Herndon Festival preview

Here are what I think will be the musical highlights of this year’s Herndon Festival:

Thursday-Friday, May 31-June 1

Thursday and Friday are very similar – start with a very good local on the Café Stage (Mary Ann Redmond and Naked Blue (unplugged)) at 6:30, then your choice of a cover band at Center Stage, or an original at the Depot Stage at 7:30. Thursday it’s the legendary British band Fairport Convention celebrating their 40th anniversary, and Friday it’s singer/songwriter Josh Kelley.

Saturday, June 2

Charlotte Kendrick has a nice Lucy Kaplansky/Dar Williams vibe, she’ll be at the Depot Stage at 11. Eric Scott is the bassist for Deanna Bogart , but is good on his own, especially if he has guitarist Kajun Kelley with him. The Rising Stars showcase of new bands at Center Stage features Fools & Horses at noon, Hero Pattern at 1:30, and Natalie Stovall at 3. Of the three, I’m fondest of Natalie Stovall (country singer and fiddle player with a big bluesy voice), but there’s a hard choice as she’s up opposite Antje Duvekot at the Café Stage, who opened for Eddie From Ohio in January and was really good.

Craig Cardiff plays the Café Stage at 4. We saw him open for Lucy Kaplansky earlier this month and liked him – if you like the live looping (think Keller Williams/Howie Day) you’ll like him. I only know Jeffrey Gaines from his cover of Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes”, he’s at Center Stage at 4:30.

At night, local Celtic band Scythian play Center Stage while rockers Tenspoke Indies perform on the Depot Stage at 6, then the toughest choice of the festival is at 8: the Celtic rock of Enter The Haggis on Center Stage vs. the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival vets Gandalf Murphy & The Slambovian Circus of Dreams playing their “Hillbilly-Floyd, folk-pop” on the Depot Stage. I may be switching stages between songs then.

Sunday, June 3

I don’t like his children’s music as much as his adult stuff, but Robbie Schaefer from Eddie From Ohio always puts on a good show (it’s telling that Eddie From Ohio’s recent shows have featured “There’s A Carp In The Tub” from his kid’s CD). He’ll be at the Depot Stage at 11. At 2, Javier Mendoza will on Center Stage, he’s a bilingual pop rocker. Love them or hate them (some people can’t stand melisma), the The Nields have two sets, 2 at the Depot Stage and 4 at the Café Stage. Finally, the big draw of the festival is the legendary Smithereens. I’m always psyched to hear their old material (“Blood and Roses”, “Only A Memory”, “A Girl Like You” ), but their new CD is a remake of the entire “Meet The Beatles!” album, so their entire set should be a lot of fun – no beer breaks.