The 9th annual River Roots Live music and rib festival was recently held in Le Claire Park in downtown Davenport. I've worked as stage manager and announcer for 8 of the 9 River Roots Live and all of the Rib Festivals from 1999 to 2006. After a River Roots Live financial fiasco in 2006 - the one I didn't work - the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce stepped in to bail out the event. Seeing that River Roots Live could benefit from having rib vendors on hand, the Chamber took over the festival to combine it with the highly popular Rib Festival. They asked me if I'd stay on for the combined event and even though I have said I'll never do them again directly after the event is over in late August, I always say, "Yes!" when they ask me in March.
Once again this year, Jason Gilliland - the Director of Events for the Downtown Davenport Partnership, a division of the QC Chamber of Commerce - oversaw the event. Also working with me behind the stage this year was Tom Swanson - the director of the River Music Experience - and his wife, Katie. Katie's parents, Mike and Michelle Monfort, provided catering for the bands and backstage crew. Kate Benson from the River Music Experience helped out again this year with her stellar work of advancing the bands and being the contact person. Her boyfriend, Brett Dale, was one of our van runners, as was Brett's step-dad, Bill. Jay Allison came back to work as a runner this year, and Tim (Red) Roberts lent an experienced hand behind the stage again this year. And, of course, I have to mention the stellar job the crew from Rexroat Sound did once again this year. Scott Rexroat, Eric Kranz, Tony McKinney, Nathan Judd, Tom Salata, Patrick Rifley, Donald Bird, Jr. and others with help from Joe Murphy of Murphy Sound from Iowa City did a great job in setting up the two stages, the massive sound system, the ever growing number of lights on the stages, and made sure that every band sounded good when they played. And I can't help but thank my wife, Cindy, who helped out on both Friday and Saturday nights.
The headliners at this year's event were Shooter Jennings (the son of legendary country singer Waylon Jennings, pictured right) and the new incarnation of The BoDeans on Friday night, with the Wallflowers (led by Jakob Dylan, the son of the also legendary Bob Dylan) and the up-and-coming hot band from Los Angeles - Vintage Trouble - headlining on Saturday night. We also had a number of local and regional acts on the River Roots Live stages including Busted Chandeliers, Chicago Farmer, Magic Box, Old Shoe, and Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts. Nielsen is the son of Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen. A couple of other artists that came in from further than the Midwest were David Mayfield and his band, Parade, and The Gallery - a band that started out in Massachusetts before heading to Florida for a few years before ending up out in Los Angeles. Finishing out the festival on Saturday night was upcoming Detroit R&B singer Jessica Hernandez.
But even more important than the music were the barbecue vendors that came to River Roots Live again this year. They included Uncle Bub's from the Chicago suburb of Westmont (click here to read about my visit to Uncle Bub's); Porky Chicks from Farmington in the Northwest part of Arkansas; Big Boned Barbeque from Charleston, SC; Texas Thunder from Phillips, TX; Chicago BBQ from, well, of course, Chicago; and two local rib vendors - Steve's Meat Market from Montpelier, IA; and a place I'd never heard of before, John's Rib House.
(Picture left courtesy Brian Barkley of Barkley Photo.com. As always, click on the photo to make it larger.)
I was able to sneak away from my duties for a bit on Friday afternoon to enjoy some brisket from Big Boned and Uncle Bub's with Jason Fechner of WQAD-TV, and Greg Hipskind, owner of the QC Rock Academy and the drummer for Wicked Liz and the Bellyswirls. The guys from Big Boned recognized me from the past and they piled a boat load of tender beef brisket in a container for me. The owner insisted that he give me the brisket for free, but I had my eight bucks already out. When he wouldn't take my money, he said, "Well, give it to my guys, then." I threw the $8 bucks into the tip jar and I got a cheer from the guys working in the back. Big Boned had three different sauces - a sweet sauce, a mild sauce that had a smoky taste, and their hot sauce. Actually, a combination of the sweet and the hot sauce was a great combination. The brisket was tender and flavorful. Along with trying some of Uncle Bub's brisket, which was almost like chunky beef in comparison to the shaved beef from Big Boned, that was the only barbecue I had all weekend. It's one of the pitfalls of working the stage area for River Roots Live.
The weather going up to and including River Roots Live weekend was just gorgeous. Even though we needed the rain, the skies were clear and the temperatures were in the low 80's making it one of the most weather perfect weekends we've ever had for all the River Roots Live.
Starting off the Friday evening portion of River Roots Live was an all-female group from the Quad Cities by the name of Busted Chandeliers. Mo Carter is one of the members of the band and she is the wife of the Executive Director of the Downtown Davenport Association, Kyle Carter. Believe me, Busted Chandeliers didn't get the gig because of Mo Carter being Kyle's wife. They've been playing together for about two years now and have developed a good following in the Quad Cities area. Their 30 minute set was a great showcase for them.
The next band on the schedule was a Los Angeles-based band, The Gallery (pictured right). The band started out in Massachusetts a few years ago before settling in Florida. After working around the Southeastern part of the U.S. for about three years, the band relocated to L.A. about 18 months ago. They played songs from their album, Restless, that was released earlier this year. The guys were extremely impressed with the festival and they put on a great show.
Following The Gallery, the David Mayfield Parade took the bandshell stage. The band is the vehicle for singer-guitarist David Mayfield who looked like a bookworm nerd when I first met him when they arrived. He had thick black horn-rimmed glasses that he took off when he went on stage to put on his high energy show. Being the stage manager, I don't get to see many of the acts, but I did catch some of David Mayfield's act and the guy threw himself into the show, literally. He was on his back playing guitar on the stage floor and the crowd loved it.
(Pictured left - the David Mayfield Parade on the bandshell stage at River Roots Live. Picture courtesy Brian Barkley at Barkley Photo.com)
A brewing crisis with the BoDeans curtailed any further viewing of David Mayfield's Parade. I was walking back into the backstage area when Jason Gilliland and Kate Benson were talking with each other and I could tell something was wrong. About 20 minutes before, I had heard from my wife - of all people - that she heard the BoDeans leader Kurt Neumann throwing a hissy fit because the BoDeans were going to be playing on the north stage to the side of the bandshell. Jason called me over and confirmed that Kurt Neumann was refusing to play on the smaller (not by much) of the two stages. He said, "They said they want to play on the bandshell stage or not play at all."
(I had a minor problem with Jason Boots, the road manager for the BoDeans, earlier in the day when the crew showed up to set up the bands equipment. He said that they were prepared to do a 90 minute show. We had them for a 75 minute show on our schedule. He insisted that it was supposed to be a 90 minute show. I pulled out the contract and saw that it called for a 75 minute show plus an encore. I said, "Oh, an encore. So that would be, what, about 80 to 85 minutes total, then?"
Jason said, "Well, the encore would be about 15 minutes."
I came back and said, "Look, I've seen enough BoDeans shows in my life to know that they'll play 'Closer to Free' for the encore and get off the stage. And that song doesn't take 15 minutes."
He kind of sheepishly looked at me and said, "Yeah, you're probably right." And that was that. Actually, they didn't play Closer to Free for the encore, but it was only a one song encore.)
Jason decided to bring Kyle Carter into the discussion about moving and we were soon joined by Jason Boots. Jason was a very nice guy and it was only the third gig that he worked with the BoDeans. He was clearly caught in the middle of a negotiation between a petulant band leader and a group of somewhat seasoned festival organizers. Jason Boots basically said, "He won't play unless you move all their stuff to the other stage." He said that Kurt Neumann felt the BoDeans deserved to be on the bandshell stage because of their co-headlining status. Plus the bandshell stage had the seats in front of it. I said, "Oh, those seats don't even come into play this time of night. In fact, they're kind of a pain in the ass. People don't sit in them and they're just in the way. You'll get just as big of a crowd in front of the other stage."
We contemplated the logistics of moving their gear from the north stage - where it was already set up - to the south stage, where it would be set up in front of Shooter Jennings gear. We have two stages at River Roots Live to keep the music flowing, not allowing much more than 15 minutes - tops - between acts. We figured that it would take about 45 minutes to move the BoDeans from the north stage to the bandshell stage, do line checks and get them up ready to play. And then we figured it would take about 45 minutes after that to remove their equipment, do line checks for Shooter Jennings (which can be done while the BoDeans would be playing on the north stage) and get his band ready for their 9:45 time slot. If the BoDeans cancelled, it would leave us with a 90 minute void in music. If we moved the BoDeans to the bandshell stage, it would put us behind schedule plus we'd have 90 minutes of dead time. Either way we looked at it, there was going to be a lot of time with no music that evening.
By this time, the acting agent for the BoDeans had contacted Jason Gilliland on his cell phone and was threatening court action if the band wasn't moved to the bandshell stage. Jason G. was a little perturbed with the guy and said to me after he got off the phone with him., "This isn't even the same guy who I've been dealing with. This is just some guy who works in the same agency as the guy I used to book the BoDeans."
As with most of the bands that we book for River Roots Live, a deposit is sent to them at the time of the booking. This deposit is usually 50 percent of the total contract for the gig. The deposit that was paid to the BoDeans was deep into four figures. I asked Jason Gilliland, Kate and Kyle if we were ready to eat the price of the deposit and not pay the BoDeans the remaining 50 percent if they didn't play. Jason kind of stood there and said, "Well, yeah. Absolutely." Kyle said, "Uh, yeah, I guess. Sure." Kate chimed in, "Oh, absolutely. You can't pay them the balance if they don't play."
Jason from the BoDeans came back over to us and we told him that there would be no way that we could get their equipment off the north stage, transfer it to the bandshell stage and get them up and going for at least 45 minutes. Then it would take 45 minutes to get their stuff off the stage, get Shooter Jennings equipment in place and do line checks. We basically said, "You either play on the north stage or don't play at all."
I said, "Look, we're prepared to eat the (deposit) and not pay you guys the remaining balance. We'll announce that due to unforeseen circumstances that the BoDeans had to cancel at the last moment and we'll be professional about it. But the story will come out early next week that the reasons the BoDeans didn't play was because Kurt Neumann had a hissy fit because he didn't want to play on what he thought was the lesser of the two stages. But we need to know your intentions within the next 10 minutes."
With that, Jason Boots left and Jason Gilliland got a call from the agent again. Jason Gilliland told him, "Look, we just told them that if they don't play, they don't get the balance of the contract." When the agent began to threaten him with legal action again, Jason said, "Look, I can't talk to you now if you're going to act this way." And with that, he hung up on the guy.
While this was all going on, I got a call from my wife. She said, "Hey, the band (BoDeans) is up on the stage. It looks like they're getting ready to play."
I ran over to the north stage and, sure enough, there was the band up there plugging in. I went over to Tony McKinney and Tom Salata who were working the monitors for that stage and I asked, "Are these guys ready to go?"
Tom and Tony sort of looked at one another and said, "Yeah, as far as we know."
And at 8:15 - precisely on schedule - the BoDeans took the stage. Since co-founder Sammy Llanas left the group in what I've heard was a conflict with Kurt Neumann's wife - who is also the BoDeans business manager - they've gone to more of an American-roots rock sound. Oh, they still played some of their more well known songs from the 80's and 90's, but Sammy was the lead singer on many of those songs. A lot of BoDeans purists view the group the same way some die-hard Pink Floyd fans looked at that group after Roger Waters left the band. It's not the same to them.
But you couldn't convince the 10,000 or so fans that were in LeClaire Park that evening. As I predicted, the crowd in front of the stage filled in quickly and it was packed. The BoDeans put on a spirited show and all was forgiven regarding the earlier contentious negotiations. As I handed the remaining balance in the form of a check to Jason Boots of the BoDeans, I shook his hand and said, "No hard feelings. It actually turned out pretty well."
(Pictured right - the BoDeans and the massive crowd they generated. Picture courtesy Brian Barkley from Barkley Photo.com)
He seemed a little embarrassed over the whole affair. "Like I said, this is only the third time I've worked with these guys," he said to me. "I don't know them very well. The agency that I work for handles the BoDeans and they just told me to go out and work these shows until they find another full-time road manager for the group."
And on the BoDeans Facebook page early the week after River Roots Live, there were a handful of pictures of the crowd at River Roots Live when the band was playing with a caption, "Damnnnnn Davenport! You know how to party! Thanks for coming out!" It was clear that everything Kurt Neumann thought would be wrong with the festival turned out all right. Somehow, I'm hoping that he realized after the show that he didn't need to be such a petulant ass when dealing with us.
After the BoDeans started to play, Jason Gilliland got another call from the acting agent for the BoDeans. After Jason informed the guy that the BoDeans were, indeed, playing their set, the agent lightened up considerably. Jason told me afterward, "Yeah, the guy suddenly was all friendly and nothing like the prick he was on the phone earlier. I thought, 'You two-faced phony.' "
Actually, I was sort of bummed that Kenny Aronoff wasn't drumming with the BoDeans. I noticed when the road crew came in earlier in the day to set up the band's equipment that the drums cases had Kenny Aronoff's name on them. But they had another drummer playing for them that night. I've always enjoyed Aronoff's drumming style from his days back with John Mellencamp and more recently with John Fogerty. No word was given as to why Aronoff wasn't with the BoDeans this particular evening, but I see on their Facebook page that he played with them since their appearance at River Roots Live.
Shooter Jennings was up next after the BoDeans. Initially, Jennings' road manager, Colin Cargile, had thought they were only going to play a 60 minute show. But we had them down for 75 minutes. But because the BoDeans insisted on a 90 minute set, we were able to negotiate with Colin for the 60 minutes he initially thought they would play.
(Pictured left - Shooter Jennings and band on the bandshell stage at River Roots Live. Photo courtesy Brian Barkley of Barkley Photo.com)
The big problem was that when Shooter Jennings hit the stage around 10:00 p.m., a lot of people had left the park. We were having a record Friday evening in attendance and beer sales up to 9 p.m., but it fell off sharply after that. I don't know if Jennings' style of progressive country rock clicked with many in the crowd, but the band was sure having a great time playing in front of an estimated 4,000 festival goers. In fact, they were having such a good time that they went past their 11:00 p.m. cut off. As in, WAY past. They kept going past 11:10, past 11:20. I was getting a little antsy because I usually catch grief from the Davenport cops on site if we go past midnight with the music, and the last band of the night, Old Shoe, really wanted to play a 60 minute set.
The guys from Old Shoe were getting restless and when Shooter Jennings jumped into another song at 11:20, when Matt Robinson, the lead singer and guitarist for the band had a meltdown. "This is bullshit, man," he yelled at me. "We're not going to get to play our set!"
I quickly went over to Colin Cargile and said, "This has got to be it, man. We have a hard curfew and we need to get the next band up. You said that he only wanted to play 60 minutes. It's going on 90."
Colin replied, "I know, man. And I'm sorry. This is the last show on the tour and the guys are having a great time. They've never played this long in any show before. They don't want to quit playing."
I told him that I appreciated it, but we had more music we needed to get in. I went back to the road manager for Old Shoe and negotiated a 12:15 a.m. stop time. They were happy with that. And as soon as Shooter Jennings stopped at 11:30, I got Old Shoe up and running. When Dale Sievert, one of the two top cops that oversee security for the event for the City of Davenport, came over to see what was going on when the music was still going at midnight, I told him that we were going to 12:15. He wasn't happy. He screamed a four-lettered expletive at me and walked away. I've known Dale for years and I consider him a friend, so I didn't take it personally. He later apologized to me, but I told him he didn't need to. He was tired and he had to be back on site at 7 a.m. for the Saturday show.
Old Shoe, an Americana-folk/rock jam band out of Chicago (pictured right) did get to play a 45 minute set. Actually, they did a pretty good job of holding on to the remaining crowd that late in the evening. Their music was reminiscent of a cross between hard rock, R&B and with some Little Feat element thrown in. They were extremely happy with how their gig went. Even Matt Robinson came up to me after they finished and apologized. "We were worried that we weren't going to play," he told me. "This was going to be good exposure for us and we didn't want to get squeezed out by Shooter Jennings playing all night."
By the way, Shooter Jennings signed his song list and gave it to Kyle Carter. At the bottom, he wrote, "This may be the best show we ever played."
I spent the night at the Radisson in downtown Davenport, a short drive back to the park. I ran into Kate Benson, Scott Rexroat and Nathan Judd in the lobby area around 8:15 a.m. and offered them a ride over to the park. Kate had to take one of the runner vans to go pick up the Wallflowers equipment guys and their tour manager, Scotty Haulter.
Scotty (pictured left) was kind of an interesting dude. He has worked in the music industry for over 20 years, first as a club owner in Louisville, eventually becoming a road manager for bands such as Smash Mouth, Fluid, The Cranes, and Rooney. But he followed his dream a few years ago of becoming a clubhouse manager for baseball teams such as the old Rockford RiverHawks Frontier League team, the Norfolk Tides of the International League, and working as an assistant clubhouse manager for the Colorado Rockies for a couple years. He continued to work in the music industry during the baseball off-season, but I think he's back in music full time these days. He was pretty meticulous as Kate told us that he had to personally inspect each of the hotel rooms we had booked at the elegant Hotel Blackhawk in downtown Davenport for the Wallflowers to make sure they were up to their specifications.
Most of the band and crew for the Wallflowers came in town on Friday. Scotty came down to the park on Friday night to check things out and he was very impressed with our set up. We've found that a lot of tour managers are skeptical of the festival until they actually get to experience working with us. The music industry is small universe with management teams, booking agencies and bands regularly talking back and forth. Our goal with the first River Roots Live over nine years ago was to be as professional and precise in our actions so that the bands who played the event tell their management, who tell their booking agents, and who tell other bands that playing the festival is a large time with minimal hassles. If that happens, it makes booking bands easier for us, there is less skepticism from management teams that the bands will be treated well, and there could even be times when bands contact us to play the event. That's happened already with a number of regional bands who had heard about River Roots Live.
After getting the Wallflowers up and going with their set up and sound check, we started the music at noon with Frank F. Sidney's Bandit Volunteers (pictured right), a sort of new wave/bluegrass band from Western Illinois. OSG, a R&B band from Iowa City was up next, followed by The Multiple Cat, a Quad City area-based band of musicians who worked in recording studios around the area.
At 3 p.m., Cody Diekhoff - also known as Chicago Farmer - took the bandshell stage. Diekhoff usually is a solo act, playing American roots-style music on his acoustic guitar. However, he had put together a band for River Roots Live that included Ed Anderson, formerly of Backyard Tire Fire, on guitar and some other musicians. It surprised some of the Chicago Farmer fans who came out to see him that Diekhoff was being backed by a band. He said during his show at River Roots Live, "This is only the third time this band has played together. I think it's coming together pretty well."
Ed Anderson's new project - Magic Box - was up next on the north stage at 4 p.m. Anderson put Backyard Tire Fire - a Central Illinois-based American roots rock band with a nice following - on hiatus a couple years ago and started Magic Box with longtime friend and collaborator Scott Tipping. The result of the new band is more of a harmony-based band with the same rock and roll edge that defined the music of Backyard Tire Fire.
Travis Egnor is a formerly Nashville, now Baltimore-based singer/songwriter who has been influenced by the likes of Tom Petty, Neil Young and Elvis Costello. His first band, Travis Egnor and the Mighty Oaks, had more of a acoustic folk sound. His new band, Dead Leaves, has more of an edgy rock sound quality. They played the 5 p.m. time slot on the bandshell stage.
One of the bands that I really wanted to hear was Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts. Miles Nielsen (pictured left - has been surrounded by music all his life and his sound is more of a roots-based sound than the pounding and melodic rock and roll written and produced by his father's band. Miles was a very nice guy, soft-spoken and somewhat shy. I wanted to listen to some of their music, but they played at 6 p.m. probably the busiest time for me as Vintage Trouble was showing up in their tour bus and we were having problems getting them parked behind the stage area.
(Pictured left - Miles Nielsen. Photo courtesy Brian Barkley from Barkley Photo.com)
Vintage Trouble has been together since 2010, a conglomeration of Los Angeles-based musicians that features a lead singer, Ty Taylor, who has been compared to soul legend James Brown. In fact, one press release I was reading on the band earlier this year after they had been booked for River Roots Live said the band was like "James Brown meets Led Zeppelin." They had a gig in Steamboat Springs, CO on Friday night and drove 1000 miles to Davenport for River Roots Live. Their tour manager, David Klein, was a bit of a maniacal guy, understandably burnt out from traveling 16 hours on the road. We had anticipated them getting in much earlier in the day, but it was just after 6 p.m. when they showed up. Needless to say, David was a little dictatorial at first before he finally realized that everything was going to work out fine. After that, he was a great guy to work with.
As the Big Wu - a Minneapolis/St. Paul-based jam band who has been around for 20 years - played on the bandshell stage at 7 p.m., we were working feverishly to get Vintage Troubles equipment up on stage and get everything set up for an 8 p.m. start time. I was able to catch some of the Big Wu's performance toward the end of their set and while I've heard some of their music on CD's before, I'd never heard them play. They were all great guys and were somewhat overwhelmed by the scope of the River Roots Live festival. I told them before they started to play that the 7 p.m. time slot on Saturday night was a sweet spot for bands. They put on a great show playing their style of jam music.
(Pictured right - the Big Wu on the bandshell stage. Photo courtesy Brian Barkley of Barkley Photo.com)
The anticipation of Vintage Trouble was thick in the air before they took the stage. Social media had touted their appearance at River Roots Live as "the one band you've got to see". Dressed in vintage clothing, the band took the stage to a backing track and then jumped right into their first song. From that point on, Ty Taylor held the crowd in his hand. Along with guitarist Colt Talle, bassist Rick Barrio Dill, and drummer Richard Danielson, they put on one helluva show. I was able to go out to the front of house area where the sound boards are and caught some of the show. I knew they were going to be good, but not that good.
Jason Gilliland told me that we were able to book Vintage Trouble back in the spring because their management company is the same one who handles the Wallflowers. He said, "If we booked them a month ago, their fee would have been three or four times what we're paying them tonight. We got a great deal on a great band."
(Above left - Vintage Trouble on the north stage. Above right - Vintage Trouble lead singer Ty Taylor wades through the crowd. Photos courtesy Brian Barkley at Barkley Photo.com)
Vintage Trouble was suppose to play until 9:15, but for some reason they stopped at 9 p.m. As with their tradition, the band jumped off the front of the stage and started to make their way through the crowd to go to the merchandise tent to sign autographs. I was caught dumbfounded when they stopped at 9 and the Wallflowers weren't scheduled to go on until 9:30. We had a set schedule that included a appearance by Chad Pregracke from Living Lands and Water and some other things that was supposed to take up the 15 minutes between the time Vintage Trouble was scheduled to stop and the time the Wallflowers were to begin. We had 30 minutes we had to fill instead of 15. But we ran recorded music for about 15 minutes and then got back on schedule around 9:20. The crowd didn't seem to know the difference.
The Wallflowers (pictured left - photo courtesy Brian Barkley at Barkley Photo.com) took the stage just after 9:30 and were scheduled to play to just before 11 p.m. This night, I was bound and determined to keep them on schedule so the next band - Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas - could start as close to 11 p.m. as could be. I took Scotty back to the Wallflowers trailer that we had set up for them and settled up on the balance of their money owed. I explained the situation to him about trying to stay on time and he said he had no problem with that. "I'll tell you, man," he said to me, "this is a great festival. You guys have it goin' on here! I'm having the time of my life. Everyone is so great and accommodating." He later told Kate Benson that he was having so much fun that he wanted to come back next year and "be a runner or something."
The crowd we had in LeClaire Park was, by far, the largest we've ever had for a Saturday night River Roots Live - even more than when we had Creedence Clearwater Revisited a couple years ago with free admission. (It's free to get into River Roots Live before 5 p.m., but $5 bucks after 5. Still $5 bucks is a great value given the talent that we had to offer this year.) And the Wallflowers did a great job of mixing in some of their old 90's hits with songs from their new album, Glad All Over.
(Pictured right - part of the estimated 17,000 people at River Roots Live before the Wallflowers took the stage. Photo courtesy of Brian Barkley from Barkley Photo.com)
As I was going about my business behind the stage, I noticed that the members of Vintage Trouble had made their way back to the backstage area and were standing around watching the Wallflowers do their set. I was standing next to Ty Taylor and I introduced myself and told him that he did a great job for their show that night, and that I had been following the band's progress over the past few months. He seemed genuinely appreciative of my comments and was a rather humble guy. Definitely the antithesis of his stage persona. I was also able to meet and briefly talk with Richard Danielson, the drummer for Vintage Trouble. He, too, was a very nice guy.
When it was just past 10:30 p.m., I asked Scotty from the Wallflowers where we were at in terms of their set list. He said, "They do two more songs, then they do two encore songs." I figured that would take us up to 10:55 p.m., plenty of time for Jessica Hernandez to do an hour set.
(Pictured left - Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers. Photo courtesy Brian Barkley of Barkley Photo.com)
The first problem was that they played three songs and not two. At 10:50, the Wallflowers ended their set and walked off the stage. Along with their road manager, Scotty, they had a brief conference and then took the stage for their encore. Scotty came over to me and said, "Well, they're having such a good time, they're going to play three encore songs."
Quickly calculating time in my head, I figured that they'd be done at 11:10. I went to Jessica Hernandez and told her that they would be starting a little later, but we'd do our best to give them their contracted 60 minutes. She was very accommodating. "That's fine," she replied in a bubbly fashion. "Whatever we need to do for you. We're just happy we're here!"
The Wallflowers went through their three encore songs and then decided to play a fourth! I looked up at Scotty who was standing on the landing near the side of the bandshell stage and I put both of my arms out, palms up with the universal body language pose of "What the f*** is up with this?" He ran down the ramp and came up to me. "Man, I'm sorry," he yelled to me over the music. "They've NEVER played four songs for an encore, let alone three. They're just having a great time up there."
I said, "Scotty, I got to tell you. This HAS to be the last song. I'm up against a hard curfew at midnight and I don't want to get in trouble with the cops." Actually, I don't have a hard curfew and the only trouble I get from the cops is the guff I get from them when they're scheduled to get out of the park at 12:30 a.m. after the crowd leaves. If the bands play till 12:15 a.m., they have to stick around until 12:45 a.m. at the earliest. He said he'd do his best in pulling the band off the stage when the song ended.
He didn't have to do it - the Wallflowers finished the song, did their bows and I immediately got Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas up on stage. Dressed in a white blouse, tartan skirt, knee socks and work boots, she had the personna of a hard edged college school girl. And she had a voice that just ripped out your heart. Jessica put on a great show and ended her set just at 12:10 a.m.
(Pictured right - Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas closing out the 2013 River Roots Live. Photo courtesy Brian Barkley of Barkley Photo.com)
When most of the work was finished - with the exception of Rexroat's crew who were dismantling the stage, lights and sound system - many of the principals of the event stopped around 2:30 to relax, have a couple beers and to hash out our recent memories of the festival. It was a record breaking year in terms of attendance and beer sales. The rib vendors were very happy with the crowds they saw that weekend. There was little to no problems with the crowds. Really, the only problem we had was our last minute negotiations with the BoDeans. And I'm a big BoDeans fan, but that left a bad taste in my mouth. I said to the group of Jason Gilliland, Scott Rexroat, Kyle Carter and Kate Benson, "You know, even though it was pretty stressful at the time, the most fun I had all weekend was calling the BoDeans bluff." Given the sour nature of the record business these days, deep down inside we knew that they weren't going to skate on a four-figured paycheck if they cancelled their appearance.
(As an aside - after the festival Joe Murphy came up with a great idea. We've been having trouble designating the north stage at River Roots Live. In the past, we've called the Bandshell stage as Stage "A" and the other stage as Stage "B". But we also knew that it would upset some performers - such as the BoDeans - to have to play on the "B" stage. So we just started to call the stages the "Bandshell" and the "North", even though we don't really even use any of the Bandshell for the stage - the stage we use sits in front of the bandshell stage. Murph said that from here on out we should refer to the North stage as the "BoDeans" stage.)
(Pictured left - some of the thousands of people who came out for the 2013 River Roots Live. Photo courtesy Brian Barkley of Barkley Photo.com)
Plans are already in the works to make the 10th Annual River Roots Live the biggest and best ever. And I'm sure I'll be a part of it. In some ways, I can't wait. But I'm sure I'll be dreading the long days - and nights - in the hours leading up to the 2014 River Roots Live. But when the last band finishes, it's like the weight of a thousand stones is lifted off my shoulders. And without the help I get from the other River Roots Live staffers, that weight would be much greater.