For some strange reason my thesis advisor is not likely to see my music blog as a constructive part of my schedule until I have given him at least a few chapters to read first, so rather than drag out my New West Fest posts any longer, here’s the condensed version of my posts on some of the rest of my favorite New west Fest bands/artists. I may revisit these artists later on, especially if I see them again in the future.
Saturday: The hour right before I was supposed to start working, selling tickets, there were several great shows playing simultaneously. All of them sounded enticing, but the one I would have stayed to hear more of would be The Hollyfelds.
The Hollyfelds features the lovely ladies Eryn Hoerig and Kate Grigsby on vocals, and these ladies on their own are enough to draw in the crowds. Not only did they look nice in their polka-dot dresses, but their harmonies sounded lush and seamless. (apparently, from the bio on their website, I’m not the only one impressed by these ladies’ singing either.) Even over the sounds of Monroe Monroe in the distance, The Hollyfelds were constantly luring in new audience throughout the 15 minutes I spent in that section of the festival.
Their music is available for download from their website or from itunes, emusic, amazon or cdbaby, and they of course sell physical CDs at their shows. Amusingly they also sell music on 7″ vinyl, which fits their music’s bluegrassy, old-timey aesthetic nicely. They also have a music player on their website, so rather than try to describe their music in any sort of decent but concise fashion, I’d suggest giving them a listen.
John Common & Blinding Flashes of Light, out of Denver, performed on the main stage Saturday, before Mama Lenny and the Remedy. John Common and his band have the sort of polished sound and professionalism that I can’t quite put into words, that separates the acts that are simply great musicians and those who are big league professional quality. I am not so sure it’s something one gets just over time, because some of the acts I have seen that have this ‘star quality’ are pretty new, but the stuff that draws people to the stage for Alison Krauss, Chuck Pyle, and Hazel Miller is what makes the difference between the perpetual small gig/opening act bands and the headliners, and John Common has that stuff figured out.
I’d never heard of him, and was only there because if I didn;t grab my spot up front during his show I would not be up front for Alison Krauss hours later either. I had my book and snacks and an extra bottle of juice, and was all set to wait for the show I was there to see. I did work my way through a decent number of cheesy crackers during both John Common and Mama Lenny’s shows, but the book stayed in the bag. Both of these acts were worth staying for, even if Alison’s show had been called off.
The website for John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light has some really entertaining bios, which I would recommend reading. Mr. Common’s website looks a heck of a lot like Josh Groban’s website, which may just mean this is a really pleasant, useful design scheme for music websites. In any case, this group’s presentation and music are all first class, well worth looking into further. If ‘big music’ was not so big as to be buying up all our radio stations, and if radio was not so dominated by regional and national syndicated programming, we really ought to be hearing plenty of John Common on at least our regional mainstream radio stations. Thank goodness there is now spotify!
The last of the bands I’ll highlight from the Saturday lineup of New West Fest is Places, another of those acts which really caught the attention of the volunteers in my ticket booth. (We were in a booth at the end of the street where the main stage was set up, so we could hear all the acts on the main stage, but there was a giant map and schedule billboard between us and the stage so that we could hear but not see the stage.) Places, another band out of Denver, arrived for their show all in uniform.
I find that the more time I spend attending and writing about concerts, the harder it is to find the musicians on stage particularly sexy or alluring- the mystique of live musicians is strongest in smaller doses, perhaps. Still, these guys, all in dressy pants, matching suit vests and button-down blue shirts, looked really sharp compared to some of the earlier bands, and I think it really made them stand out against all the other rock/alternative acts at the festival. And, they sounded good enough to justify leaving the ticket booth again for pictures. This is another local band with a sound that belongs on mainstream radio, as a great, refreshing alternative to the repetitive and increasingly boring stuff the radio syndicates subject us all to every day.
Well, back to the grindstone for me 🙂 but I’ll do at least one more post from the New West Fest event, since I still have a few more bands from Sunday that ought to be mentioned here, and a few more pictures as well. In the meantime, check out the great music from these and all the other artists I’ve highlighted on this blog. I’ve set up a mega-playlist on my spotify account that includes all the songs from all the playlists I’ve posted so far, called “The Accumulated List”, which if played shuffled is a lot like having a radio station with the sort of variety and local/regional inclusion I wish ‘real’ radio offered. And, of course, I’m starting once again to put together the List for Friday. Meanwhile, Happy Listening!