The second day of Ned Fest, began under warm sunny skies with just a few white clouds and a little haze in the sky. Though there weren’t a lot of folks in attendance to start the day’s festivities, there were lots of smiles and plenty of beauty abound. Despite some long hours put in by the festival staff, they were all in great spirits in anticipation of the amazing music to come.
The days opener was the Funky Tonk Heroes playing a country swing, honky tonk hybrid that definitely didn’t discourage drinking after noon. One of the highlights from this Colorado quintet was the terrific cover of Don Williams’ “Tulsa Time” near the end of their set.
The first tweener set of the day belonged to a fairly recent Colorado transplant, Torbin Hadlock. Torbin moved here from Santa Barbara, where he had learned to play finger-style on the guitar. His playing is quite lovely and impressive, which was the perfect soundtrack for the chill vibe at the festival.
Next up on the main stage was the five-piece jamgrass band from St. Louis. This is a truly talented group of guys, who have managed to build bridges connecting many styles of music into an absolutely harmonious blend. With Drew on harmonica, guitar, percussion and vocals; Gerard on mandolin, guitar, banjo and vocals; John on bass and vocals; Neil on vocals and guitar and Brian on sax and guitar, these guys are prepared for any musical excursion. The set opened with “Baby Blue” and its bluegrass trappings, but went anywhere and everywhere from there. They touched on many genres including variations on classic soul, rock, blues and jazz, to name a few. A couple of the highlights, were the covers of “People Get Ready” and “Mystery Train”, with the former getting an fabulous bass solo by John Hussung. Acoustics Anonymous ended their set, similarly to the way they began with a more traditional mountain bluegrass tune.
The quartet of the New Family Dog took to the tweener stage for a short set. With John ‘Blackdog’ Ridnell on guitar and his son, Miles on bass, the foursome was rounded out by Patrick Padgett on banjo and Dave Pullins on mandolin. The New Family Dog filled their set with great folky tunes, done blues style with bluegrass instrumentation.
At around half past three, Boulder’s own Gasoline Lollipops hit the stage hard with its alternative-country sound. The band started with something that was at moments outlaw country and at others was on the verge of a full-on punk rock frenzy. It became quickly evident that the vocal effects that Clay Rose achieves are done so, using two different microphones, one of which, kind of sounds like singing into a megaphone. Early in their set, they played the gorgeous Americana original “Full-Steam Ahead”. One of the highlights, was a phenomenally intense version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Smokestack Lightnin’, with Rose reaching the highest peaks with his blues inspired punk rock vocals. Shortly after that, they did a wonderful cover of John Denver’s “Country Roads”. The quartet continued to run through original material, that spanned the country landscape, while usually leaning punk. Near the end of their set, they played their original, “White Trash” with its aggressive rockabilly angle. There were moments when you may have claimed that the band was closer to The Clash than Shooter Jennings, others where they sounded more like Devotchka than Johnny Cash, and still more, that were pure country. No matter what sound they were going for, they reached it with perfection.
The final act on the tweener stage for the day, was singer/ songwriter and local boy, Danny Shafer. Danny and his acoustic guitar worked through songs about catfish, being an American and BBQ. Danny has played Ned Fest many times and was good friends with Ned Fest founder Michigan Mike, so Danny played a song he wrote for Mike called “Waiting For You”. Danny ended his set with a folk-blues number, “Small Town Blues”.
Part of the double-headliner, the Hard Working Americans made the stage before 6 p.m. The all-star line-up began their set with “Mission Accomplished”, that saw Neil Casal and Jesse Aycock trading licks before diving in, head-first together. It was followed by the heavy Americana of “Run A Mile”. “Stomp & Holler” brought the rowdy to Nederland, and “Mountain Song” felt like a traveling lullaby. Todd Snider was quite fun to watch with his Perry Farrell meets J. Geils looks and almost Iggy Pop movements. Unfortunately, Snider struggled a little, vocally on “Come From The Heart”. They played “I Don’t Have A Gun” which isn’t so much a statement of fact, as it is a fortunate truth, in this case. One of the best moments of the Hard Working Americans’ set, was Todd Snider’s vocal wrap in the middle of “Another Train”, which touched on the chorus for James Brown’s “Get Up Off That Thing”, before going into the Widespread Panic sounding “Is This Thing Workin”. The “Blackland Farmer” was another stand-out, and the cover of Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” in the middle, certainly sold the number. Near the end of the set, they pulled-off another WSP-sounding tune, called “Satisfaction Garunteed”, which included some awesome drumming from Duane Trucks. The entire set was pretty tight, but the sound was a little lacking, so it seemed like a good idea to get in front of the stage for Chris Robinson to get a better sound.
Between bands, the front of the stage area in the VIP section cleared-out, so we moved all of our stuff by the fence and got some prime real estate for Chris Robinson Brotherhood. A couple other folks had the same idea, but then one of the senior staff for Ned Fest told us that Chris Robinson wouldn’t go on until everyone was cleared-out from in front of the stage. It sounded like only those with photography passes were going to be allowed in front of the stage. I gathered my stuff and unhappily proceeded back to our seats. Now, I am sure that Chris may have a wonderfully simple reason as to why we weren’t allowed to be in front of the stage, but he didn’t give us an explanation along with the order. I am not going to judge, but it is certainly realistic that someone may have found such demands as somewhat pretentious. The other pisser, was, that it took almost a half an hour after we were moved before they took the stage, late I might add. Needless to say, I was not starting the set with an objective outlook. They opened with the rockin’ “Saturday Night In S.F.”. “Badlands Here We Come” was tight and really did sound crisp. The cover of Leiber & Stoller’s “I’m A Hog For You”, was unexpected and was certainly a stand-out with a huge jam intertwined within. Though not one of my favorites, “Jump The Turnstyle” did include some pretty sweet jams. The four-part harmony on “Star Or Stone” was extremely excellent. “Tulsa Yesterday”, “One Hundred Days Of Rain” and “Beggar’s Moon” were some of the set’s highlights. We left a little after ten, as they were starting “Shore Power”. Overall, the sound was good and the band was tight, but I realized that I am not as big a fan of the Brotherhood as I am The Black Crowes and New Earth Mud. The band is made up of incredible musicians, but the compositions don’t seem as solid as Chris’ other acts.
Day two of Ned Fest was phenomenal both musically and weather wise. Despite the record attendance for the double-headliner, the best sets of the day came from Boulder-based Gasoline Lollipops and Acoustics Anonymous from St. Louis. The energy and skill that both of these acts brought to the stage was infectious. Besides the incredible music, we have to thank the staff for providing us with such a wonderful environment and for making this a terrific weekend. Thanks to Mark, the security and the chefs in VIP for a Real Good Time!! One more day left with Vince Herman and Cracker on the bill, it should be a great one!! That’s What I Know, So That’s What You Know!! Enjoy!!
HAPPY LISTENING!!!! 😉