Sunday, April 1, 2012
Concert review: Big Folkin’ Festival in Deep Ellum (March 31)
This was not necessarily a festival about folk music specifically, but we don't care. It was good.
DEEP ELLUM The first Big Folkin’ Festival at the Door/Prophet Bar hit the spot on Saturday night for local rock, folk, and bluegrass fans. Yes, this festival wasn’t all-folk, all the time, but we’ll forgive them due to the outrageously good time it was. Organizers truly utilized the Door’s spacious rooms and outdoor makeshift patio to make this festival feel like an all-day event held at a venue fit just for the occasion. A few local businesses set up shop on the patio along with female roller derby sign ups, and the whole affair had a community feel that the Deep Ellum address certainly supported.
Hippie-rockers Dovetail played an early set and set the bar high for the later acts. The Dallas group's organically vibrant style is a few steps off the local beaten path: The seven-piece includes guitars, a pitch-perfect harmony, and an almost soprano lead singer. Philip Creamer’s elevated chords could be mistaken for Queen’s Freddie Mercury at times. They closed with a cover of the fitting number, “Children of the Revolution” by T. Rex, which further confirmed their Bohemian state-of-mind.
Deep Ellum staple Keyboard Bob attended the fest and made his way to select shows with trusty keyboard in hand. He somehow made it to the front of most crowds, where showed off (but didn't play) his keyboard, regularly holding it above his head.
Plano’s Parallel Play brought the country influences this festival was named for. Their sunny bluegrass style made us long for a front porch, a cold beer, and a rocking chair. Their upright bass, banjo, and sharp harmonies transformed them into the folk band they aim to be. Crowds instantly connected with their friendly tunes, stomping their feet, and creating merry dance circles throughout the room.
Favorite show of the night: Possessed by Paul James
Watching the musician who calls his one-man show Possessed By Paul James was a near religious experience. It was as if everyone in the Prophet Bar were being baptized in his southern gothic hymns and soulful rhythm and blues. His performance featured just his voice, a fiddle, a banjo, and a beat up old suitcase that was used as a bass drum. His set was so full of energy that it was impossible not to move.
As the night wore on, Whiskey Folk Ramblers brought their spaghetti-western-tinged country to the main stage at The Door. Fans and new listeners alike gathered to hear the whiskey-soaked southern balladeers play tunes from their most recent release, …And There Are Devils. Festivalgoers were having a downright hoedown, and their gypsy folk beats ended far too early.
The indie rock vibe was going strong with Dallas’ Bravo, Max!, who filled up the Prophet Bar with enthusiastic fans hungry for a show. The three-piece group balanced the storytelling aspect and instrumental side well, giving the full room a well-rounded show. An elementary boy became the spectacle of the set with his thrashing style of dancing; and the guys dedicated a song to him and even brought him up on stage for the closing number. Keyboard Bob showed up, still proudly holding up his keyboard with his signature blank smile and khaki-colored suit.
Although Telegraph Canyon hasn’t released a full-length album since their 2009 release, The Tide and The Current, they sure do have some fervent fans. As if out of nowhere, fans came wandering in to listen and cheer on their favorite local band. And as Telegraph’s show came to and end, fans left as quickly as they came.
Even though the crowd had dwindled quite a bit by the time Kirby Brown graced the main stage in the early morning hours, that didn’t stop the southern rocker from putting on a heck of a performance. Brown took his cues from rockers who came before him and let the music speak for itself.
Here’s to the Big Folkin’ Festival becoming an annual event, featuring of every genre the hosts want to sponsor. To this fest, we say, Folk yeah!
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