We have been to a lot of music festivals this year but the 1st Annual Long Beach Folk Revival Festival was by far our favorite. Looking to fill the void left by the now defunct Rose Park Bluegrass Festival, the organizers not only succeeded in creating a great music event but they created something that the entire community can take pride in.
The festival took place at the outdoor space known at the “Lot” and at the Madhaus art space near the corner of North Pine Ave. and 7th Street. This location is starting to become the center of all the big music events in Long Beach having already hosted Dancing in The Streets, Wilmore 9 and Lost 80’sLive over the past several months.
We got the festival around noon just in time to catch the band Dublin Public. There is no better way to start your day than listening to some Irish drinking music. The band is led by Shea Newkirk who was one of the organizers of festival. Their music mixes witty lyrics with big sing along choruses. It’s the kind of music that can get you on the dance floor even if you can’t dance. Check out the video below of the band performing the song “Wagon Wheel.”
One of the things that we liked about the festival is that there were amazing acoustic acts that would play in front of the stage while they were changing the equipment from one band to the next. This kept the entertainment flowing without having long breaks between the bands. Honey Whiskey Trio were the first of the acoustic acts. The band consists of Courtney Gasque, Christina Wilson and Ann Louise Jeffries Thaiss all graduates of the Bob Cole Conservatory of Music at California State University, Long Beach. They started their set a cappella and eventually added a mandolin and guitar. Their sound is mix of folk and bluegrass with incredibly powerful, yet sweet harmonies. They won over the crowd with their performance and ended up having a little fun at the end of their set by covering the Bee Gees song “Staying Alive.”
HONEY WHISKEY TRIO
The Long Beach band California Lions have been one of our recent obsessions and we’ve been looking for an opportunity to see them play live ever since we saw the video for their song “Darby Crash” a few months ago. The band plays 1960’s style jangle pop that has an addictive, dream-like quality. Singer/Guitarist Daniel Perkins shares lead vocal duties with Carina Downing and it’s this combo that really gives the band such a distinct, original sound. Several of their songs are about California and paint pictures of sunny days spent surfing, fishing and hanging out at the beach. The band’s 12 song set included almost all the songs from their excellent self titled E.P. We were lucky enough to be front and center for their set which was one of the highlights of the day.
The festival included a couple of contests apropos for the festivities. For the pie eating contest ten contestants paid $5.00 each for a chance to win a trip to Catalina Island and prizes of gift cards to local eateries and businesses. As you can see from the photo below the crowd was happy to cheer on their favorite participants.
PIE EATING CONTEST
From the moment Sam Outlaw took the stage we were immediately impressed with his straight forward take on traditional country music. Sam spent several years living in Long Beach and still has many fans and friends around town that were in attendance at the event. His seven song set included great duets and excellent harmonies all with great country titles like “Friends Don’t Let Friends Drink and Fall In Love.” A perfect example is the following video we shot for the song “Diamond Ring.”
Singer/Songwriter Taylor Crawford set up right in front of the stage with just a chair, a guitar and her sweet voice. The Texas transplant plays acoustic folk rock that has just a little bit of a 90’s alt rock undertone. Her set included mostly original songs but she did throw in an excellent reworked version of “Royals” by Lorde which the crowd really loved.
If The Replacements decided to play country music we have a pretty good idea that they would sound something like the Long Beach band Paperplanes. This was our second time seeing them play live and what’s great about the band is the incredible raw energy that they always seem to bring. It’s like country music played at rock n’ roll speed. Check out the video below of their festival performance.
The most pleasant surprise of the day was the sensational performance by the duo Bearcoon. Vocalist Solange Igoa has an extraordinary ability to juxtapose growling and sweet vocals, this coupled with large and passionate guitar playing from Andrea Walker creates an unforgettable sound. The band played mostly original songs with the exception of a rousing cover of the Animals’ “House of the Rising Sun.” We captured the band’s performance of the original tune “Whiskey Song.”
The Long Beach band Sawtooth is a musical collective of some of the most talented musicians in town. The band was celebrating the release of their first album “Band In the Woods” and took the opportunity to play several songs from the new album at the festival. This was our second time seeing the band play live and they always seem to provoke a ton of spontaneous dancing from the crowd whenever they play.
Unfortunately we only caught one song by the Long Beach trio The Big BlackRooster but I feel like we really made it count. Check out the video we shot of their rendition of the song “Rocky Top.” At this point in the night the outdoor space was jam packed with music fans.
After spending the entire day outdoors, we finally made our way to the Madhaus venue to check out the much buzzed about local band Restavrant on the Hillgrass Bluebilly stage. From the moment the band started playing the crowd was going absolutely nuts. Singer/guitarist Troy Murrah and drummer Tyler Whiteside are the only two members of the band but they create a wall of sound that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. This isn’t traditional roots music it’s more like bluesy punk with a driving dance beat behind it. At one point the crowd started slam dancing and things started to get a little crazy. Murrah got caught up in the energy of the room and jumped into the crowd which just took everything up a notch. All while Whiteside banged on an assortment of items including an electronic drum kit, two plastic buckets, two snare drums, a chrome wheel and a bunch of other unidentifiable stuff. We have to admit it was pretty damn exciting. I don’t think either one of us has ever seen anything like it before.
Rose’s Pawn Shop were the final act of the festival and ending up taking the outdoor stage at around 9pm. We were really impressed with the band’s musicianship over their hour long set of alt-country, folk and bluegrass. We shot the video below standing on a haystack on the side of the stage. Our camera battery sadly ran out about half way through their performance but it does give you a good view of the large crowd that attended the event. At this point in the evening a good number of people (including us) had been partying all day long. The video shows what a great time everyone was having drinking, dancing and singing along.
Since we couldn’t possibly cover all the acts at the festival we decided to include a few videos that we shot at the Festival’s media kickoff event held at Fingerprints Music in Long Beach. Check out the videos below from D.D. Wood and Cliff Wagner shot the week before the show.
About the Author
Jody & Judy
We met over 15 years ago when we were booking rock bands for the Beachfest, a local music festival here in Long Beach, CA. Since then we have seen hundreds of shows together. This is our forum to talk about concerts, bands and records that we love in the hope that we can keep rock alive.