I had a great time. I realized I was continuing with the strings. Right before, I had been seeing a lot of strings and I feel that was still the case this fest. It was also about the bass for me this year. I kept noticing the bass and really grooving on it. I don’t know if it was my state or if I was just in the presence of better than usual bass playing.
I am so glad I chose to just do Wed-Mon this year. It worked really well for me. I also now prioritize sleep as it’s no longer fun when I’m utterly exhausted. The only time I had that was Sat at the fest, and I still got some good music, it just would have been more enjoyable if I was well-rested. I also don’t need to do everything since I get so much great music all the time. It was 4 fests ago when I realized I don’t have to wait until next year when I have a whole city of music waiting for me at home.
Mule was definitely the superb highlight. I realized I had to get tix when they were hyping it up. They haven’t disappointed yet, when they intend to go all out, it’s usually stellar. The venue isn’t so hot, but it was easy to get up front where the sound we pretty good. Since the music had me captivated most of the time, it didn’t matter what the venue was like.
I loved both nights, the whole thing. Things did take a turn for me and get super phenomenal around the last hour of the 1st set and the entire Sat night. They said they were originally only allowed to go until 2:30, but then they said 3. Fri nights encore was at 3 and Sat night ended by 3.
The superstar of both nights was Andy Hess. That’s saying a lot, given the greatness of basically everyone playing. The only one who had no business being up there is Ian Neville. I keep forgetting Brian Stoltz is out of The Funky Meters and that means they are no longer one of my favorite bands. It was a no brainer to stop at the Wolf on my way out on Sat to sell that ticket.
I was a little bummed they took Hess off the stage for a few and let Mike Gordon play. Simply due to wanting the superstar back on, not due to Gordon. I will say Gordon impressed me later that night at The Maple Leaf.
It looks like there’s going to be a DVD of those shows. That over the head swinging camera was obnoxious and I thought the guy was going to hit someone with it at some point. There’s got to be a better way.
The best of the fest for me was Abigail Washburn & the Sparrow Quartet featuring Bela Fleck, Casey Driessen, and Ben Solee. I had left Santana due to boredom and I can't remember where I was heading when I was pulled into the Fais Do Do stage by the sound of incredible banjo playing. 2 banjos, a fiddle, and a cello, and it was stellar. It had a good crowd, but not too crowded. I was able to get up front and felt like I had enough space. It was phenomenal. I think I got the last hour of the 75 minute set. Each of these musicians are phenomenal. It was really cool how at different times Abigail would introduce a band member, giving a little bio and then they'd play one of thier solo songs. I thought that was classy. And, they are phenomenal solo artists. Both the cello and the fiddle sang in the solo, and they are good solos. Both solos were very danceable. Abigail is a great banjo player and has a good voice as well. It was also perfect to be outside in the sun, which didn't feel too hot, and it just filled me with joy.