Illinois River Jam 9/23-9/25
On a totally unrelated note to the rest of this blog, if I start getting lame with all these recapping of the last few show blogs, feel free to voice your opinion. Unless there are no comments, which might be a good thing as sometimes you get the inevitable douchy tit for tat between JohnDoe46 and Satansnightmarefist420 that you can’t help but read just to ponder the depths of human stupidity. See youtube.
On average, festivals can either be awe-inspiringly fun or nightmares of scheduling, load ins, check ins, and sound checks culminating in a 30 minute performance with crappy sound. Illinois River Jam aint that kind of festival. As soon as Morgan, Biggie and I pulled into Peyton’s Place, we located the Pidgin camp with Tom’s RV as the main fixture and proceeded to crack open the Jager and Red Bulls and relax with all the Normanites in attendance. Marshall already had some food on the grills, Steve was breaking out the molasses-infused home brewed beer, and Cornhole and various yard games were already being played. Knuts even had some pretty rockin’ pigtails in his locks.
It’s always a pain in the proverbial tuckus to pack up the bags, pack up the car, get halfway across town and realize you forgot a bag so you turn around and drive all the hell way back and add at least another 20 minutes to your trip, fill up, hit the Dollar General, hit the Kum and Go because you forgot Red Bull at the Dollar General, and get turned around on a turnpike, pay 50 cents EACH WAY to correct said mistake before finally arriving at your ultimate and quite beautiful destination. PAIN. But worth it when the whole feeling melts away and you realize that THIS is your reality for the next few days. River, friends, food, drink, and most importantly, good music.
We got there in time to catch a solid solo set by the fantabulous (which is my new adjective for this fair lady, as you would know if you followed us on the twitter/facebook) Camille Harp. At least it was a solo set until she had me up to play “Simple” and a newer song that I refer to simply as “her creepy song”. ‘Cause it is.
And we all know I like creepy.
Seeing as I left my guitar and bag of tricks in the car down at the Pidgin camp and I was already onstage singing harmony, Knuts (Jon Knudson as you’d know if you followed us on the twitter/facebook) and his lady Sophie took off and brought me back my glorious and beautiful Guild F-50 American Hand Made jumbo guit-fiddle that I love so damn much. However, they didn’t know to grab my magical black bag of cords and pedals and straps, resulting in me playing an entire song trying desperately to keep a grip on the behemoth of an acoustic until Travis Linville saved the day with his dobro strap, which I’m pretty sure I gave back to him but can’t remember as the night was a might hazy. Regardless, he couldn’t find it before he got up with Hayes the next night and I still feel bad either way. Sorry Travis, I’ll keep searching. Maybe the strap ogres took it.
Anyway, Camille was astounding as per usual. Her songwriting and vocal talents never cease to amaze anyone, let alone this guy. We’re trying to get some writing done, but I’m always holding up the boat. I’m a strange person to write with, as more often than not I have to be alone to really get good ideas out. So I end up leaving the room and coming back with an idea that either sucks or doesn’t suck and it can be a vibe killer to some co-writers. Just a little aside about yours truly…
The other performers of the weekend were superb as well. Meandering Orange jammed like champs and Joe Mack was in fine form. Their rhythm section has been referred to as the Female Preggo Double Trouble of our part of the country. Annie Paine and Sarah Garde have a vibe that can’t be beat and held down some nice rhythm for Joe and James Townsend to ride and slide…musically. It’s always a pleasure to see our old Okie city compadre Carter Sampson. She’s been working on a phenomenal new project called “Mockingbird Sing” that’s coming out soon, I’d recommend nabbin’ a digital copy of her “Good for the Meantime” record that she did over at Travis’ Dirtybird Studios.
Of the many highlights of the weekend, our performance on Friday night was definitely a personal one. Tom’s sound system combined with an extremely competent and hard-working audio engineer gave us one of the best stage mixes we’ve had so far. The crowd was up and on their feet and we had a lot of folks in lawnchairs that extended beyond the confines of the tent and into the darkness. Within said darkness was 2 feet of river rocks that covered most of the east side of the camp and felt like walking in sharp and uncomfortable giant sand grains that made flip flops a dangerous endeavor. But totally worth it. We had a great set with almost all the Quails Philharmonic in attendance, minus a Blake Lennon who was having a business meeting with an Asian guy in Texas. That’s what I said…
Piding band took the stage right after we speedily swept our spectacular spread of gear out of their collective ways. Tom and Knuts both play with this extremely talented group of young Normanites that perform what I can only describe as a rockin’ 70′s porno car chase movie soundtrack that’s heavy on the horns and the rhythmic wall of sound betwixt the drum and bass offset by the counter rhythm of the electric guitfiddles. Sorry the musician in me took over there for a second. For non musicians, they have a really cool groove that’s easy to dance to and infections as the deadly T-virus from the Resident Evil Games. Sorry, the video game junkie in me took over there for a second. For non-video gamers, it’s like a super flu that turns people into flesh eating zombies. But I digress…
After much partying and campfire jamming, Morgan and I hit up the old band bunkhouse and were greeted with homemade lasagna, cookies, sandwiches, hummus, and a bunch of gooey, sticky brownies. We tried to sleep in the bunkhouse for about an hour, but Biggie’s atomic snoring was loud enough to wake the undead from the T-virus thing I was talking about earlier. My special lady friend retired to the car, which in turn led me to the car where I got a surprisingly restful 3 hours of sleep. Then it was coffee, Preston’s camp, and playing Ukulele with my sister and Justin.
As pursuant to my cameo whore contract with myself, I got up and did a really killer version of Dollars with Andy Adams, David Bruster, and our very own Biggie. I’m relatively certain that this is the very first time I’ve performed one of my tunes with a band that wasn’t my own. Andy has been covering “Dollars” in his many sets around OKC and beyond (which I have to say is pretty flattering, Andy’s a helluva songwriter in his own right…write…whatever) and it was a unique and interesting experience to say the least. Like Don Con once said after having a similar experience “It’s like riding in the passenger seat of your own car”. Truer words have never been spoken, but I enjoyed every minute of it. Bruster plays a pretty mean dobro and Biggie spices up the flava with his rompin’ harp licks.
While I tend to spend most of my Monday’s doing computer work in the garage until showtime at the Deli, I always try and make it out for at least a little of Linville’s weekly happy hour spot. The mans songs are well written and refreshing, but I mainly go to get my weekly guitar lesson. He’s one of the best pickers around and it’s no wonder Hayes Carll hired him up to play some guitar and dobro and mandolin and peddle steel and backup vocals and whatever else he feels like playing on any given song. Hayes went on right after Trav and played an entertaining set that was full of new stuff, old stuff, and and a lot of hilarious stories about getting detained in Canada for smuggling fruit across the border. He was also a towering dude, way taller than he look son the old youtube. He could moonlight for the OKC Thunder with veritable ease.
This thing has gone on long enough, suffice it to say that I had a good time picking tunes with Justin and my sister (who joined us for some harmony on Fools Gold to critical acclaim on Friday night), seeing all the repeat campers from last year, and playing guitar with my friends. Mucho successful weekend, can’t wait for next year to roll around. Get your tickets early, there were nearly 400 tickets sold and that’s probably going to be as big as this festival grows. I can’t count the number of great festivals that have been ruined by the drive to make shit tons of money at the expense of having a manageable crowd of cool people that don’t cause trouble and just love to hear the music and enjoy themselves. This aint gonna be one of them.