High Water 2018 Day One-Let’s Fondly Reminisce a Stellar Day of Music

Through my photography and blog, I hope you can experience the amazing musicians, people, and setting of High Water Festival

While I was driving back to Atlanta from Charleston in torrential downpours, I was once again reminded of the charm of High Water Festival. There is truly something magical, mystical, and glorious about the festival’s ability to place itself in the perfect location and find the perfect weekend of the most pleasant spring weather. I don’t think it is luck….This festival has camaraderie, friendship, and joy in its very DNA. This year there were happy surprises with emerging bands and instead of heat and humidity we had brisk winds with chilly nights.

From the ease of parking, strolling to the entrance, and passing through the High Water gates, the worries of work, school, and life shrug off magically.

Were you there? Did you feel it?

If you weren’t able to come this year, I hope I can give you that sense of happiness through my photos and my descriptions….If you were there this year, let’s reminisce and soak the goodness into our heart & soul and make the feeling last a long time (round about 51 weeks?).

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We entered the High Water gates, hurriedly placed our blanket down under the trees, and I changed photo lenses and ran off to the Edisto stage to see Weaves. As I have said before, they are a phenomenal band out of Toronto, and the lead singer has the ability to use her voice to warble and hit interesting notes with serious range. I refrain from saying her voice is almost baby-like, but it does take on la-la’s and sounds that manage to intersect the edge, then her voice moves beyond flawlessly.

She is expressive on stage, and her band mates are all talented musicians that truly hold their own.

Weaves

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The set began with a small crowd, but with their commanding, infectious sound, the crowd grew quickly and everyone seemed totally into it. I have seen them multiple times, and they just get better and better! A perfect way to begin the weekend of music.

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Nicole Atkins

Wanting to stay till the last note, I had to run lickety split to the Stono stage to catch Nicole Atkins. Because the Stono stage was farther from the entrance, it wasn’t as packed and I had an easy access to the photo pit. Nicole’s sultry soothing voice would perhaps be a more laid back set.

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When she arrived on stage in a bold leopard jumpsuit and black and white wingtips, I knew we were in for music with personality. I love her lyrics of struggle and sheer survival from difficult times in her life. She writes what she knows. I hear a bit of Linda Ronstadt in her voice and her style. She can sing a good cry, and question everything with her voice. Talent and deep insight can be a very powerful combination.

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Ian Felice

On my way to see Ian Felice, I stopped to marvel at an empty container ship navigate its way up the river. They are huge, and something to behold close up. Their horn will make you jump out of your shoes if you are nearby. Every once in a while, a ship’s horn would interject in a band’s tune. We would all take a quick look….

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I was excited about hearing Ian Felice. I listened to him on repeat prior to the festival. I liked his laid back story telling, folk, rock and roll. I heard a bit of Bob Dylan, Conor Oberst, and maybe even a little Dawes in his solo music. He was originally with The Felice Brothers (four of them), and perhaps their brotherly project is a little more festive and upbeat, but similar in style. He just recently made music on his own.

Ian Felice’s set was thoughtful, relaxed, and the perfect way to sit on your blanket and just hang out and appreciate the music. I was happy I was up close and could see his well-worn guitar. I imagined hours and hours of play on that beloved instrument. I know as a music writer, a musician’s success comes through serious dedication, passion, and a sprinkling of good luck. His lyrics were expressive and wove the story, Ian Felice rarely moved and sang mostly with his eyes gently closed, as if he was a million miles away. One of his brothers accompanied him on bass and then moved to the drums.

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Those who were fortunate enough to be up front were really listening and enjoying.

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I think I’d like to hear him again in a small venue, where I can truly focus on his talent. He sure has it, and I hope it translated around the park on Saturday, because people were pouring in at this point.

It was difficult for me to move from photo pit to photo pit/stage to stage (no I am not complaining, it was a sweet privilege that I would never take for granted). I meandered around the crowd slipping between colorful blankets where laughter spilled past the edges or even the occasional cold beverage. I enjoyed the challenge of creative foot placement and I was able to get a sense of the party mood.

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Everyone was elated and happy to be out and about on such a beautiful day. Bar and food lines were long, but everyone seemed friendly, sociable, and agreeable.

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I spotted the resourceful people that spread out their blankets in the middle of the two stages on the hill, so they could just stand to hear the other stage performances.

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VIP had it made. Best view, best seats, and few lines for drinks. Media was off limits this year. It was a real bummer for me because it was so much easier to get to the stage from their side. DSC_0206.jpg

Here’s a zoom to show what I mean…

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Old 97’s

Old 97’s cranked it up and played with jam band mentality. They have been together for a while, so there was definitely a synergy and vibrancy about their set.

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There were some swooners for sure….

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I went backstage to give you a sense of the crowds gathered for their set.  Wow!

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While back there, I couldn’t help but snap this pic of Nicole Atkins. So fun that she let me take a pic before she joined Old 97’s on stage.

So fierce! You go girl!

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After Old 97’s, I had a chance to chat around. I stumbled upon this beautiful couple. We chatted favorite music, favorite venues, and who they wanted to see. I found out he knew Susto’s lead singer from Florence, SC. What a small world, I lived some skinny minutes in Florence as well…

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Shrimp Records Family Band

This is a music surprise of sorts, where the Shrimp Records family of musicians jam together. It was a cool scene.

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After watching the fun they were having on stage, I decided it was time for an adult beverage…I had a skinny minute to indulge and I stood in line behind this crazy beautiful group. Aren’t they sumpin’?

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So I actually had a tiny bit of time to sit and soak in the day. I just couldn’t stop taking photos. Life was happenin’ all around me and I wanted to capture the sweet moments.

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Yep, there was a traveling pickle!

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A beautiful baby discovering and playing with her shadow.

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So very precious.

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Reunions with friends.

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St Paul and The Broken Bones

When you experience St Paul and The Broken Bones live…you will never want to miss their show. Yep, it is that good! Always creative, different, powerpacked, and a dancing, singing spectacle…St Paul andThe Broken Bones brings everything they have to provide the ultimate live experience. Talented in so many ways, they once again set the bar for performance surprise!

Did you witness the under the rug gatoring? This guy jams!

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And who can resist enjoying his shoe choice?

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And the crowd follows with crazy abandon…

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The Wild Reeds

The Wild Reeds were the happy surprise to Saturday’s High Water. I spoke with so many that mentioned their performance and how it impacted and wowed them. The music, their energy, and talent all garnished many new fans. They went on when the sun was setting, the wind was whipping, and the temperatures were dropping. It proved to add to the electricity of their set. We all felt the power, girl power (+one guy) and it was sizzling!

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Brandi Carlile

As I have said before, I think her latest release will be one of the top albums of the year. Brandi Carlile has struck a deep nerve with her heartfelt lyrics and sound. Now she has won over so many more with her electrifying live performance. Passionate about her craft, we couldn’t help but notice her ease at slipping between country, folk, rock, and Americana. It was magical and riveting. Despite the obvious life struggling that occurs in her song’s lyrics, she has catchy choruses that are unforgettable.

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Wow, just wow!

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At this point I was scrambling around to find a bite to eat and catch up with friends before the next set.  There was so much to see and experience as I wandered around the park. Here are a few fun scenes.

Chillaxin’

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Dear friends who have great taste in music.

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A hat adorned with lovely acoutraments.

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It was really cold when the sun went down and she was prepared! The rest of us bought Band of Horses hoodies! They had the most warmth, thank you Band of Horses!

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Jeff Tweedy

What I love about Jeff Tweedy is his no nonsense approach to a music performance. He just walks out, picks up his guitar and begins playing. He creates stories in songs and you feel as if he might just be singing specifically to you around a campfire on a cold night. Did I mention his harmonica playing? He brings warmth and humor as well as the take it or leave it attitude. I’ll take it gladly and be there again and again. He has a quiet genius in his gift of sound and words. Without a backing band, he still held his own and as the sun drifted out of view, he guided us to listen willingly to his wit and his soft guitar picking.

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We felt all the feels.

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Jason Isbell

What else is there to say? Jason Isbell has won multiple awards, continues to sell out shows, and has the gift of creating important lyrics and putting it all to powerful music.

Jason Isbel & The 400 Unit were an excellent ending to a day of music perfection. The evening was cold but there was warmth in every last note. Many even linguered long after the end and didn’t want to leave.

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He was sporting a new look with a new beard.

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Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires

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Goodnight y’all! Feel free to stop by anytime when you need a joy fix. Here’s my favorite parting shot! Power to the night! Peace out!

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Stay tuned for the second day of High Water Festival… coming soon!

Flooding your ears with the music of High Water 2018 -Get Pumped!

Incredible music, curated food, and thirst quenching libations, what could be better? High Water Festival may be heaven on earth.

Check it out…

It is early in the week. What are you doing this weekend? Oh c’mon, you know you think about it as you slave away your Monday on the grind. The weekend is a sacred time and this weekend is High Water Festival in North Charleston, SC. The tickets sold out in an amazing fashion, but there are a few here, there, and somewhere.

The coast of South Carolina is the most hospitable travel spot in the world, with bluebird skies, warm gentle breezes, and southern hospitality. Now, add to all of that…incredible music, curated food, and thirst quenching libations, what could be better? This is my heaven on earth. I hope you’ll hang out with me. This blog post is for those that have the coveted tickets and need a quick overview, those that wish they could be there, and yep those that just want to experience something a little different and learn about great music.

The crazy spring time storms blew through the south this past weekend and brought with them whispers of winter. I have been obsessed with the future weather patterns hoping that April 22-23 (High Water Festival) will prove to be the beautiful weekend we all experienced last year. So far, so good.

Saturday looks sunny and delightful and Sunday may be a bit cloudy….but I don’t see wild storms or frigid temps! This is very good news according to AccuWeather. Let’s hope it sticks!

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So let’s jump into the music we will enjoy in that wonderful weather….The lineup is full of treasured voices and bands while lightly peppered with new and need to explore sounds.

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Here is a quick overview of the bands playing on Saturday. I am also adding a playlist for you at the end. Check it out!

Weaves

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Weaves is a talented band with the stage presence to crank up the crowd and begin the festival with power and panache. This will be my (ah-hem) 3rd time to see them play, and every time they blow me away. Each musician has a wowing ability to play flawlessly with sparkle and serious standout skills, and leading the music are the memorable vocals of Jasmyn Burke. The Toronto band possesses a rare ability to entertain with talent, wittiness, and spirit. Don’t snooze and lose on Saturday. Get there early to set up and experience the joyous power of Weaves.

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Nicole Atkins

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Singer songwriter Nicole Atkins has a golden voice and a gift for song, but after sinking into depression and drinking way too much, she found herself a little numb and distant from it all. With her last album, “Goodnight Rhonda Lee” she discusses finding herself again through the internal struggle and capturing her difficult experience in song. Rhonda Lee is her alter ego (the heavy drinker) and with this album she says…goodbye. Her retro-soul-infused style found in her most recent music is the most heartfelt of any of her projects. Sometimes those giant mountains to climb can be purposeful and life changing. Listening, I am pretty sure Nicole Atkins has reached deep into her soul and found what she can share with her fans.You should be one. Her difficult journey is our lucky gain.

Nicole Atkins-Listen Up

“You gotta make mistakes to know, you gotta make mistakes to grow…”

Ian Felice

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Folk music with awareness and validity is what you will hear from this artist. Out of Catskills NY, Ian Felice is a singer/songwriter, poet, and artist, who possesses the power to fill your ears with satisfying lyrics meant for chewing and savouring. He modernizes Bob Dylan’s “these times they are a-changin” technique and achieves a similar worldly impact, It will be wonderous to see if he can step out of a quiet venue (where his words can be appreciated all the more) to a loud raucous outdoor arena. I am hoping his sound and unique style powerfully impacts the listeners to a thoughtful appreciative hush. I know I will be there, hanging on every lyric.

Ian Felice-In The Kingdom Of Dreams

Old 97’s

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Best served live and loud, this band has a nice history and reputation for alt-country-pop. The pedal steel in their song, “All Who Wander” from their album Graveyard Whistling emphasizes their deepening country roots. This talented foursome, hailing from Dallas, have been making music since …you guessed it, 1997 and they still keep it fresh and warmly soothing.

Old 97’s -All Who Wander

Shrimp Records Family Band

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From the High Water website…

“Shrimp Records is a musical collective and sometimes record label celebrating some of Charleston’s most celebrated local talent. Their set will feature members of Shovels & Rope, Indianola, Punks & Snakes, Mechanical River, Bill Carson, and Slow Runner. The band’s live show will feature songs from all these projects and a number of musical surprises. Sets from the band don’t happen often, and locals show up en masse when they do, it’s not to be missed at High Water.” 

I love surprises, don’t you?

 

St Paul and The Broken Bones

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St Paul and the Broken Bones from Birmingham Alabama have perfected the exuberant combo of R&B, soul, and rock and roll. Each song commands a smoothness that is sway worthy and sing-a-long happy. This is the set to dance along with your sweetie and squeeze ’em with all your heart…especially after the big power dance twirl. You will be forever changed by the crazy vocal ability of the lead, Paul Janeway and the talent of the seven additional instrumentalists and background support. I also expect to learn a new dance move or two cause they will shimmy, shake, and slide while they play ….they are that good.

St. Paul & the Broken Bones – Flow with It (You Got Me Feeling Like)

The Wild Reeds

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Sometimes a band can strike a chord that reverberates and seems to connect to hearts all around. The Los Angeles based band, The Wild Reeds, have the strength of achieving this with their song, “Everything Looks Better In Hindsight”. But, it doesn’t stop there. Each song they write has a poignant story which is strikingly and almost hauntingly familiar to your own narrative. With beautiful harmonies and heartfelt solos, they will be something to behold. Can’t wait!

The Wild Reeds-Everything Looks Better In Hindsight

Brandi Carlile

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Brandi Carlile grew up outside of Seattle Washington in a sleepy little area where her creative mind and her own voice led her on a path to where she resides now. She is a much beloved Americana/folk/country songstress with strong lyrical content. Her latest album, By The Way, I Forgive You has been doused with accolades beyond the usual album review and I am expecting it to be one of the top albums of the year. If that isn’t enough to make you hang out to hear her sing, then it should be her amazing vocal tone and her ability to sing a song and casually weave it into an orchestral arrangement. There is power behind that and worthy of your ears.

Brandi Carlile-The Joke

Jeff Tweedy

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Jeff Tweedy is a singer/songwriter, musician, and record producer best known as the singer and guitarist of the band Wilco. His solo album, Together At Last was released last year. With 30 years of rock and roll experience, it seems fitting that Tweedy would now venture out on his own. After seeing him perform at Pickathon in Oregon before his new album was announced, I remember marveling at his stage presence while he sang beautifully intimate songs. Yes he chatted in between each song, overjoyed he had a late night crowd, but I knew, in that moment he was destined  to have a successful solo career.

Jeff Tweedy-I Am Trying To Break Your Heart

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit

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What can I say that hasn’t already been said about Jason Isbell? He is a prolific songwriter, amazing guitarist, and winner of multiple grammy awards. I saw him many years ago when he first left the Drive-By Truckers and went out on his own. On a couple of occasions, I witnessed him chug a quart of Jack Daniels during his one hour set. Despite the obvious vice, he still brought the house down and pleased the crowd immensely, me included! I recognized he had demons to slay. Were those demons the root of his creativity? Naw, he proved to clean up his act and shortly afterward released a succession of incredible hits. This complicated artist has worked his way into my heart, and I am thrilled to see him perform once again. I think it might be my fourth or fifth time! Isbell has so much to share and he always lays it on the line.

Jason Isbell And The 400 Unit-Hope The High Road

 

Here is your High Water Playlist, a 35 minute easy listen to give you a quick Saturday overview and get you pumped for the weekend! ( I will add Sunday’s tunes after my Sunday music overview post)