Americana fest hits the streets

July 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Having tuned in to the music scene a little more closely this year, I am glad to report my astonishment at the caliber of the new bluegrass and Americana musicians. This is not you grandma’s old front porch rocking chair music anymore – this is serious.

Well, this weekend, I had the pleasure of listening and playing with a whole slew of fantastic musicians from Reno and elsewhere, at the Americana Music Festival in Virginia City, Nevada.

I was excited to see this festival again, after Darrell Scott and his three brothers tore up the Piper Opera house last year. I bought tickets right away, which are a value at $20 for the whole three days. This is the first year that the Traditional American Music Project, or TRAMP, which promotes the festival, has elected to charge for general attendance. The event drew more people than any other year, according to organizer Cindy Gray.

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The weather was gorgeous – just walking around the silver boom town that is now America’s largest Historic Landmark, once the richest city in the world and the beginning of Mark Twain’s journalist career, was a treat in itself. However, staying at the bottom of the hill, at the Silverland Hotel, required a little leg strength! I suppose I could have jumped on a shuttle, but I was just too impatient to get back to the sounds of the Central Valley Boys, who played at the Piper, and cruise over to C street for a parking lot jam with members of the Reno-based Six Mule Pile Up

Later in the evening, the honey-dripped tunes of the Novelists inspired reflection and emotion, and finally, Rose’s Pawn Shop got the crowd all roused up, stomping feet, shaking hips, and clapping hands.

A festival that has only a few years under its belt, it may, until now, have been the best kept secret in bluegrass festivals. You must add it to the list next year – the festival is held the second weekend in July. I plan to be there again!

Hunter Merritt at CSU Sacramento April 2012

April 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

Two songs – one original, one cover – to an intimate crowd at the university library. Wonderful gallery!

K-dub is a one man nightclub

January 21, 2012 § Leave a comment

It was confirmed for me at Harlow’s last night, that Keller Williams has not changed one bit since I first saw him in college in Virginia in the 90s.

He still travels around in a van, he still sings songs about traveling in his van. He still plays these songs barefoot, with a poofy haircut and a wild eye, and he still finds joy in his music, perhaps more than anyone listening.

What has changed is the improved technology – from the early days experimenting with two BOSS loop pedals (a novel concept at the time), now the one-man show has now become a one-man-nightclub-plus-live-band that sent the crowd over a rollercoaster ride of beats, harmonies, and humor. His latest creation, Bass, doesn’t boast loops, however.


Keller Williams' latest album, Bass, produced in Fredericksburg, VA in 2011.

I see that the “van” is a bit larger now, and that he is playing bigger venues than Owen Seely’s back yard…much bigger, like the upcoming show at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.

Thanks, K-dub, for being true to yourself and sharing that joy with us. I can’t wait to see you again, knowing you will be the same guy I knew at Sydney. I hope we get to play again, like we did at Owen’s house, and I think that next time you come, you would enjoy meeting my favorite bass player, Joshua Monley (a.k.a. Schwa), who is also a dub and loop fanatic.

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