Sep 202009

Food: Texas pit barbecue beef sandwich with grilled onions, fries covered with melted processed cheese food product and no fork within miles, homemade lemonade

Music: Robin and I hung out all day at the fair with our friend Susan. First off we sawMelissa Branin solo for the last thirty minutes of her set. Powerful, clear vocals with plugged-in acoustic guitar. She sang some interesting originals, including a very stirring song about choosing directions in your life called “Fork In The Road.” She had a contemporary folk style but she dug into older topics like the nastiness of war. Melissa lives close to us in Reston, and she does house concerts, so hopefully we’ll see her again soon.

Second, we saw the Harley String Band play an hour set. The band is a trio of folky songwriter guys. I say folky because they definitely have a sixties and seventies feel to their originals, plus a little Appalachian traditional flavor. Most of the songs were arranged with acoustic guitar plus octave mandolin, banjo, or mandolin. The only problem we had during this set was that we sat in the early afternoon sun for an hour listening to them, which drained us a bit. But lemonade did help.

Third, we caught the last song of a set by Melissa Branin again on another stage, but this time with her Big Guise Band. They did John Lennon’s “Come Together,” and Melissa rocked the vocals real good on that one.

Last, we saw One Eye Closed, a trio with our friends Stephanie and Les Thompson plus Wynn Walk playing Dobros. I had never heard the trio do a full set before. They have a strong Appalachian feel, with lots of clawhammer banjo and slide guitar with upright bass chugging beneath it all. The harmonies were real sweet, with all three taking turns. They did several gruesome songs with betrayal and killing and lots to mop up afterward, which is not quite my taste. But they also did some great originals with on more everyday sentimental topics. They played with all the instruments plugged in, which made the sound a little muddy and soupy to me. I’d love to hear them play their Appalachian sound miked up just to get more air and wood in the instruments’ sound. Totally a great group, and I hope to hear them a lot more in the future.

Looking forward to day two. I realized last night that out of the thirty acts performing at the fair, I could not find another fiddler. Am I the lone fiddler? Wow, I should get a special badge just for that. I’ll have to ask the entertainment maestra next time I see her.

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