030808 REM/Medeski Martin & Wood featuring John Scofield/Ben Folds/Railroad Earth, Big Cypress, FL

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On March 8th, 2008 I woke up in my tiny little tent in the hot Florida sun, ready to dive into a busy third day at the Langerado Music Festival.

I started the day early at Railroad Earth but I was most excited about my second stop of the day, Ben Folds.  Years ago one of my guitar students, horrified that I had never heard Ben Fold Five before, kindly gave me a copy of their second album Whatever And Ever Amen as a xmas gift and I absolutely loved loved loved it.  It’s truly amazing that I’ve never really sought out any more of Ben Folds’ music because I could never get enough of that cd.

This was my first (and to date, only) time seeing Ben Folds and the show was great.  His set was early in the day on one of the side stages so the crowd was small and I was close.  The band played with enough force to capture the energy of the live-off-the-floor cd that I am so familiar with, and they played a bunch of songs I actually knew, which was fantastic.  Actually I liked everything I heard; further evidence that I should pick up another one of his cd’s sometime.

On my plate for the evening was a show by Medeski Martin & Wood featuring John Scofield, and while I really like the music of both MMW and John Scofield I prefer to hear them separately.  I feel like Scofield’s amazing modal ability to play through the most complex of chord changes is mostly wasted on the dominant one-chord groove style of MMW.  All the same it was a very, very pleasant ninety minutes under a setting sun.  

The last act of the day was REM, of which I mostly remember two things:

1) Hanging out with my chums before the set the physical resemblance between my friend Cary and Micheal Stipe started to become apparent, and though the age difference between the two should have been painfully obvious Cary had a group of women convinced that he was actually REM’s lead singer while the rest of us stood by and tried not to laugh outright.  After a good five minutes of tomfoolery Cary begged off claiming he had to get backstage to get ready for the start of their set.  

And 2) Leaving REM’s set to head back to my tent for some reason or another – or perhaps just on a trip to the porta-potties – I came upon Matisyahu playing on a secondary stage.  I had heard a few tracks before and as I stopped and gaped Matisyahu was kicking his crowd into overdrive; he was really, really making it happen.  I only spent a few minutes watching him before continuing on whatever mission I was on but the little bit I did catch left a big impression on me.

Obviously REM’s set didn’t leave much of an impression on me.  It was another great day though, at what was increasingly becoming a pretty fun festival.

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