ACL Week - Friday (Day 3)
Okay, so this is actually the first day of ACL. But for me, it is already on to a third day of music. And what a beautiful day it was. The sky was clear all day with occasional breezes and temperatures in the mid 80s. The grass has grown out very nicely after last years mud fest and overall the park was in great shape.
First up was Sahara Smith. She has a sweet voice and some nice songs that might be called country, but lean to the left and don’t really have much in the way of twang. We enjoyed the set.
We then moved to the tent, now called the Clear Stage, for Carolyn Wonderland. They have taken all of the seats out of the tent and re-planted grass. I was early and was able to kick back on the grass until the Gospel band that was playing had finished. I then slipped up to the front, dead center, for one of the highlights of the day. Carolyn came out and as she always does, rocked the house. I don’t know what is taking America so long to find this truly talented lady. She picks her guitar like no other woman I’ve seen play. She can easily (and I mean easily) hang with the best guitar players playing. Her voice is strong and soulful. She can even handle the trumpet. Check out the video I have here. The sound gets screwed up, but hang in there for a bit and you’ll get the picture. She is really amazing.
I forced Liz to check out Angus and Julia Stone (couldn’t get Linda to bite), and she was surprised by how much she actually liked them. Hailing from Australia, the brother and sister team create a very unique sound. Julia has a voice close to Joanna Newsom’s, but she uses it in a much more assessable way. Her melodies are sweet and she sings with such joy, you easily will forgive anything unusual about her style. She also plays a mean harmonica, did some rocking out on electric guitar, and played some of the coolest rock trumpet I’ve ever heard. Watching her dance around in her bare feet, reminded me of the young Natalie Merchant; filled with a passion for the music. Angus, is a more straightforward singer/songwriter, with a feel that only seems to come from down under (be it Australia or New Zealand). Together, they go from soft to rock in an instant. Near the end they did, what sounded like a several minute jam based on Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand”, with Julia playing harmonica and trading leads with their violin player. It was great. Check out their CDs, I think you’ll really enjoy them.
I caught most of Band of Heathens set. They are a country rock band, leaning heavily on the rocking. It is better than you’d expect. And with a name like that, you know they’re going to interesting.
Amos Lee has grown up since we saw him 3 years ago. There were no surprises this time, other than it was a very straightforward set. His Philly soul music will melt your heart along with other body parts. Okay there was some strangeness. At the very end he, along with his buddy Angel, sang a Barry White type song about wanting to take a shower with you/her. I just found it so strange after his traditional set of music; but fun.
I had heard Ryan Bingham and the Dead Horses on The Loft on Sirus XM not too long ago, so I was looking forward to seeing Ryan show us his stuff. And he came with both barrels blazing. Somewhere between Steve Earle, Dylan and maybe Neil Young, Ryan Bingham sings about this world and still is able to rock you off your feet. It was a perfect final set for tonight. As I walked out, I could hear, but couldn’t even come close to seeing The Strokes on one end of the field and Phish on the other. I’m guessing, if you stood in the middle of Zilker Park, it would have been a very strange feeling.