Saturday, July 11, 2009
I woke Sunday morning, after a brief slumber, to see The Hard Lessons at Sherwood Court. I tried to make it up for The Ragbirds, but without a phone or an alarm clock, I had only the heat of the sun to rely on to wake me up. I had a lovely conversation with Augie and Korin (husband and wife), earlier in the trip so I was glad I woke in time to catch their one o'clock performance. The band labels their music on their myspace as rock/indie/soul... I would have to agree with this description, but also sprinkle a bit of blues on top of that. Growing up in Detroit it is quite clear that they were inspired by their historic Motor City musical surroundings. Korin's voice was fantastic. You could hear and feel her emotions, which allowed my to imagine, quite vividly, the story behind what they were singing about. I think that pain is what inspires most musicians to start writing music, that is certainly the case for me, and then the music allows you to conquer that pain and find solace and happiness within. This band has been rocking the midwest and touring all over, so keep a close watch on The Hard Lessons. They just released a new album, Arms Forest. The band's description states, "Arms Forest is a sea of hands raised high, dancing in a living room. Arms Forest is a stockpile of weapons, for sale out of back seats of automobiles. Arms Forestis the meeting place for lovers finding each other for the first time. Arms Forest is a symbol of chaos, danger, and freedom"... the description alone should sell you on this one, but let the music speak for itself. There are free downloads available on their website, and free streaming on their myspace as well, but I recommend a live viewing if at all possible.
After the Hard Lessons finished their set, I wandered to the Odeum to check out the Toots and the Maytals. Formed in the 1960's, this is one of the most infamous ska and reggae band, and for good reason. to I worked in a small boutique in high school that sold women's clothing, shoes, and accessories, and they also played the Toots and the Maytals and Jack Johnson on repeat for the entire two years that I worked there. Needless to say, I have not really listened to the Toots in about 2 years, because I felt I had my fill for quite a while, but I was excited to invite them back into my life. Their live performance stirred up memories of mavi jeans, trashy magazines and junk food tshirts... and it also stirred up a smile and dance in me. Their performance was reggae-licious. Tasted a bit like green teas, blue seas, and palm trees. I paired their jams with a sangria and some pad thai... very tasty.
As their set was wrapping up I headed back to the budweiser tent to put up some Tweets. My newfound friends from Spin Magazine were interviewing Guster. I had seen Guster perform at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio three years ago. I was sixth row, front and center and it was a great time. This was my first introduction to Andrew Bird, who opened for the band. His whistling wooed me and I am still a devoted fan. Daniel Casanova interviewed the band, and told them about our run in with Sasquatch from the night before. They found it just as amusing as we did. After Guster left the tent, The Hard Lessons came in for an interview. Korin was wearing an awesome owl necklace (I am obsessed with owls, but that’s a whole different story). During the interview, Casanova asked the band what the worst part of being in a band and touring with your spouse, and Korin said, “Parallel parking”. I found that pretty amusing. If that’s the worst of their problems I don’t think this band will be breaking up anytime soon.
After The Hard Lessons wrapped up their interview I breezed by the Ranch Arena to catch a bit of Guster before Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. They had a large crowd and sounded great. They had the crowd smiling and dancing. Guster reminds me of summer time and happy days... so pretty perfect for a Saturday in early July at one of the best music festivals of the year.
After a few songs I rushed back through the forest to see Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, a band I had not yet seen before but played on my ipod countless times. This Vermont band just started gaining popularity after releasing their newest album, This is Somewhere. I have been a fan of Grace Potter for sometime now. I am a fan of any female musician with a knack for lyrics and a voice that can wow a crowd. Grace Potter was even more amazing live than I had imagined. She sang and played piano and guitar. Watching her bang those keys as she belted out her songs was unbelievable. She is absolutely stunning in real life. She was wearing a long sleeved black sparkled mini dress that I think caught the audience’s attention. As soon as she opened her mouth it was understood she could have been wearing a potato sack and the crowd would still have been cheering. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals rocked my world, and I would certainly not mind seeing them again.
While waiting for Matisyahu to get started I walked past The Hold Steady and was less than impressed. Perhaps Grace Potter was too hard of an act to follow, but I was not impressed with the vocals and the instrumentals were not overpowering enough to keep me interested, so I headed back for Matisyahu.
Matisyahu blew my mind. It was incredible. That man can speak/sing so incredible fast and articulate... it is insane. Hearing him beat box was also out of this world. He played with two young men ( i had my eyes on the keys/synth man in the cool sunglasses, long hair and red bandanna personally...), both of which proved worthy of staring the stage with this talent. Matisyahu's appearance is quite unusual with his long beard and tall thin stature, but the one piece jumpsuit was what really gave me pleasure. I like the bold fashion statements, however quirky or bizarre. It takes balls. The audience loved this show and by the end every one was tired from dancing, but still sad to see the stage clear.
I walked by the Odeum to catch a glimpse of Willie Nelson and a bottle of water before heaing back to Sherwood again for Ani Difranco. I have been a fan of Ani since my junior year of high school, and this was my first time seeing her live, so it was exciting. "Fuck you" was my theme song for about a year; i loved it. Probably mostly because I was not allowed to swear growing up, so singing along was rebellion on so many levels. She had quite a happy crowd (not all of her songs are infused with f bombs), and seemed to have a lot of backstage supporters as well. She sings of ideals and dreams that are undeniably good, and her talent follows those same guidelines. I sat for this show and watched the crowd dance. Sometimes its nice to sit and soak it in, especially as the trip was coming to an end and I was beginning to feel extremely exhausted. Rothbury was a vacation, and a great one at that, but I can't say I had a whole lot of resting time.
I went into the forest for 10 minutes of rest before Dylan and ran into Brian from Guster. He recognized my face from the Budweiser tent earlier and walked over to say hello. I worked at a Bagel shop in Oxford, Ohio, called Bagel and Deli and one of the sandwiches is called, the Guster bagel (turkey, pepperoni, cucumbers... ). I mentioned it to the band and apparently they had already been and were big fans of the steamed bagels. The band had gone there a while back and were pleased to hear that their bagel still stands proudly on the wall; even asked me to email them a picture (still on my to-do list). Brian told me that it was his first time in the forest and the band was rushing off to Nashville for some recording time, which left no time to experience the forest late at night, which is definitely the best time. So, hopefully Rothbury will invite the boys back again next year so that they can get their fill of the Sherwood Forest.
Bob Dylan was the finale to my musical encounters at Rothbury. Seeing him was pretty surreal. And for as long as he has been around, he still is able to get the crowd moving and singing along, which is quite impressive. I thought his outfit was a bit outdated, but who am I to judge. I was walking around in a bathing suit and a ripped up jeans skirt, so I wasn't screaming trendy class either. I stayed for about half of his set when I began to fall asleep standing up, by no fault of Dylan's, just the complete lack of sleep I managed to get between shows, fireworks, and campground commotion over the past three days. I went back to camp, intending to take a nap and wake for Big Gigantic, but I sadly woke at 6 am Monday morning to my crew pinching my face, and nudging me to wake and help pack away our tent and scattered belongings for the trip back home to Chicago. I was sad to leave, but dirty enough where I knew it was quite necessary. it was the longest I think i have ever gone without a shower... but totally worth it. I saw some amazing music, met some amazing people, and had an absolutely stellar time hopping through the forest to the three Rothbury stages. It was a trip I will remember forever. I hope my story will inspire more people to attend next year if you missed out this year, and I hope that it made those who did attend share a smile of remembrance with me.
with peace and love we make music,