Despite Rain, The Green River Festival Was A Winner!
I had never attended the Green River Festival, a two-day festival in Greenfield, Massachusetts, before the 28th annual Festival held last weekend. I was only able to attend on Sunday but it was enough to know that Green River is great fest!
My first impression was that the vibe is very chill; when I asked a volunteer about my photo pass, she led me to a booth and waited to make sure I got the pass. She told me the ‘rules’ and perquisites associated with the pass.
Festival-goers waited on line extremely patiently for the gates to open, discussing the day’s schedule and who we felt was important to see. For me, the biggest draw was The Iguanas, a band from New Orleans that had not played in Boston for a long time (maybe 15 years or more). The lineup, however, was quite good and I looked forward to hearing all the bands I had on my personal schedule.
Once we could enter the grounds, it was a very calm scene with people claiming their preferred spots. There are two stages, with the main stage obviously drawing a much larger crowd than the side stage.
I took a quick look at the crafts market before the music started, and wish I’d been able to spend more time there. If the gates had opened an hour earlier, I would have perused the fine crafts longer than I did. Thanks to potter Tiffany Hilton for helping organize the market – I hope this is the first of many at the Festival.
First up on the main stage was a bluegrass band called The Deadly Gentlemen. They are a Boston-based band who don’t seem to play around the city often enough, so I was looking forward to seeing them kick off the day of music.
Dr. Greg Liszt on banjo and vocals, Stash Wyslouch on guitar and vocals, Adam Chaffins on double bass and vocals, and a drummer whose name I don’t know because he is not a permanent member comprise The Deadly Gentlemen.
They performed a spirited set which set the mood for the day. People were up and dancing in front of the stage and everyone seemed to enjoy this talented band. I recommend seeing them in their usual configuration which adds Mike Barnett on fiddle and Dominick Leslie on mandolin – a typical bluegrass quintet.
Next up on the main stage was Heather Maloney and Darlingside. I was quite excited to see this collaboration; I saw Darlingside perform last summer and fell in love with them but I had not yet seen Heather about whom I had heard fabulous things.
What an amazing collaboration! Darlingside is an indie folk band and Heather describes her music as adventurous folk; whatever they call themselves separately, together they have created a new sound that seems part folk, part bluegrass, part Americana, but is all fabulous.
I felt an immediate connection with Heather, much as I had with Darlingside last summer. She is clearly passionate about her music and that projects to her audience upon the first notes out of her mouth.
Darlingside is Don Mitchell on guitar and vocals; Auyon Mukharji on mandolin, violin, and vocals; Harris Paseltiner on cello, guitar, bass, and vocals; and David Senft on vocals, bass guitar, and guitar.
Their harmonies sent shivers up my spine; they are that good. Their chemistry is palpable and I hope they continue collaborating!
Dave and Phil Alvin and the Guilty Ones were next up on the main stage. I saw Dave and the Guilty Ones perform a year ago, but had never seen Phil. I was thrilled to be seeing them, especially since a friend saw them the previous evening and said they were phenomenal.
The band is currently touring in support of their recent release honoring the music of Big Bill Broonzy, a blues singer, guitarist and songwriter who lived in the first half of the 20th century. Big Bill was prolific but not well known to young music lovers; he will be now that this band chose to record his music.
They are all clearly having a blast playing this music! Their set included mostly songs from ‘Common Ground’, but they did include at least one Blasters’ songs, ‘Marie’, which the crowd appreciated.
Drummer Lisa Pankratz, guitarist Chris Miller, and bassist Brad Fordham comprise The Guilty Ones; the look guilty of nothing except playing great music!
I love this band, and want to see them again soon, playing a longer set; 75 minutes was a tease!
The last band I saw on the main stage was Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. This is another artist about whom I heard positive things so I was interested to hear this set. They were moved to the main stage when Hurray for the Riff Raff had travel problems and needed to appear later than originally scheduled.
Lady Lamb the Beekeeper is the stage name of Aly Spaltro, a young musician from Maine, something of which she is obviously very proud.
Her genre, according to her Facebook page, is jungle soul/dumpster thrash. I have no idea what that means, other than that her style is difficult to describe.
I particularly enjoyed the part of her set when she was playing banjo, although I did not get any photos of her playing it.
She had a drummer and guitarist/keyboardist with her.
I would like to see her again on a smaller stage; this seemed almost too much for her, even though I enjoyed the music.
I moved to the side stage to see the band that initially drew me to this festival, The Iguanas.
The first time I saw The Iguanas about 23 years ago, I fell hard for them. Their music – generally referred to as Americana – crosses genres and languages, and is infectious. All I want to do is dance when I hear them!
The Iguanas are based on New Orleans, but their music is atypical of most music that comes from that wonderful city. The Iguanas are unique.
The Iguanas comprise Rod Hodges on guitar, accordion, and vocals; Joe Cabral on saxophone, bajo sexto, and vocals; Rene Coman on bass and backing vocals; and Doug Garrison on drums.
Their set drew from their entire discography, and included some of my very favorites – ‘My Girlfriend is a Waitress’, ‘Oye Isabel’, ‘Para Donde Vas’, and ‘Benny’s Cadillac’. What an incredible set – I hope they return to the Boston area VERY SOON because this set merely whetted my appetite for more.
Rod, I loved your ‘Breaking Bad’ t-shirt!
The last set I saw was Hurray for the Riff Raff, one of my favorite bands who I first saw a year ago at the Newport Folk Festival.
Alynda Lee Segarra hails from New Orleans via New York City. Her genre is considered indie folk, but she is another unique musician who does not sound like everyone else.
High energy and emotional, Alynda gets the audience moving without much effort. Her most recent release, ‘Small Town Heroes’, was released earlier this year and it is a winner.
The set list was composed of songs mostly from ‘Small Town Heroes’ which did not disappoint the band’s fans. Despite the smaller crowd than the band deserves, they played their hearts out – as they always do. This was especially impressive considering the weariness they must have felt from the travel hassles they endured to get to the Festival.
I plan to see Hurray for the Riff Raff repeatedly because their shows (at least those I have seen) are never exactly the same.
Here are a couple of crowd shots:
I know this has been a lengthy write-up, but I felt that I wanted to convey my joy at having attended at least the one day of this Festival. Next year, unless other forces collide to prevent me from attending both days, I am already anticipating the hot air balloon part of the Festival; the first thing I photographed after getting my first SLR camera in 1977 was a hot air balloon exhibition. Things come full circle, don’t they?
Posted on July 20, 2014, in concert reviews, music, Uncategorized and tagged Darlingside, Dave Alvin, Deadly Gentlemen, Green River Festival, Heather Maloney, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Josh Ritter, Lady Lamb the Beekeeper, Phil Alvin, Signature Sounds, The Guilty Ones, The Iguanas, Tiffany Hilton. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.