Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Musicians I want the Wild Goose Festival to Bring!

The Wild Good Fest, a new American progressive Christian festival announced its lineup of speakers a couple of days ago. It is littered with friends of mine and my wife, so we are thinking of heading to the woods of North Carolina to hook up with old friends and new at this Americanized version of Greenbelt, the English Festival I have never attended.

Earlier today it released its musician list, which is of more interest to me. They had already announced two artists, Denison Witmer and the incomparable T-Bone Burnett. While I know they are trying to make it diverse, I was sure lineup would lean heavily towards the folkie/ singer songwriter genre. It always happens. Its what progressively minded intellectuals usually listen to. I was right. With a few notable exceptions, it is heavily earnest guy or girl with guitar.

I created my list before they announced, so I am happy some including Sarah Mason, Over the Rhine and Bill Mallonee were included. Some, such as Bajah and the Dry-Eye Crew and Michelle Shocked, are inspired (I missed her on my list).

That said, I am announcing the lineup I was wishing for. Since I used to be a concert promoter, have written critically about music and been considered an expert on the subject for 20 plus years, I thought someone out there may want to know my opinion. However, Wild Goose hasn't asked me for my opinion. They probably know better than asking a music snob.

So here we go.

First of all we have the No Brainers and the people I am sure they have asked (I am guessing most of these artists were out of their price range or too busy). If they haven't asked these people, I am very surprised. These musicians have shown that they stand for what the WGF is about. I have starred the musts, in my eyes. Some of these are among my faves, but many are a little mainstream for my tastes:

Jennifer Knapp, The Psalters, mewithoutYou* (in whatever incarnation), Sarah Mason*, Glenn Phillips* (formerly of Toad the Wet Sprocket), Derek Webb, Bill Mallonee of Vigilantes of Love*, the Flobots*, Damien Jurado, David Bazan*, Danielson (probably too big in their own eyes), David Vendervelde, Sam Phillips (probably uninterested due to inclusion of ex-husband), Cobalt Season*, Julie and Buddy Miller, Tom Conlon, Maeve, Bruce Cockburn, Indigo Girls (although too big probably), John Austin*, Michael knott, Sixpence none the Richer, the Choir.

Lovedrug (not a big fan), Jars of Clay, Mutemath and Switchfoot would be very smart choices and give a nice buzz. In fact, I would try to get Jon Foreman of Switchfoot to come solo or with his other side projects. I would also try to get Glen Phillips side project called Works Progress Administration.

The Civil Wars would be a coup, but should be asked.

Speaking of coups:

These artists are probably too big, but worth a looksy. One might say yes, especially in the future (or one of the members of a band could come solo). Some are serious home runs and dreams only, while others may say yes and still be a coup.

Moby*, Sufjan Stevens, Owl City, Ben Folds, Lauryn Hill, Arcade Fire:), Avett Brothers (live right down the street), Mumford and Sons (of course), Nick Cave*, Mindy Smith, Patty Griffin, Joseph Arthur (solo or with his band Fistful of Mercy), Elvis Perkins, Frightened Rabbit, BRMC (doable)*, Social Distortion, Local Natives, Joy Formidable, Gaslight Anthem and The Hold Steady.

All of these artists embody a similar spiritual side, whatever their professed belief system.

Hip Hop Artists to Ask:

Gift of Gab* (and his band Blackalicious), Pigeon John, K'naan, Lateef, Prodigal Son, Emmanuel Jal**, Talib Kweli, Lupe Fiasco, Chuck Rite (singer).

Electronic Music or DJs:

I don't listen to many that have any expressed spirituality. However, Andy Hunter and Todd Edwards are interesting to some. And Son Lux would be a wonderful addition!

Interesting worship leaders:

Gungor or Shawn Aaron Thomas. Both fit in their ethos.

Since they are connected to Greenbelt in some ways, these former Greenbelt musicians could be interesting:

Iain Archer, Maria McKee* (I cannot imagine. This would blow me away), Sixpence none the Richer, Michael Franti and Spearhead* (coup), ryoksopp.

Special Music:

Sacred harp sing-a-long, led by an expert (I know one). This would fit with the mountains of NC and tie it to our religious heritage.

Smart Choices (look these musicians up):

Ani Moss and the Unfortunate, Songs of Water* (from NC), Lauren Mann, 10 Centuries, Timbre*, Exebelle and Rusted Calvacade (smart alt country from Virginia), Damion Suomi**, Sharon Van Etten, Lost in the Trees (NC band), Charlie Sexton, Manchester Orchestra, Page France, Alexander and the Grapes, The OaKs, Bryant Park Quartet/ ACME.

Any of those would be inspired choices. Most of the musicians have very little following (except Lost in the Trees, Manchester Orchestra, Sharon Van Etten and Charlie Sexton) but the value-add would be huge.

Lastly, here is my Top 10 of who I wanted to see at Wild Goose Festival and Why:

1. Hey Rosetta!- Canadian band with the same spiritual flavor as Mumford and Sons or Coldplay, they are passionate orchestral pop that have much in common with Coldplay, Mumford, Ra Ra Riot, Arcade Fire and Sigur Ros. Check out the video to Yer Spring to see what I mean. I like them much better than Coldplay or Mumford.

2. Aradhna- Hindi lyrics and music with Christian themes.

3. Jim White- a former Pentacostal with interesting views on Christianity and spirituality, he has created a spot where electronica and alt country meet.

4. The Mountain Goats- no one talks about Christianity and the Bible quite like these guys.

5. Jeff Mangum- he is touring and he is the most important musician of the last 20 years most people don't know. His band Neutral Milk Hotel influenced everyone Indie before breaking up. All the hip young Indie hipster Christian kids know that he sings about Jesus in a way most people could never get away with.

6. The Cave Singers- interesting Americana band from Seattle of indeterminate Spirituality. Check out the video to Dancing on Our Graves.

7. Peter Himmelman-Conservative Jew from Minneapolis and the best performer I have ever seen. He is known as Bob Dylan's son-in-law, but he is on par with Dylan lyrically.

8. K'naan- the Somali/ Canadian rapper would blow the roof off the joint and fit in well with the theme of social justice. He is the closest thing to Bob Marley alive right now.

9. Todd Snider-great performer and masterful songwriter, Todd is also serious about speaking out on Christianity and politics.

10. Asthmatic Kitty night- Pick who could come from Sufjan Steven's label. DM Stith would bring a great mood to the proceedings and the Welcome Wagon would help people wishing they could see Sufjan Stevens. Fol Chen, My Brightest Diamond and Julianna Barwick would be interesting selections. Heck just bring one of these performers or their partner in crime, St. Vincent (so she could sing, Jesus Saves, I spend).

There you have it. My perfect lineup for such a festival. maybe next year:)


Anonymous said...

Do you live in Concord, NC? I thought you were in Florida.

DJ Word said...

I do live in Florida. Did I accidentally make it sound like I live in NC? my wife wants that to happen.

Anonymous said...

You mentioned you live right down the street from the Avett Brothers, who live in Concord, NC. I was beginning to think you had moved.

Gareth Higgins said...

From Gareth Higgins, Executive Director of the Wild Goose Festival: Thanks for this inspired list - you're right - we did invite many of the people you suggested; the good news is that there are still some names left to be announced, and we're planning the festival to be an annual event - so feel free to keep in touch, we want to be collaborative and are ready to be in conversation with anyone who cares about the intersection of justice, spirituality, and art.

Steve K. said...

Great list, Rick. Definitely inspired. Thanks for putting this out there -- and helping spread the word about Wild Goose Festival! I hope you and Kristi can come up. I'd love to sit around a campfire with both of you.

Mike Morrell said...

Great wish-list. I just emailed you some thoughts... :)