Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Woodyfest Find #3

Anthony da Costa keeps winning awards. Last year he won both the Kerrville Folk Festival's New Folk competition and Falcon Ridge's Emerging Artist award. Little wonder. Riding home from Woodyfest, listening to his CD, my husband says, "That's amazing that he can write like that and he's what, 17?" I had to remind him that Jackson Browne wrote "These Days" when he was the same age. Some people just have "the gift". Add Anthony to the list.

Showcasing down at the Brickstreet, Anthony played an impressive set. Songs of love, loss, music and political relevance mixed with easy stage banter that eludes most younger artists. His sense of humor showed through and personally, I really like that. But what really blew the crowd away was his cover of "Draft Dodger Rag" at the Phil Ochs Tribute set on the main stage. He learned the song just that afternoon and nailed it that night, solid. The delivery was perfect, reality injected with wry humor. Phil's sister, Sonny Ochs, just beamed. He did Phil proud. Keep an eye on Anthony da Costa, we're going to be hearing a lot from this prolific, gifted young musician.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Lonely, but not alone

As evidenced by previous posts, I'm prone to being a victim of my moods. This morning something snapped, heading into church no less. I found that no matter how I tried, I could not pay attention to the readings. My consciousness drifted in and out of the sermon. Like a child, I drew pictures of wildflowers on the bulletin. Here I was, surrounded by people who really do care about me, escorted by a most loving spouse, yet in the mist of all this, the intensity of my loneliness was like a weight on my heart. While I recognized the emotion, the feeling of isolation, the reaction of withdrawal; it's something I was unable to shake. Perhaps it will wane in slumber. Perhaps it won't last. But how? Why? I'm tired; I'm torn. It's with me still.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Woodyfest Find #2

Jimmy Davis has been around a lot longer than that baby face of his leads you to believe. His album debut was back in 1987 and he hasn't looked back. Jimmy camps along his tour; saves money, meets people, sings and writes inspired by surroundings, memories, histories, imagination and new friends along the way. Sounds like a perfect fit for Woodyfest, doesn't he?

Jimmy was a Woodyfest virgin when he hit The Brickstreet stage on Thursday. Tough slot, Thursday afternoon. The weekend not quite started, hardcore festival goers filling the venue. With just his trusty Martin and the mandatory abbreviated set list, he stunned the crowd and left them wanting more. A natural storyteller, he regaled us with stories of his family and the inspiration sparked from talking to Jim Dandy as intros between songs. That storytelling flare shines through his songs as well. Vingnettes draw you in until you want to snuggle under his grandmother's quilt, or hide out in the Devil's Den like one of his characters. Besides crafting some great songs, the man can play. All too often solo acoustic players have a timid or sloppy attack; Jimmy's knows better. He's a seasoned and strong musician who knows when to charm a note or nail a chord. It was a pleasure to be introduced to his music. I know I'm in line for Jimmy Daddy's Acoustic Songs II. Check out Jimmy's tour schedule and if he's in your town, don't miss him!

Monday, July 21, 2008

4th of July

Sometime between work, drive, and Woodyfest, there was the 4th of July. Amazingly, the 'fireworks' setting on my little Optio W30 really does work when you use a beach chair umbrella as a monopod. The fireworks at my friends' party out in the country were pretty astounding. They couldn't even fit the booty in a wheelbarrow to get it down the road to shoot off.... no, it was such a cache that they had to take the pickup. It was better than many of the fireworks displays put on by my hometown when I was a kid.

Bethalto used to have a "homecoming" fair on Labor Day weekend and a some-other-kind of fair over 4th of July. I guess it still does. Midway, games, mud, wood chips, funnel cakes, contests, etc. Our church always had this big food and beer booth (Catholic, of course) and ladies from the 140 Club would fry up about a million of their famous chickens to serve. Parishioners were expected to donate either their first fresh tomatoes to sell as sides or their first born children to serve and clean. Like bingo slave duty and mandatory fashion show babysitting, I mostly got out of having to help, being the precociously mouthed wild card that I was. Unfortunately, the tomatoes were sacrificed for our Lord's luncheon sales. This left me time to ride the tilt-a-whirl and play skee ball until my money was gone, then sneak off to the arboretum to hang out under my favorite trees and read, write or sketch until it was time for the fireworks. Poor little fireworks. A few roman candles and about eight sky-worthy shells; maybe a few peonys and if we were lucky a couple of spiders. But it was what we had and we ooooo-ed and aaaaaahhh-ed like it was New Years in Chinatown. Sometimes, I guess it's okay not to know any better, if only to preserve what's left of the magic.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Woodyfest Find #1

One of my favorite things about the Woody Guthrie Free Folk Festival is discovering new artists. Could be someone truly new, just on their first record. Could be someone who's been around for a while, but under my radar. Could even be someone who's been at the fest before, but had a gig at the same time I was working or seeing someone else at a different venue. No matter what the situation, I always drive home listening to CD's by folks I'd never listened to before. This year was no exception, the new crop was fresh and tasty! Here's the first find that totally blew me away.

Alexinder Gunn is just 21 years old, but writes like he's lived a lifetime or two already. Maybe he has an old soul, maybe it's other-worldly wisdom, but he sure has a lot to say and I am happy to listen. His songs can be ethereal, touching, achingly sad and full of heartfelt hope all at the same time. "I Know Your Here (A Song to Woody Guthrie)" is his fitting tribute to one of his many influences. It captures how many a musician feels, especially at Woodyfest. Listening to Alexinder, you know he is real; you can hear where the music comes from. When you watch him play, and he closes his eyes and slightly tilts back his head to hit that high note, you are captivated by his voice and emotion; drawn in to his world. And you won't want to leave. Click on the link above to check out some of his tunes. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Birthday ,Woody! aka Woodyfest: part 1

Been gone so long..... not long enough.

The Woody Guthrie Free Folk Festival was blessed by weird magic this year. Most folks suppose that Woody and Bob Childers were up there arranging it. "Oh, c'mon, God, give 'em a break, it's Woody's birthday for, uh... your sake!" At any rate, juju aside, The rain came and went, came and went again, and for five days the show always went on. From the beginning Wednesday night with Country Joe McDonald's Woody Guthrie Tribute, (and yes, the encore was indeed THE cheer and Rag), straight through to Judy Collins' ethereal main stage wrap-up set, and Sunday's "Hoot for Huntington's", there was good luck, great music and wonderful friends. Saw lots of Woodyfest first timers that we hope will be back next year, and hung out with long time once-a-year buddies, catching up, talking shop and sharing memories. Photos from the fest will be posted on Eye Spye and more stories from Okemah to come.

Back to the real world. Dang.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Blogging off to festival land

It's that time of year, July. Hottest month of the year. Hey, I have an idea! Let's go to Oklahoma where it's even hotter.... Yeah, I thought these people were crazy, holding a five day music festival in a hot state, in a hot month; you can just see the glue melting on those acoustics' bridges. But then I went. Woodyfest is different. It's free except for camping or evening outdoor venue parking and the artists all donate their time, only travel and lodging are paid. It's a labor of love in the name of Woody Guthrie. Held in Woody's home town of Okemah, the whole thing is a trip. Though small by folk fest standards, it's perfect for what it is and the time and space available. Three main venues and a fourth for ongoing open mic, main campground pickin' all night long, quieter lakeside camping, and friendly people everywhere. Really friendly. Amazingly friendly. Did I say they were friendly? Not quiet used to that living in the city. So if you wander on down to Woodyfest next week to see Judy Collins, Country Joe McDonald, John Gorka and a host of regular, rotating and new artists, you will be counted as friends. Not to mention have one hell of a good time. Stop by the CD sales booth and say hey, that's where I'll be. Until post-fest, summer up!