Wall to Wall Guitar Festival Recap

Thursday: Toubab Krewe; Sonny Landreth – Though the crowd was about 10% college kids getting their groove on and 90% older, stoic couples and their families, Toubab Krewe thoroughly entertained the entire audience. A fair amount of the latter percentage awkwardly sat in front of the stage, an odd move that didn’t give the African-influenced band’s upbeat, percussion-driven tunes the dance-y feedback they deserved. Sonny Landreth was next, and due to a fair amount of die-hard fans, I was further away from him than I was at Crossroads. But, his fantastic performance and killer collaboration with slide guitarist Cindy Cashdollar made standing on tip-toes worthwhile. – CW

Friday: Shawn Colvin; Natalie Zuckerman – Natalie, the opening act, was a perfect addition to the show with her Shawn-like vocals and energetic tunes. Shawn, on the other hand, played beautifully. Keeping the show alive with humorous antics and stories, her encore was, naturally, a rendition of Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy.” Definitely something to check out. – CC

Friday: Los Lobos – If you weren’t getting your mind thoroughly blown by Umphrey’s McGee last Friday, then you better have been at Los Lobos. There may have been a lot less mushrooms and hand-blown glass vendors, but the lineup included a stunning quartet of guitars, accompanied by enough percussion to get you dancing like your parents did 30 years ago. It’s almost impossible to come across a band that has been rocking out for as long as these guys, and their energy was incredible. Los Lobos’ avant-garde blend of latin, jazz, and blues guitar made it easily one of the best acts at Wall to Wall. – TC

Friday: North Mississippi Allstars – As the unofficial after-party for Friday’s Umphrey’s McGee show, a horde of hippies still reeling from the up-tempo encore shuffled their way over to Krannert, making for the liveliest crowd of the weekend. The Allstars’ folky blues-rock was a great nightcap, especially with the sit-in addition of one star in particular – Umphrey’s guitarist Jake Cinninger. – CW

Saturday: Paul O’Dette and The Romeros – O’Dette is a professor, and it shows. He’s extremely talented at classical lute playing, but between watching the performance in a pin-drop silent theatre and listening to musical history lessons between the songs, it felt more like a cool field trip than a concert. The Romeros, comprised of two father-son pairs, played classical Spanish music flawlessly, but knowing that a night full of upbeat, rocky blues ensued made it hard to concentrate on their relaxing music. – CW

Saturday: Kaki King – Her guitar may be bigger than most of her body, but King’s jaw-droppingly impressive sounds are anything but small. Her triple-billed show only gave her time to perform a handful of tunes, but highlights included two from her new (or, as she referred to it, newly recorded but new in six months) album and an improvisational dedication to her pet beagle, who recently passed on. – CW

Saturday: Buddy Guy – After seeing Buddy Guy once a month since July, it’s now obvious: no one – and I mean no one – can command a crowd like Guy can. Part legend, part musician, and part I-don’t-take-shit-from-anyone attitude, Buddy’s different personality facets combine to form an entertainer who not only knows how to perform, but also knows how to work the room. Walking up and down the aisles, perusing the balcony and musically goofing around with his insanely talented keyboardist, Guy proves over and over that, damn right, he’s still got the blues. – CW

About Carlye Wisel, Caitlin Cremer and Tom Cyrs

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