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Bayfest, October 5-7, 2012 ~ Mobile, AL

Festival on the Bay

In the early 1500's the Spanish who sailed in to Mobile Bay called it Bahía del Espíritu Santo which means Bay of the Holy Spirit. And folks in Mobile have always known that this place is different than any other place you could live. It has a certain spirit of music. And with Bayfest celebrating 17 years in existence, they have continued to bring music of a diverse spirit. This year's Bayfest Music and Arts Festival had a lineup from day one that called to all types of music fans of all ages. The weather was perfect all weekend with a cool front that blew in a few days prior. With 125 musical acts on 9 stages in this historical town, Bayfest gave family and friends plenty to do on the first weekend of October.

Day 1 had plenty of diversity for all from local Mobile acts throughout the night starting with a solid show from Phunk Blue Moon, and continuing the fun with Jams Plus Media's very own DJ Trey Stein performing with our good friend Chris Spies for a set of beats and keys to dance the night away. As always, Roman Street proved to be a crowd pleaser with their acoustic aggressive sounds. Now no fear, there were also plenty of heavy hitters from yesterday and today. The AT&T Stage went totally 80's on us. And being in highschool at that time, I was ready to break out my Members Only jacket.  Loverboy took the stage at 7pm, “Working for the Weekend” with a strong rock sound that showed us that they still truly love what they do. And we do too, with a thick crowd to enjoy the tunes. Right behind them was Rock Mama, Pat Benatar. She still has serious pipes and could rock the crowd to their knees. Then came the boys we used to skate to as youngsters. Journey brought with them new lead singer Arnel Pineda, a Filipino vocalist reminiscent of Steve Perry. And this dude rocked it hard and hit every note. This highly popular band is still rocking, with Neal Schon’s soaring guitar work, Jonathan Cain’s signature keyboards, Ross Valory’s echoing basslines, and Deen Castronovo’s solid drums. And if Bayfest did not bring them, I would have never had an opportunity to see their great show, with all their hit songs and a splendid visual display. So how would be the best way to end day one on the bay on a cool night? Oh wait! Pretty Lights will work just fine, thank you. The crowd stayed late to get their groove on with this amazing mix-master and light show. Way to roll, Bayfest. See ya tomorrow.

Day 2 for me ends with a hero and a man I have seen 5 times, including my first show at age 10, Willie Nelson. But that would be much later in the night, and we had a lot of great music to hear before that show. Again Bayfest is great about supporting the local bands and musicians from Mobile. And the list on day two was solid with Mob Towne Revival getting their funk on. Johnny No and Formerly Known were rocking it out for the crowd. The always popular Ugli Stick rocked heavy, and Grayson Capps held the crowd in the palm of his hand. Now I had many people tell me they were really impressed with Zombo Combo, who houses Keyboardist Chris Spies and Drummer John Milham; with this band they have very raw funk jazz and New Orleans style beats. The heavy hitters, as on day one, were present and ready to pump the people up. On the Coca Cola Stage we had back to back sets from My Darkest Days, Buckcherry, and crowd favorite Bush. All three bands were shredding the streets on a Saturday Night. Bayfest has always been great at bringing the classics, and there is no other more classic then Willie Nelson. The last couple of times I have seen him he was with his guitar player. I mean I know Willie plays, but this old man was killing it, solos and all. What a great night, Bayfest!

Day 3 comes on a much cooler day with the temperatures dropping into the high 50's that night. Now understand, here on the Gulf we get cold weather; and it's called the 50's.  And this cool day had to heat up fast with the Renegades of Bluegrass, Rollin' in the Hay. And hay, they were solid as always covering the Carter Family and Johnny Cash as well as their own "Opie and Me", a crowd favorite. Now the big discovery of the weekend for me was Nashville's own Rayland Baxter. Sitting and playing on his amp he brought nice melodic chords and deep sounds. It was what Festivals are all about:  seeing bands and musicians you knew nothing about. He was amazing. After Rayland came Mr. Sunshine, Michael Franti and his band Spearhead. No matter where or when, Franti is always going to make you dance and sing, and make you feel like he would rather be nowhere than with you. What a great entertainer and person. Now the Bayfest folks decided to throw a monkey wrench at us all with three acts on three stages all starting 15 minutes from each other. So I will do a little bit of each, starting with Grace Potter and the Nocturnals; and as always, Grace looks and sounds amazing. A few rocks and rolls later, we were off to Country Music’s new son Luke Bryan with a crowd that flowed back for two blocks. So it’s easy to say that Luke will be back to Mobile. But I had to end with Mr. Soul and Memphis Music, Al Green. What a sound, what a man, what a crowd. Al can still pick you up and lay you down. This was a great way to end this music weekend in my hometown. Thank you Bayfest, we look forward to seeing the musical diversity you bring us next year for your 18th consecutive year.  We will see you next year at the Bahía del Espíritu Santo.

Review and Photos By: Dale Taylor

Edited By: Rosemary A.W. Roberts

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