The first day of the Green River Festival was a blast, but Day Two promised to raise the level to new heights with line-up that included headliner Emmylou Harris, as well as also the one and only Queen of Rockabilly, Wanda Jackson.
The sun turned the fest into an almost impossible inferno of sweat for the thousands that came and wandered between the Main Stage, the Dance Tent stage and the aptly named Meltdown Stage. But no worries because the festival was complete with a hospitality tent providing large electric blower fans and plenty of water bottles for those feeling a bit faint, dehydrated or simply wiped out by the oppressive heat.
On the Main Stage, folk songstress Patty Larkin delivered a fine set, followed by Louisiana’s Pine Leaf Boys, who made way for Wanda Jackson’s Green River Fest debut. It was a playful and flirtatious set of straight-up classic rockabilly with Nippertown’s own Mark Gamsjager and his band the Lustre Kings (featuring dobro/steel guitarist Kevin Maul) providing just the right balance of honey and sting to her music, including selections from her latest Jack White-produced album, “The Party Ain’t Over.”
Of course, at a fab multi-stage fest like Green River, it’s impossible to see and hear everything that’s going on. And while Wanda Jackson and the Lustre Kings were revving it up, African superstar Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited were grinding away with their own brand of Afrobeat at the jam-packed Dance Tent Stage.
Back at the Main Stage, alt-country rocker Eilen “Queen of the Minor Key” Jewell delivered a magnificent, multi-dimensional show spotlighting her laconic vocal style and the fabulous guitar mastery of veteran guitarist Jerry Miller.
Next up on the Main Stage was JJ Grey & Mofro. Talk about a white guy who’s got a black soul. He hails from Jacksonville, Florida, but his voice and guitar playing is all Memphis soul with a little Chicago thrown in. He had a kind of Elvis-meets-Marvin Gaye kind of thing going on, and he worked it to perfection.
The closing set of the Green River Festival featured the gorgeous and super-talented Emmylou Harris, who bounded on stage with the enthusiasm of a 20-year old and sang with the conviction of a die-hard veteran of the music scene.
Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk