05 August 2006


Oyster Ridge Music Festival

I've been meaning to get some things down about the groups we saw last weekend at the Oyster Ridge Music Festival in Kemmerer, Wyoming. We didn't see all the bands, and we didn't see every set completely of the bands we did see; we did see some complete sets.

Of particular note, to my tastes, were three bands: Clumsy Lovers, Trampled by Turtles, and The Hickory Project. All exhibited outstanding musicianship: they're just good, maybe great, players. They all had energy. The all were genre-bending in good ways.

The Hickory Project 05The Hickory Project is the closest to traditional bluegrass of these three, but with a jazz sensibility when it comes to some harmonies, some leads, and some rhythms (they swing a good bit).

Trampled by Turtles 06I would characterize Trampled by Turtles as bluegrass with a punk sensibility. These young men have lots of energy and play in a very driving direct manner. It's really exciting to hear them play.

Clumsy Lovers is an eclectic band, mixing their original numbers with, er, interesting covers of... Well, let's put it like this. Their first encore was one long medly of other peoples' songs: From AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long" to Van Morrison's "Brown Eyed Girl." Their knowledge of others' songs and other styles was impressive. And speaking of energy, I don't think the drummer stopped from the moment of their first song until the end of their regular set. The violinist and guitarist both front the band with a friendly accessible style that is easy to listen to. (I don't have Clumsy Lover pics, because we went to Valerie and Kendall's for dinner, missing parts of the festival. When we came back, I left my camera at their house.)

Anne and Pete Sibley 03Of the more traditional groups (not that any of the above can't play traditional when they choose), Anne and Pete Sibley were particularly good, I thought. I really liked it when she played guitar and he played banjo. They played a number of their own very nice songs.

Peasall Sisters 02The Peasall Sisters, the little girls who played the George Clooney character's daughters in Oh Brother Where Art Thou, were very good, but close three-part female harmonies wears on this one after a while.

Robin Kessinger and Friend  03Robin Kessinger was very very good. He was among the more traditional performers. I have nothing bad to say about him, because he may have been the best player of the entire festival. But I'm just drawn more to the weird (see above). He had someone sitting in with him the entire time whose name I don't recall: my apologies. Jonathan Wood sat in with him. (Can't find a Jonathan Wood link.)

Crescent Moon 01Similarly, Crescent Moon was very good, but we only caught a few songs at the end of their set opening the festival on Friday, so I didn't get a good sense of their performance, abilities, direction. I'd be interested in hearing them again.

Also, I can't find a link on the web for Crescent Moon, so if there is one that you the reader know of, please send it to me or leave a comment.

The Navigators 03The Navigators were the big closing act on Saturday night, but I thought they were fairly generic: A mix of The White Stripes, The Strokes, and The Black Crowes. Straight up rock music, but it's not like there's really ever been a shortage of that, and, at least for this one performance, I didn't see things that led me to believe they had something special to bring to the straight up rock music field. Don't get me wrong: They played just fine. But lot's of people play just fine.

The festival setting was great: The triangle park in downtown Kemmerer. It was a laid back scene, the mix (didn't get the sound guy's name, but I thought he did a good job) was good with a level where you could either listen or shoot the shit with your people. Everyone seemed to have a great time. It was hot for there, but to us, "it's a dry heat" reamined operative. It was great to spend a lot of time outside, listening to music.

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