Mon, 08/20/2018 - 6:21 pm

Picture it: The most beautiful outdoor festival grounds at Planet Bluegrass in stunning Lyons, Colorado. Three days full of world-class musicians from around the globe. 5,000 of your new best friends. For music lovers, this is a dream come true.

The epic music extravaganza this past weekend was beyond stellar. I loved all the music, and the following were my favorites:

Las Cafeteras brought an important message and delightful music to Folks Fest 2018

On Friday, the band Las Cafeteras from Los Angeles blew me away! Their strong female vocal leads, their costumes, their positive message and powerful rhythms had the entire festival dancing for joy!

The evening ended with the legendary Los Lobos. Their classic sound and superb talent transcends many generations, for they have been going strong since 1973!

Los Lobos | Folks Fest

(I was told Los Lobos once took the Number 1 position on the charts in 1987 & and one of my favorites, The Grateful Dead played that hit "La Bamba" a few times that fall).

Les Poules à Colin | Folks Fest

Saturday’s grandiose line-up continued to inspire and impress. The fantastic sounds of Les Poules à Colin had a French Gypsy flair that beautifully exemplified Québécois with otherworldly harmonies.  Dressed in all white, this almost all female band rocked the stage with their powerful, soulful sounds.

Wild Child | Folks Fest | Lyons, Colorado

Wild Child was straight out of the 60’s! The female lead singer seemed to take direction from people like Janis Joplin with her round sunglasses, long flowing robes, and strong, sultry sounds.

The evening ended with the much anticipated Indigo Girls. As I gazed around the festival at all the people (especially women) with big hearts coming out of their eyes… I knew this was a dream come true for so many.

Indigo Girls | Folks Fest

The weather, however, had other plans. As soon as the Indigo Girls started playing, the lightning began to flash. Only after a few songs… and after a few raindrops, I ran to the wonderful large tent we had backstage. With only one foot undercover… BOOM! Giant thunder, lighting, and a torrential deluge of rain. It was raining so hard… I couldn’t hear the band! As we all crowded together like penguins to weather the storm… we all started laughing and sang “Closer to Fine” by the Indigo Girls.

The music never ends! I did hear that sadly, the Indigo Girls had to cut their much-anticipated set short due to the inclement weather. It was a wonderful night, weather included!

Folks Fest | Lyons, Colorado

On Sunday, it seemed that there were even more people at the festival. Wonderful vendors of food, art, music, and of course BEER made Folks Fest all the better. At the Wildflower Pavilion, more bands played, and everyone was smiling ear to ear.

Back at MainStage, I was blown away by the ancient sounds of Tinariwen from Africa, a very similar sound to that of famous Ali Farka Touré. Dressed in beautiful silk traditional robes and turbans, the sound transcended time. One of the performers was dancing so much on stage with all the people in the audience; it felt as though we went on a magical journey to a faraway land and time.

Tinariwen | Planet Bluegrass | Lyons, CO

The Milk Carton Kids had a full and soulful sound, and had many people participating in the audience to songs that sang “raise your hand to the promised land.”

The Milk Carton Kids | Folks Fest

The Folks Fest ended with the powerful sound of Regina Spektor, famous for “You’ve Got Time” the theme song from the award-winning TV Show: Orange is the New Black.

Folks Fest @ Planet Bluegrass | Lyons, CO

All in all, there is one word that sums up 28th Annual Rocky Mountains Folk Festival: EPIC!

Jeff Tweedy | Folks Fest

I would like to extend a warm thank you to Planet Bluegrass and Grateful Web for hosting me. I can't wait until next year… SEE YOU NEXT SUMMER!

Wed, 01/02/2019 - 4:50 pm

The historic New Year’s Eve event on the glorious North Shore of Kauai was a dream come true for us all. After a last-minute venue change, the event of a lifetime for hundreds of grateful people was hosted at the beautiful Prince Course.

Jack Rajca designed the poster

Deadheads from Kauai and around the world donned their finest tie-dye and festival wear and rang in the new year of 2019 with The Big Swell, featuring Bob Weir, Billy Kreutzmann, George Porter Jr., Steve Kimock, Jeff Chimenti, Don Was, Robin Sylvester, & Wally Ingram. Also on the bill: The Dirty Knobs with Mike Campbell, Island Grass, and the venerable Taj Majal.

Jack Rajca (www.fishbonegraphics.com) signing posters

Among the recipients of the proceeds are one of Kauai’s favorite charities, Earthjustice, and as well as the Hanalei Initiative.

Rising Up To Paradise | photo by Mahana Dunn

The magically abundant evening began with Kauai’s own Island Grass, who parted the clouds with their beautiful originals and brought the sunshine aloha! Singing in sweet harmony, the crowd was dancing and grinning ear to ear as Island Grass tore up the stage some of Kauai’s favorite musicians.

Island Grass | Rising Up To Paradise

Next on the stage was the Dirty Knobs featuring award-winning Mike Campbell who has played with Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac. Their strong song sounds echoed through the valley while the pouring rain drenched the dancers with liquid aloha.

The Dirty Knobs | photo by Mahana Dunn

Legendary “Uncle” Taj Mahal graced the stage solo with his unique soulful sound, twangy guitar, and purred to the audience between songs with his deep sultry voice. One of his songs “Going Fishing” was cherished by all who witnessed because fishing is a beloved way of life here in the islands of aloha. “Uncle looks like he from da West Side!” -overheard from a Kanaka Ma`oli (Hawaiian Phil)

Taj Mahal

All the beautiful faces smiled, hugged, and wished each other happy new year: island style... with epic music and dancing, the way things are meant to be!

Rising Up To Paradise | photo by Aaron Feinberg

Suddenly the skies cleared... and the Big Swell took the stage with original Grateful Dead band members Bob Weir on vocals and guitar with Kauai resident Billy Kruetzmann on drums.

The Big Swell | photo by Aaron Feinberg

Beginning the set with Sugar Magnolia and then rolling into Cassidy, Franklin’s Tower, and Tennessee Jed where everyone was singing their heart out to Deep Elem Blues, featured with Don Was and Taj Mahal (including this writer).

Rising Up To Paradise | photo by Aaron Feinberg

“The greatest present I could ask for: laying back on the grass... looking at the stars, listening to the Dead, live. What could be a better way to celebrate the New Year, here in our own back yard?!” -the general consensus of all the Kauai Grateful ‘Ohana.

After set break, everyone ready for the next level, they begin with Help on the Way and Scarlet Begonias.

"Fire On The Bayou" | Rising Up To Paradise

"Fire On The Bayou" flowed into Sugaree into Iko Iko! The crowd went wild.

Estimated Profit’s lyrics became a self-fulfilling prophecy when we sang “Rainbows and down that highway where ocean breezes blow...”. Kaua’i: the land of rainbows and ocean breezes.

The Island Angels | Kauai, HI | photo by Island Grass

Eyes of the World brought tears to everyone’s eyes as we felt that we were beaming out the love felt at the show to all the world! Such a profound experience. A tidal wave around the earth of Grateful Aloha!

The night ended with Touch of Grey... and a bit of melancholy for we all knew that every silver lining has a touch of grey... and the night had to end and so did 2018.

Rising Up To Paradise | photo by Aaron Feinberg

“3.... 2.... 1.... Happy New Year!” Bubbles danced on the heads of the Heads, and big hugs flowed freely through the joyful crowd.

And of course, a personal prayer answered, they did a “hana hou” (encore) with Kauai’s favorite New Year’ song, “Ripple.”

Rising Up To Paradise | Kauai, HI | photo by Mahana Dunn

A most Grateful New Year’s Eve that will be cherished for generations to come!

“If I knew the way... I would take you home!”

Hau `oli Makahiki Hou! Happy New Year family!

 Rising Up To Paradise | photo by Jack Rajca

May all your wildest music dreams come true in 2019!

Rising Up To Paradise

Check out more photos from the show.

Sun, 01/06/2019 - 1:47 pm

One More Saturday Night, we of the Grateful ‘Ohana of Kaua’i, along with friends from around the world were still swimming in the bliss of NYE’s gargantuan show, and suddenly we find ourselves somewhere on a back porch in January, singing and playing our hearts out with two of my favorite musicians: the legendary Bobby Weir and the revered Taj Mahal.

Taj began the small, intimate evening playing with Kauai’s own Will Lydgate on stand up bass. The house where we were was built in 1919, exactly 100 years old, and it looked, felt, and sounded like we had gone back in time.

Ken Solin of Island Grass, Taj Mahal, & Jack Rajca of Joint Point

Taj then invited Kaua’i’s Island Grass to play along, and they all played Taj’s new song written about Hanalei: “New Hula Blues.”

“Who’s this hippie?” was the joke going around when suddenly Bob Weir appeared in a matching purple orchid lei and sat down to play with Taj like two soul brothers reunited at last.

Taj Mahal & Bob Weir - photo by Mahana Dunn

To be able to hear the true sound of Bob, Taj truly, and their instruments, minus all the electricity that I have always heard them through, was a total dream come true for this writer and the handful of guests that were watching with mouths agape, flabbergasted at how blessed we are.

When Bob and Taj broke out into “Deep Elem Blues” I personally had to belt out the blues with 2 of my favorite blues musicians of all time. One of the most fun moments of my life.

The joy of music between these two living legends was palpable... you could literally feel how happy they were.

Pickin' with Taj in Kaua’i

As the canopy of stars danced over our heads and the palm trees swayed to the rhythm of the ocean, the constellation “Makali’i,” The Pleiades, shone their blessing on us all from their heavenly home.

When life offers perfect moments: give thanks with “nothin left to do but smile, smile, smile!”

Blessings of Grateful abundance to you all!

Tue, 06/11/2019 - 4:15 pm

The quiet and idyllic island of Kauai, Hawaii (one of the most isolated places on earth) is known for its stunning beaches and its laid-back lifestyle with friendly, happy people.

And we LOVE our music!

Tavana

Last Saturday, June 8, 2019, our island music `ohana (family) was blessed, yet again, with world class musicians gracing us with their genius.

Dove Presents brought out some amazing talent to our magical little island at the Porter Pavillon at Anaina Hou Community Park: Kilauea, Kauai.

Tavana

This incredible community venue, built with aloha (love) by the late Bill Porter, is a wonderful space for an intimate show for the whole family.

The show began promptly at 6pm on a beautiful beach day and EXPLODED with amazing talent!

TAVANA from the neighbor island of `Oahu completely blew all our minds! His musical genius was off the charts!

With a strong sultry voice, this one-man band is a musical legend that needs to be on everyone's radar. With this Koa wood slide guitar, foot drums, and “choke full of mana” (life force), Tavana’s voice and sounds swirled throughout the land with a power I have rarely seen. Please be sure to check out TAVANA and invite him to play at some mainland music festivals! Yes, he is that awesome! 

Just listen for yourself the power of TAVANA

His rendition of “Ua Mau Ke Ea Oka Aina” by the late great IZ (Israel Kamakawiwoʻole) gave us all a huge dose of “chicken skin” (major goose bumps).

And when he played “I’m On Fire” by Bruce Springsteen… all our souls were literally set a flame!

Keller Williams

After a brief intermission, Keller Williams took to the stage with his legendary looping skills with which he was made famous. Playing in the past with some of our favorite musicians like the String Cheese Incident, Keller’s musical prowess brought out a large crowd and had everyone on their feet.

We of Kauai were all so very “Grateful” that both Tavana and Keller blessed us with their amazing music and we invite more incredible musicians to ROCK da ROCK! (Da Rock = Island of Kauai)

As summer festival season is here, and many of you will be on tour with more of our favorite musicians, stay tuned to Grateful Web for more epic show reviews!

Aloha to all our Grateful `Ohana around the world!

Thu, 10/03/2019 - 6:08 pm

Last weekend, on the mystical Garden Island of Kaua’i, something very special happened: the community was brought together through the power of Folk Music.

From Hawaiians to Hippies, traditional old-timey Appalachian Bluegrass to legendary Blues Singers, everyone was stomping their bare feet at the best festival venue we have ever had on our island: the historical plantation of Grove Farm.

The sweet, soulful sounds of Molly & Sally (Old Barn)

Flawlessly executed by Kaua’i resident Matt Morlock and team, the event was more fun than a barrel of moonshine.

Kaua’i Folk Fest began its festivities promptly at 10am, and we all were in awe from the moment we arrived. The festival, with attendance of about 1,500 on Saturday, was all smiles & the community warmly gave their sincere gratitude to locals & our musical guests from around the globe.

Matt Opihi with Pancho Gram

Hawaiian musicians Matt Opihi with Pancho Gram opened the festival with “Na Apu’a” and graciously welcomed our Tennessee brothers with a song about Pinetrees and with warm Aloha.

With 5 different stages and music playing at all times, this article catalogues a literal 24 hours of non stop magic over the weekend (10am-10pm Saturday and Sunday)

So many amazing vendors including a personal favorite: Ono Pops made locally with Aloha!

Ono Pops

Our friends from Hanalei Strings had a great time time pickin’ & playin’

Hanalei Strings & friends

More amazing local vendors like Kaua’i Juice made the festival fabulous with their delicious fresh pressed juice and so much fun!

 mother/daughter

Don’t forget the meat! 

How a mother and daughter enjoy their Po’okela homemade sausage: with a side of huge smiles!

Soulgood Family

Dear friends and a local favorite, the Soulgood Family lit up the stage with a heartfelt glow and lyrical honey. 

“No one owns the sun... no one owns the moon... the mother of us all”.

When I grow up, I want to be as happy as these two. They both looked so in love, like a moment in time in their matching Mumu & Hawaiian shirt.  

happy in love

Standing in the middle of festival, I was listening to 2 musicians playing at once, including the incredible Norman Decosta from Molokai with Rob Arita playing a local favorite “Kipahulu”

And across the festival was Ian Moore playing “Sweet Magnolia.... New Orleans style!” 

Dancing on the Kaua'i grass

So much fun barefoot dancing on the sweet Kaua’i grass! 

Don’t forget the Mescal! A huge hit (but of course)

Peter Rowan is another person favorite, for his music plus his storytelling is legendary. Peter warmed everyone’s heart by saying “It’s a Doc Watson kind of day!” and played “Midnight on a stormy evening” and “Aloha in the early dawn”.

Peter Rowan and his band in Hawaii

Peter’s spoken word... “walls of time” hypnotized the audience with the blue grass boys and Kylon Reece on mandolin, and made a person tribute to bluegrass’s Hawaiian roots of Genoa Keave and Bill Monroe in 1945. 

The Hawaiian inspired songs such as “Pualele” and world famous “The Kentucky Waltz” all have Hawaiian roots 

Much to the delight of the audience. Peter laughed and continued on about his time buying weed back in the day... Panama Red. “It was life changing!” Peter said and wrote the song: “Panama Red”.

Peter Rowan

Continuing with “Angeline the Baker” Peter ended with favorite on Kaua’i: “Moonlight, Midnight” with everyone dancing and grinning ear to ear!

“If every day was like this... but wait every day IS like this” - Grateful Guy

Max Lemarie

Birthday girl Patrice could be happier listening to Vic & the Victims Kauai’s only blues band playing “Chain of fool”.

Artist Max Lemaire created THE coolest badges using laser and wood. 

Island Grass

Island Grass! Kaua’i favorite resident Blue Grass band have played with amazing musicians from around the world. These bluegrass boys grew up together and have been playing music together since they were kids.

More long-time musical friends from Maui blessed us with “Down in the easy chair”, “Feeling Good” by Leon Helmes and Sweetbeers originals “Tumbleweed”and “Ride On”

Sweetbeats & Yumyum

“Do your best, stress less... & to yourself be true!”

The Giving Tree gets a Group Tree Hug! 

Tree Hugs are good for you

This magical tree was over 100 years old and literally hugged us back. There were so many of of hugging this tree. 

Our extended ‘ohana (Family) is like this tree: one giant family of roots and branches: bringing the past into the present.

Kaua'i Folk Fest

Overheard someone saying: “This is THE coolest event happening on Kaua’i!” (That says a lot because Steel Pulse was playing that very night sine the road.

As the sun began to set on the first day, a big shout out could be heard the festival’s Sponsors: Maui brewing, Mike Fliess, Grove farm museum, and many more.

Taj Mahal

Yet another personal favorite from, “Professor” Taj Mahal & his Hula Blues Band sang with gusto “Good morning Miss Brown”, a local favorite “Going fishing”, “Queen Bee” love me to my soul, and “New Hula Blues”, written about Kaua’i.

Taj spoke about how “Blues is a global resource” and everyone felt so blessed and honored to have these legends grace our small island with their lyrical genius and smooth and soulful blues.

As “Uncle Taj” continues to delight the packed audience, it truly felt like an old school revival.

Taj Mahal

Saturday evening ended with one of the most fun & creative things we have done in a long time: move over Silent Rave... introducing “Silent Square-dance!”

Words don’t even justify how much fun this was. With a band playing on stage, the audience donned wireless head sets and the music and square dance caller could only be heard through the headphones.

Silent Square-dancing on Kaua'i

“Swing your partner round & round!” was heard by all who had headsets on.

But once you took off the headsets... all you saw was a psychedelic coordinated dance of circles within circles, red lights swirling amongst the roaring laughter as all participants spun round and round. 

It truly looked like the aliens landed, and we were them!  Even the cops were laughing at how much fun everyone was having, dancing wildly to music only we could hear! 

Fri, 10/04/2019 - 7:24 pm

Sunday, Day 2 of the Kaua’i Folk Fest was as magical as the day before. Trying to pace ourselves for another 12 solid hours of amazing music, festival creator asked the crowd: “when someone asks you what was your favorite band... you say the Old-Time Hillbilly String Band from Tennessee!”

They delighted the crowd with old-timey songs like “Shortening Bread” And once again, all the audience was dancing and swirling in the morning sunshine.

These guys & gals were the real deal, and looked straight out of the movie: “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?”

Pinehearts

Back at the Old Shed, my new friends from Washington, The Pinehearts delighted our souls with “All night long” -dedicated to everyone at festival.

“The Pinehearts are the best, new,  fresh intramural, and razor-sharp harmony trio in Americana music that a 68-year-old geezer has seen in a very long time!” -Bruce on Kaua’i 

The Linns

The Linns played the somber and traditional spooky songs like “Born in a river bed,” perfect for entering October and the time of Halloween. 

An interview with Square Dance caller, Stan Sharp from Maryville, TN, who has been teaching square-dance for seven years:

Me: “Stan, please share your experience of the amazing Silent square-dancing last night.” 

Stan Hope

Stan: “It was Appalachian style square dancing. The silent square dance was an experience of square dance: never done before... it was incredible!

It began with the decision of ‘how to deal with the sound ordinance?’

Acoustic musicians: Slo County Stumbler Kaleb Klauder & Reeb Wilms graced the stage and delighted the silent square dancers with traditional Appalachian Square Dance Songs.

Silent Square Dancing

The entire experience was very surreal with a psychedelic feeling... watching everyone in pitch black moving in circles...

So awesome to take off headphones & watch the dancers in silence was a little ridiculous!  All these people dancing & without the headphones, you can’t hear music!”

A Giant coordinated silent square dance. One for the history books indeed!

The Roundhouse Ramblers

Another personal, local favorite are these adorable Kauai boys: The Roundhouse Ramblers.

“Home grown Kaua’i boys in suspenders... it’s spectacular!” -Kim, Kaua’i resident, and big fan

Kaua’i Folk Fest 2019

They played their tunes like “Restless” and “County,” all the Kaua’i ‘ohana was dancing.... including their own mothers!

Hawaiian music played under the trees.... just like back in the day.

Matt Morlock

Festival creator Matt Morlock in his happy place.

“Probably the most famous guy here” was overheard as Tim and his band played songs like Dylan's “Maggie’s Farm.” 

Our Storytellers: Taj Mahal, Bobby Ingano, Puka Asing, Tim O'Brien, and Peter Rowan. 

Tim O'Brien Band

One of the biggest highlights of the festival was this amazing panel of storytellers.

They spoke about how we all can trace our musical roots: Ireland..., the Caribbean, Hawai’i... we are all connected through music and the multicultural influence.

Taj sang songs like “The walking blues” and Puka Asing spoke about how important the cultural aspect is in all our lives. He even inspired the crown with a huge “Ku Kia’i Mauna!” in honor of all the brave Kia’i (Protectors) on sacred Mauna Kea (Big Island, Hawai’i)

Storytellers

Together they sang “Mele Aloha Āina,” and tears were flowing amongst the audience as the afternoon trade winds crutches around us as if the ancestors were giving us all their blessing and approval.

“Nobody knows how much Hawaiian influence is in Bluegrass music” -Matt Morlock.

The storytellers ended with a song called “Who will rock the cradle when I’m gone?” 

No one can fill these brother’s shoes. A truly historic event. 

Los Kauaianos

The magical evening continued with everyone shaking their tail feathers to Los Kauaianos, a fourth-generation Portuguese Latin Band the had the entire festival dancing, singing, and laughing with great gusto! At this point, all our dancing feet were so tired.... but the beer flowed freely, and everyone continued to dance like no tomorrow!

The most epic Kaua’i Folk Fest ended with free beer for We The People flowing abundantly from Maui Brewing Co. & an old-timey Hootenanny with washtub bass, washboard, fiddles, & pickin’!

Kaua'i Folk Fest 2019 - see you next year!

We were all having so much fun that we could have played and danced until dawn.

But as the evening finally wound down to a close, creator Matt Morlock gave us a raucous “Now Git!” for it was finally time to go home.

See you all next year at the Second Annual Kaua’i Folk Fest! 

Cheeeeeehooooooi y’all!