Just about every act I saw was a highlight. I began the day with steel guitarist Kayton Roberts and his country music friends on the Community Foundation Stage, who put on a good show of traditional country. The only downside of that set being the constant needing to applaud every solo taken by his guitarist and 85 year old fiddler, but that's part of that style, I suppose.
The Hot Seats Short Band (missing Ben Belcher) put on a good, very oldtime oriented, set at the children's stage. I only wish they could get to play on one of the less out of the way stages. Imagine what they could do on, say, the Dance Pavilion stage, with Benny boy in tow.
As we left The Hot Seats a surprisingly good band was playing on the Community Foundation Stage: The West African Highlife Band. I love those West African rhythms and melodies, and these guys really jammed it out. I'm looking forward to checking out one of their sets again today!
We saw a little bit of Furnace Mountain Band - who can really mesmerize and delight an audience - but chose to leave their set early to catch a little bit of the French-Canadian band Le Vent du Nord. I'm glad we did. Le Vent du Nord tore it up! Tres bien!
|The mighty James River - as seen from the side of the Dominion Dance Pavilion|
With so much going on at one time - all the time - it's hard to stay at one stage for long. After getting a taste of the Mariachi band we took a few minutes to watch the Balkan brass band (Boban and Marko Markovic Orkestar). For some reason, this Balkan music didn't really grab me; probably because I was anxious to head back over to Brown's Island to the MWV stage for the Global Rhythms workshop.
I love and hate the workshops at the Richmond Folk Festival. I'm there to see the musicians from different styles and cultures jam together, but usually the moderator takes so long talking to each individual musician that very little music gets played and the jamming is saved for an awkward moment at the end. Not so for this drumming meetup, because the drummers - representing India, West Africa, the Dominican Republic, Egypt and more - collectively took it upon themselves to get multiple drum jams going, resulting in a standing ovation from the audience. The beatboxer Shodekeh held his own with these guys. This was probably the highlight of the day for me.
When we left the drum workshop Dwayne Dopsie and the Zydeco Hellraisers were still playing in the Dance Pavilion so we got to see a good bit of their set and they were killing it! We made it to the front of the stage just as Dwayne Bopsie and his rub-board player jumped down into the crowd to play in the midst of the people tightly packed in up front. This was awesome, but might have been lost on those toward the back of this crowded stage. This zydeco band was almost more like a jamband in flavor and feel - they really kept the energy going.
The Holmes Brothers were playing when we walked by Community Foundation Stage, so we got to check out their old school gospel and rhythm and blues music for a few minutes. They played the best version of Amazing Grace I have ever heard. As the Holmes Brothers were playing, I looked behind me to see that the Mayan Sundance ritual had already commenced. Four (?) guys in Tezcatlipoca Voladores had just started to make their descent by swinging around the 80 foot pole, while one guy sat on top. Watching this as the Holmes Brothers played was a surreal experience.
|Jazz pianist Lafayette Gilcrhist and beatboxer Shodekeh getting funky!|
We had plans to stay for Le Vent du Nord on the Altria Stage, but were too wiped out and overly stimulated from the constant exposure to awesome music, non-stop for 7 straight hours, so we left after Lafayette Gilchrist, knowing that we could listen to Le Vent du Nord on 88.9 WCVE on the ride home. Unfortunately, that set wasn't being broadcast. I wonder why? Oh well, Ian Stewart's World Music Show wasn't a bad alternative.
Looking at today's Richmond Folk Festival schedule, I am equally excited to head down there soon for another great day of music. They pack it all in between noon and 6pm today, then it's gone for another year, so get it while you can!