Monday, September 17, 2007

ACL 2007 Sunday

It was girl’s day at the festival; at least for the first half. Jennifer Niceley started things off very… nicely. With her smooth smoky voice and her jazzy dark style, she enchanted the crowd.

She also won this year’s contest (voted on by all 4 of us)
Then we headed over to the Austin Ventures stage for Amy Cook. Amy was your classic Austin musician. She came to Austin and was determined to play ACL in two years (it took 3). She can sing, she can rock, she writes wonderful songs and she had plenty of enthusiasm and spirit. It is artists like her that keep me coming back to Austin and helped push Deb and many others into moving here.

After Amy we split up. Deb and Linda went on to see Robert Earl Keen, Lucinda Williams and Guy Forsythe. Liz and I headed over to the Wa Mu tent to finish up the ladies section of the show with Grace Potter. This was the tent where 5 years ago (or was it four; they are all starting to merge) an up and coming Los Lonely Boys blew the roof off the place. Well, at times, Grace and her band reached that same level of intensity. It took a few songs to get going, but once they did, wow. Grace traded off between a Hammond organ and an assortment of electric guitars (although she left the lead playing to her guitar player) including a Flying V. So, if you haven’t figured out yet, this was classic rock and roll, with the Hammond organ laying the counter point to the blazing guitar solos. Watch out for this woman and her band.

In the same tent we were honored to hang on the rail and watch one of the great harmonica players and blues legend, Charlie Musselwhite. He absolutely did not disappoint. It was like grandpa up there, a sweet old man, making eye contact and smiling. And then he picked up the harmonica and man did he wail. His band was top notch too, with a young guy (maybe in his 30s) playing some of the best guitar licks we saw all weekend. Unfortunately, I was on a mission and had to leave early.

My daughter Jessie has been a fan of The Decemberists ever since I played The Mariner’s Revenge Song for her. So much so, that a couple of years ago she painted her impression of the inside of a whale (You have to know the song to understand). She has yet to see them live and we just couldn’t make their Hollywood Bowl show (with orchestra!) earlier this year. So, without telling her, I printed out a digital copy of her painting and brought it with me to Austin. So there I was, in a huge line to get the Decemberists autographs. At least I had the lovely Lucinda Williams to entertain me while I waited. After about 20 minutes a Waterloo Records employee comes out and at about 10 feet in front of me says, “You guys may not get in”. Then comes to about where I was and says, “It is really doubtful you’ll get in”. And then a few feet behind me, “It’s not going to happen”. I stuck it out and sure enough with only 5 minutes left for signing he came out again, went two people in front of me, placed one of his employees in the line and said, “This is the end of the line. Sorry folks.” I was so disappointed. I had to do something. So I went up to another Waterloo guy and said, “Could you do me a big favor?”. “I’ll try”, he said. I showed him the picture and asked if he could just give it to them. I told him it was my daughters and that I wanted Jess to know that they at least saw the painting. So he walked up to the road manager and asked him to give it to them. The guy asked who it was for and I said it was for my daughter. He then wanted to know where she was and I explained that I was from California and she wasn’t with me. He said, “Okay”, and passed it on to the band. The lead singer looked at it and smiled, then signed it and passed it on. The next thing I knew I had the entire band’s signatures on the sheet. I can’t wait to give it to Jess.

I met up with Liz at the Dell stage (I should get some sort of money for mentioning these names, don’t you think?) for the Amos Lee show. Amos is one of the top singer/songwriters out there right now and we kicked back and prepared for a nice mellow show. Little did we know that the Philadelphia native knows how to use electric guitars. What a mix of music he played for us. Starting off with some Philly soul, he rocked, he joked, he sang a children’s song and through it all, you just had to love him. He comes off as such nice guy. Even though I really have enjoyed his CDs, I totally underestimated how good he was going to be in concert. This was one of the great surprises of the show for us.

After the show we tried to move up to the rail, but the Decemberists fans were too young and too willing to be sardines for a couple of hours. So, we backed up just a bit and found a nice spot to sit. Of course that didn’t stop the growing crowd from infringing on our personal space. Hell, this is a festival, there is no personal space. Oh well. So it goes. We relaxed and chatted with the younger people around us. We enjoyed talking to the girl in front of us until her boyfriend showed up. “Hey, you didn’t tell us your boyfriend was TALL GUY”. It wasn’t really a problem though. I was able to look off of his shoulder and had a full view of the stage. The Decemberists did not disappoint as they threw themselves into the music while the crowd acted like an Indigo Girls crowd, singing along to every song. This was Liz’s first exposure to the band and she fell for them. How could she not fall for them with their strange stories, goofy hooks and nerdy looks. If these guys don’t become the big alternative band soon, I’ll be surprised. Maybe they are. I should go check.

As the last note faded from the stage, Bob Dylan and his band took the AT&T stage for the final show of the weekend. Deb and Linda had found a spot on the rail by the sound booth, so we started the long winding trek through the crowd. It took about forty five minutes, but we finally met up with them. There isn’t much to tell you about the show. Just before going onstage, Bob requested that there be only 2 long shot non moving cameras for the big screens and no spotlights at all. So, if you weren’t at the front of the stage, you really didn’t see anything. I can understand Bob not wanting anyone to see him close up, but does the rest of the band have to pay for it? And why wasn’t this worked out earlier. In a smaller venue, I can understand this. But at a festival where people are so far away, it just isn’t fair. I could go on, but I won’t. If Bob wants to stay mysterious I won’t get in his way.

This morning we headed over to Waterloo Records, one of the great record stores, and finished off my CD buying for the month. Their staff is always so helpful, going the extra mile whenever possible. If it wasn’t for the Waterloo guy, I wouldn’t have gotten those autographs. Thanks guys/gals. See you online when the KGSR CDs go on sale. What a great time we all had this year. Liz wants to come back and we all hope to be in Austin next September. Thanks to everyone for their nice comments, and thanks for reading this far. It is always fun to bring this to you all.

Signing out until next year…


Post a Comment

<< Home