Hangtown Music Festival’s first full day saw impeccable weather and myriad outstanding performances.
Ron Artis II journeyed from Hawaii with his wife Julia and kids in tow and wowed the Gallows Stage crowd with two electric sets ranging from blues, funk and rock. He even got an assist from his lovely bride saving the day, with a child in her arm, grabbing a microphone for him to sing into when the one at his keyboard went dead.
I’d heard how amazing Billy Strings was for a while now, and had even caught them a couple of times but for whatever reason hadn’t understood all the fuss. Clearly it was where my head was at on those occasions. Friday at Hangtown he and his band were nothing short of incredible, and that before Jon Stickley joined them at the end of their set for a pickin’ tour deforce. It was my set of the day in the late afternoon sun.
Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real returned to Hangtown after killing it in 2017, earning a nighttime set and they did not disappoint. If we’re lucky, we can keep luring him back with big love. Nelson never disappoints and Friday he gave the crowd original jams, some great covers, tender ballads, and his trademark hops along with his partner in crime, bassist Cory McCormick. Truth be told the whole band was on fire much to the delight of the packed El Dorado stage patrons.
Closing the evening was a set from Les Claypool and Sean Lennon dropping spacey, acidic, ethereal, progressive grooves of their Delirium project into the cool night air. Both performers remained shrouded in darkness the entire set, and punctuated the heaviness with in between tunes with goofy banter. I really don’t know exactly what to call it, but it was cool, well-received, and unique.
A truly outstanding day of music, with two to go. It’s perfection, come share it.
— Michael Smyth