The first music of the day at the annual River Street Festival in Troy actually started early in the Farmer’s Market section. The Pine Hills String Band meets to play traditional string band music every third Saturday from 11am-1pm at the market along the current waterfront, which mostly resembles a construction zone now.
I was enjoying their performance as well as an excellent egg, cheese and bacon sandwich prepared by Nighthawk’s Kitchen, one of many food, craft and art vendors at the fest and the Farmer’s Market. (I couldn’t actually tell where one started and the other stopped.) After a not so brief detour checking out the sidewalk chalk art, I watched guitarist and vocalist Al Spain recruit Harper Connally from the audience to add tambourine and maracas to some tunes on the children’s stage.
I had already missed Rich Ortiz, but I was please to catch much of the set by Acoustic Trauma, who were pretty loud for being acoustic. At times they sounded almost like prog-rock, with violin and Kevin Lord’s excellent bass playing.
Next I had to stop and watch Mike McCrae “Juggling Dangerously.” McCrae juggled an assortment and mixture of potentially dangerous objects, including battle-axes, ninja swords, flaming torches, bowling balls and rubber chickens, sometimes while balanced on teeter-totter boards. At one point, he was juggling while gyrating with a flaming Hula-Hoop. He followed this by slinging a rope lasso while on a unicycle.
The vendor section led to the second stage, where Shut Up Tim, a quartet of Lansingburgh High School students, were rocking.
Back on the main street was the Graham Tichy Band, who were rocking old-school style, covering the Beatles, Buddy Holly and a lot of great rockabilly, including “Tear It Up,” “Some Other Guy,” “Heartbeat,” “I Should Have Known Better,” “Come On” and “I Call Your Name.”
While this was going on, the other stage featured Maurizio on guitar and vocal, aided by Casey J. Chapman on ukelele and Mike McMann on guitar. “Folsom Prison Blues” led into a hypnotic “You Can’t Always Get What You Want.”
It was so hot I had to stop in the Arts Center for the air conditioning, and I discovered music there, too. Ensemble Congeros, a group including multiple conga and percussion instruments accompanied by trumpet were involved in a story song about the Signifying Monkey, which was followed by a nicely cool “Afro Blue.”
The acoustic duo of Cavanaugh & Kavanaugh were on the kid’s stage playing banjo, dulcimer and a limberjack, a percussion instrument that looks like a man clogging.
I couldn’t stay long at any one place, because Stroke 9 had started a set of radio-friendly, alternative rock, with catchy pop songs about crude sex, nice harmonies and lots of guitar. I didn’t recognize their songs, but the next time I hear them I will. “Don’t hate me, don’t regret me,” they sang. Another song was about sipping gin & juice.
Over on the second stage, things were a little rougher with some cowpunk. “Going back to the rodeo,” sang the Mysteios, following it with a song about “rock and roll music going through my head while I’m lying in a hospital bed.” Jim Barrett, former Lawn Sausage and current owner of the River Street Beat Shop, jumped up to join them on harmonica for a Roky Erickson number, and they finished with “I Know About Donna Summer.”
Even as vendors were breaking down, the music did not stop. Sumac were set up on the sidewalk in front of the River Street Beat Shop, and a block away Blue Hand Luke were out in the street, too. The fest just wouldn’t stop…