2011 Bend Roots Revival: Day 2

Sunday, September 25th, 2011, 7:07 pm by Ben Salmon

(Find all our coverage of the 2011 Bend Roots Revival, including a preview of the event and recaps of all three days, by clicking here.)

Sometimes it seems like my Twitter feed is full of nothing but Bendites who go to every single event in this town, floating from free concert to art walk to seasonal festival to bike race to free concert to art walk to seasonal festival to bike race to … you get the picture.

Yesterday, I felt like one of those folks.

My goal was to arrive at the Bend Roots Revival at 1 p.m. to see Franchot Tone play his disarming reggae-pop, but a last-minute errand put me in the car, driving across town at that time. Community radio to the rescue! I turned my dial to 88.9 FM, where KPOV was broadcasting live from the festival’s BIGS Stage, and listened to at least half of Tone’s set, including several originals, his sharp cover of the Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” and a frisky funk jam by The Meters.

When I did finally arrive at the Century Center, I ventured first into the courtyard, where a growing crowd and competing noise from two stages made it feel a bit too chaotic. So I retreated to the Good Life Stage for some jazz guitar wizardry from longtime local Rich Hurdle. I’d never seen him before, but his casual style and laid-back sound was an ideal antidote to the hustle and bustle of the courtyard. Here’s his take on “Triste” by bossa nova pioneer Antonio Carlos Jobim:

After settling down with Hurdle, I again entered the courtyard fray for The Dream Symphony, a newish band featuring several veterans of the local scene: Jamie Houghton and David Skelton, plus Dennis Plant on bass and Meshem Jackson on drums. I didn’t hear enough to give you a solid summary, but here’s the last song they did, a sort of spoken word piece over a funky foundation.

At the same time inside the Century Center’s ballroom, Ramblerland — the Revival’s educational hub for the weekend — was pulsing with a Dale Largent drum workshop.

Over on the Casey’s Corner stage, the schedule said Hold Up the Sky would perform at 2:15 p.m., but only Grace Laxson took the stage; i have no idea if that’s what she calls her solo self or if the rest of the band didn’t play. Either way, she kicked off her slightly late-starting set with a Coldplay cover and then this original tune.

With a powerful voice and a knack for melody, Laxson — also a member of Lo & Behold and The Heroes of Telemark — is, in my mind, a welcome, fresh presence on the local music scene.

Speaking of which, Laurel Brauns was new to the local music scene five years ago. Now, she’s planning to leave it for Portland at the end of this month. Bummer. Her set on the BIGS Stage was my favorite of the weekend so far. Fronting her ever-evolving band the Sweet Harlots, Brauns delivered despite playing to a vast expanse of empty, hot pavement as her audience gathered in the slivers of shade that ringed the space.

Wearing borrowed sunglasses to beat the intense sunshine, Brauns stuck mostly to tunes on her fine new album “House of Snow.” Highlights included the beautiful “Named After You” and, as usual, Brauns’ distinctive voice. Unfortunately, that voice had to compete with Laxson’s, which was booming loud and clear from her stage across the courtyard. Roots organizers did a lot of work this year to reduce the sonic effects of having stages so close together, but I think if the BIGS Stage, Casey’s Corner and the Dave’s Garage stage are all going to remain in their current spots, they might have to be scheduled so as to have only one going at a time. (I say this knowing that no one likes to hear complaints about a free event.)

Anyway, here are the Sweet Harlots doing “Puppy Love” from Brauns’ new album.

Last but not least, I caught a little rootsy, old-school soul from Broken Down Guitars. Sorry for the shaky camera work at first.

The rest of the festival’s Saturday schedule was packed with good stuff: Boxcar Stringband, the debut of Your Birthday, a homecoming ‘n’ headlining set for The Autonomics, Empty Space and MoWo, and a Sophie’s Choice in the 4-5 p.m. slot with Hilst & Coffey, Consider the Fox and Gary Fulkerson playing simultaneously.

Me? I went to the weiner dog races downtown and then to see the closing show of “Chicago” at the Tower Theatre, which was as incredible as you’ve no doubt heard.

And now, I’m off to the final day of Roots. Because what’s one more event?

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