Tuckfest 2k18 – Pt 2
Tuckfest 2k18 – Pt. 2
Last Saturday and Sunday, Charlotte’s Tuck Fest at the National Whitewater Center continued as an expected 40,000 attendees were present for the music, contents, and outdoor activities.
Saturday’s lineup began with Elonzo Wesley, a local band from our very own Queen City. Heavily touring the Southeast and Carolinas, Elonzo Wesley is Charlotte’s hidden gem. Named as a tribute to lead singer, Jeremy Davis’ father, the band is not only humble and kind but knows how to get a crowd moving.
Having put out their first album, Spec in 2017, if you haven’t already heard of Elonzo Wesley and you live in or around the Charlotte area, you will likely be hearing a lot more about them in the near future. Playing songs from the heart that made me feel like running through a country field barefoot, Elonzo Wesley’s music was perfect for the hot spring afternoon.
Next up was Driftwood, one of many bands from the North that showcased their music at Tuck Fest. Hailing from Binghamton, New York, the upstate quintet played Americana music that provided for an electrifying performance. Sharp and skilled in songwriting, the multi-instrumentalists brought joy and lightheartedness to fans. As the band has been together since 2009, the members looked as though they were having just as much fun as the audience as they smiled and jammed onstage. Playing hits like “A Rock & Roll Heart”, a beautiful song filled with alluring harmonies and delicate banjos strums, Driftwood filled the hearts of fans and dogs alike.
There was a large variety of instruments played during Driftwood’s set including a banjo, acoustic guitar, drums, kick drum, violin, and stand up bass. As bikers and rafters passed by, they would bob their heads to the music, content, and enjoying the festival at its finest.
After Driftwood was The Ghost of Paul Revere. Playing at 5:00PM, the band hollered and stomped their bluegrass hearts out for Tuck Fest attendees. The younger crowd especially enjoyed The Ghost of Paul Revere’s performance… and when I say younger crowd, I do not mean early twenties, I mean single digits. 5 to 9 year old kids dashed up to the front of the stage to jump, dance, and spin as parents laughed and smiled in encouragement. Members of The Ghost of Paul Revere loved the attention and dedicated their songs to the little dancers for their enthusiasm.
Crowd favorites included “San Antone” and “After Many Miles”. The trio although young, had an old soul that appealed to fans of all ages.
At 7:00PM, it was Susto’s turn to the win hearts of the festival goers. The sun began to set as the band took the stage making for a dreamy entrance. At this point the crowd was packed. Lead singer Justin Osborne made the band after spending some time in Cuba and debating what he wanted to do with his career.
Forming the band in 2014, they named themselves after a Spanish word that refers to a folk illness in which “your soul is separated from your body”. After watching and hearing Susto’s set, I concluded that the name easily fit. Singing of ‘dream girls’, ‘hard drugs’, and ‘far out feelings’, it was if the band took the audience on a journey to an out of body experience within the world of Susto. Susto’s music is unlike anything else in the music industry. Their southern charm, sweet vocals, and genius lyrics provide for a performance unlike no other.
Having seen the band play before when opening for The Lumineers, I was greatly impressed. However, after seeing them at an outdoor venue compared to a large arena, I fell even more in love with the band.
Their ability perform comes naturally as one minute they can be playing slow songs with the crowd in tears, and then be jamming out, shredding on guitars, and passionately yelling into the microphone the next minute.
The last act of Saturday night was storyteller and Texas gentleman, Shakey Graves. As the clock struck 9, I had never seen so many people at the Whitewater center in my entire life. Greatly underestimating the amount of fans that would show up for his set, I was blown away. People brought lawn chairs, blankets, enos, dogs, and children with to hear Shakey Graves’ set. It was a sea of people as far as your eyes could see. I think even Shakey himself was a bit caught off guard by the amount of those who attended.
Shakey Graves a.k.a. Alejandro Rose-Garcia, started the night with three to four songs solo. Opening with “Nobody’s Fool”, Shakey strummed his guitar and stomped on his homemade suitcase kick drum. The chatty crowd, was instantly quieted by his talent. Shocked by his ability to kick with both feet, play guitar, and sing, the acoustic and solo set grabbed the attention of those who were still filling in. Originally picking up guitar to win back a girl as an adolescent, Shakey Graves never thought much about being a musician as he aspired to be an actor. However when people began to realize his talent, the tables quickly turned. After a few songs solo, Shakey Graves invited the full band onstage and played songs off his most recent album “Shakey Graves And The Horse He Rode In On (Nobody’s Fool & The Donor Blues EP)” as well as recently released songs, “Kids These Days” and “Counting Sheep”. The newest singles are the first samples from Shakey Graves’ upcoming album “Can’t Wake Up”. A much different sound than the songs from his previous albums, the artist told his fans to sell their suspenders and buckle up as the next album will explore a different sound to Shakey Graves.
Ending by returning to play the last few songs solo, Shakey Graves finished with “Late July”, a song about a fictitious gold digger and electric chair. Humbled by the love from the crowd, he thanked them eternally for the support and expressed his gratitude for all fans, new and old.
After Shakey Graves’ glorious set Saturday night, Nicki Bluhm opened the festival on Sunday, the final day of Tuck Fest and coincidentally Earth Day. Bluhm’s soulful vintage sound and laid back presence, fulfilled those who were fans of old time country and modern folk. As people ziplined over the stage, she performed solo with an acoustic guitar and a sparkly dress, fit for a queen. Experimenting with new sounds as she prepares for the release of her album “TO RISE YOU GOTTA FALL”, Bluhm blessed her audience with angelic vocals and intriguing melodies. She left the crowd with one message after ending her last song, and her message was: “reduce, reuse, zip line”.
Second to last on the festivals lineup was The Infamous Stringdusters. Having won a Grammy this year (Best Bluegrass Album), the band is one you do not want to sleep on… and many at Tuck Fest did not. All about “original tunes and live musical exploration,” the band did not disappoint. Reviving bluegrass and shaping it to fit the mold of the band is what makes the dusters so unique. Although it has been 13 years that they have been a band, they are still just getting started as each day opens new opportunities for the band such as playing Red Rocks this year and releasing three albums/projects in 2017. Milestones continue to be reached as The Infamous Stringdusters continue to do what they do best.
The band invited Nicki Bluhm back onstage for a song during their set contributing to the family like atmosphere that was so strong on Sunday. Playing songs such as “Walking On The Moon” and “Gravity”, fans danced as if they were at a shindig.
Closing out Tuck Fest was folk band The Wood Brothers. The band is fronted by brothers Chris and Oliver Wood. With hair more beautiful than any woman in the crowd and a voice more timeless than any of today’s artists, lead singer Oliver Wood not only is alluring but also compelling. The set appeared effortless as The Wood Brothers had the time of their lives performing. Oliver talked about how cool he thought the venue was and said “there’s people flying above us… is this real?” as he referred to the zip-line above the stage.
As they released “One Drop of Truth” earlier this year in February, fans were ecstatic to hear the new material. Infact, one of the fan favorites was the title track from their recently released album. Towards the end of the brother’s set, they invited Nicki Bluhm and The Infamous Stringdusters back onstage.
Bluhm appeared however the dusters were nowhere to be found… but the show still went on! Oliver claimed they were going to try to do something that they usually do in smaller theaters, “where there aren’t loud crowds and whitewater rivers behind you”. Then someone from backstage brought out an old microphone as The Wood Brothers and Bluhm sang quietly as they played acoustically and harmonized.
Providing for a easygoing and laidback set, The Wood Brothers entertained and wrapped up Tuck Fest by thanking everyone who attended and all those who helped to put the festival together.
As the festival reached its bittersweet end, I felt as though I was there with thousands of my family members. Having spent four days with amazing music and events, these people were my comrades and companions. We had been through the heat, the cold, the anticipation, and the excitement together. Tuck Fest not only showcased a multitude of talented artists but also Charlotte, its residents, and what the city has to offer.
See you next year!
Performances: Elonzo Wesley, Driftwood, The Ghost of Paul Revere, Susto, Shakey Graves, Nicki Bluhm, The Infamous Stringdusters, and The Wood Brothers.
Elonzo Wesley: http://www.elonzowesley.com/bio/
The Ghost Of Paul Revere: https://www.ghostofpaulrevere.com/band/
Shakey Graves: https://www.shakeygraves.com
Nicki Bluhm: http://www.nickibluhm.com
The Infamous Stringdusters: http://www.thestringdusters.com
The Wood Brothers: https://www.thewoodbros.com/biography/