Loud As Folk Day 2: Free birds soar, songwriters shine
The second night of Loud As Folk’s eighth-anniversary shindig featured singer-songwriters and lightning-fingered guitarists.
Mason Frey started the night off with bluesy licks, wild solos and, of course, a Mason Williams cover. He has some tricks up his sleeve — he slid up the neck of his guitar with his left hand, then back down with his right without losing a beat.
“That’s one hell-of-a picker,” host and Loud As Folk founder Spike McGuire said. “One hell-of-a pecker, I hear, as well.”
McGuire played a song while the second performer, Caitlin Jemma, made her way to the stage. One song wasn’t enough time for news of her cue to make its way through the bustling Pignic Pub and Patio, so McGuire said he’d play another song, though he wasn’t ready to.
Somebody yelled, “Free Bird.”
Now, I’ve heard this yelled (and dare I say, have yelled) this many times, but rarely do you get a great reaction. It’s usually met with a “humbug” or I’ve even seen a couple bands attempt and butcher the ridiculously elaborate and droning song.
Without losing a second, McGuire raised his middle finger and said, “I got a free bird for you right here.”
Jemma took the stage in flower leggings and cowgirl boots. She’s originally from Virginia City, but is now a musical traveling machine, having set foot in more than 15 states in 2019 alone.
“You can take the girl out of Nevada,” Jemma said. “But you can’t take the Nevada out of the girl.”
She has sweet, sharp prose with a little snarl and twang here and there. Her voice seemed to move from nasally to deep and full.
Her set was straight forward — a girl and her guitar — and yet experimental in a way. She talked with the audience about songs right as she sang them. She provided instructions for the crowd and cute anecdotes about her life, travel and past lovers.
Greg Gilmore of Reno’s rock ‘n’ roll revivalists Silver played next. He was joined by the band’s lead guitarist, Josh Kisor. This was their version of going acoustic — Gilmore playing a semi-hollow body and Kisor taking his usually wildly silver-tongued solos down a notch.
After a couple warm-up tunes, they went on to play their entire new record (set to be released this summer) and the devoted crowd was already singing along.
The night was headlined by Huckleberry Road, a longtime friend of Loud As Folk who recall its former home.
“Remember that time Spike asked us to play that show at The Alley? It’s been eight years,” guitarist/vocalist Anthony Vairetta said. “Holy dog shit.”
Vairetta and lead vocalist/guitarist Robert James Clark often sing with their eyes closed, feeling the music.
Before the show, someone came up to Clark and said he’d heard they do a mean cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain.” It wasn’t on the set list, but they added it for the fella. That’s a hard song to do for any vocalist and any full band. They nailed it with the minutes of “whoooo”s included.
I’ve seen the country rockers at a wedding, but that wasn’t enough. Their smooth voices, full harmonies, catchy choruses and Vairetta’s articulate acoustic guitar solos were completely fulfilling.
— Tony Contini
ABOUT Tony Contini
Photographer and journalist Tony Contini graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a bachelor's degree in journalism and a minor in art photography. He loves working with bands and telling stories. Photography portfolio: https://www.TonyContini.com