Sunday, May 23, 2004

SORRY I haven't been blogging that much lately. It's just that I don't really have much to blog ABOUT. That changed this weekend, though . . .

Once again, I attended the Willamette Valley Folk Festival at my former school, the University of Oregon. I'm not a student anymore, but I just HAD to go again. The festival is one of the things I will miss most about the school. So, I went Saturday and Sunday, until early evening, and had myself a wonderful time on both days.

Saturday I saw (links will take you to the performers' websites!):

- Laura Kemp. Your typical female singer-songwriter-guitar player. She was pretty good, and had some really nice songs, but I think I was more interested in getting food in my tummy at that time! Still, I rather enjoyed her as the first act of the day (even if it was raining then).

- The Ovulators. A mostly-female glam-rock band from Eugene. They're very different from many folk festival acts in the past, as they use electric guitars and wear VERY sparkly outfits.

- Ballet Joli. A local group that does West African drumming and dancing. The drums were QUITE powerful and, obviously, rhythmic and the dancers were excellent too. The performance got me pumped up and happy. I love percussion!

- Little Joe. A bluegrass group. They did a pretty good job, and I'd say they were the second best bluegrass group I saw at the festival. They performed lots of high-energy cool-pickin' songs. Really good stuff.

- Moksha, who did something like latin-inspired jazz and hip hop songs. They used turntables, horns, stuff like that. I was really impressed.

- Foghorn String Band. A REALLY good bluegrass band with all the usual instruments including fiddle. They only played a few slower songs, and the rest were fast picking, danceable barnburners. I enjoyed them quite a bit, and proclaim them the top bluegrass band of this year's festival.

- Samba Ja, a local samba/percussion ensemble. HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEKEND!!!! There were probably 30 people there, all banging on drums and various hand percussion. It was VERY rhythmic, and you could EASILY get lost in the sounds. Somehow they were all coordinated, even if it seemed like controlled chaos at times. There were a lot of people down there dancing, and the group was RIGHT there with them, involving them in the whole thing. It was like a big street party or something. They played endlessly, and I definitely enjoyed losing myself in the wonderful banging rhythms. Samba Ja was easily my favorite group this weekend, and their performance was almost MORE than just music. It was something higher than that, which I'll not even try to explain. Bottom line, I had a GREAT time seeing them!

And on Sunday:

- John Shipe and the Scapegoats. They played a combination of jazz, rock and club music. They were pretty good and got the crowd pumped up.

- The Cascade Colonels. Another bluegrass band. They came out wearing white and white cowboy hats to match, and played tight, fast paced bluegrass standards. Their singing was awesome too, with really excellent harmonies between the various group members. Combine that with the sun coming out, and I was really pumped for a great afternoon of music.

- Stephanie Schneiderman. Another female acoustic rock musician. Her songs were very personal, emotional, and clever, her guitar playing was solid, and her voice very powerful. I enjoyed her too, and she was a good calm break before we saw . . .

- Taarka. I saw these guys at last year's festival, and was VERY impressed. I definitely wanted to see them play again, and I even picked up their new CD this year. They did a great job of getting the crowd on their feet and dancing. I don't know what more I can say except, they ROCK!

- Eleven Eyes. Yet ANOTHER jazz/rock/club group! They were OK, not quite up to the standard of John Shipe and the Scapegoats.

- The Cascade Colonels AGAIN! They were performing an improv set in the breezeway of the student union, so I stuck around to watch them play up close and personal before I had to leave. They were great again, and even BETTER when they're up close and personal. Also, they are all YOUNGER guys. I couldn't tell how old they were from far back when they played earlier.

So, that was my weekend of fun. I had an awesome time listening to all the great music, and I cannot wait to do it again next year, if I can.

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