It’s been quiet on The Audiophile of late, but it’s not because there hasn’t been music to talk about. Speaking of which, this past weekend hosted an event worth chatting about.
First of all, the festival truly lived up to its name with an incredibly hot and sunny day, so shade was at a premium. While the lineup itself boasted of no premiere-billed headlining or click bait acts, the lineup as a whole made for an enjoyable event. Ditching the “Blues” nomenclature, the Festival rebranded itself this year as simply the more general Hot August Music Festival which more aptly fit the year’s lineup. The festival is an interesting one, including 3 stages, one of which, is in an intimate and secluded grove of trees.
The all-day affair began at noon with an excellent opener on the main stage, Shakey Graves. The perfect early afternoon show, the Texas band indulged the audience with an engaging and entertaining, albeit early in the day. Their show was highlighted by their performances of Hard Wired and Dearly Departed, both coming off the band’s latest album, And The War Came.
After that, we ventured over to catch Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, a local jam-friendly funk band who have a knack for putting on quite a show. This performance was quite worth catching as they happened to cover both The Beatles’ Get Back and Deee-lite’s Groove Is In The Heart in addition to their own music.
Next on the docket was a transition back to the main stage for Railroad Earth. This group has an interesting blend of music. Traditional bluegrass dynamic in terms of instrumentation, their music also ventures into the folk, country and even Celtic styles, for an interesting mix and range of music. Their performance happened to fall at the hottest part of the day late in the afternoon, and the sun really started taking its toll on the festival goers at this time. This being the case, their performance couldn’t have come at a better time, as it filled the slow period with enjoyable music as the festival goers partook in food and drink to amp up for the later shows in the evening.
This was personally followed by a brief respite by taking a tour of the grounds in search of cooler environs and to do some people watching before taking in a bit of The Revivalists. After the recovery period came the Punch Brothers. Well, it was almost the Punch Brothers, 4/5ths to be exact. The quintet’s bassist was visibly absent as he had apparently gotten stuck in Boston unable to make a flight thanks to an unfortunate air traffic control system hack.
Despite being bass-less, the always dapper dressed gentlemen made do without and peppered the crowd with jokes at their missing member’s expense. The group made up for the missing player and gave the crowd an enjoyable performance to lead up to the headliners.
Speaking of headliners, Counting Crows are one of the Maryland local groups that made good in the 90’s. Lead singer Adam Duritz often refers to his Baltimore roots in many of his lyrics as reference as well. The group kicked off their show with one of the band’s higher energy tracks Rain King. Follow this up immediately with an entirely syncopated rendition of Mr. Jones. One of the highlights of the band’s show was their intimate performance of Colorblind which also included an excellent pairing of lights to go along with it.
The other big highlight, and my personal favorite of the night was the band’s 15-minute medley performance of Goodnight Elisabeth and Pale Blue Eyes. The band did depart for a brief faux exit and then returned for a short 2-song encore including a high energy rendition of Hanginaround which was received very well.
Unfortunately, the overall show was a bit disappointing. Despite the highlights mentioned above, the show conspicuously lacked two tracks that would have been immediately acknowledged by the crowd as favorites: Round Here and Raining In Baltimore. Both tracks include the most intimate references to Baltimore, the place in which they were performing. On top of that, they ended about 20 minutes short of their scheduled time slot which was a let down after their brief encore.
All-in-all, the day was a big win. Your humble narrator went into the day not intending to see every act or capture every performance on camera and just enjoy the day and the company, and that was exactly what happened. The day may have lacked the “star power” of some of the more nationally recognized events, but had tremendous lasting power in terms of enjoyment for the event as a whole.
Now Playing: Counting Crows – Hanginaround