The Boston-based Jewell and her band of rockabilly-influenced backing men took the stage around 10 p.m., but the late hour did not affect her demeanor at all, even as the audience was mostly full of folks planted in their camping chairs after a long, hot day of folk and bluegrass tunes. By the end of her set, Jewell had convinced at least a couple dozen fans to dance to her winning blend of rock, folk and country.
Three albums into her career, Jewell has established a voice all her own, even as she pays tribute to heroes like Loretta Lynn and Elvis Presley during her shows. Saturday, in fact, she did two Lynn songs, "The Darkest Day" and "Deep As Your Pocket," and dedicated her own song, "Blue Highway," to The King, noting that many folks mistake the tune for one of Presley's.
Jewell noted that she's not really a bluegrass artist, but introduced her "Rich Man's World," by saying "This one's almost bluegrass-y. It's got a harmonica." Among the other highlights from Jewell's catalog were "High Shelf Booze," "Too Hot to Sleep," the gospel-tinged "Gotta Get Right" and the excellent title tracks from her Boundary County and Sea of Tears albums.
As solid as Jewell's performance was, I have the feeling I would have loved anyone who took the stage after getting my first look at the Fort Buenaventura setting of the Ogden Folk & Bluegrass Festival, now in its third year, and second at the fort. Fans, after parking their cars, traverse some short trails through a lush wooded area over a bridge across a river and eventually pop out in an open field alongside a lake. Food and drink booths ring the outside, while campers set up shop on the perimeter next to the water. And I actually saw people who were canoing and playing a fiddle--at the same time! Quite a scene, and one I'll make sure to take better advantage of next year.
Especially if the caliber of music is as high as this year, with Jewell and Dave Alvin headlining.