One risk of putting on an outdoor festival is never being able to guarantee what the weather has to offer. When I see Hot August Blues promoter Brad Selko on this bright, temperate Saturday morning I ask him if he has some inside connection with Mother Nature as this is the second year in a row the weather has been spectacular. “Let’s see what happens around 10PM” he jokes referring to the iffy late evening forecast and the start time for headliner Grace Potter.
Let’s face it – two major ingredients to any successful outdoor festival are the weather and the venue. There is no lovelier place than Oregon Ridge Park with it’s mammoth hill and beautiful foliage. This was my fourth time at HAB and the one comment I get when I wander thru the crowd is how friendly everyone is. Whether it’s Selko’s choice of staff or simply the magic of the day, HAB get’s it right every time which is why it continues to be a late summer highlight year after year.
Oh,and having an awesome music line-up doesn’t hurt either ,so…the “deets” on the sounds!
Following his usual formula of two major headliners, some well known up and comers, and some fine Baltimore based bands this year featured some nice surprises for this reviewer. Local band Cara Kelly and The Tell Tale was the first band that got the main stage rocking. They are a young band from Baltimore that got the unfamiliar crowd really excited for the day. More will be heard from them in the near future I’m sure!
JD McPherson brought the house down old style with their fine recreation of 50s roots rock and Rockabilly. The folks at the front of the stage boogied up a storm.
Greensky Bluegrass had many supporters and fans of their jammy “New-Grass” sound and were definitely festival favorites judging by how many folks came up to say hello at their meet and greet.
My personal fav’ was the Brooklyn based Afro-Cuba Funk band Antibalas which means Bullet Proof. They were a seamless 10 piece ensemble with a 5 piece horn section and front man in long dreads, African face make-up and brightly colored suit. They brought a message of peace, love and equality for all, to the tune of a heavy world beat that kept the crowd dancing.
Galactic was spot-on as usual. How can you go wrong with drummer Stanton Moore keeping the beat and ex-Living Colour frontman Corey Glover whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Their cover of “Living Colour’s” Cult Of Personality with horns playing the signature lick brought was simply amazing.
When the sun finally set on this beautiful August Saturday Grace Potter and The Nocturnals put a fitting exclamation point to this day of good vibes and great music. A splendid time was had by all. What can I say? “Can’t wait till next year!