Monday, April 24, 2006

Settling in on Thursday

The festival got off on the right note the first night with a rollicking campaign appearance by candidate Kinky Friedman and fine musical performances from Abigail Washburn and Peter Rowan. Earlier, as I had arrived and set up at Camp Ben McCullough, there had been on-and-off rain showers, but the evening was cool and dry by the time the program got underway at the cozy campground stage. (There was more rain overnight, but the rest of the weekend was glorious.)

You probably recognize Abigail Washburn as the waifish banjo player from Uncle Earl, but for tonight and a main-stage set on Saturday, she played in her duo format with cellist Ben Sollee. With the g'earls, Washburn showcases her Chinese material, but here she was able to stretch out with a number of songs in Mandarin or with Chinese musical influences. Sollee, whose cello playing is more melodic than the only other bluegrass cellist I know of, Rushad Eggleston, had some fun teasing Washburn, joking that the title of a beautiful melody sung in Mandarin sounded to him like "soybean casserole." The tune will be on an upcoming Washburn EP featuring Béla Fleck and Casey Driessen in addition to Sollee.

The Kinkster was up next, and he didn't disappoint. Coming up in the next item.

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