Tall Stacks delivers diverse tunes

Tall Stacks Music, Arts and Heritage Festival

Cincinnati, Ohio

October 4-8, 2006


The largest gathering of riverboats in the country lined the shores of the Ohio River to welcome 600, 000 people to the Tall Stacks Music Arts and Heritage Festival in Cincinnati, Ohio on October 4-8, 2006.


In addition to celebrating the area's rich river view tapestry and history, Tall Stacks was filled with a large number of roots based and rock and roll musical acts stretched on four stages for four days and nights. Buckwheat Zydeco, Chris Smither, Sonny Landreth and Al Green were just a few of the performers roughing it through a persistent drizzling rain on Wednesday night.


Thursday was turned over to the country and bluegrass legends as Ralph Stanley was joined by his son Ralph II, and grandson, Nathan, and Del McCoury's sons Ronnie and Rob lit up an early evening performance on the waterfront's massive spanning stage.  But, the night's headliners stole the show with Rosanne Cash offering her father's "I Got Stripes" to compliment the personal material on her Black Cadillac recording, and Rodney Crowell's rousing set of originals including "Preaching to the Choir" and "Don't Get Me Started" that compressed his two albums Fate's Right Hand and The Outsider into a slick and mean hour and a half hootenanny.


Tea Leaf Green peppered Friday afternoon's crowd with a loose and engaging set of improvisatory rock while John Hammond Jr.'s searing acoustic performance married together the blues of his 2003 At the Crossroads: The Blues of Robert Johnson and 2001 Wicked Grin projects.  Ricky Skaggs' populist bluegrass leanings and Delbert McClinton's roadhouse blues-rock held the largest crowds in tow, but it was John Hiatt's one man tour de force of stories highlighted by riveting turns on "Master of Disaster" and "Perfectly Good Guitar" that stole Friday night's show.


Old Crow Medicine Show kicked off Saturday's proceedings by singing Woody Guthrie labor protest songs and concentrating their set full of energetic rave-ups such as the biting "Cocaine Habit" from the Big Iron World disc.  Medeski, Martin and Wood turned the stage into a unified jazz/funk fusion groove moving from the hipster rhythms of "Lonely Avenue" to "Tootie Ma is a Big Fine Thing," and rounding out with an epochal, far reaching version of "Night Marchers."  Wilco was top draw for Saturday night, and they did not disappoint with revealing runs of "Handshake Drugs" and "Hummingbird" enlivening the fall nighttime air.


Sunday was a chance to capture the living legends as Charlie Musselwhite delved into the harp drenched blues of his Delta Hardware album, The Blind Boys of Alabama stretched gospel choir's blues limitations and Buddy Guy took his electric guitar from a whisper to a scream while Dr. John socked the river with a spooky set of Mardi Gras up tempo marchers. 


Combining all of it with steamboats, period piece re-enactments and plenty of piping hot soul food, the Tall Stacks Music Arts and Heritage festival was a rousing success, and plans are already being laid for it's next installment.