It was appropriate given it was Father’s Day this past Sunday that Bruce Hornsby was playing Park West. After all he’s a father of two and one of the guiding patriarchal figures of modern classical piano. The intimate venue located a stones throw from Lake Michigan created the perfect environment for he and the Noisemakers to collectively strut their stuff along side special guest Van Ghost whose been opening during this leg of the tour. Van Ghost, who hail from Chicago boasts a lively horn section with Jennifer Hartswick (vocals, trumpet) being featured prominently on most songs. “Simplify”, a new song, was a synch based ballad with a nicely positioned guitar solo to which the talented Trey Anastasio Band female vocalist enhanced a wonderfully composed piece. Van Ghost plays North Coast Music Festival later this summer.
SETLIST: Great Divide, Stander on the Mountain, Circus on the Moon, This Too Shall Pass, Across the River, The Good Life*, Prairie Dog Town*, Jack Of Diamonds* > Valley Road*, Pete and Manny > Scarlet Begonias, Mandolin Rain > That Would Be Something, (Time Machine Sounds) > The Way It Is, Tango King, Big Rock Candy Mountain Run > Candy Mountain Run. Encore: Swan Song
* denotes on dulcimer.
Bruce started the evening with a quiet melodic freestyle piece that burst into “Great Divide” with the pianist trading solo’s with drummer Sonny Emory. Effortlessly in between songs Hornsby mused to the crowd about the Captain Beefheart tour days of keyboardist JT Thomas, as well as stories of songs he penned about his son’s youth. He is quite the weaver of words these days. He’ll scat warming up his vocal chords stretching to stand and admire a crowd that spans generations. In addition to touring life with the Noisemaker’s he’s involved with a number of projects including writing music for an upcoming Spike Lee movie Red Hook Summer, writing a theatrical soundtrack for a performance called Sick Bastard, and playing with old Grateful Dead friend Bob Weir at the All Good Music Festival. Bruce appears at ease on stage and like any good storyteller from those days takes the scenic route in explaining himself and giving the fans a unique listening experience. Reminiscing about the Grammy he won with Branford Marsalis for “Barcelona Mona” he jokes about how he won by default due to the powers that be “not wanting Kenny G to win.” He took turns on piano, dulcimer, and accordion at many points sitting just a nose away from the audience. He has mentioned he prefers venues with 1000-3000 seats as oppose to larger arenas on account the acoustics can be heard by all listeners instead of sound being lost to those in the back. Performance is paramount to Hornsby and though he is relaxed during his performance does not discount him being one of the best at performing razor sharp musicianship and playing to those present. He responds to fans in the audience with the coolness of a stand up comedian fielding a heckler. He spins one fans shout into every fans moment in a way some cannot achieve.
Happy delicious Friday Scamp friends and family! Hope life is treating everyone gloriously! I’m up surprisingly early for a Friday in the forest. Sooo, I got in around 3:00 yesterday afternoon with hundreds of other fun and colorful people from all over the world. I actually had the amazing pleasure of hooking a fellow fan up with a deluxe VIP pass to the fest. She was wondering around in an adorable cut-off Bob Marley shirt, no shoes, tilted hat decked out with hippie bling and puffy letter stickers spelling, well…part of her name- E.L.E. Miss Ellie and her friends were on their way to Delfest but couldn’t find that lucky miracle ticket so they hopped on the bus and took the ride all the way up to beautimus Summer Camp- again, no tickets in hand, just a little bounce in their step and hope in their hearts.
As she wondered by with one lone finger in the air, she sweetly leaned into our car window and said, “Got any extras?” I told her I was actually an official Summer Camp Counselor and strange enough, I’m balling with an extra Deluxe VIP pass. “Ohhhh man, I can’t afford that,” she shook her head and sadly sang to me. I smiled and told her she could have for the low, low price of $150, way less than gate price for a regular ticket. Her eyes beamed and she completely freaked, dancing around the car and grabbing me in a giant bear hug. I caught a glimpse of her cheesing from the Starshine stage last night.
After hooking a fellow sister up I wandered over to the VIP scamping grounds and nestled in. Honestly, I threw my gear down three different times before finding the right space for my new home in the woods. You must choose your neighbors wisely while festing, my friends. Too many neon-colored boom boxes, Nike pumps and tilted hats = you will not sleep for the next three days. Your brain will be submerged in Bassnectar banging til’ 4am, amongst bad jokes and 19-year -old high school horror stories. No thanks.
So, I mosied along and nestled into a cozy little space beside two sexy girls and a crew of good friends from Chi-town. Frickin’ amazing people. After creating our beautiful tent city castle, we all laughed and talked and ran around the festival grounds meeting our fellow Scampers and letting them know that all is safe in Scamp land while I’m around. While out, I caught a little of super bouncy, fun bluegrass band Chicago band Van Ghost. The lead singer plucked away at a washboard, crooning a soft, sweet, guttural lullaby. After, we ran over to Digital Tape Machine and rawked out, spinning and jamming to the hard-rock jam and bass that make their glorious sound. Everyone was completely raging it for a Thursday afternoon. It was glorious!
Today, the madness really begins. Today UMPHREYS MCGEE is going to rage cage all over this land! Oh yes. Don’t worry friends, I’ll be back to share all of the beautiful debauchery and goodness
Be easy ~TiffleToes