August 30-31, 2003
|For 2003, this Fest eliminated Friday, cutting down to two days. I
guess times are tough all over. But it's still free to get in, and free for remote
parking. And the lineup is bluesier than the last few years, as the country acts
like Joe Ely and Pat Green seemed to be the ones not making the cut.
What this fest can't seem to solve is its annual weather woes. I've been out there when a week of rains had turned the Fest grounds into an ankle-deep mud pit. I've been there when the mercury hit 113 F in the shade. The Fest played on through those. But this year, the problem would be rain and lightning, and though the fest persevered, there were a couple of disappointing cancellations.
Saturday's highlights were Deborah Coleman and Al Green, neither of whom I'd seen before. Bernard Allison was cancelled as heavy rain forced a delay that lasted through his timeslot.
Sunday was the better of the two days. The second stage, which in past years often seemed an afterthought, boasted a lineup good enough to headline many local Fests: Jim Suhler and Monkey Beat, Bugs Henderson (both local acts with lots of skins on the wall), Big Smoo, and Lavelle White. Sadly, Lavelle was the weather casualty for Sunday, as someone (who?) decided to give her slot to local band Big Smoo, after Smoo's own set was rained out. The other disappointment was Indigenous; their sound mix was way too loud and bass-heavy.
Other than that, I enjoyed all the other sets. In particular, Richard Johnston was a highlight for me, both for his north Mississippi hill country acoutsic sound, and the connection his stage banter seemed to have with the audience. And Keb Mo's closing set was near perfect. The rain finally stopped about 10 minutes into his set, and the thousand or so fans who had remained were treated to a great acoustic set under a wonderfully cool Texas August evening.
|The Reverend Al Green
(Okay, I know this picture sucks, but it was the best I got from a distance, and Al's bright white suit against the darkness was a challenge for my little digital camera. Any other artist, I wouldn't have posted a photo of this quality, but I couldn't not include a picture of Al).
|The 2nd stage crowd watching Bugs.|
|Big Smoo & the Trailer Park Kings|
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Photos copyright © 2003 by Swag