Friday, October 28, 2011

MagnoliaFest 2011 Report

Black Betty and I packed up the little pop-up and cruised on down to the lovely Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for the 15th Annual MagnoliaFest last week. We arrived in time to set up camp in the usual great spot, find a few Festivarian friends, and head down to the amphitheater stage in time to catch a few of the Thursday night acts.

Col. Bruce Hampton and the Pharoah Gummitt tore things up with their bluesy rock. We love this band featuring Nick Johnson on guitar, Kevin Scott on bass, and Duane Trucks on drums. Col. Bruce even channeled the late great Howlin' Wolf during a blistering cover of Smokestack Lightning.


Next we saw 7 Walkers featuring Papa Mali, Bill Kreutzmann, George Porter, Jr and Matt Hubbard. We had first seen them a year ago at Magfest and have been listening to their killer "swamp-a-delic" jammy bliss ever since. 7 Walkers thoroughly lit it up and warmed the cool night air and played for nearly three hours. They performed many of their own Robert Hunter penned songs and several Dead covers including Sugaree, Bird Song, He's Gone, I know you Rider and encored with New Speedway Boogie. What a way to start out MagFestAs an added bonus we got to meet and talk with Matt Hubbard who stood in the long coffee line with us before the show.

    Papa Mail and Bill Kreutzmann of 7 Walkers

Friday, we enjoyed a leisurely morning around camp before heading over to the amphitheater to catch the Mobile Alabama rocker, Grayson Capps.
Friday night, we managed to catch the jamgrass allstars Railroad Earth who encored with a crowd pleaser, Bird in the House. The Travelin' McCourys and Keller Williams seemed to be a perfect match for each other playing some great tunes from both the McCoury's traditional roots and Keller's more contemporary side (Oh, yes, they played the Port-a-Potty song).  Keller / McCoury set on Internet Archive
We also walked over to the new mega-stage at the meadow for the big Lucinda Williams show. It was actually the first time that we saw Lucinda. She has a great band but otherwise maybe more "super-star" status than I'm used to in my local live-music scene.

There was lots of other great bands playing on Friday including: Dread Clampitt, Steel Pulse, Galen Kipar Project, Sloppy Joe, The Corbitt Brothers, and moe.

 Grayson Capps

                                                                   Railroad Earth

Saturday afternoon, Mr Americana himself, Jim Lauderdale, entertained the crowd at the amphitheater with various guests joining him on stage including the Infamous Stringdusters. The Lee Boys featuring the incredible Roosevelt Collier on pedal steel got the meadow rocking. Victor Wooten jammed on bass and provided every one there with a rhythm lesson. By this time if you weren't off your seat and on your feet there was something bad wrong.

                                        Jim Lauderdale joined by The Infamous Stringdusters

                                                       Lee Boys with Victor Wooten

The defining moment of the weekend revealed itself to me when Bela Fleck joined Cornmeal for an unbelievably sweet-jam-bliss-eighteen-minute-long Shady Grove. Man! Allie, Kris, and Bela absolutely transcended the physical realm on that one!  Wavy Dave really brought it on too and holds his own against the banjo guru! I couldn't believe that I was in the right place at the right time and got to video the whole damn thing! Talk about good karma! I'll get to re-experience this moment for years to come!I still get goose bumps when I watch it.


Donna the Buffalo played Saturday night on the meadow stage. It was strange to have them so far above and beyond the audience. It's really not the whole Donna vibe. They were absolutely great though. They even started on time if you can believe that. I think it may have something to do with Dave McCracken doing the sound check. And talk about McCracken, is there a better keyboard guy around?  Jeb and Tara have really put themselves together a hard driving boogie-groove machine with this rhythm section. Jeb talked some about the state of the nation (as he should) and about the Occupy Wall Street movement. He sang about loving life and the life of the living in a song called All Aboard. Most of all it was just a great Donna show; all about feeling good, feeling the love, singing the words, and dancing! They encored with Hot Tamale Baby before they were booted off stage by the stage manager who was in a hurry to set up for moe.
Donna The Buffalo set on Internet Archive

                                                             Donna The Buffalo.
Saturday many other bands played including the New Orleans Suspects, Papa Grows Funk, The Mosier Brothers, Grandpa's Cough Medicine, and moe. Sunday schedule included Acoustic Ensemble, The Lee Boys, The Mosier Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Cornmeal, and Donna the Buffalo.


Magfest Vibes:
  1. As always the camping was sweet. We had some pretty chilly overnight temps in the high 30's so it was good snuggling weather.
  2. The best part of the festival is always reuniting with our festival friends. We were happy to be able to spend time with them. We missed the ones who were unable to make it.
  3.  The Meadow Stage now seems to be the main stage. This makes sense to some extent but it seems to be mighty damn big and far away. The sound is absolutely spectacular though. 
  4. I see the food vendors are back to taking cash instead of those stupid tickets. I bet they are glad about that.
  5. We liked that the shows started later and the bigger shows at night were staggered so you didn't have to decide who you would see or miss.
  6. We didn't seem to be able to see enough of our old Magfest favorites.
  7. We were bummed that we couldn't stay for the Sunday shows. They are usually our favorite part of the festival especially the Donna  and friends jams. We both had to work on Monday with a seven hour drive home.
  8. Boogie Cat was in attendance but was off his boogie! 
  9. The apple crisp at Sweet Revenge Cafe is still the best!
Jen, Van, and boys with Black Betty.

Hittin' The Note. (because music matters)

Johnathon, Black Betty, and Bob.


Mark with his "off" switch.
                                                              Evan on mando.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Emmitt-Nershi Band at The Grey Eagle

The jamgrass super-group, Emmitt-Nershi Band performed at The Grey Eagle in Asheville on Friday night. It was the first show of their current tour, and they couldn't have asked for a more appreciative and enthusiastic crowd to play for.

Black Betty and I, along with family and friends, staked out the Bill Nershi side of the stage and hung on for the duration. I managed to shoot a few decent videos and enjoyed the wildly exuberant crowd of young music aficionados who clearly inspired the band to give it their best.

The Bristol area band Folk Soul Revival opened and got the house rocking. Emmitt-Nershi played two sets of their original tunes and threw in several interesting covers including Don't It Make You Want To Dance? (Rusty Wier) and encored with Sweet Child Of Mine (Guns And Roses).

It was another over-the-top night of live music in southern Appalachia!

Emmitt Nershi Band Bio