Monday, July 5, 2010

Taste of MN 2010

This year's Taste of Minnesota got a makeover this year with higher end food vendors and more music stages, including one presented by Red House Records and KFAI Radio. Here are some photos from the festivities...

The Red House Records & KFAI Stage had the best location on the Harriet Island festival grounds--right on the river with beautiful views and a constant breeze amidst the humid heat. The steps leading down to the water made for great seating and a sweet sounding amphitheater.

Guy Davis and I geek out over banjos

Guy Davis prepares for his live interview on Fox 9 News on Friday morning

M.A. Rosko interviews Guy live by the Red House & KFAI Stage

Marcus Wise & Nirmala Rajasekar kick off the stage on Friday

Dave Moore put on a great set. The highlight was when he answered his cell phone on stage, and says: "It's my good friend Ray Bonneville." Everyone cheers.

Guy Davis plays the blues and brings out the first banjo of the weekend!

Guy invites Dave Moore to play harp...

...and then Iowa City's Joe Price on electric guitar. Joe & Vicki Price did a great set prior to Guy.

Joe Price & Dave Moore chat with Red House president Eric Peltoniemi

Before Minnesota music legend Willie Murphy played his set, I got to introduce St. Paul's Mayor Chris Coleman--how cool!

Just before Mayor Coleman comes on stage, Willie lights up a big stogie.

Mayor Coleman declares July 2, 2010 Willie Murphy Day in the city of Saint Paul.

The Mayor congratulates Willie...

...and then sits down to enjoy Willie's smokin' set of soul and classic R&B.

His kickin' band brought out the crowds and was the perfect way to end our stage on the first day.

Saturday morning I arrived early with Doug & Telisha Williams for some live TV spots

Doug on the stage before the music starts, looking very epic

Doug & Telisha enjoy Charlie Parr's set with "Sneaky" Pete Bauer

Virginia duo Doug & Telisha Williams play in Minnesota for the first time and win over the crowd handily with their great Americana tunes and fun outfits

After a hot day at the Taste, Doug, Telisha and their dog Annabelle joined me for some cold beers and grilled Italian sausages. They parked their RV outside my place so we enjoyed some good times Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Eliza Blue does her sound check as a train goes by on the other side of the Mississippi River

Eliza Blue kicks things off Sunday morning with Mikkel Beckman joining her on washboard and other odd percussion. This was his third gig at the Taste; he also played with Jeff Ray & The Stakes and The Brass Kings.

Mikkel & Eliza listen to The High 48s great bluegrass set

After MC-ing and talking with folks for two days straight at the merch tent, I lost most of my voice by Sunday morning. Thankfully, after loading up on several kinds of tea, some odd Canadian lozenges and 10 bottles of water, I was able to power through and do my set with the Mother Banjo Band (featuring Jim Parker on mandolin & guitar, Jon Olson on electric bass and Eliza Blue on fiddle and vocals) at 3 pm. We ended with Bad Company's "Feel Like Making Love."

After Molly Maher & Her Disbelievers rocked and closed down the Red House Stage on Sunday, DJ Pam Hill and I enjoyed some free drinks and eats at the VIP area and heard the evening's main stage set (the only one I heard all weekend).

The Gin Blossoms kicked things off with a nice but not memorable set that included some of their old hits ("Found Out About You, "Allison Road," "Hey Jealousy"), making folks in their 30's (like me) and 40's feel happy and nostalgic. Needtobreathe followed them, but I didn't catch their set because I ran into former Ron and Jean, former hosts of KFAI's "Radio Rumpus Room."

Then the Counting Crows finished things off with a great set. Part of their "Traveling Circus and Medicine Show," the concert featured commercial Augustana (a favorite on commercial AAA stations like main stage sponsor Cities 97) and MC Mike Notar, who made my friends and I question if Vin Diesel had taken up a second career as a rapper (see this video to see what I mean). With perfect weather and a pretty surprising setlist (that included Van Morrison's "Caravan," Dylan's "Just Like a Woman," "This Land Is Your Land" and my favorite song of theirs--"Omaha"), it really was an awesome high energy show with some cool collaborations between the artists and lots of good energy on the 4th of July, including a nice call to action from Adam Duritz to get involved with local organizations like Open Arms of Minnesota and the Harriet Tubman Center. For more about the show, check out Jon Bream's review in the Star Tribune, which I thought was a pretty good accounting of the show.

Following close of show, the fireworks commenced on the water, and I made my way home.

The weather, which had managed to hold all weekend, finally let loose Monday afternoon, when Cafe Accordion Orchestra played. Luckily our stage was well set up for rain with a very large tent covering so it really just packed the crowds in tighter to the stage. We did have to cut their set a little short due to lightning (although lead man Dan Newton attributed to the polka he played...and the polka he was about to play). While we were huddled under the tent, waiting for the storm to pass, we noticed a raccoon floating down a large log down the river--he looked rather distressed by the whole situation.

After about 20 minutes we were able to start things up again, and Ray Bonneville rocked the stage to a very happy crowd. During this time, some of us noticed that the tent had accumulated an alarmingly large bulge in one corner of the tent (over some of the gear) so we got everyone to move away from that area of the tent. While we waited on the crew to deal with it, hometown boys The Pines started their grand finale set. Finally the crew showed up with one very large stick (seen here) to push the water off.

Playing with the full band (JT Bates on drums and James Buckley on upright bass), The Pines did a killer set, including a few new tunes. They closed out with "Going Home"--one of my favorites and a perfect way to end the festival.

Other local highlights of the weekend included Davina & The Vagabonds, Big George Jackson, The Roe Family Singers and The Brass Kings, proving that Minnesota music is tasty indeed. All in all a great weekend of music...and oh yeah, food.

1 comment:

Matt Winters said...

What an amazing weekend of music! The Mother Banjo Band is amazing looking!