19 July 2010

Tarbox Ramblers @ Bop Fest 4 & John Brown's Body @ Boulderfest

Free music was alive and well in Rochester this weekend. I hit only a small portion of it on Saturday. Started at the Tarbox Ramblers at the Bop Fest, the Bop Shop's mini-music fest in the Village Gate. After having not seen them during my 5 years in Boston, I have now seen them twice in the past few months, thanks entirely to the Bop Shop. This time Michael Tarbox was accompanied only by his drummer. Oddly, the first show with the full band was billed as Michael Tarbox and this show was billed as the Tarbox Ramblers, should be the other way around I think? Anyway, it was good to see the tunes in a different light. Though I definitely preferred the full band treatment. I really don't want to miss another Tarbox show, too good.

After that it was across town for Boulderfest. The first time I went it was a paid event and they drew in national talent like Akron/Family, Vetiver, Megafaun and Dr. Dog. Some of my favorite bands out there. They have since pared it down to a free event with mostly local acts. They draw a ton more people this way and I understand the move, though with such a great booking 2 years ago I am a little disappointed to see it move in this direction. To the promoter's credit, the crowd was very thin then, so it was definitely a good move from that perspective. I haven't heard John Brown's Body in a long time and they have gone through some major changes since. Overall they were a lot of fun and sounded great. Reggae kind of follows along the lines of funk for me, seemingly so easy yet truly very difficult to get it right. JBB showed they could play a tight reggae groove with the deep pulsing bass and the chickawah guitar rhythms, though when they started adding in modern flourishes they started to lose me a bit. Elliot Martin made for a top-notch reggae frontman. Unfortunately when I tried to catch Jimmy Cliff Thursday night he got an unusually late start (1 hour break between bands?) and with my daughter in tow I was forced to leave just as they had come on. It would have been great to compare the two different approaches to the music, old and new.

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