Left Coast Country
As their name implies, these guys have some country flair, but it felt more folk/bluegrass than country. The 4 main guys (dobro, bass, mandolin and violin) were well connected musically, standing in a tight circle just wailing away. On the outside, both musically and physically, stood their departing guitarist. He had a rockabilly thing happening that ran counter to the rest of their work. The bass-man was described as the "knife and fork", probably because he was the time-keeper, the one who counted everyone in, and sang a bunch. He even took a solo. The mandolin player (Boo and I named "Red" for his big red beard) sang high, and brought the emotion or passion for everyone. We greatly enjoyed the dobro player's vocal tone (butter) and hope that in the vacuum of the departing guitarist, he'll sing more songs. As they finished their set, Boo and I agreed that Left Coast Country will probably be better without the guitarist, but they were a very strong start to the day.
HCH is a kind of old timey big-band jazz sound. They had many instruments and they played them very well, but they didn't have the passion for the material. While the guitarist / centerman (Jeffree White) played well, I think his being seated constricted his vocal range because he fell flat on some of the higher notes. Overall, they were enjoyable, but not a group I would seek out. If they're playing somewhere I was already going, though, I'd still go.
|Wood Knot @Hootenanny|
|Yur Daddy @Hootenanny|
As much as I was not looking forward to Yur Daddy, I was anticipating Blue Lotus. Voted "best new band" by the Wow Hall in Eugene, these guys were headlining the first night of the festival. The lead singer had a vocal tone and manner like Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders). They stayed all weekend too, and generated a great vibe both on and off stage. Blue Lotus was a jam band, but they were almost too clean. If we could take the songs and passion from Wood Knot and apply Blue Lotus' skill and polish, you'd have the next great band out of the North West. After 45 minutes, I was checking my watch, which was not at all what I expected. I don't think I'll go see them again, but if they're playing another festival, I'll give them another shot. Frankly, I was hoping for something a little more raw and unscripted from a jam band. Maybe I went in with my expectations too high.
After Blue Lotus, the main stage was shut down for the night and a 10' by 20' canopy hosted the Hillwilliams and about 30 people. Boo and I were among the 30 who fit under the canopy, but there were another 30 or more crowded around the bonfire outside. More wandered the Shakedown Street scene running along outside. These guys were a ton of fun. The lead mandolin player knew how to work the crowd and keep everyone engaged. By the 4th song, everyone knew guitarist "Daniel" by name, and would hoop and holler when he stepped up to solo. He brought a sweet vocal tone too, making a nice contrast to the more gruff-voiced mandolin-man. We enjoyed some nice banjo and sweet violin throughout. Midway, we were treated to some guest guitar work by the lead man from HCH (Jeffree White). We'll definitely check these guys out again soon. They were just too much fun, making the canopy crowd a very intimate scene.
That was it for day one.