Thursday, July 9, 2009


Well, now that some preliminaries are taken care of, I can get to this blog's real mission - a discussion of the music. But one other thing you should note - It is nearly impossible to go to one of these music festivals and hear ALL the music. First off there are schedule conflicts where acts are on at the same time in different locations and choices must be made. Then of course there is the need to eat, sleep a bit, grab an occasional shower and take care of other bodily functions. And then, as a musician, there is the opportunity to jam with other players, sometimes at the expense of catching a live act. The saving factor in this, at Live Oak and most other festivals, is the fact that almost all acts are broadcast live on a low powered FM station that serves the festival grounds. So some acts may not be seen but are still heard. In doing these reviews I will let you know if I didn't actually see the act in question and will also let you know which acts I just outright missed. My apologies to my readers ( if I really have any! ) and to those acts I missed., I will endeavor to include links to acts websites when I can, and I encourage you to check them out, whether it was an act I heard and liked, or one I didn't like, or one I just missed. All of these acts are pros doing worthwhile music whether it meets my taste or not they are worth a look.
So first of all, here's a link to the festival's website that you may want to peruse

Now on to the music, taking things chronologically

Live Oak traditionally starts off on Friday night with Joe Dickerson playing his bagpipes briefly as a sort of a Welcome Ceremony. Then the emcee, Joe Craven, comes out and starts introducing the acts. For those not aware of Joe, he is a fixture in the Central/Northern California music scene as a mandolinist/fiddler/tenor guitarist/singer/percussionist/songwriter/workshop facilitator/educator/crusader and I could probably add slashes and other roles until my fingers bleed. He is quite a guy, a real character and interestingly is the only performer to appear at all three festivals we have gone to/will go to this summer. He is a fixture at festivals all across the country so those of you in other places probably could have a chance to see him somewhere. He is also one of the most ADVENTUROUS dressers I have ever seen.
So the first act to hit the stage was Rancho Deluxe, an alternative country band. Unfortunately I started the festival by missing them completely, which was disappointing to me, because I was looking forward to hearing them, but time got away from me setting up our campsite. Here is a link for them, they really deserve more than I'm offering but oh well.

Next up was Terry Evans, a soulful singer from Central/Northern California, who did a really nice set of soul and rhythm and blues in the vein of Otis Redding or Joe Tex. Terry has played with a host of major names like Boz Scaggs and Ry Cooder to name just a couple. He had a really tight band and really put on a stirring show I really enjoyed. But I have to say, this is an act that would be even better in a bar setting rather than on the festival stage. I don't know why, but some acts are just made to heard while getting loaded and dancing in a nightclub! Here's a link for Terry

Next up was Old Bind Dogs, described as a Traditional Scottish group. Even though I have extremely eclectic taste, Scottish music is not something I'm really into so we chose this time period to eat dinner back at the campsite,. We did catch about half their set and listened to the rest on the radio. These guys are really virtuoso players playing music I'm just not that into, but I still enjoyed them a bit. They also played later that evening at the late night Hot Licks Dance but we were jamming back at the campsite and skipped that. Their photo is above on the bottom. Here's their link

The last act of the night on the Main Stage was Dave Alvin and the Guilty Women, one of the acts I was most looking forward to. For those unfamiliar with Dave, he used to front the group "The Blasters" and has been a fixture of California music for decades. His work these days is in that gray area where folk meets blues meets rock meets bluegrass often classified these days as Americana or American Roots music. We've been fans for a while, I just love his song "The King of California" a song that grabbed me immediately and I haven't tired of in a dozen or so years. His band for this tour, The Guilty Women, are a male musician's dream, 7 attractive women who all happen to be world-class kick-ass musicians. Of particular note are the wonderful Cindy Cashdollar on lap-steel and dobro, top session player Sarah Brown on bass and California guitar legend Nina Gerber who is amazing. Add in the dual fiddles of Laurie Lewis and Amy Farris, drummer Lisa Pankratz and vocalist Christy McWilson and you have one great band playing some really delightful Alvin tunes. This band is no novelty act- they are the real deal! Upper left photo is this band, sorry such a bad pic, I've got better of them from the Kate Wolf Fest but to use them here would be dishonest I guess. Here's Dave's website

That was the close of Friday night. We were beat and retired early, anticipating the next day of fun which I will tackle next post.

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