Here's the short version-I'll most likely attend next year-and most likely my father-in-law will too. The crowd was calm and friendly.
I really enjoyed the Dave Gleason Trio, the Blasters, Junior Brown, Robert Gordon, the Sideshow Preachers, and Zippy Josh. I felt that Alexandria and the Starlight Band was pretty good. I didn't particularly care for the Vonettes or Chris Shiflett.
On the whole, it was a great show. I'll see you all there next year).
The first question you might ask is, "What exactly does Ventura have to do with Johnny Cash? Isn't he from Arkansas?"
The festival was set up with two stages, with the car show and vendors set up between them. We weren't searched walking in, but the guidelines said that you were allowed to bring in a chair and a bottle of water. Upon entry, I immediately spied the General Lee, and my neighbor, Coy Duke or as he was originally introduced to me, Byron Cherry. Byron let us leave our chairs under his table, and my father-in-law and I headed off to check out the vendors. On a side note, I must be the only person on earth who's never watched an episode of Dukes of Hazzard.
|My Complimented Shirt|
My shirt received a couple of compliments walking in, including some guy taking a picture of the back, which I thought was pretty cool. Nice to know that I got the dress code correct...
Cash'd Out was on the main (Get Rhythm) stage, but we walked over to the second (Hey Porter) stage, past the parading, tattoo'd Pin-Ups to see the Sideshow Preachers. About 50 people were standing on the lawn listening to the traditional country harmonies that reminded me of 60's and 70's country singers like Tammy Wynette. I don't remember liking that type of sound in the 70's, but found it very enjoyable on this particular Saturday. I'd read about them in the local paper, and if I see that they're playing somewhere, I'd go see them again.
Later in the day, I saw singer Erika Harding walking, and complimented her set. My father-in-law, who has the ability to strike up a conversation with anyone, picked up the chat, also complimenting her, and then asking questions about her guitar (a Takamine lawsuit, which from a distance I thought was a Guild). She was very friendly, which was kind of refreshing, and which we also would find to be the norm throughout the day.
Back to walking about, I won a t-shirt from the Bail Hotline which actually looked pretty cool, in black with a guitar on the front, and was given a water as well. Lil' Zeke's Bail bonds gave me a pen. I don't think I've ever been to a music festival with competing bail bondsman, and I'm not sure what that says about the crowd. I've never needed a bail bondsman, and hope I never do, but I can safely say that both booths were friendly, so I'm just going to leave it at that.
I noticed a difference between the two woman performers that we spoke to, which was that Alexandra is trying to make it in the music business, and is very much a driven showperson. Erika Harding eluded to her day job, and gave the impression that she's happy to play music and make some money from it, but isn't looking to be a star anymore-if she ever was. Both women were excellent singers, but in very different styles and attitude.
Moving back to the vendors, I debated the pros and cons of getting a shave while my father-in-law shopped for some pomade. Two different barbers were doing haircuts and shaves, but I opted not to. In hindsight, I should have gotten the shave, and I will next year. My father-in-law selected some Suavecito Pomade, and I probably should have picked up a some of that too.
Though I understand the Christianity was very important to Johnny Cash, we would move from one stage to the other whenever the Pastoral Readings came up. The Pin-Ups had slightly more interest for me, and I think almost any woman in decent shape looks better in a 40's style sundress, but after you've seen one Betty Page, you've seen them all. Plus, I'm not really into the tatted up chicks that were most of the contestants. For whatever it's worth, I thought the Mexican participants could pull the look off better.
Zippy Josh and the Rag Tag Band seemed to have a big local following, with the band carrying on a dialogue with several of the people in the audience. An acoustic three piece that was playing at punk rock speed, they reminded me of a beachside Gogol Bordello mixed with a bit of Violent Femmes. Nice, tight playing and some solid songs.
|The VIP Seating|
At this point, my father-in-law and I hadn't watched one act on the Get Rhythm stage. That would change with Robert Gordon.
One of the reasons we hadn't been watching much on the main stage is that there was an area at the front blocked out for VIP's, which kind of sucked. So where you could get up close and personal with the acts on the Hey Porter stage, you had to have paid the extra bills to get a good spot.
Still, I've been listening to Robert Gordon since 1977, when I heard "Red Hot," and the ads had said he was going to be with Chris Spedding, so I knew it was going to be good. But as we walked over, the emcee was asking for Robert Gordon to report to the stage, that he was on in seven minutes.
|Robert Gordon and John Oliver|
This wasn't looking good. But the band started playing, and R.G. came on, and all was right with the world. Robert's singing was strong, the band was tight, and unlike the last time I saw him, the set list was prepared. The John Oliver look-alike could play! Good, sharp Telecaster licks which really helped Robert's singing, it was a great set that left me wondering who the backing band was. Late in the set, R.G. confessed that he'd just met the band the night before, but that they were great, and I heartily agreed. No "Red Hot," but a great set none-the-less.
|Chris Shifflet/Dead Peasents|
|Dave Gleason Trio-looking like John Oliver!|
After his set, Dave's wife handed me a marker and told me to bring it to him, which I did. My father-in-law and I both complemented his set and remarked on his playing with Robert Gordon. Dave graciously said that playing with Robert Gordon was a thrill, and he seemed to be a genuinely nice man. I gave him the marker, and he signed my cd, and then, it was off to see the Blasters.
|Surf City Signs|
I could go on and on about the Blasters, a band from my hometown of Downey, California and whom I've seen several times in the last 30 years. I can't remember ever seeing a bad Blasters show. I've seen them when the crowd was totally in to them, in various clubs and roots and rockabilly shows around LA, and other times when they were the unwelcome opening act (the Kinks in '85 at the LA Sports Arena comes to mind), and they have always delivered. I saw them in their original incarnation, with Dave Alvin and featuring Lee Allen, and later versions with Smokey Hormel, Jame Intveld, (though not with Hollywood Fats or Steve Berlin) and a few times with this current line-up that features Keith Wyatt (great lessons on You Tube).
I though both 4-11-44 and Fun on A Saturday Night (both on eMusic and iTunes) were strong albums and on par with the rest of the Blasters' canon of work, but the band didn't play any songs from those two discs, or if they did, it was before I walked up. I was bummed, but it was only a 45 minute set, and a band with as many quality songs as the Blasters can be excused for a greatest hits outing.
This post has been over a month in the making, so enjoy the pix down below. I finally want to get this posted.
|Johnny Cash Stuff|
|The late Jalopy Joe's personal ride|
|Jalopy Joe, RIP|