Mavis Staples

The 35th Annual Chicago Blues Fest held on June 8th to the 10th proved to be three days of great blues music, both honoring the past and turning towards the future.

All I heard on the streets of Seattle this summer was how great the Bumbershoot lineup looked and that this was one of the best years in recent memory. While 2014 marked only my second year at the music and arts festival that takes over Seattle Center on Labor Day weekend, when I compared this year’s lineup to last year’s impressive collection of artists, I couldn’t help but shake my head sadly.

The Newport Folk Festival may not be a monster fest on the order of a Bonnaroo or a Coachella, but it has rejuvenated itself over the last half dozen years into a premier summer stop for a broad range of alternative, indie, country-rock and folk acts. Much of the rejuvenation has been the result of a conscious decision by festival organizers to loosen the definition of “folk” to include a much wider swath of bands – really anybody who could plausibly include an acoustic guitar at least somewhere in their set list.

Sporting muddy bare feet and a flowing tie-dyed sundress, a flaxen-haired teen pumped up Sunday’s physically drained crowd by waiving a satellite image of “our home from outer space.”  Reminding us that “this is where we live,” the angelic blonde implored us not to “throw your garbage on the ground, because that’s where the animals and the birds and the fish and the ocean live!”  Why sweat the details? She’s on the right track!

Mavis Staples