Yeah, it has gotten out of hand about how long this has taken. The bands were good this year, albeit more "Phish-like" than the wide-spectrum show last year. In order of appearance-
Hootenanny Band Reviews
Grateful Buds We missed the beginning of their set, but they are a heavily blue-grass influenced Grateful Dead-ish band. Think Dead covers with a banjo, but better than that.
Bottleneck Blues I thought they'd be a blues band, and at points they were. At other times, they were more of a middle-of-the-road rock power trio. Pretty good festival music, and the crowd liked them even if most were busying themselves with setting up camp more than grooving.
Joytribe One of our favorites from last year, and they held up to a foggy memory. Lead singer can belt, and her multi-instrument skills are better this year than last. Very fun, active, get-your-body-moving music.
The Hillwilliams were one of the bands we loved last year. These guys rocked the late-night tent last year, though we missed their late show this year. Solid blue-grass / country / Americana music.
Kina Lyn and the Hat Rack Kina can wail. I mean fantastic pipes. The only weak point in their performance was in her rhythm guitar playing: it jacked the beat. They should add a second guitar so she can focus on singing which she does incredibly well. Her singing was so strong, that I really can't remember the Hat Rack. It's almost like seeing Big Brother and the Holding Company back in the day. You remember Janis just wailing, but the band? Shrug. Can't remember. Keep the guitar for writing, Kina. Great stuff.
Jesta wasn't as good as I had expected them to be. Think Phish-like songs with odd segments cutting against the groovy. The vocals weren't terribly strong and the vocal lines weren't very advanced, but the instrument musicianship was really good. Maybe they should pair up with a stronger singer who can write vocal lines?
Urban Shaman is a new formation of Vivid Curve. We absolutely loved Vivid Curve last year, so we were very excited to see their new formation. Unfortunately, part of what made Vivid Curve so good was the charisma of the guitar player. Without him, Urban Shaman lacked the draw-them-in magnetism. The didgeridoo was, of course, spot on, and the drummer was so much the same, he even wore the same hat as last year. Still, without the guitarist, they weren't quite as good.
Rainbow Electric Of the run of bands, Rainbow Electric may have been the weakest, but I think its probably better said as least experienced. They looked under 21, but had a great vibe. They were just new at the game, and didn't have the chops or material to carry a full set. Given time and practice, they'll be good.
Yur Daddy Last year, Yur Daddy arrived with a huge entourage. All weekend, the YurDaddies walked around with bandannas around their heads to draw attention. They had a dedicated camping zone. When Yur Daddy took the stage, their crowd jammed into the front of the concert bowl. This year, the entourage didn't come to the Hoot. That changed how Yur Daddy played. Their songs were the same, but didn't have as much life. The solos were good, but didn't have that cock-of-the-walk energy that was prevalent last year. We're still Yur Daddy fans, but missed the energy they had last year.
Shafty We'd never seen Shafty before, though I've seen Phish a few times. Shafty does a very good carbon-copy of Phish. Extremely good. If you like Phish, you can close your eyes and imagine Trey and company when you hear Shafty. If you've never seen Phish, and want to experience their sound in a tiny venue with less than 100 people, go see Shafty. Great show fellas; you should have closed the first night if not the whole festival. I'm not a very big Phish-head, but you really nailed it.
Garcia Birthday Band Somewhere along the way, GBB changed guitarists. I don't know when, and I can't tell from their website, but the guy who started the whole thing isn't in the band anymore. Oh well. I think that makes the entire band has turned over since I first saw them play under the trees out at the Edgefield to celebrate Jerry Garcia's birthday so many years ago. Since they cover the Dead, I'm probably a more harsh critic of GBB than everyone else. Still, they played a good show, and ended the festival on a high note.
Again, I'm sorry its taken me so long to get this out. It was a great summer music festival season, so I'll blame the delay on my going to more festivals and trying to keep my notes clean. Next Summer, I intend to start the season right with the Hootenanny again. We're going to hit Four Peaks and I want to make it to Pickathon. I'd like to add in another festival that I've only just heard of, like Summer Meltdown or maybe mix it up and hit a hemp festival. We'll see. Planning for next summer festival season is only a few months away :)