Oddly Enough, Most People Slept Through The 8 AM Sunday Performer
There was a time in our lives when live music was a staple of our existence.  Living in Broad Ripple in Indianapolis without the responsibility of a child made it easy to satisfy my musical appetite.  It was common for me to walk to shows three or four nights a week and after a few years I almost took it for granted.  Likewise, Chris spent the bulk of her life in Houston where she took full advantage of a great big city music scene right in her own backyard.  These days we have to (gasp) drive to concerts if and when our busy schedules allow it.  As a result, the opportunities to see quality live music are fewer and further between.

This past week we were afforded the chance to capitalize on some great shows right here in the Upstate and we loved every minute of it.  

Last Monday I learned that The Winter Sounds were playing a spur of the moment acoustic show at The Velo Fellow in downtown Greenville Tuesday night.  I learned of them through our friend Daniel McCord and have been hoping to catch one of their shows for several months now.  Scheduling conflicts kept us at bay, though, and we were 0-3 on our attempts to see them live.  When we caught wind of their Tuesday night show we resolved to push responsibility to the side and hit the road for a rare weeknight concert. 

The Winter Sounds hail from Nashville with roots in the Upstate and are a truly unique ensemble.  First of all, the lead singer plays an accordion. Yes, an accordion. I do not know how many bands can do this and pull it off but trust me, it works.  Combine the accordion with a guitar, drum, fiddle and banjo and you get something that I cannot describe other than… wow, that totally works.  Playing an acoustic set with no PA within the intimate setting of The Velo Fellow was a perfect live introduction to The Winter Sounds.
The Winter Sounds played a great mix of original songs with a creative selection of covers that you do not expect to hear at all (especially that well).  Anytime someone breaks into Neutral Milk Hotel good things are bound to happen but their cover of A-Ha’s Take On Me totally blew my mind.  I highly recommend them as a can’t-miss show the next time they blow through town.

Saturday night we ventured a little further north to The Skunk Farm for Spring Skunk 2.0.  I already told you what I expected from The Skunk Fest last week so now I just have to confirm that it was one heck of a good time.  If you missed it you should be ashamed of yourself and should begin clearing calendar for the first weekend in October for the original, bigger and even more awesome fall version of The Albino Skunk Music Festival.

Admonishment aside, we have to point the finger back at ourselves as we missed the opening night of Spring Skunk and did not arrive until Saturday morning.  Work schedules and 7-year-old soccer games provided the usual logistical hurdles but we were fortunate enough to roll onto the Skunk Farm around 11:00 Saturday morning.  The bands were already in full swing as we checked in and set up our tent for a day of music and Big Daddy’s hot sauce sales.

First of all, we scored big with our tent location; we had a perfect view of the Skunk Stage and were neighbored with The Dark Corner Distillery and The Community Tap.  With music to our front and tasty beverage serving neighbors to our left, we could not have been better positioned if they had built the festival around us. 

I cannot remember the last time I settled in for more than twelve consecutive hours of quality live music but I have to say that it was a much needed event for my musical soul.  From start to finish every band was beyond entertaining and deserved their spot on the Skunk Stage.  For my part, Onward Soldiers and Seven Handle Circus were the highlights but everyone else in the lineup more than covered the price of admission.  Zeigler always puts together a quality lineup for his festivals and as expected, Spring Skunk 2.0 was no different.

For our part, the biggest highlight was watching Ivan enjoy his first true festival experience.  Sure, he has been to plenty of past Skunk Fests but this was his first one where he could completely submerge in the festival culture.  He was there early, he helped set up our vending booth and campsite, and he took in the wonders of the festival until midnight when his little seven-year-old legs just could not propel him any further into the night.  Along the way he made friends, worked our vending table, and toured the RV’s serving as green rooms for the bands.   He also stole the blankets from Chris and I as we all shared a tent but I guess we can forgive him for that one… he is only seven after all and accustomed to only sharing his covers with a stuffed animal or two.

Ivan Practicing For A Career As A Tattoo Artist
All in all this was definitely our most memorable Skunk adventure to date.  It was our first time camping out at the festival, Ivan’s first camping trip ever, and our first time as vendors at The Greatest Show on Dirt.  Beyond our own personal enjoyment, we experienced the added satisfaction of sharing our friends’ talents with the Skunk community.  We sold Big Daddy’s Hot Sauce, Reprotone 100% recycled guitar picks, and showed off the handcrafted cutting boards of Settledown Inc.  As I told a number of the people that visited our booth, if we cannot make anything creative on our own, the least we can do is show off what our friends are capable of.  

This week we are back to the daily grind of schlepping between Anderson and Greenville every day and wondering where we will squeeze in our next adventure.  We will likely miss seeing our friends at the Anderson Farm & Garden Festival this weekend, we will surely miss The Carolina Chocolate Drops at The Handlebar next Wednesday*, and I still have not figured out how to score tickets to Jack White and The Alabama Shakes at The Orange Peel on May 19.  I accept that we cannot be everywhere, however, so it is good to know that weeks like the last one are always closer on the horizon than we expect.  

*IMPORTANT NOTE: After writing this I learned that The Carolina Chocolate Drops show has been moved to July 13.  With the extra time to plan, we hope to be there.  On the other hand, the extra time allows for any number of obstacles to appear in our schedule.  Time will tell…

Big Daddy's Hot Sauce Is Even Might Be Good On Possum