THE ROCK REPORT: DEEP BLUES FESTIVAL 2008

So, as we all know by now, a week (or so depending on when this gets posted) ago I boarded a plane alone and flew from Tampa to Minneapolis to attend a festival where I knew nobody. I’ll admit, I was a little nervous that I would end up sitting alone at the show all day and then spend the evening by myself in my hotel room with a bottle of Beam. I know I can be pretty socially awkward, so it wasn’t that far-fetched of a fear. In the end though, the people at this festival could not have been cooler. I met some awesome people, I had a great time, and I never wanted for company. Was this just the vibe at any festival, or was it the fact that the few who like this music enough to travel for it share a special bond? I think it’s probably a little of both, but at the same time….I think that the people that are passionate about this music seem to immediately pass the superficial levels of being strangers and quickly find themselves relating to one another on personal levels. Such was the case about an hour after I checked-in on Thursday afternoon.

The first people I meet were Christoph Mueller, Marc Littler and Marc’s wife. After a brief conversation (2 minutes?) we agree to meet up later to split the cab fare into town for the Charlie Parr and Reverend Deadeye show. Such was the case all weekend…chance encounters turning into shared cab rides becoming too much whiskey and a lot of good music…but at the risk of eulogizing the festival, I’ll move on.

Thursday night was the perfect opener for the weekend that was to come. Charlie Parr and The Reverend Deadeye were playing Club 331 and we got there while the sun was still up. This gave me a chance to actually hang out and talk with Charlie and The Reverend before the crowd and Jim Beam made legitimate conversation more work than I prefer. Both guys were awesome people and I can say The Reverend made quite an impression on me both in his struggles to do music, and then in his show itself. Like Two Cow and a few others, I think ninebullets will be championing this guy as often as we can. Charlie opened the show with a cohort playing the washboard and right away you could tell that Charlie is one of Minneapolis’ favorite sons. The place was packed and the crowd knew every song he played. Charlie and his fans were a tough act to follow, but Deadeye and his frantic preachin’, hollerin’ and slide guitar playin’ managed just fine. It was the perfect opening act for a perfect weekend of music. I got home too late and too tipsy…perfect.

Charlie Parr – Miner’s Lament
Reverend Deadeye – Fuck The Devil

FRIDAY

Friday morning came a little too early and she brought clear and sunny skies with her. Being from Florida the heat didn’t affect me as badly as it did others, but tropical native or not, having the sun lean on you all day will wear on a person, and by the end of Friday I was ready for a cold glass of Beam and Ginger and a long shower. As for the bands playing on Friday, the one I was most eager to see was Left Lane Cruiser. I’ve been crushing on these two since before Alive Records signed them, so a chance to see them live put an ear to ear smile on my face. Other than the fact that their damned guitars wouldn’t in tune, LLC did not disappoint and at one point Brenn was beating the drums so hard I started to wonder about the structural integrity of the stage [you can take the boy out of the engineering firm…Ed]. In the end, as they walked off the stage I promised myself to make sure I would see them again someday. Another band from Friday that I was personally excited to see was Detroit’s Jawbone. Much like LLC, I’ve been crushing on Jawbone for a long time…hell, I was bugging Mr. Chris Johnson to bring him to DBF2 before DBF1 had even come to pass. He was fantastic and takes home the distinction of being the only one-man band to play standing up, not to mention he was probably the loudest performance of the entire day. If you live up Michigan way you should support the guy, he deserves it. Before I move on to to Saturday, I would like to mention Smokestack and the Foothill Fury. This guy caught me by surprise. Having never heard of him, I was preparing to use his set as a chance to grab a beer and take a piss, but when he was done I found that I was still standing in the same place I was when he began, doing the “I gotta piss” dance. One funny thing, when he first took the stage he asked the crowd if anyone had a beer for him and suddenly it was like a parade of booze being passed up onto the stage. His set was probably the most frantic of the day. Check out his myspace profile if you get a chance.

Left Lane Cruiser – Set Me Down
Jawbone – Saucy Sauce

SATURDAY

In the interest of trying to keep this post from reaching dissertation lengths, I am omitting the stories/show comments from after the festival ended for the day, but let’s just say that Saturday morning came painfully and too quickly. So painfully in fact, that I elected to head down and watch one of the films in the a/c and dark since the first band I wanted to see wasn’t until 1:00 anyhow. I ended up watching Cheat You Fair, a heartbreaking documentary about Chicago’s destruction of the infamous Maxwell Street open-air market. After that I went and caught my first band of the day, a ninebullets.net fav, Those Poor Bastards. TPB was everything I expected, and a few things I didn’t. Their irreverence and humorous onstage banter were unexpected highlights. I kept thinking about how awesome these two must be in a dark club after a few…but afternoon or no afternoon I walked away from their set a bigger TPB fan than I was walking into it, and that’s saying something. Charlie Parr and The Reverend Deadeye pulled shortened versions of their Thursday night club shows, so I’ll move on for the tl;dr crowd…but I will say one thing for sure, you should check them out if they’re ever in your town. Soon after, Hillstom
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took the stage and just got stupid. Fucking brakedrums and buckets for drums, slide guitar as slippery as a politician, and beats heavier than Oprah on a Twinkie bender. There are a lot of so called “faces of the rising punk blues scene”, but how Hillstomp isn’t one of them is beyond me. These boys get down like teenagers on prom night and people need to start noticing. The Black Diamond Heavies closed Saturday night and completely blew me away. I was worried that I might have over-romanticized what actually getting to see the force that is The Black Diamond Heavies was going to be like, but the truth is I sold them short. I’d heard the hype, I believed the hype…I just didn’t understand the hype. Now I’ve witnessed the hype and I am a believer. BDH get down like no others, never miss a chance to see them live. They’ll rock the panties off your granny, believe that.

Before I move on to Sunday I wanna mention a band that, if I were presenting awards, would win surprise of the festival. Minneapolis’ own A Night In The Box were a late addition to the lineup and probably put on one of the top five performances of the entire damned weekend for me. They were the buzz of the entire day when I would talk to other people, too. Check out their myspace page. You can also buy both of their albums via Amazon’s mp3 service.

Those Poor Bastards – A Curse
A Night In The Box – The Hustle
Hillstomp – Shake It
Black Diamond Heavies -Smoothe It Out

SUNDAY

Saturday just kind of turned into Sunday. At some point during the transition I passed out. I dunno if I slept so much as my body shut down to protect itself from my left hand, which kept shoving Jim Beam intomy mouth. The real bitch was that I wanted/needed to be at the festival early on Sunday to see everyone I wanted to see. So, at 10:30am, after 3 cups of coffee, I did a little hair of the dog in the form of 3 shots of Beam, put on my sunglasses, pulled my hat down a little lower than normal, and queasily eased out into the daylight. Now I could easily write 1000 words on Sunday, but I am gonna try and be a little briefer than that. The Pack A.D. killed it, but I am planning on doing a piece on their new album next week so I’ll talk about them then. Patrick Sweany was a guy I was super excited to see and it quickly became evident he was equally excited to be there. He went onstage with the intention of playing as many songs as he could in his allotted 40 minutes. He managed to fit “Your Man” in there, so I was extremely happy. American Relay killed it. I posted about them a few days ago and that was a direct result of the awesomeness that was their set. Possessed By Paul James was more an experience than a show. It was easily my favorite set of the entire festival. Watching him was more like watching a person give birth to music than it was watching a person play music. I remember there being a quote in the inset of Kid Rock’s cd, A Devil Without A Cause, that read, “If it sounds good, you’ll hear it; If it looks good, you’ll see it; If it’s marketed right, you’ll buy it; but if it’s real, you’ll feel it.” When Konrad takes the stage, you feel it. There is zero doubt. One of my very favorite bands on earth, Scott H. Biram, was coming up after PPJ, so I used the band between the two as a chance to shove beers down my face…Watching Biram sober is like skiing naked…you can do it but it’s pretty fucking stupid. Case in point: Scott was so drunk he puked on his guitar….I love me some Biram, but this weekend made me seriously worry about the man. Hopefully, like me, he was just using this weekend as a reason to go buck fucking wild…but I doubt it. Over the weekend I got glass in my leg from him bashing glasses into a club floor, I (like the entire club) saw him close a show by shaking his dick at the crowd, and then there was the aforementioned episode of watching him vomit on his guitar mid-show. All of this is simultaneously awesome and troubling. He put on a really good show, even managing to perform a new song that kind of confronts everything I’ve talked about above. Bob Log III followed Biram, but since I had seen him the night before and my bowels were beginning to revolt, I left after Biram for my hotel room and a decent night’s sleep.

Scott Biram – Plow You Under
Possessed By Paul James – Take Off Your Mask
The Pack A.D. – Don’t Have To Like You
American Relay – Bonedry
Patrick Sweany – Your Man

If all of this sounds awesome and you find yourself wishing you had been a part of it, now is the time to act. Deep Blues Fest 2009 is going to happen, in fact pre-sales are happening now. I’ll be there next year. Will you?

The photos I managed to take are here.

10 thoughts on “THE ROCK REPORT: DEEP BLUES FESTIVAL 2008”

  1. well said sir. I’m glad the love vibe of this fest rubbed off on ya. “Deep Blues Fest: Better than a slow dry hump.”

    Hope to see you next year.
    -Rick

  2. I have to say I agree with almost everything you said above. I was there all three days as well as the Reverend Deadeye/Charlie Parr show on Thursday. (I’m a guy with a hat and handlebar mustache… Oh, wait there were two of us!) I thought the .357 string band were also a highlight. This was the fourth time I’ve seen Biram and, as much as I love his music, I have to say the quality of the show has decreased each time I’ve seen him. Totally with you on Possessed by Paul James. I could feel my emotions well up as he started to play, and to look up and see Reverend Deadeye dabbing his eyes… well, my respect for both of them shot up sky high.

    Hope to see you in ’09!

  3. Great review about a great festival. I couldn’t agree more about your Scott Biram comments. He bummed me out actually. We already have tickets for next year.

  4. (I’m a guy with a hat and handlebar mustache… Oh, wait there were two of us!)

    Were you the one with the “Guns don’t kill people. People with mustaches do.” shirt?

  5. ha ha. Yeah you guys try being on the road for 45 days straight without any days off then standing in the sun all day with every other person you run into trying to pawn their bottle of Jameson on you after they get you to sign it.
    I’m trying out here. Sorry if I get fucked up every once in a while playing 250+ dates a year where alcohol is free and everybody wants you to do a shot with them. I was there 5 minutes before somebody asked me to try their moonshine.
    Thanks for caring.

  6. I do care. That’s the reason I noticed it.

    No to mention the only thing they had for us to eat was some scary ass indian taco

    that entire roach coach was scary.

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