July 4th Indie Road Trip with Dawes, Justin Townes Earle & Daytrotter
Nothing like a July 4th weekend with friends, food and great music. Even better when you can celebrate with Justin Townes Earle, Dawes, The Walkmen, These United States, Jonny Corndawg, Young Man and Daytrotter. How about seeing Justin Townes Earle and Dawes in Madison Saturday on the Memorial Union Terrace, followed by a road trip down to Maquoketa, Iowa for the Daytrotter Barn on the 4th show, with four additional great indie bands? Being the gluttons that we are, Rock of the Arts procured a half-barrel of Spotted Cow Beer as a welcome mat for the indie faithful in Iowa.
Saturday night was a hot muggy evening in Madison as thousands of people congregated on the Memorial Union Terrace to watch the fireworks display across Lake Mendota and hear some great music. Local pop punksters The Nod open the evening with an energetic salute to the 4th. After a pause for fireworks, Dawes is up next delivering their usual punchy set with a guest appearance by Madison’s own Patrick Breiner on tenor sax. Dawes has been touring almost nonstop since the beginning of the year and have built a loyal following that includes a large Madison contingent who demonstrated their enthusiasm for the band Saturday night. We noticed a lot of new material from Dawes this evening that will be part of a soon-to-be-recorded second album.
Justin Townes Earle and fiddle player Josh Hedley teamed up for an Americana honky tonk sound that has garnered rave reviews around the country. Earle has a new album coming out in September called “Harlem River Blues” and the Union Terrace music affectionados were treated to a sneak preview for what will sure to be a breakthrough release. One of our favorite new tracks “Ain’t Waitin” puts a new twist on a vintage country sound. Justin commented that he had recently broken his big toe and would be a little less mobile than usual on stage. It didn’t stop him from stomping a couple of times during the set that must have hurt like hell in retrospect. The night ended early for Justin and Josh as the break for fireworks earlier and a 12 midnight music curfew at the Union resulted in a short 30 minute set with no encore. Oh well, we’ll be seeing them again tomorrow night.
On Sunday morning we stop at the local liquor store to pick up the ice cold half-barrel of Spotted Cow beer lovingly packed by a nice Mason City, IA girl in a tub holding 60 pounds of ice. Hopefully that will be enough for the two-and-a-half hour drive to Maquoketa, Iowa. The trip is pleasant, all of it on a four-lane highway with light traffic. Katie and I enter the campground next to the Codfish Hollow Barn and bump into a caravan of Madison folks looking for the indie 4th of July paradise. We decide to set-up Camp Madison near a grove of trees on top of a small winding valley. Tents go up quickly before the real party begins. Almost forgot, we head down to the Codfish Hollow Barn to set-up the half-barrel in an open basement shed just off the stage. Daytrotter’s Sean Moeller greets us and recommends we check out the gallery in a refurbished farm house on the property.
The crowds start to gather at the front of the barn. Our half-barrel is tapped and flowing with a potluck picnic with an assortment of home-made salsa, humus, bean salads and liquor soaked almond cake to boot. Amber Valentine from Chicago indie blog “Radio Free Chicago” is on hand with two of her cohorts and we begin to indulge in all things that are Spotted Cow along with a lot of hungry & thirsty musicians. The first band to kick of the evening is a new Chicago group called Young Man that fused together elements of Real Estate and The Walkmen into their own brash sound.
Jonny Corndawg, a country musician from Nashville, then takes the stage backed by Dawes, Josh Hedley fiddle player with Justin Towns Earle, and Patrick Breiner on sax. He played an amazing set of classic original country material with a cynical comic twist, playing songs like Dog on a Chain and Silver Pantie Liners.
These United States fresh off a Madison gig at the High Noon Saloon opening for Thao and Mirah proceed to rock the house, ah barn…. to the rafters. Their alt country tinged psychedelic gospel sneaks up on you, led by the distinctive vocals of Jesse Elliott. We’ve become big These United States fans and are looking forward to their latest recorded effort “What Lasts.”
Jesse Elliott of These United States
The stage was set for crowd favorites Dawes who are earning combat pay by playing the Codfish Hollow Barn tonight, their third gig in 24 hours across two states. Yes, they played in Madison the night before and in Des Moines, IA earlier in the day for the 80/35 Festival. Give credit to Dawes for an excellent show in front of a rabid crowd who practically blew the roof off the barn while singing along with the anthemic “When My Time Comes.” Our Madison friend, alto sax player Patrick Breiner, also jammed with the band on several songs drawing cheers from the audience for some tasteful solos. The Codfish Hollow Barn was cookin' and the final surprise course was about to be served.
The Walkmen were the secret guest headliner for the Barn on the 4th show and the crowd buzz before their appearance was tantalizing. All the preceding artists were front and center (some on stage) for The Walkmen who took command of the night with material from the new album “Lisbon” due out in September. Front man Hamilton Leithauser has a confident presence on stage using the mike stand like a pied piper leading followers into the Promised Land. The subtle vocal nuances and striking guitar patterns of the Walkmen hypnotize the audience into subdued submission. The Barn on the 4th mission by Daytrotter was complete. Indie music fans from the Midwest and beyond gathered for a spirited celebration of the red, white and blue. Indie on Independence Day…..perfect!
Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes
Justin Townes Earle and Josh Hedley sharing medicine
The calm before the storm