Far West Festival Review

My favorite thing about music festivals is the chance of catching great acts I haven’t seen before. The Far West Fest, West Marin County’s food, art & music festival on Saturday, September 20th was yet another chance to expand my musical horizons. This festival, sponsored by radio station KWMR was held at Love’s Field in Olema just down the road from Pt. Reyes Station. Love’s Field is a story of its own; it is a baseball field on private property owned by the Love family nestled in the hills of west Marin. Of course I inquired as to why they built a baseball field out in the boonies and learned that the family set it up because there was no place close by for the Pt. Reyes area kid’s to play baseball. How cool is that? It was a great mood setter for a wonderful day.

This is a small festival with maybe two hundred people in attendance, mostly small town folk with a definite hippie influence. The music was primarily Marin County acts playing folk, reggae, bluegrass and rock. We originally attended the festival because we wanted another chance to see Poor Man’s Whiskey. More about them in a minute. We started the day seeing the Wronglers, a bluegrass band made up of an eclectic group of musicians reminiscent of the mountains of West Virginia. It was a great start. Next we saw Matt Love, one of the Love family son’s, fronting his reggae bad, Matt Love and friends. Matt has a great sound and if you closed your eyes the Jamaican influence was unmistakable. Following Matt was Marquis Melody and Majesty, a reggae-soul combination that has quite a following in the area. We were off to a good start.

I mentioned earlier the joy of catching really good new acts at these festivals. Such was definitely the case with the next couple of acts we saw. Jerry Hannan and his troupers were phenomenal. Jerry’s a folk based guy that is an amazing song writer and performer. The stories told through his lyrics are spellbinding and his energetic stage presence is infectious. At times while listening you can help but be reminded of Bob Dylan in the early days of his folk excellence. Other times you are thinking of John Prine. Some tunes from his newest album, “Wild Card”, had the audience in awe. Cut’s like “EGBA”, (Everything’s Gonna be Alright) , and “Sandcastles” are incredible. Another great tune is “Society”, a song featured in the Sean Penn movie, “Into the Wild”. This is definitely one of the best acts we’ve seen in a summer filled with music festivals and I am definitely looking forward to seeing him again.

Does lightening strike twice? On this day it did as we met yet another performer that was unbelievable in her writing and singing abilities. Larkin Gayl came to the acoustic stage and we were yet again amazed at the talent at this gig. Larkin Gayl sings and plays a country-folk based line up that literally had my best friend weeping as he enjoyed the beautiful melodies this lady brought to the stage. Her talents came alive on original cuts like “Warrior” and “Impossible”, on which she was joined on stage by Jerry Hannan. In a touching ending she ended her set with “I Do”, a political wonder focused on everyone’s personal right to love who they want, with a tiny five year old girl leading the closing chorus of “I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid”, as the audience joined in and sang along. It was a very moving ending to a fantastic show.

The reason we actually went this event was to again see Poor Man’s Whiskey, an irreverent bunch of wildly fun yet incredibly talented bluegrass musicians. When you see PMW you know you are going to have a good time. These supremely talented guys’s mix a strong bluegrass background with an honest desire to make sure everyone has a ball. There sets includes funky folk, the blues and many old bluegrass favorites mixed in with original tunes like “P.M.S.”, “Lake County Lady” and “Beer Goggle Blues” . My favorite tune is “Easy Come, Easy Go” with excellent vocal tracks by Josh Brough. As they usually do, the whole band hopped down from the stage and put on an unplugged show in front of the stage with everyone crowded in close. Drummer George Smeltz usually bangs out a crazy beat on a suitcase during this little act. He told us earlier that he didn’t have one so we went out to the RV and emptied the blues girl’s hot pink suitcase and put George to work. They played a hot version of “Rocky Top, Tennessee” which sent everyone away dancing. The only thing left to say is if you haven’t seen PMW, you must!

Aaron Redner, the excellent violinist from the group Hot Buttered Rum, sat in with all three of the last groups mentioned and brought yet another dimension to the already talented line ups. It was nice how these musicians all know each other’s work and are able to interact seamlessly. We also saw performances by Honey Dust, a rock band that came on strong, Vinyl and Friends and an impromptu performance by Stefanie Keys. It was a wonderful day of music to be sure and I know where I’ll be next year at this time.

“Keep your eyes and ears open, the Blues are alive in Northern California!”

Jeff Sullenger
займы онлайн на карту