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Rich Met a Member of His Favorite Band at the 9th Annual Targhee Fest [PHOTOS]

High atop Teton Valley is the perfect place for fine, live music! I can personally attest to that once again after returning from the 9th Annual Targhee Fest. There were artists I’ve seen before that once again did not disappoint, along with bands I had never heard of that absolutely amazed me (one in particular sent me running to the merchant tent immediately after the show to buy their music). All the details and photos here:

With some reservations, My wife and I brought our 15 month-old to this year’s Targhee Fest. If there’s one music festival you don’t have to worry about bringing a 15-month-old along to, it’s this one. We’ve been there before and knew it was a smaller, mellower festival crowd. Of course, it wasn’t an all day affair for us this year. The day was spent swimming, hiking and tending to her needs outside of the festival grounds. We had to pick and choose our time in the festival wisely. I think we did a pretty good job. Despite arriving on Saturday (and missing John Hiatt and Los Lobos), this is what my ears and eyes were treated to:

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

The first show I caught on Saturday was The Mother Hips. I had heard of this band out of California before but wasn’t real familiar with their music. They’re signed to American Recordings, allegedly thanks in part to labelmate Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes. These guys were rock, country, maybe indie folk…and a LOT of fun! They had a great sense of humor too. At one point the lead singer said, “we’ve got a brand new album out, it’s called ‘Behind Beyonce’…you can imagine what it’s all about.” I thought that was pretty funny coming from a band called “The Mother Hips” (I later found out the name of their new album is actually called ‘Behind Beyond’).

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

The next band we caught was Son Volt. I’ve heard plenty of Son Volt to know they are a little too country for my liking, but this was the first time I’ve seen them live and it was a pleasure. I love me some slide guitar and I was really diggin what this guy was throwing down:

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

I was pleased to see Alejandro Escovedo on this year’s bill:

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

The last (and only other time) I’ve seen Alejandro live was at the 6th Annual Targhee Fest. I loved that set and have been raving about it for three years now. He talks a lot about his upbringing in Texas as the son of Mexican immigrants in between introspective songwriting delivered over good ol’ Texas rock, rhythm and blues. It’s a unique, refreshing sound. I will say that I enjoyed him a little bit more with “The Sensitive Boys”, whom he performed with in 2010.

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

I did duck out for one final show on Saturday night. Once we put our daughter to sleep, I told my wife I had to at least catch a song from Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers. I couldn’t let this legend, whom I had never heard live, perform only yards away without catching a glimpse. I knew about his stellar musicianship and songwriting, which led him to write and record with so many greats, including Bob Dylan, Don Henley, Leon Russell, and of course, Jerry Garcia. One song easily turned into about 5 or 6 before I somehow pried myself away. I wanted to be with my family and get the decent night sleep required for a 15-month-old. What I saw was nothing short of amazing. This was a seasoned veteran and masterful piano/accordion/and any stringed instrument nearby player. On top of that, the voice. My goodness. That was just a treat. Captain Voodie, bring him back! Please?

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

Saturday was going to be hard to top but I knew the possibility was there with two particular bands on the bill. Before I get to them, I’ve got to mention the winner of my favorite award. This year’s winner of “Unknown Band that Came Out of Nowhere to Blow My Socks Off” was…”Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds“. I knew nothing about them prior to Sunday but apparently they’re starting to make some noise. They were making some beautiful noise on that Grand Targhee stage. This 8-piece soul and rock outfit from Brooklyn, NY was just awe-inspiring. They brought me to the front of the stage during the show and then immediately in search of more afterwards. They also brought out that 5-year-old boy in me when I saw their album…on vinyl! Boom.

Here’s a look at some of The Dirty Birds (The Dirty horn section):

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

So that happened right before one of my favorite bands came on. JJ Grey & Mofro:

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

I fell in love the first time I heard them. Sure enough, they just brought it once again. I love that unique, southern swamp funk and soul. On top of being great musicians, there’s an undeniable respect and admiration they have for one another that results in pure love of what they do. Here’s an example: after some serious shuffling work, I found myself in front row stage right at one point and saw JJ Grey offstage left. He went behind the curtain where not many could see him during some Mofro solos. He picked up a beer and just marveled at his bandmates while grinning and shaking his head. When he finally came back to the mic, he had that same grin on his face and let everyone know what he thought. He said what his bass player just did was “illegal in 32 states and 17 countries”. I normally wouldn’t do this, but had to bother him afterwards for a picture when I saw him mingling in the crowd after their set (I mean, he’s like an assassin). I’m the one with the dumb look on his face:

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

Here’s the badass Mofro “Hercules Horns” section (Dennis and Art). These guys can play (and dance):

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

I had to re-energize after that. Alabama Shakes was on next!

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

Shakes is sort of a Ledoux family favorite. Their debut album can constantly be heard around our home (it’s definitely one of my daughter’s favorites). She always dances when “Hold On” comes on and sure enough, she was shaking and smiling with Mommy when she heard it live (it was such a cool moment for me). What an amazing end to an amazing weekend. It was hard to say goodbye…I can’t wait until next year!

Photo by Rich Ledoux/KMMS

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