As with diesel rich burnt power of a lumbering freight train making the long and sweaty push up the relentless miles ahead and a steepening grade; so too comes the grand peak and it’s accompaniment plateau, fevered descent on the brink of losing control and then the steady return to our everyday. Welcome to Muddy Roots Music Festival 2014 and welcome to Day 2 of the festival and Day 5 of the adventure blog.
As the first day of the festival concluded the night previous, I was approached by a local reporter as I exited from side stage on the old wooden stage, with a wide eyed gaze, sweaty brow, racing heartbeat and shaking hands he leaned close to my ear. He exclaimed “. . .that was incredible!”, he was of course referring to the Swiss Patriot league of Reverend Beatman and his contemporary Monsters who had just followed the particularly dumbfounding performance of the Sonics that left the audience members jaws slackened against their musical prowess. It was a common theme throughout the venue the evening before; with opinion being a mixed bag of both questions and answers. It was either next to play are the Sonics!! Or the Sonics are next to play; who the hell are the Sonics? In true vintage rocker form they did not disappoint with such favorites as their iconic “the Witch” and numerous other favorites.
As the reporter leaned in and we exchanged our Muddy Roots media dialogue, I asked him if he had his fill – he responded by saying, “kinda hard to beat that performance”. It was then that I took my opportunity with my arm over his shoulder and we walked into the shadows, stage gear being loaded beside us. I said imagine you are at a music festival and you’ve just seen 30% of the complete scheduled show; he smiled, I nodded and said you’re in the middle of a storm and it’s about to get a lot better. With these parting words between us began the middle of Day 2 of the Festival.
Rising late from my night before a familiar friend in Sean Wheeler sent me a text message to inquire about refueling our stomachs for the long grind ahead, the only suitable option was Cracker Barrel for a traditional hearty breakfast and coffee. Clad in our finest clothing wares that suggested us as more in line with a travelling roadshow or performers of some type we sauntered into the Cookeville, TN Cracker Barrel. Not being known for being particularly quiet establishments we entered and made our indelible mark on the staff. Sean with his charm and tattoo emblazoned body, his gravelly voice and wide eyes won the server over at the first hello. We wrapped up breakfast and made our way through the twisting hills to the Junebug Ranch and our Muddy Roots alumni many of whom were recovering from a mind blowing first night.
As we arrived there were mixed swirling reports of a few scattered daily rain showers but nothing that would be considered a threat to the festival. First on tap for the day was Joey Henry’s Dirty Sunshine Club. Regrettably, we missed this set due to our late start in the day. What I can tell you though about Joey Henry and this project aside from his regular banjo assignment with the Calamity Cubes is it is nothing short of spectacular. Henry is a masterful banjo tech / clinician who embarks regularly of a full ventricular expose of his heart, exploring each beat methodically – his body and ear is tuned to what feels right and what inexplicably heals the body. Joey is all about the “Gold Light” – this light is what I believe reflects off Joey’s passively warm surface, beneath his exterior it is what I believe radiates outward from his very core. In his presence it is next to impossible to embrace or sustain negative energy; Joey Henry is what we seek in all our fellow man and all too often rarely find. He is a gentle, kind soul, a genuine man with a talent for music and song which heals those in his presence. A comfortable vagabond is Henry, clad in his usual LowCard trucker hat, stylish pseudo western shirt with pearl snap buttons, brown poly pants and his Converse shoes the result of a recent endorsement with the footwear giant. His thick red beard long flowing red hair is that of man with a cold forged heart torn between his love of skateboarding and music but yet at peace with the balance that he has been handed in his surroundings. With missing Joey’s performance I felt initial sadness but with chance encounters through the day and that warm infectious smile and lengthy hugs – the sadness as with anything Henry didn’t last and the gold light once again shone through, I look forward to our next encounter.
The next chance encounter came beneath the yellow and white stripes of the cracker swamp stage. The larger than life friendly giant stature of Lou Shields sat amidst a rambled and worn mixture of old musical hardware, instrument, broken skateboards, bottlecaps. Shields perched precariously atop an old hardwood wooden chair decorated with much roadshow appreciation manifesting itself in a healthy mix of Sharpie and ballpoint pen doodling. With feet bouncing alternatively through his set; the tambourine and bottle caps vetting the percussive spine of his music through his flesh to the heavy humid air surrounding all in attendance. His body buried waist deep behind the body of his acoustic guitar, his eyes closed peacefully as he rocked to and fro, his trademark straw hat completing him as he utters the vocal embers of his songs. His hand rolling across the guitar strings effortlessly as the amplified pickups gather each chord and carry it deep into the ears of an appreciative audience. Such simplicity and eloquence are what imbibe the spirit of Lou Shields and make such a crowd favorite. Shields is not one to shy away from his fans; the wide eyed and perpetually happy man is most noticeably at home when he is among the people that inspire the music from within. Throughout the Muddy Roots experience – rain or shine one constant remained the same through it all, the warmth and smile of Lou Shields a man not only in song but more importantly in person.
Day 2 of the Muddy Roots experience was indeed and intense memory packed day. To fully illustrate the events in their entirety please stay tuned; the next blog post will chronicle the flash flood, the epic mother nature defying comeback performance of ANTiSEEN, the epic reunion of the Weirdos featuring brothers John Denney, Dix Denney and the infamous Zander Schloss. These blogs will be exclusively dedicated to each of these acts respectively. As a bonus feature you will see the first pictures of each of these sets accompanying each blog.
We will also be including segments from the Hangdog Hearts, the Blasters, GravelRoad and Mudhoney. Our final installment of Day 2 of the Muddy Roots Music Festival will see a lengthy tribute to the reformation of Th’ Legendary Shack Shakers and their epic mud laced and steam driven performance to round out Day 2 and send us hurtling down the hill and into Day 3.
Look for all these blogs and the entire catalog of pictures from Moloich Photography as we begin the editing process. Check back frequently, leave your comments for us on our blogs, share with your friends on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pintrest, Google+ and more…We sincerely appreciate all your support and couldn’t live the dream we do without you.