The effortlessly awesome Jeff Fielder. Complete slideshow is over here .
Additional deadlines and food poisoning kept me from sharing my thoughts on the ND>"/>
The effortlessly awesome Jeff Fielder. Complete slideshow is over here.
Additional deadlines and food poisoning kept me from sharing my thoughts on the ND festival as soon as I would have liked; Sara Brickner has some of her more timely reflections over here.
Despite the fact that I warned everyone via my column last week to get out to Marymoor Park early to catch the local all-star revue, I walked through the gate just as they finished. By all accounts, they knocked it out of said park, with Jeff Fielder's hand-picked backing band providing the foundation for a slew of talented folks to bust out covers of Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris and the Carter Family.
I was bummed to have missed it, but thrilled as soon as I hear the familiar voice of Jessica Lea Mayfield coming off the stage. I had just gotten her record a few days prior, but I'd already listened to it so much that I instantly recognized "Kiss Me Again", the opening track on With Blasphemy So Heartfelt. Seely nailed it when he described her as mix of Hope Sandoval and Neko Case. Keep your eye on that one, for sure.
I used the downtime before Justin Townes Earle to see what was happening backstage, and sure enough, there were a lot of talented people enjoying themselves immensely. The roots rock community is a naturally warm network; there's plenty of competitiveness, but also a great deal of solidarity.
The backstage area at Marymoor is pretty lush by rock standards. It's a sprawl of gorgeous gardens that surround an old mansion that is quite obviously rented out for weddings (why else does anyone have a pagoda anyway?). The rooms are air-conditioned, which was sweet relief considering that we were headed towards the upper '80s. Jesse Sykes was relaxing backstage, her signature fall of shiny, dark hair piled on top of her head and a guitar in her lap. Patterson Hood was also in repose, marveling at a horrifying picture in the New York Times Magazine of Barbara Bush squeezing a small child's cheeks.
On the back patio, the cache of kids who played in the all-star revue were sharing beers and plates of Mexican food from hospitality, while Sam Beam idled quietly in the background, not saying much of anything until my KEXP colleague Greg Vandy managed to corner him for an interview.
I was glad I made it out to watch some more of Jesse Townes Earle, because he busted out a fabulous cover of the Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait" and I was pleased to see bassist Cory Younts backing him up (Younts also plays with Bobby Bare Jr.).
I hadn't seen Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter play in ages, and I gotta say, they are better than ever. Considering the brutal romantic break-up they had to swim through a while back, it's helluva impressive that Sykes and guitarist Phil Wandscher still have such finely attuned musical communication. Major props there.
Patterson Hood unfortunately had to wrestle with some sound issues, but dude's a pro road warrior, so he soldiered on admirably. I hope he comes back again in support of his ridiculously gorgeous new solo album, Murdering Oscar. If you have even a casual appreciation for his other band, the Drive By Truckers, you should pick that one up immediately.
Plenty has been said about Sam Beam and Gillian Welch elsewhere; they were certainly perfect choices and delivered fine performances, but the highlight for me was watching No Depression publisher/festival founder Kyla Fairchild take a very well-deserved bow. Video is below: