As dawn broke on Friday morning, the memories of Thursday night’s epic pre party were still freshly imprinted in my cerebrum. With my newly minted duralogic I ventured out from my dwelling to connect with Sean & Zander and yet again make our way to the fields of Muddy Roots to take in more of the spectacular festivities. Amongst the disarray and ruin of the morning mixed with the night before I located as Johnny Cash referenced; my cleanest dirty shirt and shorts and poured a coffee and picked up Sean & Zander. Notably we arrived a little later than expected but that’s the beauty of this event, the time is in essence void and still and calendars have fallen by the wayside – the time is “stage time” and the day is dictating by the primal rise and fall of the suns rays on the distant horizon.
Our arrival found us connecting with Geoff & Tammy Firebaugh and the local photography contingent from Nashville. Nestled along the midway Geoff and Tammy’s one of a kind custom spray painted foliage clad Dodge Motorhome was to be the headquarters and refuge for the remaining days we would spend together. Beneath the tent, in the wading pool, on the sweet mattress inside and between friends – this was and always has been home to friend and stranger among us. After setting up my gear I moved on into the crowds in the golf cart, targeting crowd members from a distance, each shot began to become the true essence of the event, capturing each music fan in their truest self – no selfies, no stupid faces, just you – you and your music. Nature at it’s finest.
Drawing me to the Big Tent Stage was Dana Sipos. Her soft beckoning call was like a songbirds call deftly swimming amongst the heated days wind currents – admittedly to this point I was not familiar with her work. As she moved like a lyric ghost between her admirers it was as if you were witnessing a supernatural event, he voice I can only akin to a first kiss in one’s youth, knowing the soft tender untouched lips of another and the music made between the connection of flesh pressed and the anticipation of more. Dana Sipos is most certainly an artist with her supporting cast that is on the cusp of a significant projection forward due in part to the group’s cohesive unified playing and Dana’s brilliant songwriting.
The Hooten Hallers! were next and they were clearly as always on point with forced entry and unabashed desire. To the unassuming observer the Hallers! have a somewhat “bumpkin – like” appearance which is a double edged sword. For the experienced musical connoisseur they are like pending volcanic eruption ready to release, for those unfamiliar with their act – they may invoke a feeling of “who’s this!?” – such a judgement would be undeserved. The Hallers! have risen among their contemporaries to claim a regular Muddy Roots Alumni performer spot, these are usually reserved for such artists like Ramblin’ Jack, Peter Rowan, Dr. Ralph Stanley. The Hooten Hallers! have risen the meteoric rise through pure hard work, desire and tenacity; their music styling is such that it leaves the audience in a perpetual stage of hunger and thirst for more. With the three piece ensemble of Andy, Kellie and John there is such a strength in musical diversity that few others can find even with a much larger operating base. With such staples as Missouri Boy and Leave Me Alone, the Hooten Hallers! rocketed in the front and blew the door of the backside of their set. Sweat flying from furrowed brows, blistering fingertips, cramping hands and knuckles – the final crescendo arrives with a bid goodnight – and with the wind are carried the Hooten Hallers! on down the road.
It was then I heard those famous words of Rick Miller echoing from the Wooden Stage P.A. –
Who’s in charge here, where’s my Captain’s wafers?
Don’t go around hungry now, the way you eat that oatmeal pie,
Makes me just wanna die, baby, OWWWW
You make me wanna walk like a camel.
OWWWW WEEE, walk!
Say, you don’t think there’s any way I could get that quarter
From underneath your pointy boot, do ya?
All I want is just one more oatmeal pie.
OWWWW WEEE, Little Debbie, Little Debbie
I’m a comin on home, baby, ’cause you make me wanna walk
Like a camel, OWWWW WEEE!
Almost missing one of my favorite bands, it is certainly a fault of anyone who immerses themselves fully in the Muddy Roots experience, though you may want to see everyone there just isn’t enough hours in the day. I made a direct travel line to the stage and caught the last few songs, capturing Dave Hartman working his new drum kit, Rick Miller tweaking his rig to and fro with the accompaniment of Mary Huff and her lasciviously stacked red beehive of curls and her long neck bass. With the stage bouncing like a good old fashioned hillbilly hoedown the SCOTS had the crowd pounding the planks as they came down the final stretch to the checkered flag. Truly we were “40 Miles to Vegas & we all started prayin'”
The next menu item served a plentiful harvest and bounty in the way of the cryptically pseudo baptismal pentecost Denver Broncos UK under the Big Tent. With fellow Canadian Munly leading their brooding group through their setlist, the DB UK are a band of individuals as diverse as their appearance and playing style. From Munly’s hauntingly gaunt and eerily friendly nature to Slim Cessna’s tall lanky gentlemanly stranger uptake and his oddball percussion, to Dwight Pentecost’s banjo playing with a violin bow – this is a band that screams elemental photography and spectacularly visceral moving music to enrich even the darkest cortex.
Finishing out the evening with the Hillgrass Bluebilly boys themselves from Ft. Wayne, Indiana – Left Lane Cruiser dominated the Big Tent stage amidst the familiar sweaty brows yet again. After such amazing acts as their lead in’s how does one follow and close out a show of this magnitude ? The answer lay in the hands of LLC and beyond thoughtful comprehension they cannoned through their set and blew even the most seasoned and tempered fan back in their shoes.
Day 2 Looms as the sun sinks low. . .