Slammin’ Banjos Generate Acoustic Dustups Outside of Portland

by | Jul 19, 2010

It’s mid-July—the perfect time for three days and nights of live music.

On Friday night we saw Darol Anger’s Republic of Strings, Great American Taxi, and Yonder Mountain String Band at NW String Summit in North Plains, Oregon.

Horning’s Hideout is the ideal setting for a festival and we would have camped out like good festers, but we had a date with The Avett Brothers on Saturday night at Edgefield in Troutdale. And whoa, what a date it turned out to be. Darby and I were completely captivated by what The Avett Brothers brought to the stage.

The Avett Brothers are masters of their instruments and their material. Their songs are superbly crafted and the band plays them with so much emotion it really demands your full attention. Let’s look at their new video for “Head Full Of Doubt/Road Full Of Promise,” a track from I And Love And You (produced by Rick Rubin).

The song is poetry:

There’s a darkness upon you that’s flooded in light
In the fine print they tell you what’s wrong and what’s right
And it flies by day and it flies by night
And I’m frightened by those who don’t see it

According to NPR, the video shows the rise, fall and inevitable decay of rampant urban development. Which is fitting. The song “was written about the temporary nature of our buildings and our mentality,” says Scott Avett.

On Sunday, we headed west on Highway 26 again. As we made our way into the festival grounds, Crooked Still was setting up on stage. They sing purty songs. Then we saw Danny Barnes play with Darol Anger and pretty much every member of Yonder, before the host band took the stage for the final performance of the weekend.

As much as I love Yonder, the set of the weekend at Horning’s belonged to Great American Taxi. Great American Taxi’s new album Reckless Habits is ON and it was great to see the band play many of its songs from the album.

From where I’m dancing, Vince Herman is one of the great band leaders in America today. He writes compelling material and is a natural performer. Leftover Salmon has been an inspiration to me for years and I love to see Vince play, wherever and however he configures it.