What a weekend. My feet ache, I’m overtired and I’m buried at work but that’s okay. A stellar Saturday more than makes up for that.
First, I hit the Crawford County Music Festival at Sprague Farm and Brew Works near Venango. Driving out was discouraging: Rain, and more rain, coming down hard. But a few minutes after arriving, just before the Folkadelics played an acoustic set, the rain let up.
The going was squishy and muddy, but at least it didn’t monsoon during the music.
Folkadelics play harmony-heavy pop, imbued with hip-hop flourishes and a strong, rhythmic undercurrent; lead singer Danielle Faraone has a powerful, jazzy voice. Their inventive cover of the Beatles’ “Norwegian Bird” was a real treat, but so were originals — especially “Maintain.”
The energy level ramped up to nuclear level when Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band, the headliner, arrived. The Reverend plays bass lines with his thumb, and melody with the rest of his fingers, flying up and down the frets so fast, he’s a blur. He also has spectacular tone and phrasing, while his slide playing sets off sparks.
With his wife Breezy on washboard and powerhouse drummer Aaron Persinger, they played primal, hit-you-in-the gut blues and country blues with the authority of the Supreme Court. The Reverend also has a deep, commanding voice — and he’s quite the showman.
The music was so strong and inviting, nearly everyone at the festival came up near the stage to dance in the mud and fist pump and hand-clap along. Which brings to mind “Clap Your Hands,” one of the night’s many standouts. Everyone clapped, stomped and hollered along.
What a show. Loved how Breezy ended it, too, setting her washboard on fire in Jimi Hendrix style.
After saying amen to the Reverend, I zipped back to Erie to catch Start Making Sense, the terrific Talking Heads tribute at Crooked I. I caught them in 2012, as well, but they were even stronger this time — simply amazing. They nail all phases of the Heads’ career, even difficult songs like “Artist’s Only” and especially the polyrhythmic, funk-foritfied ones such as “Cities” and “Life During Wartime.”
Lead singer Jon Braun must be in top shape; he dances, shimmies, runs in place and recreates David Byrne’s strangely compelling choreography. He also does a great job appropriating Byrne’s various vocal styles and bag of tricks (hiccups, snorts, etc.) A tribute to Talking Heads will not work without a convincing vocalist; Braun reaches down deep and delivers.
The band, meanwhile, simply blazed. Keyboard player Brad Murray was especially on it, nailing not only the keyboard lines that played a prominent role in “Speaking in Tongues” and “Remain in Light” songs, but the tone and pitch of those vintage 80s keyboards. He hit the climax to “Once in a Lifetime” with thunderous joy; it was such a powerhouse moment I had to pinch myself.
“Nothing But Flowers,” “What a Day That Was,” “Psycho Killer” — all stellar. I’ve never heard a Crooked I crowd scream and clap so loudly for a band before. Start Making Sense literally burned down the house, so much so, they emerged for an encore, which they ordinarily don’t do. But sending everyone away happy with “Take Me to the River” was a good idea.
Seriously, next time they come, do not miss this band. A clip of them from YouTube, playing “Life During Wartime” is here.
Yes has sold out its Aug. 4 concert at Carnegie Library Music Hall in Munhall near Pittsburgh. The veteran progressive rockers, however, have added another one for Aug. 5. Yes! On this tour, Yes is playing not one or two albums in their entirety but three: “The Yes Album,” “Close to the Edge,” and “Going For the One.”
Tickets are $82 and $60, on sale at 412-368-5225 and www.librarymusichall.com.
I wish CelebrateErie had snared Yes instead of Bret Michael.
The more I listen to John Fogerty’s “Wrote a Song for Everyone,” the more I love it.