Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dennis and Brenda Kippa

Your faithful Redneck Road Dogs haven't been running up and down the
back roads of our area as much as usual lately. While we have been
able to catch a few good shows recently (we'll find time to tell you
about some of them soon), the main thing that wiped the concert slates
clean was that just  about all of our favorites disappeared for about
a week or two. They all stopped what they were doing and followed each
other up to Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

The occasion was the annual Americana and Texas Music and Ski
Festival. Now in it's 29th year, it's said to be the world's largest
ski trip. To music fans, though, it is a gathering of everyone who is
anyone in the field of Texas and Americana Music. It sells out every
year as fans flood the ski resort and prepare for six days of non-stop
concerts, with three official venues this year, plus countless areas
where musicians gather to hold impromptu jam sessions when they are
not scheduled to perform.

Think of it! This year's event showcased 40 (forty!) of our favorite
bands. One thing we have learned in our time wearing our “music
reviewer”' hats is that music players are also music fans. Once in
awhile, we get the opportunity to speak with band members after their
performances. When that happens, the conversation almost always goes
to the subject of other bands. They all have their new favorites, just
like we do. So you can imagine the lively times that occur when all of
these talented people actually get together. It must really be
something to behold.

The reason I'm telling you all of this is that this year's event –
held for the six days that began on January 5th – was broadcast via
the internet. For the total princely sum of $15.00 per computer (which
meant $7.50 for each road dog), we were able to watch all of the live
events, each evening. The most difficult part for us was having to
choose between the three stages, because each one held three or four
concerts each evening. In addition, during the daytime, certain events
were rebroadcast from the prior evening.

This extraordinary string of performances gave us the opportunity to
see Lincoln Durham as the first event on the first night. Having
missed a scheduled Durham concert a few weeks ago, we were delighted
to get to see his raw and gritty fare. As one of the more unusual
songwriters out there, he began his second set with “My music is not
for happy people. I'm willing to admit that. So just take your meds
and let's get on with it”. His favored instrument was the dobro, but
at one point he brought out a big cigar box, all taped together with a
long pipe attached, with one large string affixed to it all. He
explained, “It's important to know this is not supposed to sound good,
but we'll get through it”.  He wore a mustache that was so exaggerated
that sometimes his constant smile seemed to belong to it, rather than
to his face in general. He ended his show with “It's an honor to come
out and do this stupid little show that I do, and I thank each and
every one of you”.

Another favorite songwriter was Will Hoge. He came to the stage
looking every inch like a Bruce Springsteen look-alike, both in what
he was wearing and the way he stood and delivered his amazing songs.
His songs have been covered by several other artists, which made some
of them sound very familiar. However, we both loved his voice and
couldn't imagine that anyone has done better with them than he does.

One event that we especially enjoyed was a concert by three
songwriters: Dean Dillon, Hayes Carll and Paul Thorn. They seemed to
really enjoy being together onstage, performing their own and each
others' songs, while keeping the audience fully entertained with their
easy banter. On another night, a tribute to Dean Dillon was held.
About ten artists performed one of Dillon's songs each, and added a
few words about their times with him. At the end of the performances,
Dean Dillon delivered a very moving song and a heartfelt thank-you. He
added that Lee Ann Womack's version of one of his songs drove him to
tears that were impossible to conceal.  I confess that her beautiful
treatment did the same thing to me.

We cannot bring this too-long but also all-too-brief accounting to a
close without mentioning four of our all-time favorites in this
Americana field of talented musicians. The great Uncle Lucius
delivered two amazing concerts. As always, we simply cannot say enough
about these guys. Their concerts came on the second and third nights
of the MusicFest, and by that point the crowds were rowdy and
well-sauced, thanks to the beer and whiskey sponsors of all events.
Still, a hush came over them as Lucius delivered their music,
especially the beautiful “Keep The Wolves Away”.

The other three bands that we have reviewed in previous articles – The
Statesboro Revue, Midnight River Choir and Shinyribs – also left their
audiences slack-jawed at times and just plain rowdy-happy at other
times. Nobody keeps an audience involved with the show better than
Stewart Mann of The Statesboro Revue.   As soon as their show was
over, they were packed and off on their European tour, which we have
been following on their Facebook page. They are bringing their amazing
show to very excited audiences in Germany, Spain, France and Belgium.
We are thrilled for those guys.

Okay, everyone, there's only so much space our generous newspaper
editors will allow us, even though they've never cut us yet. As you
can surely tell, we love having the opportunity to tell you about
these hardworking singers and songwriters. We can never stop being
amazed at the miles they travel, the lonely roads they see, and the
sometimes scant audiences that receive them. Yet we absolutely never
see any of them greet an audience with anything less than happy
appreciation. It is a special breed of God's children that are called
to do this work, we believe. Their dedication to their craft inspires
us every time. Your faithful road dogs will keep running up and down
the roads chasing after them and bringing back their stories as long
as we can in hopes that you will be touched by them the way we have
been. Enjoy!


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