HEADS UP: Two more days of the festival remain, with music on 4 stages through Sunday (4/21), including headliner Oliver Mtukudzi; FULL SHAKORI HILLS FESTIVAL SCHEDULE HERE.
Lizzy Ross fans
FRIDAY NIGHT HIGHLIGHTS: Lizzy Ross Band at Carson Grove Stage
Rocking singer-songwriter Lizzy Ross, that golden-haired dynamo, has one of the most expressive voices I've ever heard. She seems to favor badass electric guitarists as sidemen to her high-flying vocals and acoustic guitar, and I can't agree more.
I always enjoyed the work of Jock Pyle with her in the past, and nowadays, I am really digging the sound and fury of Graham guitarist Luis Rodriguez. Some worthy onlookers and myself think he deserves the stage handle "Rockriguez." But that's for cooler heads to decide. We were understandably caught up in the moment.
Here's what I'm talking about--Lizzy's version of Bill Withers' sexy tune "Use Me," with Tim Smith sitting in on saxophone and Rockriguez [sic] tearing up the guitar solo:
Waiting in the wings: Tim Smith
SABOR DOMINICANO: Joan Soriano in the Dance Tent
It got crazy in the Dance Tent with bachata guitarist and singer-songwriter Joan Soriano. There were brief power outtages (I counted at least three) which deterred no one. Caribbean percussion is transportable street music anyway, commanding attention without electricity. Welcome to my island.
Two new guys on tour with Joan since the Motorco appearance in Durham awhile back: one is bass player Junior "Zaa," I met the second guitarist as well but don't remember his name. I studied the güiro player again this time, but had a better view of his floor tom technique. Bum bum bum, accenting those hits in the solar plexus.
New bassist: Junior "Zaa"
Joan was whimsical in his lead guitar solos, still one cool dude with his playful, rustic charm. His brother didn't accompany this tour, but his dancing-and-singing sister Griselda poured gasolina all over it.
With an acquaintance in Joan's crew, I had the pleasure of dancing to my favorite of the tunes Griselda sings on the CD La Familia Soriano: "Hazme Tuya," a 90s pop hit for Mexican teenager Maricela. The undeniability of pop, in a punchy bachata wrapper: why resist?
WE DON'T WANT NO TROUBLE NOW: The Beast headlines Meadow Stage
The Beast + Big Band is an enjoyable, XL expansion of the jazz/hiphop quartet normally comprised of Stephen Coffman, Pierce Freelon, Eric Hirsh and Peter Kimosh.
With a string section borrowed from Lost in the Trees and a horn and added rhythm section borrowed largely from Orquesta GarDel, it felt like Earth Wind & Fire meets the Fania All Stars.
Al Strong, Andy Kleindienst (hidden), Tim Smith and Aaron Hill
Among the special guests were trombonist Andy Kleindienst who drove in from New Jersey (where he's in music school at Rutgers), and Yomira John, a Panama City vocalist who flew in for this salsa-flavored collaboration:
The Beast "Plus" started even later than scheduled, but were still dominating the Meadow Stage when I left at 2 am.
This video capture was my favorite, a) because I am a sucker for Eric Hirsh's vocoder, and b) because it's one of those satirical songs about some crazy shit that happens on the way to a gig: