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Music Blog

Review: Moab Folk Festival

by Austen Diamond
- Posted // 2010-11-08 - Any festival could turn out pretty decently when back-dropped by red rocked cliffs and doused in sunshine, yet the Moab Folk Festival continues to carve out its little niche in the folk world. Saturday's shows satiated my need for all things troubadour, and, in Twitter-like fashion, here's how it went down:


1:42 pm - Arrived just in time for Elephant Revival—it's good to see this quintet again but a bummer to have missed their percussion workshop.


Writer's note: read City Weekly's interview with Dango Rose here.


1:47 pm - I haven't seen a show at a ball field since, I think, before I left Tennessee, which was Charlie Daniels after he went hardcore Christian. It's an intimate setting with lots of sunshine, but somehow I expected more hippies and beer.


1:52 pm - I've been waiting for ER to blow up. They're a goldmine of talent, led by a washboard playing beauty named Bonnie Payne. How can they not be destined for greatness?


2:05 pm - I've never understood the whole notion of a tenor sax accompanying a string band, especially slow and Kenny G-like. If it's going to happen, then bring on the baritone to fill in the lows. Regardless, Bill Kirchen [I think] did a nice job sitting in.


2:28 pm - They've come a long way since I saw them at Woody's a couple years ago down here, when they were, as bassist Dango Rose said, "just trying to make it to Moab anyway we could.".


2:47 pm - "Over the River" a soulful almost spiritual number followed by, I think, a song sung in some Native American language. Ok, I guess I get the whole transcendental folk thing.


3:11 pm - Hippie sighting, still no beer unfortunately.


3:22 pm - Anger, Law, and Gilchrest just got on and they are masters of their craft. I'm standing stage left and a woman asks me to sit down because I'm blocking the view. How about you stand up and dance ... that's to everyone.


3:35 pm - Singer-songwriter Gigi Love confirmed my suspicion that people would be dancing, anywhere else. Probably has to do with the "no beer" policy.


3:52 pm - Gilchrest has a voice like a choir of angels.


4:29 pm - "Norwegian Wood." Folk or not?


4:34 pm - Before encoring, Anger said this is the best outdoor gig he's ever played then gave a PSA that the time was changing tonight. That's definitely folk.


5:22 pm - In between the next gig at the high school, we decided to hike the Negro Bill trail down the Colorado River a bit. Surrounded by soaring red and black cliffs and, low and behold, ran into a couple of the concert-goers from earlier ... Only at a festival in Moab.


7:05 pm - Slamming a beer in the car before the concert; it feels like I'm in high school again. Oh, I'm at the high school. Where's the weed?


7:22 pm - There's so much less running around than other festivals. I love that. It's all centrally located, which, as said, leaves more time for playing.


7:28 pm - Caroline Herring is describing very plainly how the whole "Yo mama" game goes down with the youth. And, turns out it's part of her next song, but in a very informed, meaningful way. I love balladeers.


7:58 pm - Finish a beer in the parking lot? I think I will.


8:18 pm - Peter Mulvey is blowing everyone else away that's played so far. He's just loud and has such a stage presence. I think this is going to be one of the best show's I've seen in a long time.


8:25 pm - He has no commercial agenda ... he sold all of his CD's so he says he's just going to play the songs he wants.


8:29 pm - Great bantering and storytelling. I love that about folk musicians—adding context and depth to a song before they play it, and he strikes a balance because you can't give it all away, you have to let people create meaning for themselves too.


8:42 pm: He played Orpheus in Anais Mitchel's folk opera andplayed a gig with Boston's LPs covering Tom Waits in the same weekend. Two days of Waits, a day as Orpheus then more Waits. Now, he says we get to hear what that was like in eight minutes.


8:47 pm - Wait's "Jockey Full of Bourbon": Wow, just wow.


9:01 pm - He's encoring and it's not enough.


9:22 pm - Hot damn, look at those hot pink pants Patty Larkin has on. They fit perfectly with her wild Irish red hair.


Writer's note: read City Weekly's interview with her here.


9:35 pm - This woman is the real deal. Jazz-influenced guitar in odd keys, playing fast as hell.


9:48 pm - I'm fading fast. Too much sun, playing, meat and beer. This is almost embarrassing. And, these auditorium seats are too comfortable. I need a shot of espresso or some gin. What's up with the teal roof panels?


9:56 pm - Bringing Peter Mulvey helped bring me out of comatose. These two play like they're good buddies, which I think they are.


10:05 pm - Two encores. Impressive.


10:35 pm - Sorry late night jam session at Eddie McStiff's. I need sleep for climbing tomorrow. It's been a mellow, sunny day of fine music. This festival is definitely on a Moab must-do for another year down the line. I really don't think the locals would ever let this festival go.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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