The 30th Tucson Folk Festival was a blast. But then, so have been the six prior festivals of which I have been privileged to be part. The best thing about the festival is seeing old friends whom I get to see and hear play so relatively rarely. It’s like a folk singer’s family reunion – but with relatives you actually ENJOY (just sayin’).
At the top of the enjoyment list has to be performing with my band-mates Rick Heyman and Michael Darryl Parker. Rick is a musician’s musician. His ear for a melodic bass line is wonderful. Michael recently acquired a new drum kit and spent time tuning the heads specifically for resonance with my songs. He really loves playing that new kit and added such precise power to every song we did. After the show, a performer I greatly admire, Laney Greynolds (of JC & Laney), remarked “you should tie a line on that drummer and NEVER let him go!”. Another performer I respect greatly, Eric Ramsey, said that the band really brought my songs alive. It was great to see JC & Laney perform and Eric Ramsey too. And I enjoyed seeing Dan Weber again.
Each year at the TFF, I’m like a kid in a candy store. With five stages of continuous music (10 hours per day) it is impossible to see and hear all you want. But it is certainly possible to get all you need because every stage had stellar acts. Don Armstrong’s set was particularly impressive. Don writes exquisite songs (as did his late wife Victoria) and he performed with a crew of some of the best musicians in town. I was delighted to see and hear Tom and Priscilla Bertling perform as “Smootmahooty”. Their vocals are delicious. The Determined Luddites are a must for me and Deb. There’s just something about (in their own words) their “Original acoustic music for the sophisticated urban hillbilly” and “Apocalyptic gospel, fast folk, careening instrumentals, punk heart Songs about dope, guns, exes, saints, and sinners in the dystopian paradise of Baja Arizona” that makes me want to BE THERE. And it sure is fun when both Peter McLaughlin AND Kevin Schramm join the team. Peter is a world class Guitar flat-picker and Kevin, what can I say, no man gets more out of an accordion than Kevin Schramm. A delight to watch.
And we enjoyed some acts we hadn’t seen before as well. Singer Songwriter Jed Marum was really good in the songwriter’s contest as was Kelly Brightwell and Jen Hajj (who won). And the band “Dash Pocket” played a ripping set that even had a dog dancing (had to be there).
I will leave you with some photos we took. I encourage everyone to make plans to attend next year’s Tucson Folk Festival – the first weekend in May.