Doe Bay Campfire::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
This year’s Doe Bay mainstage was home to some of the Pacific Northwest’s higher profile bands, but the mainstage was just one of many places music was made. Each stage has it’s own character: the patio stage overlooking the bay for the sunny lunch and afternoon hour, the cafe stage for late night intimate performances. After 10pm, the Yoga Studio was the place to focus on, as its four modest walls sought to contain a series of performers on the verge of breaking out, both literally and figuratively.
The first band to grace the Yoga Studio was the percussive charms of Ravenna Woods. After a late Thursday night battling, and then falling to, the Washington State ferry system, Ravenna Woods spent much of Friday trying to get what sleep they could before their 10pm set, after arriving on the very earliest ferry. For the short moment I snuck into the shoulder-to-shoulder room, their fatigue was forgotten. Both Ravenna Woods and the Head and the Heart, who took the sweaty stage after them, are bands that move. Going to see these band’s in a normal room is enough to work up a sweat. For those hours in the 100-ish capacity Yoga Studio the room could’ve easily stood-in for the clothing optional sauna’s situated just up the hill. People were walking out of the room with dense layers of steam fogging their glasses and camera lenses. And big grins. During Head and the Heart someone wrote “SO FUCKING HOT” from the inside on the studio’s lone steamed-up window, but nobody was leaving
An equally interesting set, occurring at the same time as The Head and The Heart, was Widower’s Kevin Large in the Doe Bay Cafe. I only caught his two final songs but it was enough, with a squeal-inducing cover of Lisa Loeb’s “Stay” to close out his short set. Just to be clear I didn’t squeal. That was someone else. I swear. Once the yoga studio wound down, the action moved to the campfire, where Large brought his guitar and he found his comfort zone. Large is a bit reserved on and off stage, but in front of a campfire and friends, he’s a beast in his natural habitat. The breadth of his “photographic memory” for songs is impressive, he covered everything from Bruce Springsteen to Counting Crows to Simon and Garfunkel. Needless to say, spontaneous sing-alongs featuring Large, Curtains for You, and the Head and the Heart, and anyone else who might care to join in, kept the music going until the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Widower in the Cafe::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
Steam writing in the Yoga Studio during the Head and the Heart ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
Kelli Schaefer had the honor of opening the Yoga Studio on Saturday Night, though with her blessing, Drew Grow and the Pastors Wives actually started the night by playing the last song that they didn’t get to during their mainstage set. Reprising last year’s Yoga Studio appearance with just one song, “It All Comes Right” is a gorgeous folk hymn bursting with harmonies, more so with the addition of Grand Hallway’s Shenandoah Davis and Kelli Schaefer to the mix. Much like Grow, Schaefer holds nothing back, not needing a microphone to make her point. Usually only accompanied by a drummer, this night she kept her label-mates The Pastors Wives on to support, along with multi-instrumentalist Steve Norman on the trumpet and steel guitar. This backing of friends produced a marked change from when I last saw her solo. Replacing a wounded, lilting loner was an emphatic, confessional attention grabber, where the need for a quiet tear was overwhelmed by the joy of the cleansing catharsis on display. Taking control of the night from the beginning, she led the entire studio in a chorus of “It’s so fucking hot” before informing us that was the last time any of us were allowed to utter those words and from that point on, the audience was silently riveted. I heard not one complaint, in I can only assume reverence for the performance. As of last weekend I’ve no reservation in saying Kelli Schaefer is currently endowed with one of the Pacific Northwest’s most compelling and arresting voices.
Though THEESatisfaction might’ve considered themselves a left-field booking for the largely folk and Americana influenced festival, for the last official set of the main festival they were duly appreciated with a packed sweaty crowd that was impressively active. Small rooms are where this band succeeds most, from up on stage some of the cultural criticisms can sound too preachy, but down on the ground, standing at eye-level it’s obvious that they’re speaking from real experience. Their stare you in the eye humor and wit challenges you to think, but also to dance. And the audience obliged.
I emerged from the Yoga studio to the Head and the Heart set up on the General Store porch singing songs with a half-circle of roughly 200 people ringing the porch. For the Saturday arrivers and those of us unable to make it into the Yoga Studio last night, it was a welcome development. The audience’s interest in the band clearly exceeded a hundred-odd person appearance in the Yoga Studio. Mid-way through the set, Doe Bay Resort owner Joe Brotherton arrived to a broken board on the porch from some over-zealous stomping but he could hardly complain, given the large crowd and quality of the quiet after-hours performance. These unexpected moments that felt perfectly orchestrated are exactly what we all hope the Doe Bay experience can be. Festival organizer Chad Clibborn sensed the magic of the moment and announced, with the band’s agreement, that the Head and the Heart will be playing the Doe Bay mainstage in 2011. Smiles abound.
Drew Grow with Kelli Shaefer and Shenandoah Davis::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
Kelli Shaefer::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
THEESatisfaction ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
The Head and the Heart on the General Store Porch ::: Photo by Josh Lovseth
Though the festival unofficially extended into Sunday afternoon for a few bands on the Patio stage, we were extending our stay until Monday morning in order to complete a few more Doe Bay Sessions, most notably the Head and the Heart out on a rocky point at sunset. This session attracted a larger audience than any of our other relatively secluded forest sessions and in a wonderful turn of events included Kelli Shaefer, Drew Grow and the Pastor’s Wives and members of Youth Rescue Mission on backing harmonies. This magical event felt an ideal culmination of an idyllic weekend, a perfect representation of the community that had been created in the few days we were all together.
Given the tightness of the bonds being forged over the weekend, it came as no surprise that the community was compelled to linger and celebrate just a while longer. What was surprising, was that it happened at the picnics tables surrounding our yurt, with many of the remaining band members and festival organizers spending an hour at our bench. As more people arrived, the tables turned into an unscheduled stage unto itself. Following the quick decimation of two tequila bottles, a furious rap battle broke out between Daniel Williams of Youth Rescue Mission, and Seth from the Pastor’s Wives, with Seattle Times music writer Jonathan Zwickel on beat box and vinyl scratch. Curious owner Joe Bay ventured around the inlet and joined in on the fun, commanding everyone’s attention enough to allow Kelli Shaefer a chance to belt out “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” In this setting, sung with that voice, I was fairly convinced that who ever was wrote that song was thinking of a place not unlike Doe Bay.
Over The Rainbow from Dylan Priest on Vimeo.
Premonition from Dylan Priest on Vimeo.