|Photo by Ken Sears|
I was unable to attend Friday evening, so this will be a Trampled By Turtles free review. I'm going to focus on my favorite aspects of Saturday and Sunday, with plenty of pleasant surprises and new discoveries.
Having seen Caroline Chocolate Drops a few times in the past, I fully expected Rhiannon Giddens to be good, even great. Somehow I didn't expect her performance to be one of the best things I've seen in years. Without having to share the spotlight with other singers/songwriters, she was able to fully showcase herself and her immense talents. Her voice is just mesmerizing, and she had the crowd enraptured as she moved from genres (soul, bluegrass, folk, and even some hints of mainstream pop) with ease. Absolute highlights were "Waterboy" and "Up Above My Head" from 2015's Tomorrow is My Turn and an amazing cover of Patsy Cline's "She's Got You," which she just owned. Do yourself a favor and make no excuses next time she's in your area.
As the sun started setting on North Adams, the attendees' t-shirts started switching from freshly purchased Trampled By Turtles and other bluegrass/folk festivals to Dropkick Murphys and The Misfits. There were a lot of fans just there for Saturday night's headliners, Flogging Molly. They did have to wait a lot longer than expected. The bluegrass Grateful Dead tribute started twenty minutes late and then proceeded to play long and twenty more minutes into Flogging Molly's set time. Then they had their own sound issues to work out, leading them to start over an hour late. The crowd was tense and restless as the evening wore on, but those feelings were gone as soon as their heroes took the stage. Opening with "The Hand of John L. Sullivan" from 2017's Life is Good they played loudly and furiously for their set. They made no adjustments to their sound to try to fit into the festival like the Pixies's acoustic performance at Newport Folk in 2005. This was a full on electric punk show. Dave King asked if they were bluegrass after a particularly vicious Dennis Casey guitar solo. They inspired what I assume was the first ever Freshgrass mosh pit with favorites like "Black Friday Rule" and "The Likes of You Again." Friday night they played Riot Fest in Chicago, Sunday night they rejoined Dropkick Murphys to restart their co-headlining tour together, but Saturday night they played a little bluegrass festival in the northwest corner of Massachusetts.
I'm With Her
I have no idea how I can describe a folk supergroup featuring , , and