November 4, 2010

Fresno Urban Sound Experience (a.k.a. FUSE fest)

Category: Uncategorized — admin @ 12:28 pm

Better and more complete coverage of this giant grass-roots effort of a festival can be found at….esp. HERE.
or at the official festival site :
or check the expansive and wonderful coverage given
by the Fresno Bee. Click here.

I just thought I’d ramble on about my own festy experiences of that weekend:
For me, the whole weekend was colored by the fact that I was scabbed and limping from a bicycle crash I’d had the week before.
So the fest, as wondrous as it was, was seen through a cloud of Advil and a bit of leg pain.
Friday night we had a lot of fun in the un-likely (actually, nothing is unlikely at the FUSE fest! [laughs]) venue of The LampPost, a friendly but off-the-beaten path bar in Downtown Fresno. (Considering that Downtown Fresno is very off-the-beaten path for probably 75% of Fresnans, you can see how off-the-beaten path this place was.)
Strange Vine opened the night up and were one of the highlights of the whole weekend for me. This band has depth and power. Dare I say it?…they rock.
I played a couple of songs solo…started off shaky, but with the encouragement of friends, delivered the songs in fairly decent form.
Josh Tehee (our revered Leader o’ the Fest) did a couple solo tunes in one of the strongest solo sets I’d ever seen him do.
Unloading P.A.s. Deciding where they go. Hooking them up. Watching the clock click perilously close to opening time….this was the afternoon.
By the time I got to the Iron Bird Cafe’ (my station of duty), things were mellow. I set up the PA in peace. The first band arrived.
They played quite well, but didn’t seem to invite anyone to come watch.
The second act, was a piano playing man who played a sort of New Orleans-y sort of blues and boogie-woogie. Still the audience was light. (Most of the acts and venues were a couple blocks further down Fulton.)
The third act was my own band. We set up. Audience thickened out nicely. We played a very powerful set (if I may say so myself). Everyone locked in, and the spirit was good.
Next came Third Rail Power Trip. This was the fourth time I’d seen them, and the best they’d sounded so far. I only stayed for the first half of the set, because Lauri had come and I only had a short window of opportunity to go down and check out the other bits of the festival—-Kendall covered the venue for me. (and thanks to Kristy and Ray for their invaluable help at the door!!!)
We stopped for a drink at Tokyo Garden, then headed down to the Warnor’s end of the street. The venues looked great. We got to see a few songs from a jazz band under the marquee of the Warner’s Theater and a few songs from Fierce Creatures (they were a blast…and they benefited visually from the cool lights and shadows on that Frank’s Place stage). We also got to peek into the dance venue when DJ Bradley was spinning the records—it all sounded and looked good.
Then we drove (remember the limp) back down to Iron Bird and caught about half of J.J. Brown’s set.
Special thanks to Ray for helping load the P.A. afterwards—saved my life (and my knee!).
It’s true that we have some things to learn and tweek to make FUSE the sort of festival we dream it can be, but on the other hand, even those who’ve pointed out some of its imperfections would have to admit, better an imperfect (but awesome!) festival happening with more than 30 local bands downtown…..than no festival with 30 local bands happening downtown at all.
Here’s hoping FUSE IV climbs onward and upward towards super-wonderfulness.