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Home > Magazine > Music > HollerFest 2009 Report

HollerFest 2009 Report
August 26, 2009

UPDATE: I set up a Facebook Group so that anyone can upload pics, vids, etc., of this year's event. I put up a few already. www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=118566522935

Dang, this HollerFest just keeps getting better.

Or maybe it's just that I went and stayed for the whole 3 days this time and finally found my groove there. I'm sure glad that I did.

There were probably 20 acts on the stage and in the cabin. I wandered between them until suddenly it all clicked.

My case might be a bit abby-normal because I ran media-goodie-tables for OYB and LazyGal (and our LazyKids). So I suppose that can be distracting, but it sure didn't seem so. Heck, dozens of folks there were wearing all sorts of hats. Dozens of folks were volunteering in some way.

I'm tempted to lay out my own highlights, but they'd just pile up.

Still, I have to say that it was a 4:30 *A.M.* Sunday show around the bonfire that finally put me in the right gear. Ha! I wasn't even awake!

See, I don't go to lots of folkfests, though they're a big deal to me. We don't go to much of anything, being a bit spread thin like we are, and not being big fans of driving. So it can take me awhile to really lock in on something. Now, I was IN and ON at this Fest from the word go, and special moments came at me from all sides, but I'm talking about the moment of Maximum Gelling.

I woke up for some reason that night-morning in my faraway pasture tent then heard a faint beat. I got up and wandered toward the sound. Finally I got to the hill overlooking the Fest's natural amphitheater and down around the dying bonfire was the best band of the show. They were tight! The singing was great. I had no idea who they were. All the instruments were in there, in their parts. They weren't that loud, they were just ON. Banjo, bass, rhythm, vocals. It was like a dream. Then someone came wandering up in the dark. She said there were about 8 players down there and 3 listeners and 3 sleepers. I don't know why I didn't go down. I just listened from the ridge. Actually, the best sound of the Fest is up on that ridge. In addition to the bowl, the forest on 2 far sides bounces it all up perfectly. I wandered off to bed.

I found out the next morning that Kevin Lentz, Chris Buhalis and Dave Boutette were part of that rabble. Kevin said it was the best bonfire playing he'd been a part of. So I know I wasn't just hearing things.

Actually, I was hearing the reason for the Fest. I had asked Kenny what inspired them to have a Fest. They have Barn Shows and such, and Billy plays gigs all over the area. How'd the Fest happen? He said it was the shape of the land. That natural amphitheater.

The next day I wandered over to the Cabin and heard Kevin's "Black Train." Again...pow! I was hit by the full impact of downhome hard-rockin' parlor music. All full band two feet away, with a fire in the hearth, hewn logs and fieldstone all around me. [I since learned that the Big Song they played that did me in was "Fruits of My Labor," a hard-hooking Lucinda Williams rough, tough sensuously biblical soulfest. What I saw was as good as anything on earth, but you can see what I mean at: www.youtube.com/watch?v=9h8edaYFbPI&feature=related ...and showing that feather-boa NYC likes edgy country, too: www.youtube.com/watch?v=apr47BDknRU&feature=related.]

These things cemented what happened the night before, before the bonfire. Musicians from the Fest gathered to play a Ken King Tribute on stage after their shows. Billy played two of Ken's favorites, Dylan tunes, "Copper Kettle" done in a special Ken arrangement and "He was a Friend of Mine."

That "Kettle" did me in. Since I got home I've listened to some YouTube versions and Ken/Billy's is the best by far. They give it a cosmic thing and make it more nuanced as well as hipper. A multigeneration outlaw's life under the Juniper tree, just watching those jugs fill up... I thought it fit the King scene to a tee.

For what happened next in the Tribute show, here's a link to a blog report that gives the flavor: www.annarbor.com/community/entertainment/tribute_in_the_moonlight_at_hollerfest/

Well, I'm swamped in backorders that I have to ship out. This has been a Scattered Report. I'll upload some pics and vids from the Fest soon.

In the meantime, I started a HollerFest 2009 Facebook Group so that anyone can put up their own pics, vids and reports: www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=118566522935

PS: I really appreciated that every aspect of the uniquely diverse OYB/LG mission seemed to find an audience. What a thrill! Bikes, boats, skis, luggage, DVDs, books, mags, stickers, wool, and jewelry...it all rocked. (And some folks say I need to focus...) Also, because I was set up in the Fest Info Tent I got to pitch in on selling event t-shirts and CD's. I find that full-immersion is best. Just dive in.




Main stage with nice line to dinner from the "Indian Summer" open-faced kitchen.

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