Review/Photos by: Taylor Prater
Huge thanks to Jeremy Drake and Parallel Play for having us out this weekend and entertaining the hell out of us with a great festival line-up!
Get ready for lots of creative ways to use the word “folkin’,” because the Deep Ellum Big Folkin’ Festival went down last Saturday at The Prophet Bar and things got folkin’ crazy.
Let’s all start off with some unanimous admiration for the set up of the thing, first of all. Four stages and all those bands, which were laid out into the schedule so seamlessly that transportation between sets was a breeze.
Outdoor vendors helped serve up a good down time, but if you wanted to rock straight from 4:30 p.m. to 1:30 a.m., you could bounce from set to set with no lag time, no sweat.
OK, I’ll stop. Maybe.
Fox and the Bird
This fest did not waste a second getting the feet stomping, and the bands on stage had no fear getting straight into the mix.
Even if that meant jumping right into the crowd, which Fox and the Bird definitely did.
For those of you who think heartfelt shouts, orchestral fanfares and bend-over-backwards group harmonies when you think folk, this band is right up your alley. If Fox and the Bird are anything, they’re a jumping good time and the perfect way to get out your inner songbird in the most explosive way.
Folk music carries several different “definitions,” and Pinebox Serenade is a local folk act that takes the classic form and turns it upside down.
Whether you have the cello/violin combo moving together seamlessly in harmony, or the lead singer serving up simply-soulful yet electric croons, you’ve got a unique combo that’ll catch the attention of the classics to the quirks.
The Many Hands
The Many Hands are loud. The Many Hands are loud and I folkin’ love it (I swear, just a few more puns).
If anything stands out from this group aside from their collective powerful chops, it’s their harmonies. Boy, do they have some excellent timing; they know how to move as one, yet sound like many.
Fort Worth’s We’rewolves has some loyal fans, and if you can’t tell who follows them by looking around, you could tell by hearing the wolf calls after every song.
We’rewolves takes folk and amplifies it out, maxes out the energy and the volume and makes it implode in whatever room they happen to be in. Don’t expect a laid back set from these guys – if you’re not ready to rock, you’re in the wrong spot.
Arguably one of the most energetic sets of the night, the band channeled that well-known Fort Worth-rooted folk sound with a little bit of bluesy classic rock as a nice marriage of sound.
Headbanging, stage hopping and crowd roaring a given.
Loyal Sally was the first group I noticed had a line of fans as close to the stage as possible, even during set up and sound check. All band members were making it very clear they were there to have a good time and meet awesome people through the bond of some good beer and good vibes.
The punk/reggae/ska influence was heavy with this one, but the different genres changed with every song and kept everyone on their toes.
Ever heard the phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none?” Loyal Sally can be called a master of all, and their on-stage chemistry with one another made the experience all the more personal.
Between that, her fabulous fur coat, her completely natural piano presence and the overall atmosphere of her in a more intimate room made for a definite good time.
Pearl Street Riot
Back outside those good times were definitely spreading around for Pearl Street Riot’s set, because the weather was good and the music infected everyone with the dancing spirit.
The group took the feel-good classics like “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and heavied it up, but still encouraged those outside to grab a partner and jump around. They took fun-loving, mixed it with some classic yet modern heavy sounds and easily became one of the most talked about sets of the night.
So William Beckett is a big deal, and if you saw the main stage as he was setting up you would have seen how many women he had giggling and antsing around in anticipation for him to open his mouth.
His first song he said was an ode to being unique and not giving a folk what other people thought (this time the pun is to keep it PG, people).
And those words struck true from the start and rang within the hearts of all his fans, making it easy to see why he has such a loyal following and can draw forth all personalities to his stage.
And I literally had to sit in my spot to keep it. The room was jam packed and movement nearly impossible, so if you needed to leave for whatever reason you had better make sure, because you weren’t getting back to the front.
Gypsy/circus folk rock comes to mind initially with The Venetian Sailors, a genre rarely explored but highly unique and nothing if not interesting. The group drew up fans of literally all ages, from toddlers to seniors, and their set up definitely helped.
Everyone knows the nostalgia of the circus, and seeing the puppets, the retro upright steel bass (complete with mustachioed bass player) and bright marimba trill ring throughout the bar created the perfect atmosphere for a modern folk sound.
And honestly, who doesn’t love seeing a toy skeleton mouth the lyrics with the band?
One look at this group and I was feeling the Stevie Ray Vaughan vibes. Maybe it was the hat and jacket paired with blues harmonica, but I was in my chill zone and nothing could faze me.
Feel the rhythm and quit being so worried about letting go! These guys will put you in the mood for some good old fashioned, harmonica-laced folk rock.
The O’s can do no wrong, and this can be easily deciphered from their performance at 35 Denton earlier this month. You’re just gonna have a good time as soon as you see those banjos and take in their perfectly blended vocals.
The O’s represent all that is classic folk, the kind of folk your daddy talked to you about when you were growing up, but still flawlessly embedded into 2013 indie rock.
If you don’t know them by now, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
Quaker City Night Hawks has a huge name for themselves in Fort Worth and is a definite point of pride within the city’s musical scene. Ask someone about their favorite Fort Worth acts and I’d be shocked to not hear these guys mentioned at the get-go.
Like The O’s, these guys represent all that is classic and brings it back from the past to be enjoyed in the present. They want you to appreciate folk music and understand that it’s important no matter the day and age.
A valiant cause and a perfect one to help round out the second Big Folkin’ Festival.