YarmonyGrass 2011: Day One
Words By J-man
Photos By Carly Marthis & J-man
As if any music festival wasn't basically a vacation, YarmonyGrass has become an escape from the normal packed fields, security-laden, multiple stage madness that are most festivals. Yarmony has it down. With two alternating stages, no security check points, an intelligently capped capacity and a river running through the site, maximum enjoyment was inevitable. Following small signs with nothing more than a pink elephant and an arrow, we found our way to Rancho Del Rio. From the minute we stepped onto the property, with our phones receiving no service, our vacation began.
Pulling into the festival, there was no staff pointing us to where to go, but instead small signs with with arrows pointing us towards check-in. Arriving at the ticket booth near the parking lot for the boat launch, we obtained our credentials without issue. Next to the ticket tent was a tent that said "Media". The media was informed that there would be tables and chairs under the tent, as well as electricity and internet connectivity. At the present time, there was none of the above.
After paying $10.00 to park our vehicle, my good friend Murray and I unloaded the car, staked out a prime camping spot near the banks of the Colorado River, and set up shop. While doing so, we ran into one of the gentleman that we were camped next to the year prior, Danimal. We introduced ourselves to our additional neighbors and headed over to the field to start our weekend with some frisbee and drinks.
The first band to hit the stage was the Dead Winter Carpenters. Though we only caught the tail end of their set, the music was energetic and captivating. Pete Kartsounes Band followed as we continued to toss the disc, with little interest in the somewhat average music coming from the stage. As we played, more and more folks joined in and new friends were made.
The game of frisbee came to a screeching halt with the announcement of Peter Rowan. I looked forward to seeing who his "friends" would be, and out onto the stage walked the Travelin' McCourys. It was at that point I made a conscious decision to skip the Friday press conference that was scheduled for the same time slot. I would later find out that it had been canceled due to lack of organization and logistical nonsense.
Peter Rowan, backed by the Travelin' McCourys, performed one of the best sets of the weekend. The shear ability of one of the best bands in bluegrass music coupled with Peter Rowan's song writing and emotion-filled vocals captivated the majority of the folks in attendance. The highlight of the set came with a version of Peter Rowan's "Land of The Navajo". I found myself in a state of complete bliss.
The set that followed featured the same lineup, but instead of Peter Rowan, Scott Law took center stage. With that, we headed back to camp to grab some additional drinks, met up with my girlfriend and some other friends, and back to tossing disc we went. Scott Law is great, but for him to follow Peter Rowan, what more was there to see?
In between the main stage sets, the side stage which had been moved from last year's position (right next to the main stage) to the back of the concert field on a well built deck, would come alive. There were a lot of smaller folk/song-writer style bands that played the "tweener" sets.
Following an incredible sunset, the Emmitt-Nershi band took the main stage. I have seen them several times but never with such fire and energy in their playing. Their bluegrass seemed traditional, yet with Andy Thorn on banjo and Drew Emmitt on mandolin, the set was filled with progressive greatness. There were several moments where I stared without breathing, only to gasp when an incredible riff or arrangement was put forth with well rehearsed perfection, timing and delivery. I can honestly say that this was the best Emmitt-Nershi set that I had ever witnessed. An added bonus came in the form of the "super secret special guest" Tim Carbone!
After another tweener set, Head for the Hills took the stage to close out the evening of music with one of the most powerful sets of the weekend. These cats can play, and wasted no time in impressing the lingering crowd, even performing a version of Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill".
Inevitably as the hour became late, we made our way back to our tents for some sleep. With Friday in the books, we closed our eyes and dreamed of the fun to come... for Saturday would be a powerhouse of a day.
J-man & Carly's Photo Gallery
YarmonyGrass: Day Two Coverage