Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Summer festival season begins

Summer’s finally here!

The summer heat has hit Arizona like a sledgehammer, with temperatures already topping 105.  Overnight, we went from the morning-dew glory of springtime to driving with our fingertips and having band practices in front of fans that make our music sound like 1980s synth pop. But you can’t have the great Arizona winters without enduring a little summer heat, so we’re keeping our heads up (and brows moist).  Summer brings plenty of exciting things nonetheless– like festivals and a lot of music-filled weekends!

 Festival season for Run Boy Run began a couple weekends ago with the High Country Bluegrass Festival at Arcosanti in central Arizona.  In contrast to today’s heat, the weekend of April 14 we actually had snow! It was so cold up on the high desert plateaus we had to move the festival indoors.  Because of the weather though, our first set turned out to be an intimate, unplugged session in the backstage Green Room. As festival-goers warmed up under blankets, huddled on the stairs and couches, we played our hearts out and couldn’t have asked for a better show. As musicians, you crave those moments when the distance between performer and audience is reduced. The girls sang a few extra a cappella songs to take advantage of the great acoustics in the arched space. 

If you haven’t seen the stunning architecture of Arcosanti, you should take a look at their buildings. Grace took home a Paolo Soleri bell as a memento of the great weekend. While we were up in the bell exhibit, we had a nice birds eye view of Jampack Bluegrass' set. They played a great set and had the audience clapping along. 

Jampack Bluegrass at Arcosanti
The following morning, Run Boy Run performed a gospel set for the Spring Valley Church.  Bekah and Jen’s grandpa, Ben Sandoval, joined us on stage for “Old Rugged Cross” and few other gospel classics, which was a special moment not just for the local congregation but also for the band.

Gospel Set at Spring Valley Church in Mayer, AZ

The following weekend, RBR packed up our bags to strike north for a show in Flagstaff with The Freight Hoppers at the Coconino Center for the Arts, organized by Greenhouse Productions.  It was a great chance to catch up with David, Frank, Isaac, and Bradley and hear some of our Freight Hopper favorites.  Particular highlights of the night for me were hearing Frank’s great slide guitar riffs on “Down on Me”, a hilarious soda pop a cappella jingle for “New Grape Soda” sung with stone-faced sincerity by Isaac and Frank, and a repo tale of warning – “Mr. Riley the Furniture Man”.  The Freight Hoppers left after the show to drive straight through the night to play on the morning Durango train -- which made me think, what do the Freight Hoppers listen to when they have all-night drives? I listen to the Freight Hoppers.

The next morning we also chugged our way up to Durango, Colorado to play at the famous Durango Meltdown. Friday evening we played in the beautiful Strater Theater, a mid-century theater filled with rich mahogany and craft brewed beer.  The theater was packed wall to wall, and the audience gave us a warm welcome. We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend; the festival staff was so hospitable, local food options were great, the venues were lively and all walkable, and the audiences were all attentive listening audiences.

We played three sets in Durango – Friday night in the Stater, Saturday afternoon in Wild Horse Saloon, and a gospel set in the arts center Sunday morning. We love playing gospel sets because we really get to focus on two of our favorite things about traditional music – poignant lyrics and sweet harmonies. We had so many requests for a gospel album after the show that we’ve added that to our growing band-project-wishlist. Perhaps my favorite moment of the weekend was hearing the filled center for the arts join us for the chorus “On the Wings of a Snow White Dove”. Nothing moves me like a chorus of human voices.

It was nice to see some Flagstaff friends who drove up for the festival. It’s always good to be at a festival with Whistle Stop; the Pearse family members are all avid jammers and some of the nicest folks we know.  We also enjoyed meeting Cahalan Morrison and Eli West – a new-old time duo from Seattle with fantastic songs and rich vocals – as well as The Lost Pines out of Austin.  As we headed out of Durango Sunday afternoon, our bellies filled with fresh brewed coffee and feet tapping to new music, we all agreed that Durango is one of our new favorite small towns in the west. Hard to believe that you can find that many kind people, good breweries, and historic buildings in one place.


Random band fact – sometimes late at night we call ourselves “Corre Chico Corre”.

Another band fact....

We now have shirts available (see our friend in the picture above, second from right)! If you’d like a shirt, email us at Shirts are $15.


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  2. This summer is definitely going to be a great one. Their performance is going to make it even better no doubt. I hope everything goes as planned.