Fool's Night Out
Fools Night Out comes from a song by Phil Wiggins | Moon photo courtesy Michael's Photo Gallery.

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News from Rhode Island
© Scott Mitchell (06-09-05)

So how was Ninigret? Was there any rain?

Was there any rain?

Why yes there was. The remains of hurricane Ernesto arrived Friday afternoon as wind. That wind peaked about 5pm on Saturday with 30 mph gusts in the middle of John Jorgenson's set. Despite the weather the show went on. As the wind diminished the rains came. In total we got a third of an inch of rain (far less than the DC area got). It was pretty constant until noon on Sunday. In the campground a few tents went down. We took down one canopy as a preventative measure, restaked a lot, my tent ended up coming loose, ballasting and re-staking it solved the problem. In our camp were a few other minor issues, but nobody really took on that much water. Other folks fared lest well, but I didn't hear of anything serious. Many vacated the campground though.

Anyway to the important stuff... the music. I ended up spending as much time away from the Cajun/Zydeco focus of many of the rest of the dance crowd. I don't think that was a bad call. These festivals are always great opportunities to find new artists.

Friday had Jeremy Lyons who reminded me in his bluesier stuff of John Mooney (which was appropriate given the resent passing of his bass player Jeff Sarli). The Red Stick Ramblers have changed a few members since I last saw them, but they still sounded great. I really like their combination of cajun, gypsy swing, and western swing. FWIW, they were at the Kennedy Center's Millennium stage today and you can see that excellent performance online. The Horseflies were another interesting find. They were an old timey band out of Ithaca, but have since incorporated middle eastern and east asian influences... into sort of a redneck raga. David Bromberg finished off the night on the main stage. He sounded good, many said he sounded better than he did in his 'prime'.

Saturday was the arrival of our weather. It really hit it's peak during John Jorgenson's set. He put on a great show playing his own combination of New Orleans and Gypsy Jazz. The entire band seemed to be having a great time. They had a look which exuded "They like us... they really really like us". At the same time, there were perpetually looking up at the band stand's roof which was swinging wildly. It was a suspended roof, intended to swing, but still... Marcia Ball put on her usual fine performance. And Los Lobos did too, the crowd had thinned by then, but it was a hard core enthusiastic bunch. And the set was somewhat different than their set a month ago at Floyd Fest.

Saturday night was dreary. I took on a bit of water, didn't get wet, but everything was damp. Sunday still drizzly. We all thought it would have passed, but it didn't. "See it is lighter over there" was heard often, but didn't amount to anything. A call home to get a weather forecast told us that it would stay like this all day. That put me in a depressed mood, which was mostly restored when I spent 10 minutes in the car with the heat and AC on full.

In an improved mood I went to the fest to catch James Hand. He does a nice old country/honky-tonk thing. I saw him briefly on Saturday, and it was good fun to dance to him on Sunday. Rosie Ladet came on afterward and then something strange happened... the sun came out, the clouds burned off, and I was totally unprepared for this eventuality. Mid-set I had to wander back to the camp and change clothes. I was back in time for Tim O'Brien. His band was different than it was in Floyd, I don't think quite as good. James Hunter came on and floored a lot of folks. But I stand by my previous review, he puts on a great show. But I won't pay big bucks for a short show of his again; great choice for a festival band though. The Spanish Harlem Orchestra played some great jazzy latin music, the musicians were very tight, enthusiastic, and had loads of energy. But this kind of straight latin stuff isn't really my favorite and the music was too fast for me to enjoy dancing. Dr. John finished the night on the main stage. He sounded and looked great, I remember him sitting a lot more when I saw him last. He was very funky and did a lot of tunes that weren't in the standard New Orleans standbys.

Of the usual Cajun/Zydeco suspects, Nathan & the Zydeco Cha-chas got the most criticism. While they sounded good and had lots of energy, he was playing at a blistering pace that turned the dances into a death march. On the other end of the spectrum, Curley Taylor was getting praise for some really good sets. And Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys put on their usual solid sets. Their late night Fais-Do-Do on Sunday was a blast. The stage was packed by adding Wilson Savoy on piano, Tim O'Brien (mandolin), and Tim's fiddler.

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