So Lowell was opening for Grace Potter on the BIG field at Hartwood. He was really nice at the merch table and noticing I was taking pictures, handed me his latest CD. After spinning it, I realized immediately it sounded nothing like his acoustic set. This album sounds like raw Americana rock à la “Gold”-era Ryan Adams. Good stuff.

This band can really lay down that boogie-woogie, blues rock. I haven’t seen Hartwood this crowded in a long time. These free Summer shows cannot be beat. More photos here.

Opening for Josh Ritter, I heard some SXSW buzz about these guys and was surprised that they had a Mexicali tinge to their roots folk. Not that I’m complaining at all, mind you. Listen for yourself here. They will be back in town for a free show at Schenley Plaza on August 26 to close the summer concert season. Appropriate since they kind of opened it.

This was my third Ritter gig and probably my favorite. Not only do you get a beautiful night to kick off the outdoor free concert season but he and his band sounded great. Things weren’t looking so good early on. The PA wasn’t working to start the set and Josh came out and performed a delicate acoustic tune solo to soundcheck which sounded good from the lip of the stage but was inaudible to the thousands on the lawn. After about a twenty minute delay the technical hiccup was resolved and the concert was saved. I am sure he made many a new fan at Hartwood.

I loved this show. You cannot beat these free outdoor summer concerts. I have always wanted to see this band to boot and even though they played a bunch of songs off their latest album that I am not all that familiar with, they still sounded great. It’s kind of strange when I go to shows anymore because I am concentrating on taking photos, I sometimes inadvertently tune out the music. Sometimes, as was the case here, I was digging the music so much, the photography was the distraction. Weird.

Today ends my coverage of this years fest. Unfortunately, I was unable to see JD Eicher & The Goodnights and Glenn Pavone & The Cyclones play. I am surprised my kids lasted as long as they did. I am also bummed that I only caught the last few minutes of The Inclines’ set. They sounded sweet from what I heard. Hope to see them soon enough.

These guys pretty much are the definition of ‘rock stars’. They wear their confidence squarely on their sleeves and it comes out through the music. Again, relying on my brother’s opinion, he said they sounded like KISS. Not a bad comparison when you are being a rock star.

These guys rocked out Hartwood. My brothers favorite band of the afternoon. I cannot wait for the two release shows coming up at the T’bird and Warhol. Are you impatient as I am? This article has the link to download the EP right now!

So my recent enthusiasm for this band has not diminished one iota since settling in and familiarizing myself with their music. In fact, it has only intensified with the additional release of a live EP (free to boot!) and having the opportunity to see them play again. They have such a cool vibe going. For some reason they seem to me to be a band that’s best suited playing outdoors. Their sound not only could fill up a room but as they proved at Hartwood, an entire meadow.

This week I will be highlighting the incredible line-up from this year’s Hartwood music fest. I really could not think of a better way to celebrate Father’s Day. First up is my man Ben Hardt.

Amazingly, of the tons of shows I attend here in town, I have never seen Ben play a full set with his symphony. It’s funny, because I have seen him dozens of times in the audience lending support for other musicians, more so than anyone else in town. He and the band sounded so good. There’s a magical quality mixing strings with ‘rock’ music and no one does it better.

He is currently recording new material and could use a little help. I have done this a few times now, donating a couple bucks to help an artist reach their goal. You get the album anyway (in this case three of them), so why not pay for it now? Get more info here.

Another summer, another bunch of Sundays spent at Hartwood. This year kicked off with a band that I just started to get into to. ‘North Hills‘ is a great album and live they did the music justice. Can’t go wrong with great music outside on a beautiful evening,now can you? As for openers 28 North, they were stripped down but still sounded nice. Man, I love summer. More Dawes pics here. More 28 North pics here.

Meeting Of Important People are readying their sophomore release. Mastering. mixing, finalizing. Whatever that means? I have been so lucky to be jamming on the new songs early and will be able to exclusively offer a preview right here in the weeks to come before anyone else. Nice! Seriously, you will not believe this music.

They have two parties coming up to celebrate the occasion. July 24th is the over 21 gig at the Thunderbird. July 30th, all ages at the Warhol, outside with Good Night, States. To understate the obvious, I will be at both.

Before all of that goodness, they will partake in the hometown showcase this Sunday at Hartwood along with a slew of other great bands. My ultimate Father’s Day. It is my extreme pleasure to say that Josh was so kind to participate in this, my birthday edition, of First/Last Friday.

Thanks Josh. Floyd’s WYWH? You have some ‘splainin’ to do next time we see each other brah!

I was late to this show due to a hellish ride from Gettysburg earlier in the day with my family. I was so tired I actually left a during the encore. They sounded great but Jay Farrar is THE least charismatic rock star I have ever seen. Someone snagged a setlist.

What can you say? The band is always a fun time and hanging in the park with friends and family to kick off the summer makes it even more of a blast. I am amazed that the show went on due to the fact that the skies were threatening to open up all day. We did get a ten minute downpour before show time which evidently scrapped Rhett’s solo performance but hey, who’s complaining?