Tuesday, May 18, 2010

David Bromberg's Big Noise Festival - May 15

Boy, it's been too long since I've seen some live music and had a chance to update this blog. I have seen a few sets of City Farm at the Tiffany Tavern, but was reluctant to comment in this space as I only saw a set or two and didn't catch the entire show. But each performance is great fun and Holly will surely be missed as she is moving on to new challenges.

But finally as Spring arrives the 2010 Festival season begins! And we kicked it off in fine fashion last Saturday in Wilmington, Delaware at David Bromberg's Big Noise Festival. This was a day long music event to benefit the Light Up the Queen foundation, which is a non-profit organization devoted to restoring the Queen Theatre in downtown Wilmington.

David Bromberg, a wonderful singer/guitarist that was one of my favorites back in the college days, is still kicking around Wilmington and hosted some of his prestigious musical colleagues for a full day of excellent tuneage at a small park down in a newly developed downtown area.

First to play was the Angel Band, led by David's wife and two other female singers. I kind of like them, but all of my friends don't care for this band for some reason. But they got things kicked off while we set up our folding chairs and grabbed a cold DogFish 60 minute IPA.

Next up on the stage was Jorma Kaukonen, with Barry Mitterhoff on mandolin. This was a very nice, low key acoustic set, I was able to walk right up to the front of the stage and enjoy the music from 10 feet away. Among others they did one of my favorite Jorma tunes, "Hesitation Blues". David Bromberg joined them and sang a song called "Summer Wages" with Jorma taking a nice guitar solo. Sweet, clean picking by some true masters.

This was followed by Railroad Earth and the festival got rocking. There were many RRE fans there and the band seemed to understand that they had limited time, so they quickly ripped into a great set. "Dandelion Wine" and "Like a Buddha" were jamming and then David Bromberg joined them and they did a really fun version of "New Lee Highway Blues". Great smiles back and forth between Todd Scheaffer and Bromberg as they sang. You know there are some shows when the musicians are having more fun than the audience and this was one of those moments. The "New Lee Highway Blues" segued right into an instrumental closer called "Fiddlee". We could have listened to another hour of Railroad Earth, but there were more musicians waiting back stage.

So next was the Sam Bush band, and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised. I've seen Sam Bush multiple times over the last few years and many of the set-lists were very similar and kind of starting to get, well, worn. But this was a bluegrass line up (no drummer) and they did several songs from his new album "Circles Around Me". In fact, some of the "new" songs were actually "revisits" of old New Grass Revival songs. Nice, straight ahead "newgrass" without all the tricks. I especially liked "Souvenir Bottles". Great job, Sam, I think I'm going to get that new album.

Sam was followed by John Hiatt and his rocking 4 piece band. John seemed inspired (again having the most fun of anyone with all of these great musicians). Elvis like moves as he ripped through a great set of tunes. He gave a nice shout out to Bonnie Raitt before doing "Thing Called Love" ("she put my daughters through college with this song") and once again David Bromberg comes out for "Memphis in the Meantime".

David Bromberg closed the show with his big band, including horn section. Several musicians came back out to play on some songs, including Jorma, Sam Bush, and Tim Carbone. It was a great finish to a full day of music.

The venue was nice, sound was somewhat muddled by the gusty winds, but as I said earlier it was so easy to walk up to the front where you could hear and see clearly. The food vendors had some fine cajun food and the Dogfish Head was flowing freely. I hope Bromberg and the Light Up the Queen organization can make this an annual event, it was a great way to kick off the festival season.