And the other three videos:
In September of 2008, the San Francisco and Los Angeles scenes converged under the ancient redwoods of Big Sur to make music, make merry, and make love. Performers included local favorites Megapuss, Entrance Band, Fool’s Gold, The Parson Redheads, as well as fantastic sets from Port O’Brien, Beach House, Sleepy Sun, Sam Flax Kenner and more, all capped by a grand send-off from The Silver Jews [the brilliant, brooding presence of David Berman in one of the band's final performances was worth the price of admission alone]. With attendance for this Big Sur Fire Brigade benefit capped at a mere 400(!) campers, the event retained a remarkable purity and intimacy. Festival In The Forest captures this soon-to-be-legendary (((folkYeah!)))-curated show, and the zeitgeist of the California folk/rock scenes, much as Celebration at Big Sur did some 29 years prior. A true gem of a film, Festival in the Forest is not to be missed by music lovers or documentary enthusiasts.
The Silent Movie Theatre, TONIGHT 8pm
For you LA residents out there, here’s something to get excited about for the next couple Thursday nights that doesn’t involve self-destruction in any form. Crazy, right? The Silent Movie Theatre, now Cinefamily, is presenting a Thursday night series of folk-related films that even includes the Los Angeles “redwood carpet” (I’ve been dying to write that for weeks) premiere of FolkYEAH’s Festival in the Forest Documentary! Other gems include Sing-Sing Thanksgiving, Hootenanny Hoot, Heartworn Highways, Vashti Bunyan: From Here to Before, Earl Scruggs: His Family and Friends, and the amazing Celebration in Big Sur. And definitely don’t miss “Folk Shredders Night,” an evening of rarely screened clips of Bert Jansch, Ralph McTell, Jan Akkerman and Stefan Grossman hanging out and riffing hard together. Then, on that same night, enjoy the documentary Sandy Bull: No Deposit No Return Blues, made with loving care by his daughter KC Bull. End the night with a performance from Guy Blakeslee of The Entrance Band, and frolic beneath the moon.
More photos soon to come from ALISSA ANDERSON
Thank you to (((folkYEAH))) for making this all possible.
It was hard not to contrast the intimate secret performance Joanna Newsom performed over the weekend on Saturday night at the Fernwood resort in Big Sur with the chance encounter I had watching her open for Sufjan Stevens in a small Los Angeles club nearly five years ago. Despite her music’s maturation over the years she has still not lost her spry and engaging quirky stage and musical presence that wins over all in attendance. The show nearly half a decade ago at the Troubadour was the perfect stage to watch her unleash her stage presence and music abilities as she sprang up on stage, hopped around and sang what sounded to be a traditional folk song that she had added such a unique twist to with her warbling demeanor, voice and harp playing that the entire audience quickly hushed for the entirety of her performance.
She may have shed her pre-raphaelite leaning attire for a strikingly contemporary couture pink dress on Saturday, but she has by no means lost an ounce of her original enrapturing sound that won over that entire audience years ago. The evening was made all the more exciting by the fact that most in attendance had no idea that she was even going to be there, much less that she was going to be playing for well over two hours trying out new material for her as yet unrecorded upcoming third studio album. A pair of sisters hiking through Big Sur and by chance huge fans of Joanna, singing her songs for much of the day were headed back to get dinner at the Fernwood Lodge, only to casually ask who was playing that night to reveal what they never could have expected to their complete elation.
The show was billed as Mariee Sioux and The Beatles’s, a pseudonym assumed by Joanna to shroud her identity from what surely would have fleshed out the crowd to a number much greater than the 50 in attendance. Mariee Sioux’s set was beautiful as usual and her voice has never sounded stronger. On a night with such excitement over the events that would proceed her she held her own and sang with confidence and strength throughout the entirety of her set. The end of her set was marked by the debut of a new song, Homeopathic, one of her strongest to date and added to the anticipation of her next album.
It was shortly after nine when Joanna took the stage. Wearing a leopard print shawl and stockings, with a bright pink highly intricate dress peeking out underneath, she was quite striking as she sat down beside the gilded harp set up on the side of the stage. Taking a seat at the harp proved to be a tease as she scooted over to the piano beside her and played a handful of songs each one somehow better than the next as she found her stride. It was with uncertain anticipation that I took to watching the performance before she began.
It’s always an interesting moment when one of your favorite artists takes to the stage to showcase their next evolution of musical progress. However, from the first pluck of her harp through the last note the performance was nothing short of rapturous. The makeup of her new songs combines the strong melodic presence of songs on the Milk-Eyed Mender with her continued instrumentational prowess and maturation beyond Y’s. It was unclear how many of the songs covered in the course of the two and a half hour set would ever be recorded, but there was never a sour note or “should be cut” moment to be heard. If anything a double album here would make perfect sense, and be one of the most enjoyable albums I’ve heard in ages.
The backing band’s arrangements were in perfect sync and sound with Joanna’s playing and added to the atmosphere of her lush and swirling landscape of songs that often stretched beyond twelve minutes. I was completely taken back by Newsom’s piano playing that was strong as can be yet oftentimes seemed effortless in a playful way that followed along with and led her vocal warblings. The makeup of the night seemed like about one third of the songs were piano based while the other two thirds being harp based. Some of the more surprising and great moments were when the electric guitar was brought front and center during the crescendo of one of the songs. It was also interesting to note throughout the set the way Joannas voice has evolved with her fluttering vocal inflections varying between the completely unrestrained and more smoothed over than ever before with the harmonies she preformed being some of the most diversely interesting she’s written. The multi-part harmonies she shared with her band mates (and self for that matter, what an amazing and capable voice) outpace anything she’s recorded yet by far.
The arrangements preformed along with Newsom’s songs also fleshed out the music beyond what she was capable of alone. The banjo, violin, drum and guitar accompaniment to the songs provided by her backing band added a lot to the sound. The encore of Clam, Crab, Cockle, Cowrie concluded the night in the most beautiful way imaginable with its cooing chorus and wistful resolve punctuated by her rising and falling vocals. I’ll admit that while I enjoyed Y’s a lot, I favored Milk-Eyed Mendor a bit more, but after seeing her new material performed live I think it could easily be her strongest, most enjoyable album to date. I await with stubborn anticipation for these songs to be recorded and released because I really cannot wait to hear how this album turns out.
Joanna wore the same dress at the BAM. Photo credit
Joanna’s Harp minutes before she took the stage Photo by Chad Eaton.
The music was played on Saturday. Big Sur’s reliable afternoon sun played host to guitar plucking and river-gazing before putting its light on loan to a distant Western world. Mariee Sioux and a mystery band called “The Beatles’s” were scheduled to play in the Fernwood Lodge’s small, wood-paneled performance space: a lamp-lit area designed for, at most, a hundred feet. When I entered the hall in the dusty haze of afternoon, the light spilled across a curious scene: familiar faces milling amongst flannelled strangers talking weather and beer, myself ambling amongst them, and a golden harp inviting us all to silently speculate. Oddly enough, there were also butterflies stitched onto a powder-blue backdrop: big, beautiful insects cut from cloth, dangling large and lifeless. “The Beatles’s” mystery fluttered into the afternoon.
Later, the sun died and the sky turned speckled. The new suns above us, those points of historic navigation, blinked steadily like stars and lead us to the Lodge. My friends and I clung together down a dirt path, across a bridge, between fires, through tinny radio waves, and up a steep plank staircase that promised a haven of cigarette-talk and humanity. The music was starting and we were excited to stare.
Mariee Sioux and Joanna Newsom’s performances proved a celebration of people alive and loved, strings dormant and hopeful, and expectations dead, buried, and gone. How my hat was hung and shirttails tucked I don’t recall, but why my mind is now dancing daisy chains in loops around my eyebrows is as clear to me as it indescribable to you. Sorry. Everything evades detail. There are, however, faint impressions of songs and friends and faces unshaven and sounds unseen that appear, to me, aside reality; there are also bolder strokes of sound that are so real that I am reluctant to yarn them for fear of their undoing. It was a pretty picture I don’t often see or really care to lose.
(((folkYEAH))) is putting on a fine two-day showcase at the beautiful Fernwood Resort in Big Sur this weekend. White Magic, Glasser, and Big Search (members of Fool’s gold) are slated to perform on Friday evening, then on Saturday, Mariee Sioux and a special mystery artist called “The Beatles’s.” If you’re in the area, come down and say hi.
Camping is limited at Fernwood, so grab a spot if you can. There’s other camping in the area too, so I wouldn’t worry too much.
This working (60 MINUTE) cut of “Festival in the Forest” (the film) will be screened on March 20, 2009 @ SXSW ::: Everloving / Design Within Reach Party in Austin, Texas.
1:30PM DOORS open
1:30PM (FILM) Cornelius Sensurround
2:15PM Shilpa Ray & Her Happy Hookers
3:30PM The Young Republic
4:10PM Herman Dune
4:50PM Fool’s Gold
5:30PM Phenomenal Handclap Band
6:15PM The Entrance Band
7:00PM (FILM) (((folkYEAH!)))’s Festival In the Forest in BIG SUR, CA (working 60 minute cut)
“One of the most heartbreaking singers ever. Beautiful” – Devendra Banhart
“I consider myself her biggest fan.” – Josephine Foster
Kath Bloom grew up in New Haven, CT, where she studied the cello as a child and started playing the guitar when she was a teenager. Bloom collaborated with Bruce Neumann in the early ’70s, but it wasn’t until she met avant-garde guitarist Loren MazzaCane Connors in 1976 that she started recording. Bloom and Connors recorded six limited edition albums of fragile, simple folk and blues melodies, the majority of which were written by Bloom herself. Bloom stopped recording new material soon after her collaboration with Connors ended, when she and her husband Stan moved to Florida together with her child from a previous marriage to live amidst the orange groves, buying and rehabilitating old houses. Kath eventually received a series of small government grants to operate a number of different after-school programs in music and other arts for latch-key kids as well as a moms-and-babies music class, and had two more children of her own. While struggling to make ends meet, she wrote copious amounts of songs and poetry that went unrecorded at the time.
On April 7th, Chapter Music is releasing Loving Takes This Course: A Tribute to the Songs of Kath Bloom. Disc One features recordings of Kath’s songs by the likes of Bill Callahan, Devendra Banhart, Mark Kozelek, Josephine Foster, Scout Niblett and many more, while Disc Two features Kath’s original versions of the songs covered on Disc One.
And, to mark the occasion, (((folkYEAH))) and naturalismo are teaming up to present Kath Bloom’s FIRST EVER West Coast tour, with Little Wings & Lee Baggett supporting. It’s going to be a short run up the coast — but these are going to be intimate gatherings, a rare chance to see this amazing folk artist on the West Coast.
March 5, Santa Barbara, Muddy Waters
promoter link: www.clubmercy.blogspot.com
March 6, Los Angeles, McCabes Guitar Shop
venue link: www.mccabes.com/
March 7, Big Sur, Fernwood Resort
venue link: www.fernwoodbigsur.com/
March 8, San Francisco, Cafe Du Nord
venue link: www.cafedunord.com/
1. Come Here – Marble Sounds
2. The Breeze/My Baby Cries – Bill Callahan
3. When I See You – Laura Jean
4. Finally – Mark Kozelek
5. Window – Mick Turner & Peggy Frew
6. Forget About Him – Devendra Banhart
7. I Wanna Love – Scout Niblett
8. Biggest Light Of All – The Dodos
9. Look At Me – Josephine Foster
10. Ready Or Not – Mia Doi Todd
11. Fall Again – Corrina Repp
12. It’s So Hard To Come Home – Marianne Dissard & Joey Burns
13. In Your School – Amy Rude
14. If This Journey – Tom Hanford
15. There Was A Boy – Meg Baird
16. Come Here – The Concretes
Nico Georis’ songs amble down the bleached highways and byways of windswept, Western mythology. They live a life of quiet California desperation, that sunny sadness that proves that even in the light there is loneliness. Even on those wide-eyed butterfly afternoons spent splashing in the reedy river, there is an apathy that lingers long after the blue jeans have dried. Green grass and summer sunsets are beautiful, but they don’t answer our questions. They humbly offer an example to live by, and maybe, just maybe we can find stillness, meaning, connection, or whatever you want to call it, if only in a song. Maybe not.
You can catch Nico playing with Kaki King and Sarah McCoy at the Brookdale Lodge on January 30th. Visit our dear friends at (((folkYEAH))) for more info.
TODAY, Wednesday, Jan. 21, Dave Portner (a.k.a. Avey Tare) and Noah Lennox (a.k.a. Panda Bear) of Animal Collective will chat live with All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen and take listeners’ questions about the new album. In the meantime, Merriweather Post Pavilion is available to hear in its entirety on NPR Music as part of the First Listen series.
The chat will take place live TODAY Wednesday, Jan. 21, at 2 p.m. ET, and then archived.
Fader Magazine’s very own Daniel Arnold was sent undercover into the idyllic environs of the Festival in the Forest. The stunningly beautiful images and words contained herein are presented – Diane Arbus eat your heart out – to communicate the true magic of the fest. Tears of joy may ensue.