|Rebirth Brass band at the Mustang Music Festival|
Five days, three music festivals and two weekends–that’s the Outer Banks story for the beginning of October. But it doesn’t even come close to telling the full tale of how amazing the past couple of weeks have been.
Here’s the rundown–Friday and Saturday, the 5th and 6th, the first Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival down in Manteo, follow that on Sunday with the 6th Annual Duck Jazz Fest . . . . which might have been the best yet, and then wrap it up with Mike Dianna’s 2nd Annual Mustang Music Festival this past weekend up in Corolla. Ask anyone who went to any of the events and you’ll get rave reviews, but the best may have been saved for last with the Mustang Music Festival.
Here’s a few highlights from the past two weekends with a little extra about the Mike Dianna’s show.
The headliner for the Bluegrass Festival was definitely Rhonda Vincent and the Rage and they didn’t disappoint, but what really sticks out (at least in my mind) is the extraordinary range of styles that is emerging in bluegrass. There is a definite fusing of jazz and bluegrass. Especially on the first day, that was really apparent with some of the more experienced groups.
I can’t imagine a better place for an outdoor concert than the Duck Amphitheater–and maybe the most amazing thing about the Duck Jazz Fest is that it’s all free.
I don’t think we have time to focus on every band that played, so just a personal favorite will do.
The Fuzz Band, is a Hampton Roads jazz/funk/blues band. I have been following them for the past five or six years, and if there is a band out there with more talent, more energy and just plain fun to watch, I haven’t seen it. Didn’t matter that a cold front came through in the middle of their performance spitting a little rain and wind–they just kept kicking out the beats. And after the rain left, to get folks really going their lead singer got out in the middle of the crowd and he was dancing.
Then, after a truly memorable Columbus Day Weekend of music, comes what was for me, the high point of the past two weeks. Mike Dianna’s Mustang Music Festival pulled together a fantastic array of creative and talented musicians. Fourteen bands over two days, not including the late night at local bars.
Although the festival featured national acts, Mike makes it a point to bring in local talent as well, and three Outer Banks bands in particular really stood out.
Friday night–Uber Lounge. It would be impossible to track the machinations of Outer Banks groups so to simplify we’ll describe them as the Tim Reynolds Trio at the core with Laura Martier vocals (truly world class voice, Outer Banks resident), Buzz Bessette on keyboards and sitting in on sax, Eddie Williams. The sound was jazz/ rock fusion with powerful vocals.
Next night, the Critters with Laura (and Dan) Martier’s son, Josh, on drums. Frenetic, fantastic and just plain fun . . . these guys are amazing.
Mercy Creek, although not truly an Outer Banks group, they get an honorable mention because they’re here so much. Just a husband and wife doing music the way they want to–Cheryl Nystrom on vocals, guitar and mandolin with Jim Ball on drums. Think folk rock on steroids for a description.
Two national groups really stood out. The Ben Miller Band from Joplin, MO plays very traditional bluegrass instruments, and they even look like they came in from the back side of a mountain. But there is nothing traditional or old-fashioned about their music. A rollicking trek through so many types of music . . . rock, blues, jazz and even some bluegrass. Topped off with an electric washboard (I kid you not) solo played through a wawa pedal that had to be heard to be believed.
The Saturday night headliner was the Rebirth Brass Band from New Orleans. Not an electric instrument in sight, just two trombones, one sax, one trumpet, a Sousaphone, a snare drum and bass drum. Listening to them is like taking a trip down to the Big Easy and watching a brass band snake through the narrow streets and alleys of the French quarter. If your feet weren’t moving as soon as they began to play, you were either at death’s door or beyond it.
A lot to write about this time, I see, but it really was two absolutely fantastic weekends of music. Although not yet confirmed, there’s a good possibility that Columbus Day Weekend and the following oner will be just as good next year. Get your tickets early and for folks who don’t live here, make a reservation and don’t miss out.