Sunday, June 21, 2009

Clearwater Festival 2009

Yesterday marked an important day in my concert-going career. I attended my first festival, Pete Seeger's Clearwater Festival just 45minutes outside of New York City. Although the festival was geared towards an older crowd, it did have a pretty stellar lineup. Artists worth noting were the now 90 years old Pete Seeger (of course), the man who opened Woodstock 1969, one Richie Havens, Susan Tedeschi (wife of guitar prodigy Derek Trucks), Tao Seeger, Old Crow Medecine Show and one of my new favourite bands, Dr. Dog. I was at the festival to work, as Relix had a booth set up for the purpose of selling subscriptions. I did get to drop in on Seeger briefly, he played with the kids from room 12, an assortment of children no older then 9 years old. The man really sparks to life when he is on stage and is simply a musical institution. After meeting and greeting Richie Havens (he was signing autographs and taking pictures at a booth directly across from Relix) I was able to pop in on his short set and catch a powerful rendition of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower". Mr. Havens stuck closely to the original version but with the addition of a lead acoustic guitarist accompanying him. I also managed to drop by Old Crow Medecine Show's set and catch some of their highly upbeat bluegrass and country music. People were really diggin Old Crow, taking advantage of an excuse to hoe-dance and get down in the mud. Tao Seeger had Jason Crosby sitting in with him and played a nice mix of bluegrass and rock and roll, nothing I recognized but good fun music none the less. As the evening started to settle in and the rain began to fall more heavily, everyone in the Relix booth was eagerly awaiting Dr. Dog's set. They drew a small but devoted crowd of attentive fans to their performance. The band played a nice mix of old and new, dropping some of my personal favourites from 2008's "Fate" including "100 Years", "The Breeze" and "Hang On". They also played some older gems that I can't quite recall the names of. Dr. Dog's beautiful mix of catchy hard rocking pop tunes and rich harmonies sounded amazing even with the increasingly heavy rainfall. No matter, people danced and embraced the mud. Towards the end of the show the band asked if the barrier in the crowd was set up in order to keep us safe or them safe, and then invited all of us fans to come right up to the stage for the final 3 songs. We all wasted no time and rushed right up to the front to rock out to the final tunes of this amazingly talented up-and-coming band. As the set came to a halt we headed back to the Relix tent to unpack. On the whole it was a successful and fun day. I got my first taste of what a festival is like, even if it was a pretty tame one. With so much good music, great food and overall good vibes, one would have to go out of their way not to have a good time at a festival, even if you were technically "on the job".
Here's a video of Dr. Dog playing "The Breeze"

I was also surprised to find that popular music blog Brooklyn Vegan had used my writeup on their website, check it out, there's also a ton of additional photos. []

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