Hot August Blues Wows in 2012
WHAT: Hot August Blues & Roots Festival 2012
WHERE: Cockeysville, MD
WHEN: Sat 8/18/2012
As the summer is beginning to wind down…there are those last minute desires you wish too experience one last time. The smell of bbq, the bright sunshine casually peaking through big white puffy clouds, rolling hills filled with luscious green grass, the taste of a perfectly chilled beer accompanied with the laughter of friends and a sustained note from a blues guitarist to add a perfect background soundtrack to your day. I found all of this and more last weekend at Hot August Blues.
Tri State Indie has long known about and attended this fest, however I recently jumped on board with TSI and until bout two weeks ago I have never heard of Hot August Blues…to be honest I never heard of Cockeysville, MD. I was given the opportunity throught TSI shoot a blues festival, which would normally not be my first choice. Yet I took the chance to experience something different and little bit out of my comfort zone. The only artist on the line up that I knew was Trombone Shorty. I knew if all else failed I would at least be able to enjoy his set! However, starting with the first act, I soon found out that this festival would surpass my wildest expectations.
The music was perfect from the first note that came from Chris Jacobs. Every single artist brought their own flare and style and filled the entire day with such full eclectic sounds. While every artist was amazing, I did have a few personal favorites.
First off was Locos Por Juanas. This latin band from Miami, FL showed be that Hot August Blues was much more than just a “blues” festival. There latin style had the entire place dancing. Even people that had no rhythm had no choice but move any part of their body they could manage to stay with the beat. Locos Por Juana music ranged from rock to ska to salsa with a heavy dose up latin flare in every song they played. They’re set never seemed to end and the crowd did not mind.
While roaming the grounds and waiting for Trombone Shorty to take the main stage I stumbled upon JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound. A highly energetic group full of funk and attitude. The band…I assume…is being led by JC Brooks who seems to resemble a young modern day James Brown. The stage they had to work with was no larger than two full size beds pushed together, but JC Brooks used every inch he could to thrash and dance for the crowd. The back up band were the perfect fit to respond to JC Brooks every move. The entire performance was suited with a call and response style set. It was if JC Brooks had a 45 minute argument with The Uptown Sound that seemed to cumulate into an in your face funk rock and roll.
Then it was time for the moment I have been waiting for since I heard the name Trombone Shorty some years ago. Trombone Shorty’s music has been in and out of my life sporadically for the past year or two, but has since had a huge reemergence since I’ve seen his cameo in Re:Generation. I never thought I’d have the opportunity to see him live, and so I became accustomed to admiring his recorded material. Now that Hot August Blues gave me the gift of his live performance, I have found his recorded material not good enough. Don’t get me wrong…its amazing….its just that seeing him live blows his studio work far far far away. Trombone Shorty brings so much passion and energy to his performance. You are able to see his pure talent when you see him live. As you see him strain to push every note with his instruments, you feel the note in your own neck. Trombone Shortys instruments don’t just make sounds, his entire body creates every sound. You see the air from his chest come up into his cheeks and through his Trombone. You witness every note he makes and it all comes out beautifully in every single song. That energy only resonates into his band and is given to the crowd. I could have never expected for Trombone Shorty to be as good as he was. I have had the honor to cover a lot of shows in the past few months, and Trombone Shorty was one of if not the best show I have ever seen.
Headlining this years Hot August Blues was the amazing Warren Hayes and Gov’t Mule. As the sun set Gov’t Mule took the stage and performed for a massive crowd under a clear star filled sky. I found myself a seat off to the side of the stage and leaned back to peer up looking for shooting stars as Warren Hayes just pulled every note from his guitar with perfection. There couldn’t be a better way to have ended the day then with Gov’t Mule performing Soulshine.
This was Hot August Blues 20th year…and I wish I didn’t only discover it this year. With past acts such as Otis Clay, Lyle Lovett and Robert Randolph & The Family Band…let alone the acts they brought us this year…you only know that Hot August Blues will only get bigger and better. I will be sure to keep this festival in my mind as the flowers start to bloom in 2013 and the itch for summer hits my soul.
Til next year…..
Photos & Words by: Timothy Becker