After a long, hot weekend of dancing, Ray LaMontagne’s bluesy folk was exactly what everyone needed to mellow out before heading home for the night. Grammy award winner LaMontagne hails from New Hampshire and currently lives in rural Maine, and his music is palpably infused with the laid-back atmosphere of the woods. LaMontagne’s unique hoarse croon could easily have sprung from an early blues singer; it’s his trademark, the thing that makes him stand out from every other singer-songwriter out there. Today, after two songs with the Levon Helm Band, he took the stage again to thunderous applause and proceeded to strum his way through a set that had every audience member swaying and singing along. WERS favorites “For The Summer” and “Beg, Steal, or Borrow,” for which he earned a Grammy nomination, were set highlights. His voice soared over the peaceful crowd. It was the perfect way to end a perfect weekend.
We really did have a perfect weekend here at WERS. It doesn’t get better than listening to incredible music while hearing the great things our listeners had to say. The festival itself was exactly what it should’ve been: family-friendly, tons of fun, with some impressive musical talent and a truly positive atmosphere. Thank you to the organizers, the artists, and especially everyone who stopped by our tent! We have more photos to come on wers.org, so be sure to check those out.
Another WERS favorite, Raphael Saadiq, is wrapping up his set here at the Life Is Good festival, and we can’t believe the weekend is almost over! Saadiq got the crowd into the groove with his charm and energy, dancing across the stage and crooning into the microphone. Before releasing his album “Stone Rollin’,” Saadiq was known as a producer, and he has worked with everyone from Joss Stone to A Tribe Called Quest to the Bee Gees. With his solo blend of funk, old-school R&B, and feel-good rock and roll, Saadiq seems poised on the brink of huge success. After a second long day of dancing, audience members were still bouncing along, especially to the track “Stone Rollin’.” As longtime fans of both song and artist, we were amazed by the live rendition. Saadiq is definitely an act to catch in concert. No matter whether you’re already a fan or not, his energy will win you over, all over again!
Only one more act tonight! Ray LaMontagne is up next, so check back in later for coverage of his set and a wrap-up of the entire weekend. Thank you to everyone who stopped by to talk to us today!
Levon Helm has been a cornerstone and living legend of the American rock world for decades, since his time drumming with seminal Seventies group The Band. He spent thirty-odd years of recording and playing with various artists, from Muddy Waters to Bob Dylan to Rick Danko, before embarking on a solo and film career. In 1998, when he was diagnosed with throat cancer, odds were slim that he would sing again, but he has recovered in full and continues to tour with the Levon Helm band as one of the most beloved and resilient figures in the music world. Today, his performance brought down the house from the moment he stepped on stage and sat down at his drum kit. The band, backed by members of the Boston Pops, jammed their way through favorites from The Band like “Long Black Veil,” as well as Levon Helm Band originals like “Old Elem Blues.” Their rich Americana sound, from musicians who have hundreds of years of experience between them, was more nuanced and full than anything we’ve heard yet today. The crowd was overjoyed even before tonight’s headliner Ray LaMontagne took the stage to sing “Tears Of Rage,” another The Band standard; when the twenty-odd musicians launched into “The Weight,” the audience, young and old, screamed. LaMontagne shared vocals with the members of the band, including Helm himself, whose voice was hoarse but strong. And, of course, the audience provided backing vocals! It was an extraordinary moment, and I feel lucky to have witnessed it.
Check out our Twitter for photos of Ray LaMontagne joining the Levon Helm Band!
Rolling Stone magazine lists Robert Randolph in their Top 100 Guitarists of All Time for his virtuosity on the pedal steel guitar, and that skill is taking center stage today. Randolph cites “African American music over the past one hundred years” as an influence, and today, he’s rocking a set that showcases his passion for Delta blues and gospel. He started with an all-instrumental track featuring heavy blues riffs and pounding bass, and has played his way through at least forty years of influences: we hear echoes of the raw wailing of Jimi Hendrix, the funk of Sly and the Family Stone, and many more.
Audience members of all ages are having fun dancing on the field. Levon Helm is up next! Stay tuned for more updates…
Brandi Carlile is wrapping up a breathtaking set on the Life Is Good stage! From the moment she started, she blew us away with her raw, powerful voice and energy. She’s clearly an audience favorite; I watched fans singing along to every word in the front row. Carlile hails from Seattle and has been practicing her songwriting craft since the age of fifteen. She’s known for her revealing lyrics as well as her radiant live presence. Today, “What Can I Say” began with a gorgeous strings section before she launched into lyrics like “Time, time, ticking on me/Alone is the last place I wanted to be.” She followed with two Johnny Cash covers, “Jackson” and a rollicking “Folsom Prison Blues.” Her soaring “The Story,” clearly a crowd favorite after being featured on “Grey’s Anatomy,” had fists raised high, and a moving version of “Hallelujah” received thunderous cheers. There’s plenty more music to come, but we’re going to preemptively say that this will be one of the highlights of the day!
Check out our Twitter for photos and more: twitter.com/wers889fm.
We’re sure you’ve heard of Ryan Montbleau if you’ve ever listened to WERS! He’s one of our favorites at the station, and one of the acts we were most excited to see today. It’s hard not to love his sunny, diverse sound and dreamily charming lyrics. We’re happy to say that his set is living up to our high expectations. He started off strong with “Inspired By No One,” with the feel of early rock ‘n’ roll like Chuck Berry, featuring a skillful guitar solo. He asked the crowd to sing for him before seguing into “Songbird.” The lyrics are some of the most impressive on his album “Heavy On The Vine,” with heartfelt yet whimsical lines like “Sing the fire from your belly so small/Its soundwaves roll and the waves spread wider/You sing your song until it’s ten feet tall.” “Songbird” also featured Caribbean-style drums, one of many unique touches to his multilayered sound.
We’re really, really enjoying ourselves today. It feels like another day of summer! I think the audience feels the same way; beach balls, hula hoops, frisbees, and picnic blankets are everywhere. The question is, are they WERS beach balls? Come by our tent and grab yours!
“We play funky music,” said Maceo Parker. I couldn’t have put it better myself! Parker has played with George Clinton and James Brown, you can also check out his collaborations with everyone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Dave Matthews Band. His solo career reflects those diverse influences, as well as his 40-plus years of experience. He plays fun, upbeat, soulful grooves with the help of an impeccably tight backing band.
We’re loving the variety of music we’ve already seen today! Be sure to follow us on Twitter for quick updates: twitter.com/wers889fm. Up next, one of our favorites: the Ryan Montbleau Band!
The second set of the day, next door at the Good Vibes stage, is Jenny Dee and the Deelinquents. With her big, bold, brassy voice, it would be easy to compare her to singers like Adele and Duffy, but Jenny Dee brings an edge that is all her own. With a full band including a horn section, as well as two backup singers echoing her Sixties-style dance moves, she brings a raw rock feel to her soul roots. Keep an eye out for her around Boston; she’s a native!
We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day for a festival! The sun is shining, the field is filling up quickly with blankets and lawn chairs, and we already have lots of visitors at the WERS tent.
Zee Avi started off the music this afternoon with a beautiful set of serene, breezy tunes, featuring a ukelele, her soothing voice and, notably, a sitar! That’s one we haven’t seen yet. Avi hails from Malaysia, and the exotic influence is evident in her melodies. Her new album, “ghostbird,” was released recently, and it’s definitely one to watch.
Follow us on Twitter to get updates and photos all day! http://www.twitter.com/wers889fm.
The Avett Brothers closed out the first day of the Life Is Good festival, and wow, did this festival save the best for last! Brothers Scott and Seth Avett of North Carolina, along with their touring band members, took the stage by storm with a hard-rocking, emotional set that justified their meteoric rise to fame. Their instrumental prowess was evident, as was their skill in composing multi-layered melodies that sounded harmonic but also, somehow, spontaneous. At times, I could’ve sworn the songs weren’t so much arrangements as sudden unplanned outbursts of emotion. Since the Grammys, when the Avett Brothers played with Mumford & Sons and Bob Dylan to an audience of over 26 million, the band has become a national sensation, and after their live show, I understand why.
We’re setting up now for Day Two, and we’re excited! We have some amazing acts coming up: Ryan Montbleau Band, Brandi Carlile (introduced by our Music Director Mariel), the Levon Helm Band, and of course Ray LaMontagne. Our tent is stocked with free goodies, so come by, say hello, and win yourself a t-shirt. Can’t wait to see what today brings!