Saturday, June 23, 2007

Living on Tennessee Time

We'd set up camp on Thursday - a tent for Sherin and J.P., and one for Jason and me; loads o' camp food and a badass stove to cook it with; giganto-cooler full of beer and ice; the shade canopy we'd picked up in Nashville - key to our comfort, as it happened. This canopy did not, however, allow us to sleep in remarkably well. The Tennessee heat cranked up pretty early in the day, and S & JP particularly caught the sun's rays in the morning. But we were able to ease into the mornings with coffee filtered mug by mug, port-a-johns that started the day downright cleanly, baby wipe 'baths' followed by ye olde gold bond on the crotch (trust me, it's a good thing) and a few get-things-going beers at camp and on the dusty walk to Centeroo.

Made some 'Children of Men' and 'Grapes of Wrath' jokes on said walk - you could look at those thousands of tents as an artistic collective or a refugee camp, depending on your point of view. Either way, it is a good population to be a part of.
Paid a real quick visit to Bonna Rouge, the cabaret tent, to hear a couple numbers from the Firecracker Jazz Band, who swung us nicely into the day. Didn't stay long though, because we wanted to get a good spot for Richard Thompson, rock hero and guitar god extraordinaire, perennially underrecognized by the masses though a critical darling. Well people, I'd never had the chance to see him, and wasn't going to miss this one, in spite of having to take a pass on the Brazilian Girls and Tortoise. And holy shit, he did not disappoint!

Do you know this guy? A lot of people don't, to America's shame. Brit rocker, one of the founders of Fairport Convention, in my opinion he's one of the very best guitarists out there, with a mastery of an utterly individual mix of rock, blues and traditional music from at least 2 continents. He played new stuff, old stuff, no FC material as far as I could tell, but my knowledge of their catalogue is far from encyclopedic. Thompson's set was one of the highlights of the weekend for sure, with all the things you'd expect: tight band, great songs, RT was in fine voice and his guitar work was off the hook, natch; and the ineffable live factor was well-charged - the crowd was in tune with the music and the musicians returned the favor.

So I needed a mental break after that. We caught parts of the sets from Kings of Leon and Michael Franti & Spearhead. Both were good, especially Franti, but the combination of fatigue and awe kept me from altogether thorough attention. Which may have been for the best, in light of what happened next...

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