This year, Chris Johnson brought his festival of roots/punk/alt-blues acts to the Cabooze for the annual Deep Blues Festival. This year's festival featured over 70 bands from 14 countries, which assured that attendees weren't in for a typical blues festival. After sampling a bit of everything from the varied platter of music offered at last weekend's gathering, I had to wonder if the Deep Blues Fest is the most eclectic music gathering in the US.
Perennial festival favorites like the Black Diamond Heavies, Left Lane Cruiser, T. Model Ford and Reverond Dead Eye shared the bill with guys like Ol Bloody Mule, & Poop De Flex. There was also a very large Twin Cities contingent represented, with nearly a dozen bands like the Gleam, A Night In the Box, the Brass Kings & local legend Spider John Koerner. Events kicked off Wednesday at North East's 331 Club and continued through Sunday at The Cabooze, ending with the annual Gospel Brunch.
I can tell you now: do whatever it takes to get yourself to this festival next year -- the light rail stops right in front of the venue so there is no excuse. In the first night alone I met and spoke with local music staples, T. Model Ford, three music journalists from San Fransisco, a couple from Winnepeg, a photographer from Seattle, a member of a Greatful Dead tribute band, what appeared to be college-aged music fans, and a guy wearing a Minor Threat t-shirt. As one of the people I was speaking to put it, "This is no way to describe the music and vibe here unless you've been here." Which is what I think keeps everyone coming back; once you go, you're hooked.
One-man bands, homemade drum kits, cigar box guitars, sweet deep grooves, blistering guitar solos, great fusion of blues, punk, bluegrass, rockabilly & country filled the air. As one of the photographers I spoke to said, "Over 70 bands at a blues festival and you won't hear Mustang Sally or Sweet Home Chicago once."
One unforgettable moment was Rev. Deadeye jamming and praying the rain away Friday as he stomped on his kick drum and riffed away on his guitar -- and I think it's is possible he may have scared the rain from starting.
Festival mainstays and genre kings Left Lane Cruiser performed a fiery and seriously rocking set, reminding us early on that this ain't your fathers blues and and that there are few live acts that can match this unstoppable force of rock from Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Saturday evening's outdoor stage ended with Mark "Porkchop" Holder joining the Black Diamond Heavies as they ripped through a sick version of "Nut Bush City Limits." As one of the top headliners, the "Heavies" were the band a lot of people came specifically to see, and as the crowd stomped and danced it was clear that everyone was celebrating real, stripped down blues with "their people" -- a serious sense of community with music fans and performers was palpable at the festival.
Thanks to Chris Johnson for his hard work and dedication for getting this thing rolling and to help create and reinforce a great music scene. The traveling music fans are already itching for next year after seeing how much this festival has grown. If you're fed up with overly commercial music of all genres, do your self a favor and add the Deep Blues Festival to your to-do list next year.