Photo by Rodney Boles
Bright and sparkly: Dwight Yoakam
The final day of Hopscotch always feels like a challenge, no matter how excited I am for the night’s performances. Still, Saturday night’s pursuits were rewarding and worthwhile, making for a good end to my sixth Hopscotch.
Dwight Yoakam’s City Plaza show was one of my most-anticipated sets of the weekend. He and his band took the stage, with his compatriates decked out in fantastic Nudie-style
suits that sparkled in the stage lights. Yoakam’s denim jacket at first looked unassuming, but he too had a wide swath of rhinestones decking out the bottom of his jacket. The group quickly settled into a honky-tonk groove, even if Yoakam’s guitar sounded high and tinny in the mix.
Satisfied with hearing at least some of Yoakam’s set, I made the hike to CAM for Boulevards, one of the most sexy-sounding outfits in the state. Grooving to Jamil Rashad’s funky tunes felt like the real start to Saturday night, the impetus to hang in there. Sarah Louise’s set at Kennedy, meanwhile, swung me in a completely different direction. Her acoustic fingerpicking faintly recalled contemporaries like William Tyler or Steve Gunn, but she favored a rounder, warmer approach over the occasionally angular styles of other pickers. It was gentle and beautiful, with plenty of captivating moments.
At Fletcher, Elisa Ambrogio proved to be another guitar master, though with another different approach to the instrument. Backed by violinist Jennifer Gelineau, drummer Nathan Bowles and Six Organs of Admittance’s Ben Chasny on guitar, Abrogio delivered songs from her recent solo debut, The Immoralist
. She’s spent a lot of time making loud and aggressive rock with Magik Markers, but solo songs like her “Superstitious”
simmer. That’s not to say she’s lost her edge, as other tunes, like “Far From Home,” were open-ended, swirling and spectacular. Fletcher was woefully under-filled for her performance.
I arrived back at Kennedy to sit in the floor and hear a little bit of Mary Lattimore and Jeff Zeigler, whose harp and synth concoctions felt divinely sleepy and dreamy. If I had been around for more of it, I probably would have fallen asleep—but in the best, most peaceful way, not from boredom. Joined by an electric guitarist, Jessica Pratt served up similar vibes. The danger of becoming permanently attached to Kennedy’s floor felt very real at this point, so I rallied and rose for one more show.
My final stop would be Daniel Romano at Tir Na Nog, which was as much of a logistical move as it was an effort to squeeze in one last act, as my car was parked in a deck on Wilmington Street. There, he conjured honky-tonk ghosts with boozy, swinging songs that almost felt right at home in Tir Na Nog’s barroom-type space.
On my way there, crews on Fayetteville Street hustled to break down the main stage and barricades. As I passed, it felt like watching Cinderella’s horse-drawn coach transform back into a pumpkin. Downtown Raleigh was hurtling back toward a normal Saturday night for out-of-touch grumps to complain about.