0129 Ann Arbor Folk Festival

Did I have dinner?  Honestly, I’m not sure.  I don’t have much of anything to do at work these days, which often leads to boredom masquerading as hunger.  Combine that with an office kitchen that frequently overflows with snacks and is located three feet from my cubicle, and you’re in for danger.  Today was another one of those GET THE WORK SNACKS AWAY FROM ME days, so I wasn’t hungry when I got home at 4:30, and then had plans to attend the Ann Arbor Folk Festival with my friend Amy.  I had a handful of grapes on the way out the door, and then found myself starving at 11:30 when I dropped her off after hours of really wonderful music.  So if I did have dinner, it was the chicken nuggets I ate in the car at midnight.  Not a meal worth waxing poetic over, I’m afraid.

On the other hand, the Ann Arbor Folk Festival was a real treat.  Amy came into tickets unexpectedly, and I was pleased to be her +1 on a bitterly cold night.  The Folk Festival is an annual event sponsored by The Ark, an intimate downtown venue of some renown in folk music circles.  This year the festival celebrated its 33rd year – previous years have featured such folk luminaries as Pete Seeger, Stan Rogers, John Prine, Sweet Honey in the Rock,  and Ani DiFranco.  I hadn’t heard of most of the artists we saw on Friday – Michigan band (who need to update their website) Nervous but Excited, dude-with-a-guitar who kept dedicating his songs “to the ladies”  Jer Coons, fun “urban roots” band Po’ Girl, the very stompy Hoots & Hellmouth, and southern rock-infused Band of Heathens – but enjoyed being exposed to a bunch of new music I definitely wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.  Ben Gibbard (of Death Cab) and Jay Farrar (of Son Volt) primarily played songs from the soundtrack they did for a Jack Kerouac documentary released last year – the music was moody, and while I haven’t seen the documentary, I can imagine it pairing quite well with the depicted period of Kerouac’s life.

The highlight of the evening for me, however, was a solo acoustic performance by Sam Beam of Iron and Wine – who Shane, by the by, had run into at our newest coffee obsession, Comet Coffee, earlier in the day.  This was my third time seeing Iron and Wine, and I have to say that this was the performance I’ve been waiting for.  Bonnaroo 2008 was pretty amazing, and seeing them at Rams Head LIVE! was something special, but stripped down, acoustic, just Sam and a guitar in the spotlight – so much better.  He played a number of songs from Our Endless Numbered Days and the In the Reins EP – two of my favorites – as well as current and new music.  It was such a wonderful performance and a wonderful way to end the evening – if only we hadn’t had to bundle up and go out into the 5 degree weather to go home.

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