You should have seen it: a crowd of people two football fields long, swilling Heineken Light, Dos Equis, Liberty Ale and Ravenswood Lodi Zinfandel, throwing beach balls around, clogging and contra-dancing to John Prine. I could have sworn this was Santa Cruz when I saw an irrepressible guy in his 50s near the front, leaping up, shaking his shirtsleeves, waving his elbows and doing the chicken dance to "Grandpa Was a Carpenter.'' Dude looked just like Edward Abbey. There was some weird stuff too, of course; some guy about 100 feet from the stage took out a violin and started sawing away on it right in the middle of "Angel from Montgomery.'' Prine, as usual, put on a perfect performance; he pulled out "Crooked Piece of Time,'' which I'd never heard live before, and he was positively glowing when Lyle Lovett -- next in line on the Banjo Stage -- invited him up there so they could perform a cover of "Loretta,'' a Townes Van Zandt song. Between sets, there was a funny moment up front when some angry soul passed around a sign reading WHEN YOU STAND CLOSE TO THE FRONT, YOU BLOCK THE VIEW FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE. PLEASE!! SIT DOWN.'' A group of revellers, close to the stage, added their own message to the sign: "WE LOVE YOU. IT's GOING TO BE OK. BREATHE!!!! -- and passed it back.
It goes without saying that Lyle Lovett killed. His show was jazzy and funny, with furious pacing. Picture thousands of people singing "To the Lord let the praises be; time for dinner so let's go eat.''
And so we did.
Today: Dar Williams, Robert Earl Keen, Steve Earle and more.