We were able to make it to the festival on Saturday this year, just in time to get to hear old friend (and owner of Joel's Guitar Shop) Joel Choate welcome the morning hours with some great picking, both country and rock, and all by his lonesome for a change! You ought to hear his rendition of Neil Young's "Harvest Moon". This photo shows some of the hard work someone did decorating the unfortunately-named "2nd Stage."
We really enjoyed everyone we heard.
A new treat, "Wandrin' Wheel," found Dennis Kingsbury (who puts on "Live from the Living Room" in Pontiac with partner Maggie Ferguson) playing his hot mandolin &, shock & awe, the bass! In addition to singing a killer original of his, he did a great job of backing Joel Palmer & Jeff Royer who shared original songs with considerable musical expertise.
Having missed Jan Sygit at other events, we were thrilled to finally get to hear her. Wonderful voice, wa-ay too mature for this young gal! She had a couple of skilled guys backing her, and she held her own on the guitar & banjo. Another one to watch!
Dan Hazlett did his usual skillful & tasty picking and singing, though we had to leave halfway through to catch Jo Serrapere & The Willie Dunns whom we had never heard. (Dan said he understood). Jo has one of those smooth voices that can sing anything!
We got to see Jan Krist for the first time as well. Her "Alternate Universe" was a whole lot of fun (and she has others!)...very nice, very smart.
We were surprised to find Nic Gareiss (the hot then-15-year-old foot percussionist/dancer of the now defunct "Hoolie") in a new group of young folks called Freshwater. These guys are already good and have lots of potential. Keep an ear open for them.
Annie & Rod Capps were quite competent. He's an excellent guitarist, and she has a yummy voice and winning stage presence.
The Salt Miners were just so much fun and so good musically, we will definitely look for these guys again!...Lots of energy, talent, & humor, which we find we kind of like.
We bumped into Paul & Angela Wieske, who produce the Backroads Concert Series in Alpena, and were blessed to be invited to dinner at their campsite. We won't make you jealous(or hungry) by telling you the meal we sampled. Okay, maybe we will...Hummus, tabouli, shishkebabs, fresh fruit salad--gourmet coffee--it was wonderful hospitality, and we are really grateful to them for including us!
We found Joel's (and Laurie's) campsite, and, being axeless, Whitt played Joel's new Martin while we swapped songs. Turned into one of the highlights of the whole experience as Joel pulled song after song out of his mental vault that we had never heard before.
Seth Bernard & Daisy May just get better & better. So young...not fair.
The night was topped off with the ever fine "Steppin' In It" with Rachel Davis steppin' in for a few with a rich 30s & 40s sound. Didn't find out if she's related to lead singer Josh, or not; but, man, can she cook it! One of the guys from The Salt Miners joined her for the synchopated counter-melody on "It's a Sin To Tell A Lie" and genuine joy ensued.
This festival is really growing up. There were a LOT of improvements and things are running more smoothly. (Although, sound is still a problem--important for a music fest!) You sure can't beat the price if you're able to get your tickets locally and in advance! Also this year they featured ALL Michigan artists, which we, of course, think is really groovy. (...an archaic term meaning def or phat, we are told.)
You can look 'em up at www.noreastr.net.