Hot August Blues Festival
August 25, 2012 at 8:57 AM
Hot August Blues Festival
A large crowd gathered Saturday August 18th to help celebrate the Hot August Blues festivals’ 20th anniversary at the beautiful Oregon Ridge Park located Northwest of Baltimore. Festival goers were treated to perfect weather and a variety of superb music that included blues, rock, folk, Latin funk, and bluegrass. Although the festival was a one day event, it had the feel of multi-day festival; complete with two stages, kid’s activities, stilt walkers, jugglers, acrobats, contortionists, and an array of food and beverage vendors (the grilled cheese stand was awesome). Proceeds from the festival helped fund various local music non-profit organizations including: Common Ground On The Hill, Music 4 More, Baltimore Blues Society, and DC Blues Society.
The music on the main staged kicked off with hometown favorite Chris Jacobs Band providing his bluesy, psychedelic jam/rock sound. Cris' setlist consisted a handful of tunes from their new album Songs For Cats and Dogs as well as a new song “City Rain”. CRB would also play a Hot August Blues after party at The Green Turtle in Hunt Valley later Saturday evening. Locos Por Juana from Miami via Columbia was next up on the main stage, igniting the afternoon with energetic Latin funk, afro rhythm and fusion jams that had the crowd on their feet early on. Their music consists of many genres including Caribbean/reggae, blues rhythms, and hip hop. As Locos Por Juana concluded their set, I headed over to the “B-Side Stage” to catch the Bovine Social Club. I was interested in seeing them because Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone produced the band and shared Carbone’s Northern NJ/Delaware river roots. The band has a similar sound to RRE playing a nice set of bluegrass, quirky country folk and acoustic rock.
After checking out the Magic Hat tent to have a taste of their infamous #9 beer, I headed back to the main stage to hear Justin Townes Earle. Justin Earle (the son of singer-songwriter Steve Earle) offered a laid back set that consisted of a mix of folk and pastoral blues with a slow sorrowful southern emphasis. Next up was Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Led by New Orleans finest trombonist Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews. The band ripped into a 90 minute set of genre-bending fusion, sweaty New Orleans jazz, rock, brass, hip-hop, blues and funk. With Troy’s great stage presence, charisma and a tight ensemble of musicians, Trombone Shorty offered a brass-fueled rave-up that brought the festival into a Mardi Gras mood. The set concluded with Warren Haynes trading licks with guitarist Pete Murano for “Encore” off the bands most recent CD, For True.
As the sun slowly set on what was a great day of music you could feel the anticipation in the air from the Gov’t Mule fans. Since its days as an Allman Brothers “spin-off”, Gov't Mule has become perhaps one of the premier rock and roll bands on tour and fans know that the Mule rarely disappoints. They opened up with the hard charging Mule classic “Blind Man In The Dark” and then slowed it down just a touch with the bluesy “Broke Down On The Brazos”. Sticking with the blues theme for the day, they tore into the frequently visited Beatles classics “She Said, She Said”>”Tomorrow Never Knows” which Mule transforms into their own 13 minute trippy bluesy space oddysey. They slowed it down again to let everybody catch their breath with the popular “Beautifully Broken” and then right back into some hard chargin' with “Railroad Boy” off the recent By a Thread CD. The band dipped into one of their earlier songs with “Birth Of The Mule” a tribute to jazz musician Miles Davis. Hot August Blues really started shakin' when Warren Haynes invited MD’s own sax legend Ron Holloway, and “Trombone Shorty” to play the Box Tops classic “The Letter”, as Haynes put it, “to conjure up some craziness”. The song included a bawdy brass jam featuring the afore-mentioned Holloway and Andrews. The festival wouldn’t be a blues festival without some good old time blues. The band obliged with a fourteen minute version of an old Albert King song “Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” once again accompanied by Holloway and Andrews. Warren telling the crowd mid song “ Now I hear in Baltimore they like things nice and greasy, and that includes the music. We gonna play this funky greasy groove and see if we can't turn Trombone Shorty and Ron Holloway loose". and let me tell you they definitely let loose. Their two hour set continued with an exquisite bluesy version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Red House”>>transitioning into a killer version of “Bad Little Doggie”. Howlin’ Wolf’s, “How Many More Years” and “Mule” concluded the evening with the band once more dipping into Hendrix with a “3rd Stone From The Sun” tease during “Mule”. The encore featured the bands most recognizable song “Soulshine” ending what perhaps was a nearly flawless day of music.
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We would like extend a big thank you out to promoter Brad Selko for all of his hard work throughout the year to make HAB happen. He put together a bunch of great bands, and brought a lot of like-minded folks together to a beautiful part of our state, for a great day of music and great causes. Thank you for letting us be a part of it Brad, we can’t wait until next year.
Thank you to Timothy Brown for always providing us with great audio recordings. Click the links below for free downloads of all the shows on the main stage at Hot August Blues Festival.