4/23/11 Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, Silk Hope, NC


Start 11:45 pm
Movin' On, Beauty Within, Funky Side, Locket and Key, Family Picture, Tonight, Tomorrow, and Yesterday, Part-Time Lover, Silverlined, Blue Skies and Buttercup, Blue Sky, All Aboard, No Sad Songs, Let Love Move Me, No Place Like the Right Time
Encore: No Reason Why, Seems to Want to Hurt This Time, Hot Tamale Baby*

*Ward Puryear on scrubboard

End 2:15 am

By Paul Roberge

My daughter had a theater practicum at her college that ran all day Saturday, and so we did not return to the farm until 10:30 pm. The rains had passed through our region overnight, and the sun broke through in mid afternoon. My friend Monty wrote to say that the festival grounds were slowly drying out. Still, Mudfest would not be an exaggeration. The food vendors area and (as was to be expected) the area in front of the Meadow Stage were seas of orange-brown mud. There was some risk of getting stuck in the parking lot. Nonetheless, the festival was in high gear when we arrived, and it was not too much longer before my own spirits got higher, too, so to speak.

Let me put it plainly: The band was on fire this evening. (I am trying to avoid a cliche here but cannot seem to.) The set piece "Locket and Key" -> "Family Picture" is by now very familiar to all of us who are fortunate enough to be able to attend Donna shows with some regularity. Yet, somehow, it came across as fresh and vibrant, and this evening, Ingredient X was Vic Stafford's driving percussion. "Part-time Lover" powered up and generated the machine effect, which reached its apotheosis in the new Jeb song "All Aboard" ("Make Me Feel Good/Alive," if you prefer). This song intrigues on so many levels--melody, rhythm (fiddle and drum work especially), message, and listener response. It's hard to describe the experience of this song. Suffice it to say that you make eye contact with a dear friend next to you at some salient point in the song, smile, and then start to laugh in disbelief at how sweet this moment is. And at the song's conclusion, you exchange a warm embrace. The message of love does indeed resonate in the life of the living, and the living of the life. No time to reflect on the experience just passed, for the band then launched into a blistering "No Sad Songs."

Jeb's prayer, "Let Love Move Me," was stunning and emotionally draining in a positive way. The long instrumental introduction set the mood beautifully. The poetry that the composer coaxed out of that battered Stratocaster was set against a backdrop of lush chords on the B3, subtle cymbal touches alternating with driving rhythms, nice bass and fiddle lines. I think: Jeb Puryear has tapped into a rich vein of spirituality, beauty, and truth. I'm at the age when I grow wistful with the realization that I'll never see the light that such gifted people see; but I'm grateful to have a little of it reflected my way now and again.

"Seems to Want to Hurt This Time" was performed with delicacy and grace. I would characterize the extended guitar solo as a meditation, not a jam. "Hot Tamale Baby" went from zydeco to funky and weird, as David worked the Moog.

I was too tired to write anything after arriving home at 3:30 am. Not sure that this account is any more coherent than what I would have produced earlier this morning, had I tried. But for what it's worth . . .

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