wha?! What craziness is this…

Friday, we have:

  • The Hollering Pines — I’ve been wanting to see this band since the last time they played at RWR (2 years ago?).
  • Charley Crockett — My first introduction to him was also at RWR, but I’ve seen him since and he is impressive. If you haven’t checked him out yet, you really should!
  • Mandolin Orange — Also a RWR find from my first year at RWR.  This band may have saved my life the first year because I *was* that guy that first year, but I have learned my lesson (sort of…). They are awesome, if you haven’t listened to ‘Waltz About Whiskey’, you should!
  • The Judy Chops — A local VA band that I’ve been introduced to via RWR; they’re always fun and do some interesting covers, though in the moment, I can’t think of any specific other than I know they covered a Doors song (which one — I couldn’t tell you; only that I liked it which basically covers every Doors song ever)
  • The Lil Smokies — They’ve played RWR in the past, but I don’t believe I’ve managed to see them. I look forward to seeing them this year.
  • The Wood Brothers — Anyone who knows me knows how much I love The Wood Brothers. This is AWESOME. Downside is that Larry Keel is playing at the same time and I think that he’s someone that I’m ‘supposed to’ see, but never do…

Saturday, we have:

  • Locust Honey — I’m pretty sure they were at RWRII and I’m pretty sure that I liked them
  • Jordan Tice — He will be a nice way to get the day started
  • Lula Wiles — Highly recommended by my co-Americanafest attendee, Andrea, I’m looking forward to this one!
  • Della Mae — I know I’ve seen them before and I know I liked them but I’m not sure where.  Maybe The Chapel; maybe they were the band that made me realize that high-waisted jeans were coming back oh-so-many years ago.  Maybe at a festival on the East Coast. Maybe seeing them at RWRVII will help me remember…
  • The Steel Wheels — The local VA band that puts this festival together. This is a highlight for me EVERY year.
  • Lucinda Williams — It’s been a long time since I’ve seen her in anything other than a song circle. I’m looking forward to seeing her again after all these years.

Sunday, we have:

  • The Gospel Set — This is a perfect way to start off Sunday and I always look forward to this — The Steel Wheels, joined by various friends
  • Dead Horses — One of the few bands that I discovered elsewhere…. they opened for Elephant Revival in SF years ago and I’ve seen them numerous times since then. They always satisfy and are really nice people!

  • Birds of Chicago — I cannot recommend this band enough! Seriously!!! They are unbelievable and I *cannot* wait to see them again, especially since I’m gonna have to miss them when they are in the Bay Area next as I have a prior obligation/engagement. Thank you KC Turner for this introduction! Also, could not be nicer people!

  • Lindsay Lou — Another RWR introduction. The first year she played, I didn’t see her set, but she got up and sang ‘Morning Time’ with Ben Morrison/The Brothers Comatose and she did an excellent job. Since then, I’ve seen her perform at RWR with the Flatbellies and in Nashville at Americanafest with a different band. I like her!
  • The Tribute Set  — Though this isn’t actually the end of the festival, this is always a nice way to bring things together at the end. Last year, the tribute was Tom Petty and it was the best since Guy Clark (which brought me to tears — what a loss and I’m so grateful for EVERY time that I saw him at HSB and in other venues). I had a very ‘you never know what someone else is going through’ moment with another woman during this set and it made me emotional for months after when I tried to talk about it.

That segues into my usual ‘support live music!’ rant; it really does make a difference in the lives of so many people. It has given me hope and I genuinely believe that it saved my life! If it didn’t save it, it made it worth living!

It’s gonna be so much goodness! I’m even trying to talk my parents into coming… and this doesn’t even cover all new music that I’m going to be introduced to this year! Oh my!

The Redwood Mountain Faire

This is where I’m heading today…


It seems like a gimme with a line-up like that. I mean, music outside in the Santa Cruz mountains, among the redwood trees and the hippies. The weather looks like it’s going to be beautiful. It’s a benefit for local non-profits AND it’s only $30 (if you are a slacker like me and didn’t get your ticket in advance) to see two of your (my) favorite bands, The Brothers Comatose and Dustbowl Revival. Make sure to bring your lampshade; you can use it as a hat!

Chances are I’ll like some of the other bands as well; they’re just unknown at this point. Tomorrow’s line-up holds a few knowns that I’m planning to see as well, including Jesse Daniel, The Rainbow Girls and Elliott Peck (Midnight North).

Bring your own pint glass for $2 off!

Icing on the cake, hanging with my SIL and seeing my BIL who I haven’t seen in a dog’s age!







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