Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"I'll Do It Tomorrow" - A Procrastinators Review of Wakarusa 2011

Words & Pictures by Brad Darby
For the fourth consecutive year I made the trek to the Wakarusa Music and Camping Festival to enjoy four days of music and camping in a setting that they call “Where Music Meets Mother Nature.” With acts ranging from My Morning Jacket and Ben Harper to the Budos Band and Dark Star Orchestra to STS9 and Bassnectar, a total of over 100 bands spread out across six stages, with on-site camping, showers, and even a grocery store to pick up last minute forgotten items.

Taking place the first weekend in June, and located just outside of Ozark, Arkansas, Wakarusa is in their third year at Mulberry Mountain. The festival, started in 2004, was previously held in Lawrence, Kansas at Clinton State Park through 2008 but has now moved to a much more fitting location in the beautiful rolling hills of the Ozark National Forest. Showcasing bands from a wide array of genres and now featuring the Interstellar Meltdown, a late night festival inside the festival including electronic acts and DJ sets, Wakarusa is one of the premiere festivals in the country drawing upwards of 20,000 people.

For a complete photo gallery, including something like 100 pictures of Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, click his link.

Thursday - Dirtfoot - Main Stage

Wakarusas favorite Gypsy Punk Country Grumble Boogie band kicked things off Thursday on the main stage with a bean can shaking good time. This was the second of Dirtfoot's FIVE sets over the weekend, including the previous night on the Backwoods Stage for the early arrival crowd, along with Mountain Sprout and Dumptruck Butterlips.

Wakarusa Press Conference - Thursday

Members of Dirtfoot, Cornmeal, Lotus, as well as Grace Potter and Simon Posford sat down with part of the Wakarusa braintrust for a press conference featuring free Boulevard beer and an air conditioned building. It was difficult to hear, but questions were asked to Grace Potter about how her band has grown quite a lot since starting the festival circuit in 2004, and Dirtfoot talked about their affiliation with the Chompdown, a FREE communal breakfast put on by a group of volunteers in the campground featuring a live set by Dirtfoot started by a man named Rabbit five years ago in Lawrence, Kansas.

Thursday - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals - Main Stage

The beautiful Grace Potter took the stage on Thursday afternoon after participating in the first ever Wakarusa Press Conference. With her band The Nocturnals burning it up in the hot Arkansas sun, GP&N played an hour and a half set that was one of the highlights of my weekend. The set included Grace doing an amazing vocal solo of "Nothing But The Water Pt 1" and a rocking version of "Stop the Bus."

Thursday - Umphreys McGee - Mainstage
Umphreys McGee played from 10:15pm-12:15am on Thursday night and though only having one set after getting a late night and mainstage set the prior two years, Umphreys made up for the lack of sets with a cover of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" as well as The Who's "Baba O' Riley." (Video courtesy of RebelINSoo)

Friday Morning - Chompdown - RV Reserved Campground

The Chompdown takes place on either Friday or Saturday morning at each Wakarusa or Harvest Festival. It was started five years ago in Lawrence by John "Rabbit" Cabarara and is a completely FREE communal breakfast put on by about 30 volunteers and donations from anyone and everyone. Dirtfoot has been fortunate enough to be asked to play the prestigious slot at 9 am for the last 5 years and if you ask any of the 6 members they will tell you it is the highlight of the weekend for them.

Friday - My Morning Jacket - Main Stage

Friday was a day of recovery, and a day that I didnt get the camera out as it charged most of the day after taking a few hundred pictures of Grace Potter. My Morning Jacket headlined the Main Stage, and were followed by 3 and a half hours of Dark Star Orchestra. Other acts on Friday were bluegrass mainstays Split Lip Rayfield, who also played Thursday night late night, and Cornmeal as well as Ryan Bingham and soul sister Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. (Video credit to Colbruce)

Saturday - Dirtfoot Campground Set

Dirtfoot had announced about a month before the festival that they would be playing a special surprise set at the campsite that created the best Dirtfoot flag for their campsite. There were actually two winners, and each site received a visit from Dirtfoot on Saturday afternoon. Our site was fortunate enough to have one of the creators of the Dirtfoot pirate flag camping with us, so we were treated to a special three song set including "Little Bit of Rum."

Saturday - Mumford and Sons - Main Stage

England's newest craze Mumford and Sons took the main stage on Saturday afternoon for their first ever appearance in Arkansas. Vocalist Marcus Mumford made it completely clear how hot it was, and seemed fascinated by the waterfall just a short hike off the Wakarusa property. They played most of their debut album Sign No More as well as three new tunes. Noticably missing was the upbeat dance worthy "Dust Bowl Dance." Great to see them, though I was slighty disappointed. They were followed by Ben Harper & Relentless 7 show played a great cover of Led Zeppelin's "No Quarter" and prevailed through some sound problems that were persistant with the main stage all weekend.

Saturday - Budos Band - Revival Tent

Budos Band threw down some serious funk in the Revival Tent on Saturday night. As a matter of fact, all day Saturday the Revival Tent featured funk acts including March Fourth Marching Band, Papa Grows Funk, and Budos. Other acts on Saturday included Galactic, Thievery Corporation, Wookiefoot and Arkansas' very own "hillbilly bluegrass machine" Mountain Sprout.

Sunday - Dirtfoot Late Night Sexy Panty Party - Backwoods Stage

Sunday night to close out Wakarusa, the grumble boogie boys took the stage for their fifth and final set of the weekend, a set dubbed the Dirtfoot Late Night Sexy Panty Party by Scott Girardy, the sax player for Dirtfoot. Other bands playing on the toned down Sunday lineup included Ozomatli, Beats Antique, EOTO and Toots and the Maytals.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Bayou Soul Singer-Songwriter Shares His Heart at Old Rock House

Words and video by Bradley Darby

It had been almost three years since Marc Broussard had last played here at The Duck Room, a venue he had played for his previous three trips to St. Louis. Broussard had taken a break from touring to spend time with his family and record a new self titled album, released earlier this year.  The news only got better when it was announced just a week before that Broussard would be stopping by St. Louis’ favorite new and used record shop, Vintage Vinyl, to perform and meet fans before the show at Old Rock House.

Broussard played a short three song set including “Lucky” from the newest album as well as an acoustic version of the fan favorite “Home” in front of a few dozen fans. He then took time to sign autographs and take pictures with fans, and at one point even took a woman’s phone and talked to a friend that was unable to make the show. See the full performance below. It was then over to the Old Rock House for the main event of the evening.

There were two opening acts for the evening.The first was a Canadian brother and sister duo known as Sarah & Christian Dugas, who I unfortunately did not get to see. The second opening act has been garnering a lot of attention as of late as one of their songs was apparently featured on an episode of Grays Anatomy. Scars on 45 are an indie rock group that hails from the UK. The group consists of four blokes as well as a girl named Aimee that shares vocal duties with guitar player Danny. Scars are completed by bassist Stu, drummer Chris, and Nova on the piano. The Brits did a great job with their 45ish minute set, and converted quite a few folks into new fans on this night. All they had available was an EP called Give Me Something, and they tackled all four of those songs in addition to a few more. A full length album should be out in January. You can get more information about Scars on 45 at their website, or you can catch them in STL opening for Matt Nathanson at The Pageant on October 18.

Straight out of Carencro, Louisiana and bayou born and raised, Marc Broussard was up next. If you haven’t heard of Broussard, you should do yourself a favor and indulge in his blend of the best elements of soul, classic R&B, and Bayou infused blues rock. He self released his first album, Momentary Setback, in 2002. That was followed up in 2004 by his major label debut Carencro, named after his hometown. In 2007, it was S.O.S. (Save Our Soul), a cover album featuring his takes on songs from Sam Cooke to the Pointer Sisters to Al Green. After releasing a 5 song EP, Broussard released Keep Coming Back in 2008 and most recently he released a self titled album in June of 2011. The first time I heard the man sing, opening for Matt Nathanson at a small defunct club called Hi-Pointe in 2003, I was shocked to see this voice coming out of a 21 year old white boy. Now at the rip old age of 29, its quite obvious he has learned a lot in the last ten years of his career.

He kicked the night off with a few upbeat songs, “Come Around” and “Hard Knocks.” It was then time to romance the ladies with the ballad “Lonely Night in Georgia”, one of my favorite songs of his. Broussard then played his anthem of self-discovery, and one of his oldest tunes “The Wanderer” before calling up opening act Sarah & Christian Dugas to help out on backing vocals for two new songs, “Lucky” and “Yes Man.”

Marc then introduced us to each member of the band as the played a brief solo before exiting the stage, leaving Broussard alone with his acoustic guitar and a room full of people. First up in the acoustic set was “Come In From The Cold”, the only song on S.O.S. that is NOT a cover. Broussard then played “Let Me Leave” before asking the crowd what they wanted to hear, and no shocker at what was being yelled at the stage.....the fan favorite hidden acoustic song about his son from Carencro called “Gavins Song.”

After continuing the solo acoustic portion of the show with “Hope For Me Yet”, he asked us “do you want the band to come back up?” and as the band started coming in from the outdoor patio and collected the Jager shots poured by a gentlemen who’s sole responsibility seemed to be mixing Jagermeister with A&W Root Beer, the crowd shouted back NO!!! At this time Broussard sent the band back off the stage and he then played “Saturday” followed by another great ballad of his, “Beauty of Who You Are.” It was at this time that Marc told us that it gets boring playing  yourself, and asked the band to come back out to finish up the set. The boys then tore through a few more songs including a cover of Al Greens “Love and Happiness” and finally his biggest hit to date, “Home”, which he had played at Vintage Vinyl acoustic, but now we got to enjoy a rocking rendition with the full band. For the encore, Broussard came back out and slowed it down to sooth the souls with another song from S.O.S., “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”, originally performed by Donny Hathaway, a song that really showcases his vocal chops.

After making his was through a ten year, four album catalog, most of which seemed to come from his 2004 major label debut Carencro, Broussard left the stage. He hung around on the patio to meet some fans, as its no secret Marc has always been a man of the people. It was yet another great performance from one of the hardest working men in the singer songwriter game. Broussard is not only a great songwriter and vocalist, but a fantastic performer. Get more information about Marc here, or just go see him when he plays a club near you, because you need some bayou soul in your life.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Morning Jacket at The Pageant - St. Louis - 8/2/2011

Words, Photos, Live videos by Bradley Darby
This is being posted two weeks after the show due to lack of internet access for last two weeks.

When it was announced in May that My Morning Jacket would be playing at The Pageant, the feeling that immediately came to me was jubilation. This is a band that I had been dying to see since I first watched the Okonokos DVD and caught a glimpse of what a MMJ show was like. Only problem was, tickets went on sale while I was away at Wakarusa, seeing My Morning Jacket. Luckily a friend that is in the right place was able to help me out and secure me tickets. I vowed to get their early to obtain a premium spot, as their set at Wakarusa not only was the highlight of the weekend, but was nothing short of amazing.

Its not a coincidence that some people consider My Morning Jacket to be one of the best live bands out there right now. The raw energy and emotion put into a performance by the Louisville, Kentucky five piece is something that is hard to express in words (luckily there is video evidence to help me out!) Since the release of their debut album The Tennessee Fire in 1999, MMJ has released five more studio albums with each one giving you a different vibe than the last. Talking with another fan after the show, we both agreed that upon the first listen of each album you are questioning what you just heard.... but give it a few more spins and you start to see what Jim James and the boys are trying to do, as no two albums sound alike. 

The opening band was California indie rockers Delta Spirit, who were fantastic and spent their 45 minute set doing their best to convert each and every person in the room into a believer. By the near standing ovation they received after their set, I think they succeeded. The highlight of their set was the fact that on a few songs they initiated the duel drummer sequence and had two kits set up next to each other while percussionist Brandon Young and Kelly Winrich banged away with the fury of a honey badger as they rattled the bones in your body. I sadly cant give you any more info on their set, but I recommend you check them out. 


My Morning Jacket took the stage at around 9:15 and came on to ominous green glows and haunting bass, both of which borrow from the theme of their most recent album Circuital, released just two months ago. The set kicked off with the opening track from that album, “Victory Dance”, a perfect song to start a set and get the crowd going. Near the end, vocalist Jim James belts out a primal scream and then seamlessly flowed into the second song and title track, “Circuital” before venturing into their prior catalog. 

Yim Yames - The Angel

Front man James has a way for controlling a crowd as he bounces around the stage from side to side, using the monitors as stepping stones along the way while his mane of hair flows through the air like he’s floating above the rest of the world like some angel (shout out to American Dad!) But that’s only when he’s not busy shredding your face off on his flying V guitar and howling screams or soothing your soul with his soft spoken inside voice and acoustic guitar. He is joined by Tom Blankenship on the bass, Patrick Hallahan on drums, Bo Koster on keys and Carl Broemel on guitar. 

I’m Amazed” from 2008’s Grammy nominated Evil Urges went into another new one, “First Light.” After James took a second to talk to the crowd by telling us about St. Louis being the “power center of the country” and talking about how great it was that there is a place where “the City Museum and the Arch can coexist” (if you dont know the City Museum, you should check this link out) they then went right into “The Way He Sings”, the only song from their 2001 album At Dawn that was played. The new album, Circuital, would make up a major part of the set list as it was only released two months ago. But its a fantastic album, so thats not a bad thing whatsoever. The remainder of the night featured a solid mix of their entire catalog and a total of 24 songs over two and a half hours.


One of MMJs more epic tunes, “Touch Me and I’m Going to Scream Pt. 2” went into “Dondonte”, a beautiful, yet deep song about long time friend of the band who took his own life. That song is from 2005’s, Z, one of my favorite MMJ albums that actually played a heavy role in the night with 5 songs including “Dondonte” to end the set and the always amazing “Wordless Chorus” to kick off the encore. After a few more song James then again addressed the sold out rowdy crowd as he told us a story about visiting the City Museum earlier in the day, and how he was trapped in a door maze where he kept having the option of going through two doors, and they kept getting smaller as did the rooms until he was eventually just stuck in a tiny room. (See: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory) James then said that made him think of the next song as they then played “Holding On To Black Metal.” The set then ended with the crowd favorite and the always guaranteed to rock your socks off “One Big Holiday” from It Still Moves, their major label debut from 2003. 


It had been five years since their last visit to St. Louis, and My Morning Jacket made up for it by keeping a sold out crowd happy for nearly three hours, and blowing the motherfucking roof off The Pageant. I took a friend along who had just gotten into them in the few days leading up to the show, and he was blown away as well. We both agreed that it was quite possibly the loudest concert we had ever attended, and both of us have seen many shows over our years. This show is in strong contention for Best of 2011, and it is going to be tough to top. Luckily I have Wilco at the soon to open Peabody Opera House to look forward too........

1. Victory Dance (Circuital)
2. Circuital (Circuital)
3. The Dark (The Tennessee Fire)
4. I'm Amazed (Evil Urges)
5. First Light (Circuital)
6. The Way That He Sings (At Dawn)
7. Gideon(Z)
8. Golden (It Still Moves)
9. Slow Slow Tune (Circuital)
10. Heartbreakin' Man (The Tennessee Fire)
11. Off the Record(Z)
12. Mahgeetah (It Still Moves)
13. You Wanna Freak Out (Circuital)
14. Movin' Away (Circuital)
15. Smokin' From Shootin' (Evil Urges)
16. Run Thru (It Still Moves)
18. Dondante(Z)
20. Touch Me, I'm Going to Scream, Part One (Evil Urges)
21. The Day is Coming (Circuital)
22. Holdin' On To Black Metal (Circuital)
23. Anytime(Z)
24. One Big Holiday (It Still Moves)