The expectations for me on Day 4 at Bluesfest 2014 were lower than previous days. Still, there were some key items on the agenda. All photos by Jim Jacob.
Valerie June was appearing at 2pm. I have written about her previously and was highly anticipating seeing her live.
Moonshine roots music is what she calls her work. I like the description and I found June’s performance both authentic and emotionally gripping. She sings and plays in a unique style, alternating between banjo, mini-banjo, acoustic and electric guitar (she refers to each one as a family member in a somewhat strange yet endearing way). A gospel background but early, traditional blues are a strong undercurrent of her musical persona. Her album referred to in my previous piece was well showcased, as well as a cover of Robert Johnson and R.L. Burnside were wholly original and tremendous.
Her stage banter was funny and really augmented the set.
Time for lunch. A beef burrito was another good choice (the food at Bluesfest has been terrific). A coffee and a walk to the Jumbalaya stage for Casey Chambers revealed a large crowd twenty-five minutes before her opening song. It was going to be crowded so my friend Jim and I beat a hasty retreat to something quieter – the Taste of Boomerang with Glen Skuthorpe. Nice rocking outfit. As soon as Jim went to the front to take a photograph, the band stopped – not sure if the two things were related.
Tim Rogers was in command at the Delta stage as he finished up his set. Booker T Jones was appearing next. I’d seen him twice in New Orleans – once with The Drive-by Truckers (on the back of their Potato Hole venture) and with The Dirty Dozen Brass Band. So it would be sweet to see him with his own outfit.
The Delta tent was packed. The Hammond B3 organ was sounding great along with his super funky band, sounding like all those unbelievably good vibes he made at Stax studio in Memphis. Many tracks I remember, but their names not so much – the fate of instrumentals maybe, or my recollection abilities? One of the funkiest and most distinctive instrumentals of all time – “Green Onions” – was played early. I could’ve done without covers “Born Under A Bad Sign”, “I’m A Man”, “Pretty Woman” and “Hey Joe”, preferring to hear a lot more of his own material.
Time for dinner (gumbo) and Iron and Wine. As we approached the Mojo stage, Passenger was just finishing and trying to make our way to anywhere near the stage against the flow of masses of humanity was quite a challenge (particularly carrying a glass of wine). I have some knowledge of earlier Iron and Wine material but not much since. After hearing six tracks, I decided to leave, not quite feeling it.
As an alternative , we ventured back to the Delta stage for another dose of Robben Ford’s fluid blues and rhythms. What a player. He mentioned a compilation album Bringing It Back Home from which he drew a lot of inspiration. The songs he played from it were noteworthy. I must try to get a copy. I watched the whole set. Well, almost all, when the second drum solo started, it was time to fly – I reckon on seeing maybe four drum solos over the past three days and that is plenty for me.
Another day of great weather. Mid 20s temperature every day. No rain at all.
Tomorrow it’s Jason Isbell and Gary Clark Jr.