The 2012 Live Oak Music Festival

Well another Live Oak Music Festival has come and gone. We have been going every year for the past 8 years or so, except the year when Diego was 2 and Charlie was 9 months old and I have never regretted that decision for a second.

It is very interesting going every year with the kids because the milestones are quite extraordinary. A couple years ago was the first year that we could bicycle around the festival on two wheelers as a family. And this year was the first year that Diego, at 6, really wanted to take off and bike all by himself, which he did. It was hard to let go.

This year’s lineup had some big names in it and, as usual, there were some good acts and some bad acts. Some big names disappointed and others came through.

Back before the kids were born I soaked up a lot of the music. These days I just catch little snippets, but it is easier to cut away for an entire show sometimes. This year, my must see shows were James McMurtry and David Lindley. David Lindley’s set was a bit flat, but the highlights were the Excedrin song, which was one of the funniest songs I have every heard, and Joe Craven doing the accompaniment. Joe Craven is very tasteful in how he accompanies other musicians. He stays out of the way yet adds a very important element. HIs multi-instrumental ability is something to behold. He is a show in himself as a sideman.

James McMurtry, put plain and simple, kicked ass. He was by far the musical highlight of the weekend for me. His lyrics are so fantastic. I love watching someone who has lyrics that I can only dream of aspiring to. Lots of times I am disappointed by the awful lyrics I am hearing, but McMurtry is a master songwriter. And his band rocked. They were just a 3 piece, but they were so tight and full of sound that they did not need anyone else. An additional guitarist joined them later in the set, but his solos were barely audible and it didn’t really matter.

When I think about putting a band together these days it is in the James McMurtry template. Groovy bass with lock-step drums that hold back in the pocket to let the lyrics come through as audibly as possible, yet which provide a rocking groove to allow simple chord progressions to come alive. And I also have to mention James’ guitar playing, which is really fantastic. He is unheralded as an electric guitarist, but he is damn good. James McMurtry is the shit. If you like fantastic lyrics and good rock-n-roll then he is not to be missed.