Saturday, Apr 28: Jubal's Kin Festival Grounds
Saturday at MerleFest broke hard and cold. Our camping neighbors had an impromptu jam session at 3 a.m., which is to be expected when camping at a music festival geared towards people who not only love to watch and listen, but also play. It would have been one thing to hear the soft strains of a string jam or the gentle harmony of "Wildwood Flower," but some dude shouting the lyrics to "Whipping Post" over badly tuned guitars played really hard … not the thing mountain dreams are made from.
So I sat, at sun up, reading and drinking coffee, plotting revenge and the instead of taking my revenge, made the accused coffee, read some more and generally moved real slow. Crustymarhsmellowman. I did get to play a couple tunes with Pete McWhirter as he moved past to grab some coffee on his way to open his booth.
Then I moved real slow some more.
Really real slow.
After lunch, I decided to make an attempt to see some music.
I had already missed Jim Lauderdale at the Creekside Stage. To bad, I like some Jim Lauderdale and it would have been a nice wake up, but there you are. I saw on the schedule Jubal's Kin at the Dance Tent, looked at the clock and … damn missed that, too. But what ho! There they are on the schedule at the Americana Tent immediately following their Dance Tent set. It's a MerleFest miracle! I grabbed my camera and another cup of coffee and headed out.
Jubal's Kin, all nerves and bad house sound on Day 1, was all smooth and in good voice on Day 3. They filed the promise I thought I saw at the Cabin Stage on what always seems like an eternity ago and delivered a set full of vigor, with pristine sound delivered by the sound person. Their originals are fresh with sparse instrumentation and the kind of tight harmonies that only siblings can deliver. Never lyrically embarrassing with overplayed earnestness or too casual observation, they meld in with beautifully arranged and originally considered traditional tunes. There's "The Cuckoo," that ancient English broadside, rendered as if Billie Holiday had spent some time in the Eastern Kentucky mountains. "Buffalo Gal" was reconsidered as a pop tune with a well delivered encouragement to jump in on the chorus and sing along. Gaelanne's fiddle playing is absolutely gorgeous in a John Hartford/Matt Comb's kind of way, though leaning a bit heavier on the front of the beat as opposed to sitting in the pocket. And her banjo playing is just delicious. They added one more member for this set — "Uncle Joe" on pedal steel and fiddle. With "Baby Brother" on bass, Jubal's Kin appears to be a family band.
Satisfied my instincts were intact, I left the Americana Stage to catch some other music. I wondered into the Traditional Tent to catch some of mountain legend Red June. He was explaining to the audience what a jam session was. Have I mentioned the Traditional Tent smells like a barn? I don't think it's intentional, but the wet grass combined with an enclosed space has rendered an unfavorable impression. After the lesson on what a "jam" is, Red invited a local banjo player up to do a fiddle tune with the fiddle player who didn't bring a fiddle, but did bring a mandolin. Not to fear! You can play fiddle tunes on mandolin (or piano for that matter), so he requested the newest banjo player and the fiddle player with the mandolin decide on a tune they both knew and then play it. Five minutes of discussion and tuning followed. As I headed out of the tent I thought "Just like a jam session," and went down to the Creekside Cabin to catch the rest of the Snyder Family Band and the following act, Sierra Hull and Highway 111.
The Snyder Family Band is a family Bluegrass band (no irony at MerleFest!). Like all Bluegrass bands they have a banjo, sing harmonies and play Bluegrass. Of course they play it really well. People love them. Standing ovation.
I waited around for Sierra Hull and Highway 111 to take the stage. Sierra Hull, 5-foot-nothing and former wiz kid master of the mandolin is now a promising songwriter and ingenue. I'm familiar with this script and am bored not two minutes into the first song. Sigh. I stop in the field in front of the Watson Stage to hear some of "Assembly of Dust." Young Nashville Country script. Know it. Boring. Moving on.
It's coming up on 3 p.m. and time to give my sister a break in her booth in the Heritage Tent. Nancy Roberson is a weaver based out of Knoxville, Tenn. She's been showing, selling and demonstrating at MerleFest for about as long as there has been a MerleFest. She heads out for her afternoon nap (apparently a hardwired Roberson DNA trait) and I pleasantly meet the mass of retail customers streaming by and wondering into her booth.
Nancy makes shawls. Well kind of. Not only does she design each warp for the loom, but on these particular pieces of clothing, she has design the shawl itself. It's twisted, sewn up the back, and pulled over your head like a loose fitting sweater. The front gathers in soft bunches and hangs across the chest. The ladies love them. Woven of soft cotton and rayon with the occasional silk woven in for effect, the main color of each shawl is broken up with a rhythm of competing and sometimes complimentary colors. People can't help but be drawn in by the colors and when the reach out and touch them, you always get an "Oooooo, these feel so nice and are so beautiful." If you don't, it's a replicant — ready your phasers.
When Nancy returned, I checked the schedule and cheese whiz on a cracker if Jubal's Kin wasn't playing in the barn-like Traditional Tent. Finally a chance to catch this band in more intimate surroundings, smell be damned. I headed over, got there early and claimed a seat near the front. In short order the band was on stage, laughing and calling out songs. They moved though a load of traditional tunes, all rendered in a sweet, imaginative way, like "Dinah Blow Your Horn," with added lyrics and a new verse melody. The Carter Family's "No Depression" was delivered in soul rendering pain. About midway through the set, a guitar string broke enabling some spontaneous double fiddle and dancing. While the guitar player stepped off stage, "Uncle Joe" and Gaelanne tuned their fiddles and discussed which tune to play. In a matter of thirty seconds (this is no a jam session) launched into a Skillet Lickers number my dad probably danced to when he was their age. A friend jumped up on stage and launched into some spirited clogging. Not to be undone, "Baby Brother" put his bass down, peeled off his shoes and joined the Appalachian chorus line at the end of the stage with some well executed Buck Dancing.
Yes sir, these kids from Florida are the real shit. I've spent decades in front of poseurs, wannabees, shitty players and hopefuls. Using a foundation of traditional music obviously passed along from a family that loves this stuff at an early age, Jubal's Kin are making something very real, unique and personal that compels you to be a part.
This is why I come to MerleFest. Thanks, guys, for inviting me in.
Exhausted from a night of no sleep and a day of wandering and finding Jubal's Kin, I headed back to my book and coffee and called it a day.
The Northside Rock ‘n’ Roll Carnival and 4th of July Parade and Festival may be saddled with one of the most cumbersome titles imaginable. (Try to abbreviate it and even then it sounds like some kind of nonsensical engineering code: NRRC4JPF--holy shit!) But that’s simply because there’s so much going on that a simpler name wouldn’t capture the full scope of what’s in store.
After two days of driving in the Vanarama — a 1996 GMC Rally 3500 in school-bus yellow — we're only about 3.5 hours outside of Austin.
This is the second time I've made the trek to SXSW, but every time I make the four-state drive, a few things remain constant: Arkansas highways suck and everything truly is bigger in Texas.
On the last stretch of 11 South, as you approach Crockett, Texas, road signs alternate between "Cemetery" and "Forest." This wouldn't have been so intimidating if we hadn't exchanged ghost stories about dead relatives and scary camping trips (Google "Appalachian Trail" and "scary photos"). We then stayed in a hotel that we seriously scoured for bed bugs before bringing in our gear. But cheap is worth it, right?
We are by no means alone in this endeavor. Thousands of bands travel across the country and the world, whether or not they're "officially" a part of the festival. This is the biggest weekend of the year for bands — whether they're on the rise or struggling to get a fresh start — and they'll do whatever it takes to be heard.
Tuesday (today) marks the beginning of the SXSW (as far as the music portion). The All Night Party's Midwest by Southwest showcase kicks off tonight and will feature some of our hometown favorites, including The Sundresses, The Lions Rampant, Wussy and The Seedy Seeds.
This official showcase is an anticipated event, not only for us Cincinnatians, but also the locals. The Austin Chronicle has named Wussy as one of the top 10 shows to see Tuesday. (Scroll to the bottom of the link for the Wussy write-up,.)
We're not even in Austin yet and Cincinnati's already making headlines at SXSW.
The 2010 MidPoint Music Festival is just three days away, so if you haven't firmed up your plans yet now's the time. And here's the big ticketing detail you need to be aware of: Three-day "all access" wristband sales end before the festival kicks off Thursday, replaced by one-day wristbands on sale each night at all venues.
Last night, music fans at venues in four cities around the region (Newport, Columbus, Indianapolis and Lexington) got a sneak peek at some of the artists slated to appear at this year’s Bunbury Music Festival, which returns to Cincinnati’s riverfront parks July 11-13.
Last night, fans at the launch events tweeted out some of the lineup as it was announced (and some smart ass started a fast-spreading rumor that Vampire Weekend was playing; they are not). This morning, the lineup was released to the general public. It was previously announced that Fall Out Boy, Paramore and New Politics would be bringing their summer tour to Bunbury; those groups are scheduled to play the fest on July 12.
Here are the local and national artists that will be joining them at Bunbury’s third annual event (an additional headliner will be announced soon):
The Flaming Lips
Young the Giant
Fitz and the Tantrums
Red Wanting Blue
The Lighthouse and the Whaler
Fly Golden Eagle
Lamps and Voids
Family and Friends
Let It Happen
Kopecky Family Band
G.Miles and the Hitmen
Brent James & the Vintage Youth
The Fanged Robot
The Upset Victory
J. Roddy Walston & The Business
Lily & Madeleine
Brick + Mortar
Yellow Paper Planes
Aaron Lee Tasjan
Here Among the Mountains
Bronze Radio Return
Daniel in Stereo
Today is the last day to buy Bunbury tickets at their current rate; the prices increase at midnight. Right now, $130 gets you a three-day pass ($325 if you’d like the VIP experience) and one-day tickets are $55.
What to Bring (Allowed Items)
- Sun Gear (e.g., sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.)
- Seating (e.g., folding chair*, blanket, etc.)
- Bug Repellent (no Deet)
- Rain Gear (ponchos are best, but small hand-held umbrellas are OK)
- Baby strollers
- Empty water bottled (no glass) or Cambelbak
- Wall mounted rapid charger (charging stations provide iPhone and mini-USB chords, but if you have your own chord, you won't have to wait)* Sand chair with seat no more than 9" off the ground.
What NOT to Bring (Prohibited Items)
- Weapons, fireworks or explosives of any kind
- Illegal substances (including narcotics) or drug paraphernalia
- Framed or large backpacks
- Glass containers of any kind or coolers
- Food, beverages or Cambelbaks that are full
- Carts, bicycles, skateboards, scooters, or personal motorized vehicles (including Segways)
- There is bike/scooter parking outside the event site
Tents, large umbrellas or chairs that are NOT sand chairs (seat more than 9" off the ground) Pets (except service dogs) Any audio recording, professional camera or video equipment Moshing, crowd surfing, and/or stage diving Vending without a Bunbury license or permit Bills over $20.00. We won't accept them at the beverage booths.All subject to change. Festival organizers reserve the right to prohibit any item that isn't listed.
Keeping hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout the day. Cincinnati in July can be hot. It’s quite a distance from one end of the park to the other. Considering all the walking, dancing, etc., you’ll need to make this a priority. Take advantage of the water stations. (NOTE: As mentioned above, don't bring water, but you can bring an empty container to fill throughout the weekend.)
We love kids. LOVE THEM! (NOTE: Kids 10 and under admitted free with a paid adult.) There are; however, some tips for those families who plan on coming to Bunbury:
- Re-read the the first part of this page. Sunscreen, staying hydrated, etc. is even more important for kids.
- A stroller or small wagon is permitted. The park is large, kids will get tired and you don’t want to carry them.
- Head phones or ear plugs for ear protection.
- A first aid kit; Band-Aids and Neosporin always come in handy.
- Baby wipes are awesome. Even if you don’t have a kid they can be great to have!
- Feeding your baby formula? Please use plastic bottles with disposable liner bags.
Today, the free Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival brings a little pre-Independence Day fun to Jacob Hoffner Park (at the corner of Hamilton and Blue Rock St.) in Northside. Conceived in 2005 by MOTR Pub’s Chris Schadler and put into action in 2006 by Schadler and Leslie Scott, the event is also a warm-up for one of the must-see parades of the summer, the eclectic, eccentric Northside 4th of July Parade, which makes its way down Hamilton Ave. starting at noon tomorrow.
If you have not attended in the past, the “Carnival” in the event’s name is key, as organizers present “side-show” fun galore — everything from fire-breathers and sword swallowers to drag performances and burlesque.
But live music is at the heart of the carnival and the assembled lineup this year once again features a great, diverse mix of groups from Greater Cincinnati, as well as a few nationally touring acts. Locals playing the Rock n’ Roll Carnival this year are Cletus Romp, Jake Speed and the Freddies, Eclipse, R. Ring, The Tillers and You, You’re Awesome. Headlining is Nashville’s Pujol; New York’s The Big Sleep and Nashville’s Turbo Fruits also perform.
Here is the full lineup of event for today's Carnival:
2:30 p.m. Cletus Romp
4 p.m. Jake Speed & the Freddies
5 p.m. Eclipse
6 p.m. R. Ring
7:10 p.m. The Tillers
8:20 p.m. Turbo Fruits
9:05 p.m. Pickled Bros Side Show
9:40 p.m. You, You're Awesome
10:25 p.m. Incendium Fire Show
11 p.m. The Big Sleep
12:20 a.m. Pujol
The event is open to revelers of all ages. For more details on the Northside Rock n’ Roll Carnival, click here.
If you are in the mood for some indoor (read: ACed) music while you're at the Carnival, be sure to duck into Northside Tavern for the July 4th Eve Rock and Roll Riot. Also free, the Riot gets started at 9 p.m. with Downtown Boys. The rest of the lineup features The Cave Girls, TEMPLE, Ohio Knife and DAAP Girls. Click here for set times and links to check out all the performers beforehand.
Is it really that time again? It seems like just yesterday that we were jumping from one packed MPMF venue to another, checking out everyone from local favorites to national and international gems to local favorites turned (inter)national gems.
Yes, bands and artists the world over can now register to take part in the 2010 MidPoint Music Festival, a three-day (Sept. 23-25) downtown Cincinnati party that is rapidly becoming a highlight of the region’s musical landscape.