Review by Fred Rudofsky
Photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
The weather was hot and humid, but the music was cool.
I caught the very last notes of Martin Simpson, the opener, who had played solo on the Main Stage and won major applause from the crowd.
Thirty-One Tigers recording artist Elizabeth Cook strode out onto the stage next with guitarist Tim Carroll and upright bassist Bones Hillman, dedicating “Columbus Stockade Blues” to its author, the late Doc Watson. Her voice was as enthralling as ever, and she had the crowd mesmerized. Cook’s one of the best singer-songwriters in any genre, and her range was incredible, going from the sass of “Sometimes It Takes Balls to Be a Woman” and the romance of “All the Time” to the paradoxes of attraction in “El Camino” and vivid characterization of tragedy and hope in “Heroin Addict Sister.” In between songs, Cook’s rapport with the crowd was candid and spontaneous, sharing stories of her life and impressions of the festival grounds, including her love of kettle corn. On a roaring train song, “T-G-B”, Carroll took the lead and played some rollicking licks on his Gretsch, smiling at his wife Elizabeth as she strummed her Gibson center stage.
Cook’s renditions of Merle Haggard’s “Today I Started Loving You Again,” Gram Parsons’ “Hot Burrito #1” and Lou Reed’s “Sunday Morning” were mesmerizing. Fittingly, on a perfect Sunday afternoon she also featured a trio of songs from her excellent new release “Gospel Plow” – Marty Stuart’s “Hear Jerusalem Calling,” the traditional “Every Knee Must Bow” and “If I Had My Way,” which featured three-part harmonies and an unexpected melodic nod to Little Willie John’s “Fever.”