Friday, August 3, 2012

Fun, Family, and Friends at the Fantastic Floyd Fest

Mainstage of Floyd Fest
(I will probably add more pictures and videos, as well as a link to the recordings to our sets when they come in)
Here is a link to our 4th set of the festival at the Pink Floyd Stage.  This one has Andrew Hendryx from Yarn sitting in with us and ripping the electric mandolin.

And here is the link to our first set of the festival.  It was the VIP party on Wed night and we debuted 3 new songs that we're proud of.  And we have Alex from L Shape Lot playing "Circle" with us.  Check it out!

We were really looking forward to this FloydFest.  They graciously gave us four killer sets, the most we've ever had there, and we had just finished "wood-shedding" in Shelby for several days, working on new songs to debut at the festival.   Other than that we didn't know what to expect.  Every festival is different and going in with a "plan" is useless because the in-the-moment spontaneity is always better than any plan you can come up with.  We would never have guessed that we would come into the festival knowing the guys from L Shape Lot as acquaintances and leave knowing them as brothers....but that's exactly what happened, and it shaped our entire festival experience.

Eric Miller, the lead singer, sent me a text the week before asking me if I would sit in with them on Wednesday night.  Their set was right after ours for the VIP pre-party, and it would be easy to jam a little.  I said "sure," and we exchanged a few ideas about songs and tempos and various music nerd concepts.   Joey had also talked to their guitar player Alex Lanier about sitting in with us.  Joey told me he should play "Circle Around the Sun" with us and join in on the trading-licks part.  Joey added, "Don't worry, this guy rips it."  Joey doesn't lie about things like that, so I knew he'd be fine. 

We got going on the Pink Floyd Garden Stage and had one of the best crowds we've ever seen there.  This is the stage that propelled us to win their "Under the Radar" contest two years before.   (L Shape Lot won it last year.)

Playing the Pink Floyd Garden Stage this year.  
Before I continue, allow me to do a little backtracking. Two years ago we were invited to come up and compete in this contest that consists of about 20-30 unsigned bands.  Our best time slot was at this stage on Saturday night around 10pm, but an hour before that the power shut down completely, causing the entire operation to come to a screeching halt.  We thought this was a terrible thing at first, since we might miss out on our set.  But what happened instead was our set was pushed back to exactly the time that Railroad Earth was finished on the main stage, and this area, the beer garden, filled up with several thousand people; and we played one of the best shows we had ever played at that point.  A month later, we found out that the fans voted us as the best band in the "UTR" series.   We had people come up to us for a full year and say that hearing us play Pink Floyd's "The Wall" on that stage was a highlight for them.

So here we are, playing the same stage to a great crowd again.  Alex came up on "Circle" and just crushed it.  He's going to kill me for saying this but...we've all imagined what it would be like if Tony Rice had decided to play electric guitar instead of acoustic, and watching Alex play you get a little glimpse of that.  Bluegrass guitar picking is one of the most disciplined routes of music you can take.  Alex has that discipline and technique and he just burns up and down that telecaster neck with it.  It's really amazing to both hear and watch.   So there we are with Alex and Joey just going at it, and I'm thinking about how grateful I am to be using 3 picks and not just one.

Alex playing "Circle Around the Sun"
Joey and I got up and played several songs with them including "Freeborn Man," Walls of Time," and a punk tune that I'd never heard before called, "Take the Skinheads Bowling."  It was more fun than anyone expected; we now had new musical brethren, and we were determined to jam as much as possible together.

Here's a video that our friend Scott took.  Unfortunately we can't get the audio and video to sync up.  But it shows how much fun we had together.  This is during their main stage slot on Friday.

L Shape will also be playing at the Garage in Winston Salem this Friday night!  Details here.  

This picture is after our last set together at the VIP Stage.  Friends for life.
Overall the fest was great, and everyone absolutely loved the "new guys" in the band.  We made a lot of new friends and talked to a lot of old friends.

Right before our main stage set

One thing that I always notice is that the lower and mid-level bands can actually put on a much better show than the big-time headliners that everyone comes to see.  I personally thought that our friends Yarn played a much more engaging and rocking set on the main stage than several of the famous headliners.  And I think most of us would say the same about Galactic's set on the Hill Holler Stage on Thur night as well.  Obviously this is all subjective, but I recommend to not get too caught up in only seeing the famous people and give some new bands a chance.  You'll probably be blown away more than you think.  The headliner that I enjoyed the most was Bruce Hornsby.  He surrounds himself by such amazing musicians that his show is just amazing to watch.

What a great pic by our good friend Milo Farineau!

Here are some pictures from the Festival:

Main Stage!

The thing we heard the most through the festival is "Wow, the new guys rock!"

Scotty doing his thing, and looking fantastic.

Roger Gupta got this shot right before our first set on Wednesday

Ashley and I have been listening to Leftover Salmon for a long time, and we agreed that this was the best they've sounded in years.  Their banjo picker, Andy Thorn, is an old friend of mine from Boone NC.  He's an amazing musician and a perfect fit for them.  He has spent time playing in the NC band Big Fat Gap (I love that name) as well as a couple of years with our good friends Larry Keel and Natural Bridge.

We want to thank everyone that came to all our sets and talked us up at the festival.  We'll be playing near your hometown soon, so keep a lookout for us.  Thanks!

Oh, and don't miss L Shape Lot at the Garage in Winston this friday night!

Brian and BDL

Actually this isn't from the festival.  I just liked it. 

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