Sunday, March 31, 2013
Concert review: Deep Ellum’s Big Folkin’ Festival proved that everyone should like folk music
It's impossible to characterize all the styles of folk explored in one folkin' fun evening.
DEEP ELLUM The second-annual Big Folkin' Festival took over all of the Prophet Bar’s assundried spaces for an evening of dancing and drinking. With four stages and a parking lot full of local business booths, the BFF had something for everyone.
Fun loving and goofy, Parallel Play hit the ground running with their breakneck folk style on the Main Stage. Almost every song started and ended with vigor — leaving little time for lead singer Jeremy Drake to catch his breath. His happy-go-lucky approach is their signature; the stomping, shouting verses could make an entirely new genre deemed polka-folk. Beginning with the opening number, the sprightly crowd sang along, making the show more like a house party than a dimly lit set at the Prophet Bar. They announced an upcoming sophomore release titled Take Your Pants Off due out later this year.
Singer/songwriter Kirby Brown -- who recently relocated to New York -- set up shop on the Prophet Bar stage with a buttoned-up vest and white dress shirt that personified the day’s folksy mood. His youthful pitch and strong inflection painted colorful and vulnerable stories of relatable heartache, and the full room seemed to commiserate. Crashing cymbals and roaring bridges transformed his folkin’ scene into more of a somber style without losing the vivacious force. Brown performed his newest single, “On The East Side,” a beautiful song about living in NYC, towards the middle of the set.
J. Charles and the Train Robbers could not have been a better match for the folk festivities. Their swinging, bluesy sound, complete with a crying pedal steel guitar, delivered a certain brand of yearning without the fake accent or tired story. With a low, tipped hat, front man J. Charles Saenz’s syrupy drawl guided the lyrics, with Taylor Rea of Zhora adding her softer harmonies. Instruments like piano and bass were succinct, showing that even with only a freshman record, this Dallas group is a well-oiled machine.
Holy Moly brought another facet of folk to the stage with their knee-thumping, cowpunk style as the final act of the night. Yodel-style vocals, solid guitar work, and all around rowdiness keep this veteran band relevant. Now with four albums under their belt, the hilarious band has a dedicated following who seem to just want to have fun. (And it doesn’t hurt that their comical lyrics tend to lean on the raunchy side.) Their cover of Hank Williams’ “I Saw The Light” showcased Joe Rose’s signature voice cracks and thick Southern twang, kicking off do-si-do circles that didn’t stop until the band’s last note.
The 2013 Big Folkin’ Festival not only highlighted some of the best folk music DFW has to offer; it also showed just how many different types are out there. After witnessing the greatness of this broad genre, we won’t let anyone get away with saying they don’t like folk music — there really is something out there for everyone.
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