It’s time for the halftime report on Hometeam New Year’s Rally.
Sorry. Slight delay. There was a second-line band marching through the campgrounds. Sean Maloney was in the lead (with his son), followed by Anthony Cole (tenor), Clay Watson (trombone), and Juanjamon (Sousaphone). The drumline included Tony Tyler, Grant McLeod, Tony Morales and more, including a bunch of munchkins. 40 or 50 in the parade.
That’s how you kick off day three of this great festival.
This is just a short report: the full one to arrive with tons of great photographs this week.
New Year’s Eve blasted into the sky with an incendiary set from Justino and the Difference, opening with the full Jurassic Park theme. Many had not yet seen them. I guarantee you everybody there is now aware!
I had the pleasure five days earlier of reviewing shoeless soul. This was another excellent set, very different from the previous — no tenor sax, no trombone. Totally energized performance.
Copious Jones was again brilliant (and a shout-out to both sound and light crews: their lyrics are worth hearing, and we could!). And they BLEW. UP. the best cover of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” EVER.
Then it was time for a much-awaited event: Come Back Alice covering The Song Remains the Same. Kenny Stadelman and Brad Elliot (CopE) on bass and drums, Mark Mayea (Ajeva) on keyboards, Tony Tyler as Robert Plant and Dani Jaye as Jimmy Page. SHE OWNED IT!
Wonderfully irreverent set from The Applebutter Express was met with great response. And that was followed by another excellent Este Loves set: Este and sister in glorious harmony, backed by Porcupine; Sean Hartley KILLED on guitar!
Hometeam All-Stars. Somehow, the stage didn’t collapse, although there were eight bazillion people on stage (well, looked like). Juanjamon had compiled an amazing array of talent. They kicked off with “Movin’ On Up” (The Jeffersons) and ran through “Sledgehammer,” “1999,” and a positively stunning “Eminence Front” with Alexa and Bella Toro and Este and lots of ladies on the lead vocal!!!
Here is another superb 360-degree shot by Matt Hillman of the Hometeam All-Stars!
Green Sunshine then proceeded to (see if you’ve seen me write this before) deliver the best set ever. Absolutely superb.
That left it to The Juanjamon Band to close down the stage. They began with a long Headhunters-like tune. Best set I’ve ever heard from this band. Everybody was on fire, but perhaps none so much as Dre Mack on guitar. They will close out the Saturday set.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 1ST, 2016
Free Range Strange got the afternoon started on a fun not, followed by a nice set from alleged Chicagoans Under the Willow, with a stunning jam at the end.
And that’s when it got deep. Deeper than deep. What happened was… TEN BRILLIANT PERFORMANCES, BACK TO BACK.
I don’t care where you were or whom you heard, it wasn’t better than this day at Maddox Ranch.
Future Vintage shoulders the blame for getting things started. Their superb set included another monster cover of the Back to the Future theme, several excellent new songs, and a nasty jam with artist-at-large Kenny Harvey joining Trevor McDannel for a double bass jam, with Reed Skahill on vocals.
The next event involved most of us picking our jaws up off the ground after Nashville’s Backup Planet simply destroyed the stage. Their name is on the lips of everybody anywhere in the vicinity. Rock, prog, funk. Unreal.
And that was followed by another stunning set by Funk You (Atlanta). Fronted by a great soul singer, this band jammed, funked and rocked us. It also continued a string of three amazing keyboard players in a row (Matt Giancola (Future Vintage), Ben Cooper (Backup Planet), and Will Foster (Funk You).
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The Legendary JCs. I’ll match you funk and soul bands any day. These guys are tops, and the Energizer Bunny has got nothing on Eugene.
Holey Miss Moley has reached a new level. This was a mind-blowing set that kicked off with a soul-stirring Afrobeat song, and they hit more Afrobeat throughout the set, Kenny Harvey on bass and Christian Ryan on baritone. More than anything, this was Jacob Cox night. His guitar solos were riveting.
I’ve seen Roosevelt Collier and compatriots in a number of settings, but absolutely nothing prepared me and the crowd for the psychedelic brilliance of this set with Matt Lapham (still my favorite bass player on the planet) and Anthony Cole (doing more with two drums and four cymbals that you could imagine). Roland Simmons came up for some shredding on “Come Together” and “Shaky Ground;” Eugene, Watson and Juanjamon joined in.
The Fritz. This Asheville band has been all over the scene and was here for The Great Outdoors Jam. They must have been on musical steroids, because this set was just ridiculous. The groove was so deep, the bass lines incredible, Jamie’s guitar and Jamar’s keyboards and vocals insane.
The Heavy Pets delivered another amazing set, with some interesting aspects to it. There was a different feel, in a very positive way. Also, many of the tunes featured tenor sax player Rob Smilie. And they gave us two of the songs from Walrus, their Beatles tribute: “Don’t Bring Me Down” and “A Day in the Life.”
It seemed for a brief moment that Pirate’s Choice, a collective from New Orleans, wouldn’t match the level of previous performances. Boy, were we wrong! Luke Quaranta (Toubab Krewe), Raja Kassis and crew played a wonderful, captivating set of central African music.
That left S.P.O.R.E. to close out night two. The quartet delivered the tenth stunning set of the day, everybody glowing radioactively. I like the song “Tainted Pities.” What a brilliant, magical day!
Full details as soon as is possible!