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 CafÃ© 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 CafÃ© Stage, who opened for Eddie From Ohio in January and was really good.
Craig Cardiff plays the CafÃ© 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 CafÃ© 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.