August 19, 2006
The Hootenanny Revue, Wolfe Island, 11 August 2006
Hey there folks. Last weekend was the annual Wolfe Island Music Fest. The lineup was ridiculously good this year – so good that WIMF is giving Hillside a run for its money. And at a fraction of the price no less! With an added bonus of getting to ride on a ferry! Seriously mark your calendars for next year, it is that good. But, for the second year running I have been unable to attend the main day of fun. Stupid summertime obligations. As expected, all reviews that I have seen said this year’s event was outstanding.
Knowing that I wouldn’t be in the area on Saturday, I made sure that I got to see the Friday night Town Hall concert, the Hootenanny Revue. I missed the Hootenanny when it previously swung through town and I am very glad that I got to attend this time.
The Hootenanny is somewhat hard to explain. It is equal parts bluegrass, gospel revival, and cabaret, with a dash of indie rock. They call it Cowpunk, which I think is quite fantastic. I am not a fan of most country music, particularly what would be considered mainstream country, but I nevertheless like the type of music made by the Hootenanny All-stars. It is more “alt.” than what I would consider most alt-country. It is much more bluegrassy. These folks aren’t just adopting the sonic tools of bluegrass and traditional, olde-tyme country music as a novelty, however, they are the real deal. Everything we saw was authentic, passionate, and fun.
It was a revolving cast of exceptionally talented folks each taking turns at the mic and switching instruments as duty called. When not onstage they watched and danced right up front. There were five distinct performers/groups on the bill – Carolyn Mark, Luther Wright, Jenny Whiteley, Shuyler Jansen, and Salt– with a Dan Whiteley on mandolin and Diona Davies on fiddle, and Tolan McNeil on guitar, as well as a drummer, Michael Silverman
who’s name escapes me at the moment. There was also a special guest appearance by Chris Brown and Kate Fenner. They backed each other up, sang harmonies and duets and by no means were they done once they sang their three or four songs in each set. Everyone brought something unique to the act whether they were the feature at the time or serving as backup.
The crowd was a very interesting mix of country fans, old folks, Wolfe Islanders, kids, and hipsters but I think it is safe to say that everyone was having a good time. They particularly liked the upbeat songs which lent themselves to dancing. The slower, softer numbers found many people’s attention wandering. The people standing at the back were exceptionally chatty through pretty much the whole damn thing. I remain mystified why they didn’t go just outside the hall where it was cooler, you could still hear the music and where the beer tent was located. At anyrate fun was had. At the end, after Jenny Whiteley sang “Circus is in Town” a capella as the others packed everything away (what was with that one chick in the audience screeching?), the Hootenanny All-Stars led a conga line out of the hall where fireworks were let off. Aside from my slight uneasiness out of fear that they might burn the church down (they did seem to be landing quite close) it was a pretty fantastic way to end the evening.
Wolfe Island was the last stop on the Revue’s tour but I highly recommend you catch them if they roll through your town the next time the Hootenanny hits the road.
Selections from the Hootenanny Revue, Wolfe Island Music Fest, St. Margaret’s Hall, Marysville, Wolfe Island, 11 August 2006
* The Hootenanny All-Stars, The Hootenanny Express.mp3 (1.25 MB)
* Jenny Whiteley, In the Pines.mp3 (4.08 MB)
* Salt, We are Trying.mp3 (2.16 MB)
* Chris Brown and Kate Fenner, While You Sleep.mp3 (3.99 MB)
* Carolyn Mark, You’re Not a Whore (If no one’s paying).mp3 (2.92 MB)
I have just posted one song from each of the main performers. If you were there and would like a particular song from the show (except for the first part of the first set including Carolyn Mark’s first set which I didn’t record due to my utter incompetence) ask nicely and I might be able to help you out.
This has nothing to do with the Hootenanny Revue but I stumbled across it when looking for pics from Friday (which I didn’t find – anyone take any photos of the show they’d like to share?) and thought it was funny and worth including in this post. (with thanks to awonderfulltreat)