Live Oak Music Festival 2010 by Casey Reagan

Posted on 7/24/2010 by MusicUCanSee

I knew from the minute I arrived at the campsite that this festival was going to be extraordinary, not that I was predisposed in any direction but after a leisurely drive up the coast from LA to Santa Barbara in the warm California sunshine it would have been difficult to feel anything but relaxed and ready for a good time when I rolled in.

I was greeted by my new buddy, Jenny Kurtz who made sure I got in and connected with all the right folks to keep my weekend running smoothly. Make no mistake about it, this is a weekend affair and won't be fully appreciated unless you commit the full three days and take in the entire event, so next year plan on stayin' a couple of nights, I know I will.

Having said that, I must confess that I, myself had to miss the entire first day of the event for a prior fathers day commitment and didn't get the full experience this year. I did however make up for it by having twice as much fun each of the final two days than is legal in most states. This event helps to sponsor KCBX Public Radio and is currently working with a group from Cal Poly to increase the festivals sustainability from a 'green' perspective and should be commended on the effort on both of these critical fronts.

Because of my tardiness by a full day I missed (among the others listed below) Barry Goldberg and the Chicago Blues Reunion and everyone I asked told me they were spectacular, the more I asked the more I missed seeing them. Here is the days line up from Friday:
Kids Stuff: Main Stage: Stage Too:
Climbing Wall Terri Hendrix w/ Lloyd Maines Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
Outdoor Education Vasen
Craft Workshops Chicago Blues Reunion
Potters Wheel
Talent Show Tryouts
My dearest apologies go out to the artists I missed and a sincere promise to catch them next time around. Saturday was a different story, I rolled in just in time to hear Los Cenzontles [translation: The Mockingbirds] finishing their set on the main stage and even though Mexican roots music isn't really my bag, they sounded pretty darned good. Los Fabulocos showed up and showed us all how CaliMex is supposed to sound and with Kid Ramos out front they sounded better than I've ever heard them. There was a lot of art in every form on display and for sale at kiosks and booths from all over California and I spent most of the day Saturday cruising around the marketplace digging the distant and not so distant music from all three stages and checking out some really cool artwork, jewelry, pottery and clothing. The setting at Live Oak is picture perfect for a festival like this and with a group of happy campers like we had this fathers day weekend, fun just happened.

Speaking of three stages where one can enjoy music for three days almost continually, the Hot Licks Stage and Stage Too featured the following artists throughout the weekend:
Jamming Workshop w/ Rita Hosking & Cousin Jack
Sally Ford & The Sound Outside
Jade Jackson
Sparrows Gate
The Sweetback Sisters
The Roullard Family w/ Jan Grigsby and Nina Ryne
Frank Vignola's Hot Club
Los Cenzontles
John Batdorf
Cache Valley Drifters

The Main Stage is where I gravitated to instinctively and is where I met another of my newfound friends, Master of Ceremonies Joe Craven. Joe is a treasure in and of himself, a multi talented performer he can entertain and tease your mind while telling a story by playing the mandolin and all the while keeping everyone in tune with the program. This cat is all about peace and love and everything cool! M.C. Deluxe!

There was a multitude of talent on hand at the Live Oak main stage with Frank Vignola, The Sacred Shakers featuring Eilen Jewell, Baka Beyond and Nashville's own first class soul outfit 'The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker' all leading up to Sunday evening.
The main stage is also where the magic all came together for the finale Sunday night starting with Dr. Lonnie Smith, a master of the Hammond B-3 and winner of more awards than I have room to list. The Dr. was 'in' at Live Oak this year and this was one house call he was happy to make judging from his house rockin', smooth groovin' delivery and that contagious smile.

After the Dr. made his exit a guy I hadn't heard of before Josh Ritter backed by his Royal City Band stepped up in front of a giant crowd, many of whom were here to see him judging from the huge sing along response he received, I felt sort of like the odd man out because I didn't know the words, but, I faked it and nobody noticed. Josh's music sounded pretty cool, it's obvious the guy has talent and I'll predict now, bigger and better things lay ahead for this up and coming artist.

Before I get to the end I'd like to note the amazing job of coordination by the event coordinators, backstage managers, stage managers and the entire hospitality staff who treated everyone behind the scenes like absolute royalty, this festival is a smooth running machine and honestly, a fun time was had by all.

Finally, the lady I was waiting for days to hear, the 'Duchess Of Coolsville' Rickie Lee Jones walked on stage and it was truly magic, I've loved her voice since the first time I heard 'Chuck E.'s In Love' back when and I've kept track of her through the years, digging every nuance of that sweet voice through times of change. When she won a Grammy for one of my all time favorite songs 'Makin' Whoopee' to put next to her 'Best New Artist' Grammy from 1979 I was jazzed for her all over again.

I've seen her on the cover of Rolling Stone a couple of times through the years, she's hosted SNL and continues to dazzle live audiences everywhere she goes, her voice is pitch perfect and with songs like 'Chuck E', 'Last Chance Texaco', 'Satellites' and 'Danny's All-Star Joint' all of which she played this night among many others, Rickie Lee Jones is one of those artists who, once you've seen her, you won't ever want to miss her again.

We soaked in every ounce of Rickie Lee that we could squeeze out of her, she played for over an hour and a half, then we all said goodnight and goodbye to the Live Oak family and packed our gear till next year. I would like to thank everyone involved so much for making this a weekend that I'll remember for a long long time, from the artists to the volunteers at the festival to the vendors who provided all the great food and drink to the sponsors to the thousands of fans who came out and made this festival...You Rock! ...oh yeah...peace. love. dirt. ...and Thanks for the ride!
Casey Reagan for
American Blues News
All Rights Reserved 2010

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