(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.)
As if it was determined to present a well-rounded microcosm of life in Bend, the Bend Roots Revival’s third day brought about much cooler temperatures and, with them, this town’s impressive collection of fuzzy, puffy, fleecy, downy jackets. I don’t know if it was the weather or some other factor, but the Sunday crowd at Roots seemed much smaller than I expected. Maybe I was seeing things wrong.
There was, however, a good-sized gathering around veteran folk singer Allan Byer on the Casey’s Corner stage when I showed up in the mid-afternoon. For 15 minutes, at least, Byer had one of the few spots on the schedule with no competing sets, which no doubt helped draw people in. But the guy also has been playing anywhere and everywhere in Central Oregon for years, and he has gathered a following, I’m sure. It’s easy to see why; Byer’s sound is soothing and tasteful, the perfect start to any Sunday afternoon full of music. I arrived just in time to capture one of his trademark Bruce Cockburn covers:
He followed that with his own song, “Positive Vibrations,” and was starting another when the tranquility of the moment was shattered by local reggae cover band 2nd Hand Soldiers coming to life on the nearby BIGS Stage. I floated over there and have to say, for a band I wasn’t exactly intent on seeing, I enjoyed the Soldiers. They were tight and bouncy, with good song selections, including reggae legends Steel Pulse, Johnny Osbourne and Bob Marley, plus reggae-fied versions of The Beatles’ “Come Together” and that “Cry To Me” song by Solomon Burke / The Rolling Stones / Tom Petty / Duffy and lots of other folks. As you’ll see in the video below, they were fun and upbeat enough to entice a few people out into the empty dance floor (aka parking lot). That’s always a good sign.
The 4-5 p.m. slot on Roots’ Sunday schedule was jam-packed with jammy goodness, so I stayed at 2nd Hand Soldiers a little longer than I’d planned before skipping over to Back Porch Coffee Roasters, where a new-ish (I think-ish?) band called Truckstop Gravy was doing some low-key, amiable acousticizing. Here’s their nonchalant cover of the Grateful Dead.
And then it was over to the Good Life Stage, where a throng of neo-hippies had gathered to watch their buddies in The Pitchfork Revolution pick ‘n’ grin their way through some traditional bluegrass and clever covers. The band dedicated one performance to an old friend, then launched into a heartfelt and very sweet version of Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody).” They followed that with the song below — sung by a guest female vocalist (the wife of a band member, I believe) — a sublime, snail’s-pace performance that captivated most of the crowd, despite the chatty types you hear in the video. The two songs back-to-back were the prettiest, most genuinely moving moments of the weekend for me.
With some actual sit-at-a-computer work to do, I grabbed some grub and headed for the office, missing some good stuff: local folk-pop chanteuse Anastacia, Portland funk band the Excellent Gentlemen, Kim Kelley’s new Downhill Ryder project and JazzBros!. By the time I got back, the sun was gone, the mercury had dropped even lower, and festival founder Mark Ransom was on the main stage leading The Mostest through its typical set of poppy, good-times folk jams. Here’s “My Kind of Lady.”
“We’re gonna play a few more,” Ransom said at one point, “and then Brent Alan’s going to come up and lead the band and the party will continue quietly into the night.” Below him, on the pavement, a few diehard dancers continued to shake their silhouettes, seemingly unwilling to hand this year’s Bend Roots Revival over to history.