By Derrick K. Lee and Rachel Ann Cauilan
Eric Church, Norah Jones, among others round out a musically diverse Friday at Eddie Vedder’s music festival.
As the weekend was beginning and crowds started settling in, day one of The Ohana Fest — which featured performances by headliners Eric Church, Norah Jones, Amos Lee, as well as Nikki Lane, the John Doe Folk Trio, The White Buffalo, The War and Treaty, Dave Hause & The Mermaid, Kevin Devine, Tim Curran, and the Pow Pow Family Band — proved to be a strong start for the three-day music event, organized by Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder.
With a lineup full of softer folk and country artists, blue-eyed soul singers and songstresses, it was the perfect start to The Ohana Fest. As was anticipated, attendance was light early on in the day Friday, but the crowds quickly came in heavy as people punched their work clocks and night went on. (…)
With a natural gift for folk, R&B and soul meets gospel, Lee provided the perfect late afternoon ambiance to kick off the weekend festivities. His lullaby-like tunes like “Arms Of A Woman,” are perfectly fit for Dana Point’s sunset beach atmosphere. Best known for his song “Sweet Pea,” the sweet head-bopping romance tune where he describes a lover as the “apple of my eye,” he surely easily pleased all of the young women in the audience. He played songs from his new album, including the heavy but inspirational “No More Darkness, No More Light,” which was inspired by the school shooting in Florida earlier this year. He used that moment address the audience, asking everyone to simply come together and “do the right things more often.”
(…) Jones’ set, full of jazzier renditions of her songs and full band, was absolutely lovely as she breezed through songs such as “Sunrise,” “What Am I To You?” and her fun, sultry new song “It Was You” — full of tasty piano licks, a head-bopping stop-drum beat and her mesmerizing vocals singing, “And I knew, and I knew, and I knew it was you.” Her big hit “Don’t Know Why” was the familiar hit that got everyone — including myself — to have a sweet moment of nostalgia and sing and sway along.
Eric Church, a beyond huge country super star, was the headlining act for the festival’s first day, and he came hot and loaded with an all-acoustic set — and it was powerful.
Church’s knack for performing, with his country slur and fun songs about being a “Desperate Man” and having a “Drink In My Hand,” got the crowd moving and raising their beers into the air. Opening his set with a seamless collection of popular covers including Dean Lewis’s “Be Alright,” he got people unfamiliar with country music like myself swaying along. His strong voice, upbeat rhythm guitar and foul mouth kept the crowd wildly entertained (…) and he really took everyone to church (pun intended) that night. (…)
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Be sure to click through the individual day links to see all of the of the acts that we were able to catch this year at Ohana Fest!
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