Sunday evening and the crowds were a little lighter and not as frenzied, frazzled, and frantic as the night before. What's cool for this festival is how much Brubeck it has exposed us to over the years. Whether it's been the Sisters Euclid, tonight's appearance by the Brubeck Brothers, or the man himself (who insisted on an elbow bump in lieu of a handshake when I met him years ago backstage), Rochester has been substantially Brubecked, Brubeckerized, Brubeckified, and hipped to the 'Beck.
The Brubeck Brothers Quartet -- featuring Dan Brubeck on drums and Chris Brubeck on slide trombone and bass -- were precise and swingin' right out of the gate, with a lilting grace that played off the early evening sun streaming through the Harro East Ballroom windows. It stayed aloft even when they coped to a most-excellent mambo in 9/8 time. Dad would have been proud. Highlights permeated the band's whole set, especially its take on "Blue Rondo a La Turk," which escalated into bluesy forays in another signature to keep the ears happy and the feet guessing. There are just some shows that make you feel privileged to be there.
And it was a privilege to catch the rather dark Detroit darling, Rachel Brooke and her band on the Abilene stage for the early set. I've been spinning her new CD "A Killer's Dream" for the last two weeks now and the thick and loose twang, loping rhythm, as well as a few similarities -- style wise, mostly -- to Neko Case had me twitterpated in anticipation. Live, the band was a little more ragged and raw with Brooke's vocal innocence going head to head with the lanky guitar player's Harmony Rocket. It set the honky-tonk scene; sawdust floors and rednecks clinging to longnecks. Hey, you wanna dance?
Tomorrow night after celebrating seven years of wedded bliss to my lovely wife, Deborah, I'll be screaming like a 9-year old girl watching Don Mancuso & DDrive on the Squeezers stage plus many, many more. We'll be back right after this...