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.


A tribute to Boston singer Brad Delp will be held August 19th in Boston. In addition to other members of Boston, other bands appearing include Sammy Hagar, Extreme and Cheap Trick.

Of course, that’s also the day Linkin Park and My Chemical Romance play Nissan Pavilion as part of the Projekt Revolution tour…

Say it ain’t so

No Old Dominion Beer Fest this year. Apparently it’s a casualty of their location not available and not their new corporate overlords, but I guess we’ll know for sure when 2008 rolls around. A shame, it’s certainly been one of my favorite local festivals (not that there’s any shortage of those).

I guess in the meantime there’s always something in Baltimore or – Vermont? It is the weekend before Falcon Ridge, but it ends on that Saturday…

Mother’s Weekend P.D.Q.

Friday I had my car in for an oil change, then asked them to look at why my interior fan didn’t work. I needed a blower resistor which they won’t have in stock until tomorrow, so I was without a car for the weekend. So I took the bus in and back home. I cooked a preseasoned tilapia and made some hollandaise sauces and steamed artichokes for dinner, then we got started on the big clean. We started by clearing some room in the basement, then taking down the boxes of books from the booksale. I organized and filed all the comics I’d gotten in the last couple months, then read the paper as Jill’d gone to bed.

Saturday I got up and took Illa for a long walk, then got back to cleaning. The main goal was getting the recycling out, especially old boxes that were unusable. I spent some time clearing more space in the basement, then Jill took them and bages of paper and other stuff to the center as I cleaned the deck and porch.

I went out with Jill’s car and met Mom at Metro and we headed over to the Kennedy Center. I certainly don’t go to a lot of classical music concerts, certainly not of my own volition, but this was something special. When I was in high school and borrowing classical music tapes from the library (yeah, I was a band geek), one of my favorite composers was P.D.Q. Bach. His satire of classical forms was instantly attractive to a “Weird Al” fan like myself. So when I saw he was coming to the area, I was interested. Jill wasn’t sure when tickets went on sale if her finals would be over, so I asked my mom, a long time classical fan.

I had asked Mom if she wanted to go to a restaurant and get dinner or go see the artists at the Millennium Stage. She chose the stage, so when we arrived, she got seats while I picked up the tix for the later show. It was a string trio playing Beethoven and Brahms, joined by a pianist for the second piece (you can see the performance here). It was pretty good, but it suffered from my first concert rule: knowing the music makes the show more enjoyable.

With only an hour to spare, we headed to the cafe on the roof. I’d heard it was a cafeteria, and there was prepared food ready to eat, but they did have hot fresh food. Unfortunately they were sold out of my first choice (leg of lamb), but my other choice of beef tips and spring vegetables was made in front of me and excellent – the sauce was superb with the meat and mashed potatoes.

We got back downstairs with time to spare and took our seats. The program was
Leonard Slatkin and Peter Schickele conclude their “Serious Fun” festival with a program featuring American composers and themes, including Schickele’s popular “Unbegun” Symphony.

The first set was good, with the highlight Schickele’s “Unbegun” Symphony, but it wasn’t the best set. The second set included a piece by Slatkin’s father, and several short pieces by Leroy Anderson I was surprised to find familiar (Mom knew them well and was excited to hear them). The best part of the night was Schickele’s 1712 Overture for Really Big Orchestra. In addition to the fun of guessing the various pieces the themes were taken from, during the middle section when they’re waiting for the “instruments” to arrive, the orchestra was goofing off in such a way (bassists drinking, percussionists playing badminton, violas chatting on phones) I was laughing so hard it hurt. Now I’m tempted to see Schickele’s next area show (which is being recorded for a CD). Afterwards we went our separate ways, for me a stop at Safeway in the rain before getting home.

This morning we finished the big clean. Nice to see everything again. Of course we ran late, and I didn’t take a break to shower until after noon, with people supposed to come at 1. Luckily, neither my dad and mom or Sharon and Forrest showed until 1:30. I was busy cooking, started with bacon, sausage and veggie sausage and Jill chopped fruit, then Jill made cinnamon French toast while I made batter for strawberry oatmeal pancakes. I made eggs benedict to order while also cooking the pancakes, and put everything finished in the oven to warm as well as the blueberry muffins Sharon brought and the banana nut bread I had. Dad brought more fruit and prepared that, and we finally ate a little after 2.

It was a good brunch, and Illa was very well behaved (also the center of attention). Mom’s big gift was a certificate for a ride from Balloons Unlimited that we’ll get together to see at some point. We chatted for a long time, then eventually rustled up dessert: a strawberry rhubarb pie from the CHAAMP bake sale last week (the banana nut bread was also from there). Sharon and Forrest took Illa for a little walk, then everyone headed out. We cleaned a little, then collapsed on the couch and read, then both went online for a bit. Some kind of leftovers for dinner I think – no more big cooking tonight or tomorrow.

Grand Mals

Friday I got home in time to have a quick meal of leftover ribs before we went off to see Lucy Kaplansky at the Barns of Wolf Trap. Jill was a little miffed to be going out right before her final, but she was the one who asked to go many months ago, and was ok when we got there. I was glad we got to see the opener, Craig Cardiff, as he did some cool looping (particularly on “That Band”). Lucy was good as usual, I hadn’t realized she’d put a new album out, will have to get that before FRFF. Jill was sson headed for bed to get up way too early, and I stayed up and read way too late – it’s a wonder we didn’t meet heading in opposite directions.

Saturday Jill wa back from her final before I got up. I took Illa on a long walk in the afternoon right as it started raining. I was thinking of going to see Gin Blossoms play a free show in Crystal City, but decided cool and rainy is not my preferred weather for outdoor shows. Instead, I watched the first Spider-Man movie before heating up some chicken Cordon Bleu and making spinach, then I headed out around 10 with my friend Linda.

Getaway Car was playing Ned Devine’s, and I hadn’t seen them in a while. I missed the first song, but caught the rest of all three sets. It was a treat, as that’s the longest I’ve seen them play. The drummer for the show was Nate Brown (formerly of Everything) and he was great, but the highlight for me was the large number of covers they pulled out. They played the usual (“She Said” and a tease of “Back On The Chain Gang” during “Kingdom Crumbled”), but also some new ones that are perfect for them: “American Girl”, “I Want You To Want Me”, and an amazing version of “Little Wing” with Nate on vocals.

Evn though Jill was asleep long before me, we got up around the same time on Sunday. I was soon out the door after breakfast. I was working at CHAAMP‘s annual Book, Bake & Plant sale in Arlington, mostly as cashier. It was a great day to be hanging around outside. I did not bring Illa (he needs two of us if he’s in a car), but I got to meet a lot of nice Mals, and I picked up a couple things for myself before helping to clean up at the end. Afterwards I ran errands (including stopping at my fave CD store), even shopping for clothing (this weekend I realized I only have two pairs of shorts that are acceptable to wear in public). I got home at 7 to discover Jill was out. I played with Illa ’til she got home, then made shrimp and rice for dinner. Then I watched Spider-Man 2 while I packaged some auctions up (I may go see Spider-Man 3 in IMAX with co-workers this week). Jill’s in bed now – she’s got her last final tomorrow morning, then she’s got a two week break before the summer session starts.