Geoff's Notes

Sat, 25 Jun 2005

So, here I am at ten minutes to midnight, having started this festival with a set at 10:30 in the morning, having gotten up at 6:45 in Bangor. Lots of days on the road for musicians might be like this, but this one for me was unique for the number of connections it held. First, as I mentioned to the audience in my introduction, was my family connection to Beach Island in the middle of Penobscot Bay. My mother's parents bought the island around 1920, my mother spent many of the summers of her youth there, and a cousin still owns half of the island and summers there. So, I've had the chance to spend some time here even before I was adopted into the Swan's Island family some dozen years or more years ago. That Swan's Island Sweet Chariot festival is the second connection, bringing me just across the water from here for the most intense musical experience of my life for three or four days each year. And then there were links to or influences from some of the other performers. Start with Gordon Bok, whose "Bay of Fundy" may well have enticed me into a singing career, despite needing to find the courage to sing it as a tenor. Then we have Richie Havens, who was one of my early favorites as I got into folk music, and whose "High Flying Bird" was one of my early standards. And then there is Don McLean whose "Vincent" has featured large in my early repertoire (and must again). Finally, though the connection is duo generational, I've known Tao Rodriquez Seeger of The Mammals since he was just hanging around with his grandpa Pete at Clearwater events in the late 70's, and have had occasion to book the band in New London. The only folks I didn't know personally on the bill were Northern Lights, Sara Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion and Jonathan Edwards

Where did all this leave me today? In a curious place. As the least known act on the bill, I got to open at 10:30 with a 45 minute set and then just sit back and listen. And what did I hear? First of all I should say that I was pleased with my set, running from "Come By The Hills" through "Ambletown" to "There'll Come a Day/Golden Thread." I leaned heavily upon a cappella songs with chorus in a traditional vein, asking the crowd to sing along. I should have asked the excellent sound crew to turn down my monitors so I could hear the crowd, but they seemed to join in. All in all, they seemed happy. I was followed by Northern Lights with their dynamite four piece bluegrass sound, which picked up the pace considerably, but then Gordon Bok eased folks back down into his realm of beautifully crafted thoughtful music. From there, the energy and sound level escalated dramatically with the country rock of Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion and the trad rock of the Mammals, on through Jonathan Edwards, Richie Havens and Don McLean, who ended the day (night!) with a fairly rocked out set with his four piece band, finishing, of course, with "American Pie."

permanent link