As always, we put a ton of time and effort into bringing together all the music we love for the fifth installment of the Festy Experience, Oct 10-12 in Nelson County. Here are a few things that I am really looking forward to:
There’s been a lot of buzz around Anders Osborne these last few years, and for good reason. His winding career path seems to have come more into focus, and crowds are taking note of this once in a generation writer/performer. I heard first about his accolades as a songwriter, with cuts by Tim McGraw, Keb Mo, Brad Paisley and more. But once I saw him live I was hooked. I journeyed to the Bluebird in Denver this past winter to see my first real club show, and I left a full on fan. His sound is pure grit, with a band that looks and plays the part, laying down dirty, hook heavy rock that is as much felt as it is heard. Anders’ soulful rasp is the perfect vehicle for his stream of epic original material. I’d be amazed if anyone could do these songs better than he can. And his electric guitar work is the secret weapon–a mix of wooly retro tones and Jerry Garcia inspired soul, it just takes everything over the top, rounding out a very complete musical vision that’s as cool as any I’ve heard in a very long time. I have no doubt that Anders Osborne will rock the Festy masses like never before.
The Boston Boys are one of my favorite young bands to come around in a long time. We were lucky to have them open a bunch of dates for the Dusters a few months back, but our connection predates that by many years. Eric Robertson (mandolin, guitar, vox) was an obvious talent as a youngster on the bluegrass scene, and several of us knew him way back when. Meanwhile Nick Falk was killing it on drums with Old School Freight Train, another close peer to the ‘Dusters in the early days. Since then, they have been busy maturing as players and finding their voice as artists. Their musical concept, along with their ultra-talented bandmates Josh Hari and Duncan Wickel, has come to incorporate such a vast array of influences that the result is something completely their own. The Boston Boys aren’t easy to categorize, but they are awesome at everything they do–I love this band. We made sure that they will be around all weekend, so keep your eye out for a variety of guest appearances in addition to their main stage set
When I first moved to Nashville in 2004, a bunch of great young pickers were new to town and plenty of jamming was in order. I was lucky to hear a lot of Noam, who was already making waves for his amazing technique and fresh set of musical ideas. Soon after, he teamed up with Chris Thile and his subsequent banjo work on the Punch Brothers albums has raised the bar for every young player on the scene. In addition to conquering the more progressive realms, Noam’s solo albums have placed him at the top of the traditional field as well. He’s leading the charge for the next generation for everything banjo, and I can’t think of anybody who deserves it more.
For those who know of Stuart Duncan, he is revered as one of the great string heroes of the last 25 years. With a resume that covers just about every corner of the integrity musical world, from Elvis Costello to Yo Yo Mah, Stuart has done it all. His playing is so consistently effortless and beautiful, that players of every instrument count him as their favorite. When I had Stuart in the studio working on my solo album in Nashville (Looking Glass, 2009), it was definitely a ‘dreams come true’ moment, listening to him spin off take after take of pure perfection. So it was an easy call to bring these two to the Festy to satisfy our acoustic fix and change our concept of what the age old banjo/fiddle configuration is capable of.
The Shooks are making a long trek from the Pacific Northwest to bring their music to Nelson County, but that’s what this event is all about. First I was a fan, but lately we’ve been seeing them at festivals, enjoying their amazing sounds and getting to know them a little better. And now is the perfect time to introduce them to the Festy family–you will love them if you don’t already. The first night I met Laurie, Katelyn and their amazing band, they invited me to come jam at the Boulder Theater. After a quick hello we were playing through some songs just before showtime, and minutes later they were on stage, weaving this amazing tapestry of sounds, bringing all kinds of different music to life. The Shooks are all original in everything they do. Almost more like producer-artists, they infuse each song with a treatment all its own, ranging from the AM tones of an old telephone to layers of rhythmic loops, all captured on the spot. The harmony singing alone is enough to draw you in, but it’s just one part of a much bigger picture. Their music is magical and unpredictable, and it’s undeniably their own. Don’t miss this band!
We’ve been crossing paths with the Steeps for years, at festivals, clubs and just about everywhere in between. Amazing musicians and people, it been great to watch them gain the widespread acclaim they deserve. Many know this band from their high profile collaborations with Steve Martin, both in the studio and on the stage. While that project has opened many doors and yielded much great music, the Steep Canyon Rangers still maintain an identity all their own. They bring a fresh and totally organic sound that’s clearly rooted in bluegrass but also transcends the genre. With great songs and top shelf musicianship, their sound is always compelling–undeniably some of the best acoustic music out there today. Woody and I have long talked about getting them to Nelson County as soon as it makes sense. Finally, the Steeps will grace the Festy stage–be sure to check it out.
I didn’t know too much about Paper Bird before they came on the road with us last December. Rarely have I seen my bandmates take notice the way they did during that first soundcheck–that first taste of the extraordinary vocal blend that sets these guys apart. Genevieve, Esme and Sarah have singing star power right from the first note, and the rest of the crew is right there with them, laying down subtle grooves that round out the music. Paper Bird is a quintessential band, crafted from an mix of distinct elements that have evolved to fit perfectly together into one joyous, charismatic sound. Mark (drums) and Sarah are also related to our good friend Ben at Icelantic skis (the siblings Anderson), just one more tie to this awesome group. You’ll know it when you hear it, and I’m sure that you’ll dig it. Make sure you check out Paper Bird.