May 7, 2004
|These pictures are from Friday of the 3 day weekend.
Admission remained $10, and following signs to the Fest, the only parking lot I found was $3. The DART light rail remains a good alternative to driving, with a station literally right behind one of the Fest stages.
I wasn't sure which day(s) I would go, since the acts I was interested in were spread out over all 3 days. But when a late schedule change moved the Cherry Poppin' Daddies to Friday, where I could also see Polyphonic Spree and Ruthie Foster, the decision was done.
I got there as the Cherry Poppin' Daddies were starting, but they didn't wow me. So after a few songs, I sought out Ruthie Foster. The two indoor stages are the jewels of this festival. I raved last year about the main stage at the Eisenmann, and its concert hall acoustics. The Singer Songwriter stage, where Ruthie was playing, is a smaller, recital hall style side room, with theater seating for about 250 behind a floor area with 20 or so cafe style tables. You are indoors and away from the crowds and corny dogs, a relaxing world apart from the festival bustle outside. Anyway, Ruthie wowed, several times drawing standing ovations from the crowd of about 100. In addition to some originals, she covered everyone from Missisippi John Hurt to Terri Hendrix, moving effortlessy between blues, folk, and gospel, the constants being her full, rich voice and Cyd's gentle harmonizing.
In the past year, The Polyphonic Spree has quickly become a new favorite of mine. They are local, but have been touring more and more, and I'm guessing they will be moving up to things bigger and better than local festivals very soon - in fact, they just returned from a couple of months on tour opening for David Bowie. They remain unlike any other act out there: a 24 member ensemble where the expected guitar, bass and drums are joined by symphonic instruments like the flute, harp, and english horn. All backed by a nine member chorus and fronted by singer Tim DeLaughter, they sing rock songs about sunshine, warm days, and staying happy. Once you have all that pictured, imagine everyone in full-length choir robes, all dancing around the stage and jumping for joy as they perform. It's non-religious gospel, a glorious blending of rock and symphony and sharing and bombast that quickly spread the energy and joy and happiness to the crowd lucky enough to bear witness to one of their performances.
On this occasion, the Spree drew as big a crowd as I've seen there to the AA festival stage. Folks were all standing, packed in for a good 50+ yards in front of the stage. The Spree came out having replaced their trademark white choir robes for colored ones, each member in a solid color - yellow and orange and blue and purple and red and green - to comprise a rainbow splash across the stage. The set clocked in at just under an hour, and almost no one left until they were done ripping thru songs from their debut album as well as a couple of covers. Pure greatness. Anyway, check these guys out when you get a chance.
|The AA stage, past the dancing waters.|
|Cherry Poppin' Daddies|
|Ruthie Foster (r), with Cyd Cassone|
|The Singer Songwriter stage, Ruthie & Cyd|
|The Polyphonic Spree|
|The Polyphonic Spree|
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Photos copyright © 2004 by Swag