Friday, October 14, 2011

Mountain Stage / October 9, 2011 / Templeton-Blackburn Auditorium

By: Emily Votaw and Amanda Norris

Homesickness is one of the most clichéd, yet horrendously universal experiences of any young person who sets out on his or her own--and especially for college students.

But "home" is many things to many people.

Yet, the most palpable aspect of homesickness may be longing for all the stuff your family does, and for some youngsters, a key part of their parental identity is latched onto NPR and the soothing, boring sounds it so oft provides for aging hippie mothers and fathers.

Maybe the Mountain Stage performance at Templeton-Blackburn Auditorium on Sunday, October 9 was simply a set of local (ish) bands playing at a central part of campus. But I would like to argue that it was, indeed, a parent-palooza.

And not just any kind of parents gathered to see some good kind-of-old-fashioned alt-country Sunday night.

Oh no.

Intellectual sorts.

“Out the wazoo.”

I hope those parent-sorts enjoyed the incredibly short sets put on by the numerous acts. The night started out with a painfully folky, though incredibly endearing and very impressive set by Karen Casey & John Doyle. Kind of like when that folk show comes on after Garrison Keillor’s "A Prairie Home Companion;" when any sensible dad switches the radio off.

And that set set the tone for the night – very skilled players playing for not very long.

Local musical sweethearts Southeast Engine played exactly three tunes, all expertly pulled off, especially their heart-wrenching rendition of “Adeline of the Appalachian Mountains." Keyboardist Michael Lachman was donning his traditional super-spiffy suit – a shocking exclusion from the band’s last Athens gig at Casa Cantina. I found comfort in its return.

In fact, I suppose you could just say that Sunday was a comfortable night, saying that I was surrounded by people who could be my parents and surrounded by the reassuring-yet-incredibly liberal-leaning organization that permeates all NPR events.

Needless to say, I didn’t feel too homesick that night.

--Emily Votaw, Staff Writer
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Continuing where our dear Emily Vowtaw left off...

Ha Ha Tonka stole the show-- According to The Post, that is. Somehow the band's photo made it above the fold, much like they somehow got everyone in Mem Aud to stand and clap along to their, to quote Arlo Guthrie with all the irony that entails, "four-part harmony, with feeling."

I'm not sure how it happened. Perhaps I am disconnected, but I could not help feeling like I was watching Hanson-gone-country, all dressed up to play the church social in the best flare jeans that money can buy. For the record, I don't mean that as a compliment.

Luckily The Jayhawks, who closed the night, put on an enjoyable set. Their country-blues-folk-infused jam was worthy of all the hyphens and the listen. Much like Hot Tuna, who played earlier in the night, they played stuff your parents would love and you would tolerate-- which is a-okay in my book.

To close the mountain stage, all of the performers gathered for a communal jam of Buffalo Springfield's "For What It's Worth." The track was excellently arranged, and of course my favorite soloist was Southeast Engine's keyboardist-- and, if only to echo Miss. Vowtaw's comment-- my, didn't he look snappy while doing it.

--Amanda Norris, Staff Writer

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