By the time I got to Roseberry Saturday night I was already sufficiently sun burned that a view of the stage, and of the lovely, earnest and talented Shook Twins, was not a priority. Instead I laid on an old blanket trying to hide my scalded, nearly-bald head in the meagre shade of a Boise woman's folding chair conveniently located in front of me.
Roseberry is an annual festival near Donnelly, put on by the McCall Folklore Society. Folks have lost track of the starting date, but it's the 31st or 32nd Summer Music Festival in this settlement east of Highway 55. The stage juts out of a beautifully restored barn, which fronts an old field covered in straw and some grass.
The Shook Twins' dueling guitars provided a needed salve to my red, stinging pate and chest, as did the cooler full of gin and tonic and ice that I could almost reach from my prone position and the giant bowl of lettuce I harvested before hitting the road to Roseberry.
Remember concerts where you can bring coolers and bottles and weapons and whatever the hell you want?
The field at Roseberry filled with locals and keen music fans from Boise and beyond. Kids frolicked in the back of the crowd, catching each other with the community hula hoops, parents barely paying attention. As the sun dropped lower behind the barn, the stage came into focus, I was able to sit up under a large-brimmed cap, and headliner JJ Grey and Mofro took the stage.
That Mofro's got pipes. Described by the Roseberry mcee Kelly Gorritz as swamp music, these boys from Jacksonville, Florida played nonstop for hours—organs, horns, unwavering guitar licks—wailing and rocking and forcing an expanding dance floor in front of the stage as blankets and low-back chairs gave way to booty shaking and spinning and honest revelry. As a recent interviewer in Modern Guitars Magazine put it:
JJ Grey paints a picture of the rural South, especially the Florida backwoods, where images of alligators and cypress amid swampy terrain effortlessly come to mind.
The folks who put on Roseberry have big plans for improving the venue with more grass and, thank you very much, shade. I'll be there next summer and may try to catch more than one night. Perhaps I'll throw my blanket down for the entire long weekend. Somebody bring me ice.