Friday, July 18, 2008

A summer wind, a cotton dress?

On entering Greenfield's Energy Park, the first person I bumped into was Richard Shindell. The rumors of his gangrenous arm are hugely exaggerated. He wore a modest bandage on his index finger, and confirmed that he lopped off a tiny piece while chopping wood with an ax.

When I asked him if it was "against the rules" for musicians to use such like sharp objects he laughed and said, "No, musicians shouldn't be so precious. They ought to be doing things like chopping wood, and living life."
(photo: SF Hansen)

The injury didn't prevent him from delivering a complete set, and somehow he was able to form chords, even with his deformed digit.

The show opened with Mark Erelli, singing as strongly as I've ever heard him, and greeted warmly by a large crowd which filled every flat space in the tiny park which borders a well-used rail bed. In fact, one announcer challenged the musicians to sing "Folsom Prison Blues," if a train passed. Fortunately for Caroline Herring, a train entered the scene, with the engineer waving, just as she finished her last song. Her set was a revelation of her skills as another in a line of talented Southern storytellers.

This free concert, in the center of Greenfield Massachusetts, was a kickoff for the 22nd Green River Festival. Producer, and founder of Signature Sounds Records, Jim Olsen didn't seem to be worried about anything but rain. "It's been nine years since a drop of rain has fallen on this festival," he confided. It seems like we're past due."

The forecast if for hot, humid weather - typical for the festival weekend. And with a new dance tent, and some great acts, including Lucinda Williams, Mavis Staples, Crooked Still, The Red Stick Ramblers and Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, it ought to get steamy.

(photo: SF Hansen - Mark, Flora and me)

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