Thursday, September 11, 2008

Narrows Festival of the Arts

How cool is the Narrows Center for the Arts for bringing back Eric LindellEric Lindell
to headline their annual Festival of the Arts last Sunday?

Making his Fall River debut in February, Eric gave one of the best performances I've seen at the Narrows this year. Last Sunday, he played his soulful R&B and reggae-tinged good-time blues to a sun-drenched crowd, and we were all grooving to his funky NOLA beats in the streets below the Narrows center. In addition to Eric on guitar, with a bassist and drummer, Sunday's band had a double sax horn section, including ex-Iguana Derek Huston, who also sometimes plays with the Grandsons. That set was the perfect ending to a beautiful day that started early afternoon with Carrie Rodriguez, whom I had only seen previously as a duo with Chip Taylor. What I saw of Carrie's performance with her own band was quite different and really rocked. I hope to catch her again some time. After her set, I followed a dragon parade over to the children's area, which took on a Chinese theme, probably in a nod to the Beijing Olympics. Parasol dancers, drummers, and a lion dance in front of the Azorean arch, in the shadow of the Braga bridge beneath clear blue skies made for a colorful display.

Also appearing on the outdoor stage, Jim Lauderdale Trio (guitar, dobro & mandolin) played bluegrass/ country/ Americana for our listening pleasure. Then the Holmes Brothers got people up out of their seats and clapping/ singing along with their gospel/blues/ R&B / pop songs. The two front men harmonize nicely, then every once in a while the drummer adds his high falsetto vocals to the mix.

When I went upstairs to check out the goings on inside the Narrows I found an exhibit of paintings by of Brian Fox. There were several celebrity portraits including one of Tom Brady, who looked much better in the painting than he did on the field that day. The season ending injury of #12 happened shortly after we arrived at the festival, which always seems to coincide with Patriots football opening day. This presents quite the dilemma for some, but luckily there are a couple of local watering holes nearby to keep up with the game.

The sunlight streaming through the huge windows highlighted recent renovations at the Narrows, including some new tables and chairs, and some much needed bathroom improvements. On the indoor stage, I saw Mark T. Small, a blues guitar player who does a lot with a little (just himself on an acoustic guitar) ...but he plays with much feeling. Also Jeremy Wallace trio, who played gruff-sounding old-time blues.

Back outside, there was some nice jewelry and artwork for sale, and some food vendors, like LePages seafood, and some chili and hotdogs. Plus Waterstreet Cafe, which is right there anyway, offered a menu of sandwiches and drinks. This was the 3rd year for the festival in its current location on the Taunton River near the Maritime Museum and Battleship Cove.


This one day festival given by the Narrows showcases what they do so well all year long and is a great end to the summer festival season, not to mention a cure for post-Rhythm and Roots blues. Packing up after Rhythm and Roots used to be more depressing, but now it's more like , "See you next week at the Narrows festival!" . This year's fest had a diverse lineup and was representative of the type of talent the Narrows brings in every week. The fall lineup is great! Some of the shows I'm looking forward to in the near future are Mose Allison, Justin Townes Earle, Los Straitjackets, the Iguanas, and the Subdudes and probably quite a few more. See you there!

Here's a link to the rest of my photos from the festival

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