(I'm starting the SwedeFest recap with a guest post. I asked my good friend Josh - a musician, writer, comedian and fellow blogger - to do a write-up of the celebration as he saw it. I'll pitch in with my recap tomorrow.)
Milestones. They are exactly what they sound like, markers on the road of life to indicate distance traveled. We all celebrate them, some just ourselves, some we share. Getting your first steps, getting your drivers license, that first yard of beer at the Buffet at midnight, we all know these.
Last Sunday, May 3rd, I was lucky enough to be present for a significant milestone, and the inauguration of a new Tucson tradition. SwedeFest my friends. I was at Yasgur's farm on the 25th anniversary of Woodstock, but believe me it paled in comparison. OK, OK perhaps I exaggerate a little, but it was an awesome evening filled with some of the best local musicians and friendly faces.
All of this was to celebrate the milestone that was the 30th birthday of a friend to all, local music-hound and journalist at large, known simply as Swede. Though his actual birthday was a couple weeks earlier in April (guess the date Swede-Trivia fans), it was all about the man of the hour. Usually a fairly humble cat, this evening he had T-shirts, stickers and posters emblazoned with the very cool SwedeFest logo.
When I arrived Sport's on Congress (home to the fest) it was moderately full of patrons, however as the gay night wore on it filled and filled. Greeted by the host, adorned in straw hat, we sat for some drinks. I enjoyed seeing friends I don't run into that often. Having known Swede for quite a few years now we have many friends in common. It would've been nice to have seen more people make it, but this is just year one.
Later than was expected (you know musicians) the entertainment began. Kicking things off was the doctor himself. Swede on guitar and vocals, accompanied by a friend on guitar, played some originals. His first song, not too sure of the title, referred to his last will and testament, explaining his wishes to be scattered over a creek near his hometown of Prescott (Press-Kitt, to you outsiders). It was heart-felt and well performed.
The highlight of his set was an old Cory Spiller song from back in the rowdy days of the 505. Yes, "The Primary Colors Song" brought down the house, and a lot of good memories back for those of us who were there at the original "colors" party.
Swede was followed by local folk-favorite Al Weber, better known to audiences as Honeysocks. His set was low-key but as entertaining as ever. Starting off with his signature tune "Dingoes Ate My Band," The Socks filled the room with his spot-on yet wholly unique version of Zeppelin's "Ramble On." He did the Swede-requested "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere," by Bob Dylan, and an unexpected number from the Rocky Horror Picture Show soundtrack, which toward the end of the song the lyrics were changed to "Don't dream it...Swede it!" If you are around town and see a flyer for a Honeysocks show, check it out, 'cause he is pure fun.
I had to leave a little earlier than I wanted to, it being my wedding anniversary and I had husbandly duties to attend to (yardwork). The rest of the night only got better I'm sure, with music from two of the best bands in Tucson - period, no argument - The Swim and Chango Malo. Apparently there will be a DVD, ala Scorsese's Last Waltz, I'll have to see if Casa has it.
So I was expecting to see more Swedish tourists wander in, what with the name and all, but instead I saw great friends, great bands and Mr. Swede. I just had a pool-party BBQ when I turned 30. Who knew I could've had a concert? Nah, I couldn't have. That's reserved for true local legends...
Honeysocks - Dingoes Ate My Band