Herndon Festival (with 80s bonus)

I survived yet another Herndon Festival. Thursday was light, as we just came to see Mercy Creek at the Caf̩ Stage. Not bad, but we both had stuff we needed to accomplish and headed home. I caught some of the Bruce Springsteen tribute on TV (main stage acts get broadcast live on local cable during the festival), and they were pretty good. Friday we ran late, were planning on seeing the opening acts but only made it in time to see The Pietasters, but they were worthy Рeven got Jill dancing. They played a mix of new and classic ska tunes, definitely had the crowd going.


Saturday I showed up early to check out Celeste Starchild because Stuart had told me she was good, and I had to agree. I went home with the intention of coming back and checking out Mercy Creek in the early afternoon, but the thunderstorms dissuaded me. We did make it out in time for The Sketches, a local up and comer. Their power-pop-rock tunes were great, even the ones I hadn’t heard before. I caught Derek James and Shane Gamble as we picked out Thai food for dinner (chicken wings for me, pad thai for Jill).

Our friend Mike held his first house concert Saturday night, and we headed over early because we heard Michael Clem would be there. He was and we had a fun conversation before the music started. The other Mike kicked things off with a couple tunes, then Jay Segar came up with Emily Easterly for a couple songs, then did some more solo, not bad. Emily got a set to herself next, she’s got a nice voice. The highlight of the night (and the weekend) was Ben Arthur‘s set. He had only played with Michael Clem twice before, but their voices paired perfectly, and the between song banter is hilarious. Here’s “Keep Me Around” from the night (there’s a classic Clem moment in the middle):

Sunday I headed back over to see Ben Arthur’s show at the Café Stage. No Michael Clem, but still a great set, playing covers he hadn’t done the night before. Ruut was on the main stage – she was better with a full band from the time I’d seen her solo before, but her music was a bit slow for a mid-afternoon show. Honeychuck was a bit more rocking, even though they brought acoustic guitars since they were on the Café Stage. Headliner Fastball was good as usual, though I’m glad I’d found out in advance they were playing a number of new songs that I could listen to at archive.org.

I rushed home and made a quick shrimp and pasta dinner before heading out to the Loudoun Summer Music Fest to see Foreigner. Though there’s only one original member left (the guitarist), the replacements are a who’s who of rockers, including Jeff Pilson (from Dokken) and Jason Bonham (heir apparent to the Led Zep drum throne). Singer Kelly Hansen had original vocalist Lou Gramm’s parts down cold, and brought out the rock star moves on cue. They sounded great, and ran through all their hits (including my favorite “Juke Box Hero”) with some nods to Jason’s other band. A long weekend of music (and going back to last Saturday the only night I didn’t go to a concert was Tuesday) but well worth my time in the sun, many memories.