The Unfettered Critic – May 2015

You probably heard a while back that Weird Al Yankovic will be coming to J’Ville’s Britt hill. Yup, on September 2 that freaky accordion player who turned “Beat It” into “Eat It” will perform live right here in town. That early announcement was a rare “sneak peak” into the Britt Festival’s summer schedule. It whet our curiosity about what Director of Programming Mike Sturgill had in mind for the rest of the season. Well, the full schedule finally has been announced, and it turns out that what he had in mind was to please—and surprise—us. Here are some of our favorites:

Toad the Wet Sprocket, coming June 21. We’ve been enamored of this mellow rock band since we heard their 1991 love song, “All I want.” Their name, by the way, is a tribute to Monty Python. As Python member Eric Idle tells it, “I once wrote a sketch about rock musicians and I was trying to think of a name that would be so silly nobody would ever use it. So I wrote the words ‘Toad the Wet Sprocket.’” Little did he know!

Chicago, coming June 23. Have you ever wondered, “What the heck do the lyrics to Chicago’s classic song ‘25 or 6 to 4’ mean?” Per songwriter/keyboardist Robert Lamm, “It’s just a reference to the time of day.” As in, 25 or (2)6 minutes to 4 o’clock. Obviously, that would be four in the morning, because the rest of the lyrics are about staying up all night trying to write the lyrics to a song. It’s also the correct answer to the question “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?”

The Decemberists, coming July 14. This is our favorite indie folk-rock band. We keep humming their current single, the haunting “Make Me Better.” Expect a night of theatricality, memorable melodies, and stories galore, because vocalist Colin Meloy admits to being a narrative junkie. “I just like stories,” he says. An added bonus: they’re from Portland.

Dwight Yoakam, coming August 22. In the early ‘80s, when Nashville music was becoming “citified,” this Kentucky-born, country performer couldn’t get a break with the brand of honky tonk he was playing. So he moved to L.A. and became a superstar among the local club goers. Johnny Cash once called Yoakam his favorite singer. Chris Isaac—coming August 21, we’re happy to add—called him the best songwriter who ever put pen to paper. We agree.

The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie, coming September 11. Mark Volman (aka Flo) and Howard Kaylan (aka Eddie) recorded “Elenore,” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” “She’d Rather Be With Me” and “Happy Together” as The Turtles. Then they joined one of the greatest groups of all time, The Mothers of Invention. Well, they’re back, touring with their original repertoire again—and we should all be happy to be together with them on the hill.

Primus & the Chocolate Factory, coming September 16. If you loved the movie “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory” with Gene Wilder, and hated the remake with Johnny Depp, you’re not alone. Les Claypool, the musical genius behind Primus felt that the remake was unwatchable, so he decided to redeem the original by recording the original songs. Then the band decided to take the songs on the road. Lucky for us, that road leads to the Britt Stage!

We’re out of space, and we didn’t get to mention Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Ben Folds, Boz Scaggs, Better Than Ezra or The Gipsy Kings.

Never fear—we’ll continue in this same vein, on this same venue, in the next issue.

Paula and Terry each have long impressive-sounding resumes implying that they are battle-scarred veterans of life within the Hollywood studios. They’re now happily relaxed into Jacksonville.