So I trust everyone has recovered from that experience last weekend that was so laughingly called Gentlemen of the Road, featuring Mumford & Sons and seven other bands? Laughingly, because these so-called "gentlemen" and several gentlewomen (Haim comes to mind) grabbed us by the...uh...throat, shook us for several hours and wrung us dry of all emotion and energy.
I'm not sure, after all afternoon and night partying to the sounds of Gogol Bordello (crazy Gypsy punk), Apache Relay and Grouplove, among others (not to mention the carnival), how many of us made it to Cannery Row for the three advertised (and several private) after-parties that turned The Row into Mumford Central, or at least Gentlement of the Road Central.
Not only have I not seen that many people descend on Cannery Row for a musical event (sure, the motorcycle fans come out in droves, but they're there for the bikes, not the music), but when was the last time you saw Bullwacker's with a line of people stretching around the block waiting to get in? At $10 a head? Um, never?
And so it was at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, which for one glorious day and night was turned into rock heaven, or at least folk-rock heaven. Not only did the seven "supporting" acts turn in dynamic, appealing sets, but Mumford & Sons finished off the evening with a masterful, thrilling 90-minute set the like that have rarely been seen here before.
I don't believe it's overstating it or hyperbole to say that the GOTR
And I also don't think I'm going too far out on a limb to say that Saturday's show, plus the Friday discussion/mini-concert at the Golden State Theatre and all the after-concert events, could be seen as the 21st century version of the seminal Monterey International Pop Festival in 1967 at the very same fairgrounds.
Mumford & Sons (and yes, the seven other bands as well) set the bar extremely high in terms of sound, lighting, staging, organization and, of course, performance. I have never seen that many happy people at a show in the Pattee Arena, ever. 10,000 seems a conservative estimate. The Grateful Dead-inspired Furthur came close, perhaps setting the bar last year that Mumford et al easily topped last weekend.
And, as I said, it wasn't just the show, but everything surrounding it, from the carnival, the second stage and — for crying out loud! — even the tickets (which were like mini passports that one could get stamped) to the Friday night John Steinbeck event and the fact that members of Mumford & Sons not only included the local community, but went out into the streets and clubs to mingle and talk to fans. That doesn't happen every day...or every year.
This is really exciting because it shows that Monterey can and will support a huge music event, as long as you bring in the right acts, involve the community and treat the fans with grace and intelligence.
I'm looking forward to what's coming down the pike, with concert promoters such as the folks at Golden State Theatre, Crescent Bay Entertainment, FolkYEAH!, Goldenvoice (which had a hand in the Mumford weekend), Another Planet and others looking to Monterey, instead of overlooking Monterey, for significant shows with big-name artists. It's the dawning of a new era in Monterey music history.
So, all that said, it leaves me precious little space to acknowledge some of the bands that will be playing in the smaller, local venues. So here are some quick recommendations:
· Barry Manilow guitarist Mike Lent plays Friday and Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Monterey. Got to hang with Mike and his wife Deb at the Mumford shows and after parties, of which I am thankful. Go see Mike if you can, he plays his ass off.
· Singer-songwriter Jackie Bristow plays twice, Thursday and Saturday. See my feature story in this week's GO!
· Indie electronic rock band Fire in the Hamptons Friday night at Planet Gemini. Bonus: Ostrich Head's Zack Arnett & Steve Montez enriching the mix. I can easily see Fire playing one of the secondary stages at a GOTR stopover.
· Gaucho Gypsy jazz band plays Friday night at the Museum of Monterey.
· Reggae/rap band Hallway Ballers at the Mucky Duck Friday night celebrating the end of summer and back to college days.
· Don't forget music at the Monterey County Fair: Foghat ("Slow Ride") Thursday night; Fan Halen Friday night; and Chris Gardner Band on Saturday night. Free with fair admission.
Get out there and support live music whenever you can. See you about town!GO!