Another hot day in the sun with a crowd that surprisingly did not seem that much smaller than yesterday’s Timberlake experience. Almost as hot as the heat were the fiery tempers on Twitter of people complaining about the traffic and parking. But for me, it was yet another great day of live music on the Franklin Farm.
My morning started with the female sister duo, Larkin Poe, who told us they now live here in Nashville. It seems the sisters have a much harder edge to their once folky sound, witness the Black Sabbath t-shirt and their cover of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty.”
Another local artist was Valerie June whose unique voice stayed within the confines of some rather traditional styles. Sadly, her vocals got a bit lost in the mix when her tunes got louder.
Karen Elson turned out to be a pleasant afternoon surprise spinning her songs with a crack band that included My Morning Jacket’s Tom Blankenship on bass and local songstress Odessa on violin.
I finally got to see a band I have learned to love through their airplay on WMOT. Austin’s The Band of Heathens set was full of the country rock harmonies I learned to love back in the 70s. They were joined by guest Nicole Atkins on backing vocals.
The set I didn’t see enough of was by Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives. His star-studded band included Kenny Vaughan, Chris Scruggs and Harry Stinson who all got a chance to sing one in front of the master.
The reason I left Marty early was to see Amanda Shires who played the most solid rocking set I have ever seen her play. A surprise to her set was an extra guitarist, her husband, “Mr. Jason Isbell Shires the First,” who was in town only as a result of cancelling some recent shows due to a band member’s death in the family.
Getting myself in position for the act to follow, I caught most of the high-energy crowd-participation-induced set by Fitz & the Tantrums. These guys remind me so much of a late 80s British pop band, and I loved hearing them thanking the fans who came to see them at Third & Lindsley back in the day.
Finally, the highlight of my festival was Ryan Adams & the Unknown Band. Surprisingly fresh after playing a show across the pond in London on Friday night, Ryan and the band smoked through a set that evoked his current love of that 80s hard rock sound. Usually playing on a dark stage to protect his fragile senses, Ryan took to a smoke machine instead to hide from us as much as he could. He also had the moment of the day when he ad-libbed a song on the spot about a guy in a crane.
Oh yeah, never a grunge guy, I don’t care at all for Pearl Jam so I only listened briefly to Eddie Vedder before taking my tired body home. I was surprised however to see a rather large gathering for him that I estimated at about 90% of what was there to see Justin Timberlake the night before.
So, thanks all for a wonderful though trying weekend. My suggestion for next year is to not take a chance on the weather, and just move the festival to mid-October. Also, adding another small stage with local acts would be awesome! As would be a second Grilled Cheeserie truck!
Here’s the link to my report on Day One.