Willi Carlise (Fayetteville, AR) was on my list of people you need to see. Willi, a singer songwriter, came with a lot of hype and I was curious what made him so special. I was not prepared for the experience I had. His set was an emotional roller coaster with laughter and tears. His song writing is raw and paints vivid images. In between songs he had us laughing and spoke of social justice. He also had Kelly Hund and Stas' Heaney join him for a song. I highly recommend taking a listen to his recordings, but if you really want to experience Willi at his best, see him live!
The Dirty Mugs (Tulsa, OK) had a dynamic stage presence. They describe their music as hardccordion wonder punk and I couldn't think of a better description. Fast picking folk, hints of Irish music and all the punk vibes kept my eyes glued to the stage. If you like accordion and punk music, then you need The Dirty Mugs in your life.
The Westport was transformed in what felt like a comfy living room (but with all the best whiskey) for Kiell Grove's set (Dever, CO). Kiel is a story teller with a knack for drinking songs. This was the perfect set to come and get cool from the heat and have a cool drink.
Roots Music isn't just Bluegrass, old time country, and folk music. It encompass a wide range of music within the genre. The Well (Austin, TX) Falls under some of the heavier side of the roots genre mixing blues, hard rock, and alternative metal. Their stage presence was high energy. They entranced with hypnotic harmonies, heavy guitar riffs and driving beats. I've had this band on repeat since the festival.
Much loved Kelly Hunt (Kansas City, MO) took the stage one more time with Stas'. Even though I just saw them play at the pre-party, it was lovely to hear her music again. Kelly has a contagious joy and a love for the music that's easy to catch. Kelly played a range of Appalachian style tunes with topics that ranged from birds to murder ballads.
Ford Theater Reunion (Lexington, KY) is a must see live act. Their dynamic presence, theatrical stage performance, and crowd engagement make for one hell of a show. On their facebook page they list their genre as undecided and it's spot on, their music blends folk, hot jazz, thrash metal and punk.Ever since I saw them at the pervious Westport Roots Fest, I've been dreaming of seeing them again. It was even better the second time!
Black Irish Texas (Austin, TX) got wild on the stage with their punk, Irish, Americana rockabilly. They played a mix of originals and classic folk tunes. Their high energy punk influences made familiar songs feel new.
The Kay Brothers (California, MO) play old time Missouri stomp music. Their music dared you to dance. The drummer's joy was contagious. If old time bluegrass is your thing, this band will bring a smile to your ears. Their harmonies were lovely.
Hillbilly Casino (Nashville, TN) knows how to get a crowd going! If you put Elvis, the Stray Cats, Jonny Cash, and threw in some punk vibes you'd have Hillbilly Casino. No movement on stage was wasted as they rocked out and engaged the crowd in their music. This high energy band is sure to get you dancing in no time.
Shawn James and the Shapeshifters (Fayetteville, AR) were epic. Shawn has this incredible voice that hits you in the gut with a power packed band behind him. Their music washes over in waves of sound that let loose anything that holds you back. One of my favorite parts of seeing them play is seeing the energy they let loose. There is an intensity when they play and a joy; if you watch Sage play the fiddle, you can see it all on his face. I had been looking forward to seeing this band all weekend and they did not disappoint! Make sure you check out Shawn James solo stuff as well.
Possessed by Paul James (Kerville, TX) not only teaches special needs students full time, he is an extraordinary musician. His music filled the Saloon with fast picking on various instruments, stomping out a beat, and a howling out tunes that you can relate to. The room was packed with people crowding the stage soaking in his music.
Freight Train Rabbit Killer and the Legion of Ghosts pulled every single stop for this show. Let me tell you, it got the weirdest it's ever been at one of their shows. This Doom Blues group, often seen as a duo brought out their legion with keys, drums, horns, and a' dobro. They also were joined on stage by a giant rabbit, the Hawken. The biggest surprise of the night was when a masked Dusty Rust walked through the crowd on stills playing the guitar; sadly I was too in awe and forgot to snap a pic. It was the perfect end to an amazing festival. The tent was packed full of masked people rocking out to the music. This is one of those band you will never fully get until you see them live. It was a blast.
So much fun was had! How many days until the next one?