Who, What, Where, Now!
Sun Valley Shakedown Festival
The Right Amount of Everything
Get out your coolers and coozies, festival lovers, because it’s concert season. If Ketchum Alive was the summer’s soft launch for locals, Saturday’s Sun Valley Shakedown felt like its grand opening. Without a doubt, the Shakedown had all the necessary elements for a memorable, and very much a Sun Valley show.
The weather was temperate but comfortable, the venue, Festival Meadows, an idyllic mix of horse-filled pastures and jaw-dropping mountain scenery. The artists, JJ Grey and Mofro and The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, brought the energy and, in turn, so did the crowd, who “danced” from start to finish. Moreover, Calle 75 Tacos, Bucksnort Root Beer, Wood Fired Pizza, Sun Valley Brewery and Whiskey’s all came to play. Everything just clicked, really.
The Dirty Dozen, a well-known group from New Orleans, opened with a characteristic bang of brass---which included a sousaphone. Heads began to bob while the more ambitious couples grooved closer to the noise. As the sun set behind Penny Hill, crews prepared the stage for JJ Grey and Mofro, who emerged to sizable cheers. By the middle of the set, the crowd had entered to full concert mode, having almost completely abandoned their quilts and chairs for the front rows.
The seven-man piece, which included a hilarious saxophone and trumpet duo, played a two-hour mix of Southern rock, blues and country, all of which was anchored by Grey’s phenomenal vocals. Loud, gruff and honest was the man from rural Florida, who truly sang as if it were his last performance. Grey and his band’s spirit was so contagious, in fact, that by the end even my voice sounded hoarse.
At one point, taking in the near-perfect evening himself, frontman JJ Grey announced, “I am a lucky man!” Bursts of optimism from a blues guitarist? Only in Sun Valley, where concerts are a summer speciality with the right amount of everything.