As was the case last year, Chinook Fest has big names at the top of the bill but better acts a little further down.
That’s not to say headliners The Cadillac Three (Southern rock throwbacks out of Nashville) and Stoney Larue (red dirt country out of Texas) won’t absolutely kill as a back-to-back closers on Friday. They will; this festival and its redneck-hippie, party-in-the-woods vibe is perfect for them. They’re going to set the woods on fire (in the Hank Williams sense, not literally), and it’s going to be a blast.
But Vincent Neil Emerson and his relatively laid-back classic country sound is probably the best act at the festival this year. If you like George Jones and Willie Nelson and Townes Van Zandt (or, for more contemporary references, Justin Townes Earle and Sturgill Simpson), you won’t want to miss his early evening set on Friday.
There are standouts on Saturday, too. The Hooten Hallers do a whole Tom Waits or Leon Redbone thing, complete with stompin’ and hollerin’ and whatever other present participles with dropped G’s you might want to apply. And Blackfoot Gypsies do a pretty solid version of Muscle Shoals type Southern rock if you can get past the fact they’re a bunch of white dudes appropriating two separate ethnic groups for their name.
Then there are the local favorites. Blake Noble is always a crowd-pleaser with his manic energy on percussive guitar, and this time around he’ll have his full band with him. Festival founder Cody Beebe and his band, Cody Beebe and The Crooks, no longer have their name on the top line of the Chinook Fest poster, but they still have the same roots-rock appeal they always have.
It’s a pretty even lineup, top to bottom, with some real rewards scattered throughout the weekend. Plus, as always, it’s just gonna be a party, man. Chinook Fest is always a party.