Like an old-school tape, Floydfest 2007’s got the mix

by Michelle Lanteri

Floydfest 2007 billed itself as “It’s in the Mix” with headliners Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective, Sam Bush, Donna the Buffalo, Toubab Krewe and the Hackensaw Boys. The musicians at this year’s Floydfest, though modest in appearance, performed with an effortless strength that soulfully projected through their instruments. And, as our own Ogi Overman predicted, this year’s lineup was filled to the brim with “undiscovered gems.” So, without further ado, here is this year’s list of (mostly) undiscovered gems. On Friday night, around midnight as it were, Midnite gave us reggae from the heart, for the soul, and dedicated it to the higher forces. All the way from St. Croix, this band exemplified their songs of freedom and love through an excellent blend of drums, minimalist vocals and guitars, providing a peaceful den of Rastafarian oblivion. Saturday began with Erik Mongrain, who I deem to be from synthesizer heaven. He played this new-age acoustic guitar that sounded like a harp, and he played it with a slide. He also dipped into the deeper soul in us all, with his vocals like a cool rain dripping along our backs and lightly dropping onto our toes. The Carolina Chocolate Drops shone on from North Carolina, playing a total of three sets. They blended folk with bluegrass with top 40, and included an exhilarating cover of Blue Cantrell’s “Hit ‘Em Up Style” during Saturday’s set that captured my fancy. From California, Rose’s Pawn Shop rang through the field at Floyd’s Hiller Holler stage with a mysterious lilt, an exceptional violin player and two candid songs of homage in their set, made to Woody Guthrie for his song “Do Re Mi,” and another in an ode to Another Bad Creation. The band performed ABC’s devilishly dark song “Iesha,” and stayed strong with original sounds influenced by rockabilly and bluegrass. Also on Saturday afternoon, a spec-riffic dance party broke out at the Hackensaw Boys’ set down at the hill. Beginning with some technical difficulties the boys marched in with a full storm and left nothing short of a rainbow behind. On guitar they also featured a heavy-hitting guest in Modest Mouse’s Tom Peloso, who is the newest contributor on their new album, Look Out. The legendary Donna the Buffalo, a favorite of many, sang a very uplifting afternoon set on the main stage to the largest crowd I saw all weekend. Compared to the likes of Fleetwood Mac by fellow Floyd fester John Denny, the numbers of this crowd were the beautiful proof of this band’s longstanding support and popularity. Later at the same stage, Australians Cat Empire grooved on with some Tom Jones-influenced zydeco – pop-zydeco if you will – from down under. And following on the Dreaming Creek Main Stage, Andy Palacio and the Garifuna Collective was a history lesson for all of us interested in brushing up on Belizian culture. Andy and his band performed very thought-provoking music with a special appearance by 75 year-old garifuna legend Paul Nabor who lent a very humble approach to this grand performance. The set was very reminiscent of the Buena Vista Social Club and provided just as much wonderfulness. Later that night at the trip-a-delically lit Pink Floyd Garden Stage, I deemed the The Old Ceremony to be the “indie” band of the bunch. From Chapel Hill, they played bluegrass-influenced rock and roll, with the perfect amount of zydeco as a garnish. They were followed by progressive bluegrass veterans of five years, Scythian, who blended polka, bluegrass and discotheque in one song, and gracefully pounded with Celtic-Scottish flair throughout the remainder of their set, also belting an “Ole!” every now and again. Last but not least, in the background of the wee hours of the morning at the Village Stage, Toubab Krewe whisked the night away in lighthearted trance fashion, with a strong use of rhythm variation that kept my mind at ease. Along with some glowing hula-hoops, the home-cooked s’mores and the billowing fire pit, Toubab songs were the perfect accompaniment to my late-night bliss and last hurrah of the festival.