Monday, August 23, 2010

Pole-Catting Around with Jim Chilson of The Ten Foot Polecats

Pole-Catting Around
Jim Chilson of The Ten Foot Polecats

Live at the Heavy Rebel Weekend

Being a musician, just like for the music fan, the festival season is an exciting time.   Not only do you get to see a lot of music under one tent, but it provides you the opportunity to play your music for larger audiences than you would normally get at a weekend club/bar show.   Blues festivals run rampant in the summertime not only here but across the country as well.  But there are also festivals across the country that are almost untapped to Blues based acts but they could very well fit into their musical lineups.  These festivals are hot rod/chopper shows and you can find them from New England to California in all different forms.  Basically these festivals offer a plethora of activities such as: vintage hot rods, custom vehicles, tattoo artists, pinup contests, strongman competitions, etc.  In turn these festivals  typically bring in anywhere from 300 to 600 (or more) people due to all the different activities.  However, the main theme is live music and  this past summer we got to play at three of these events:  Muddy Roots Festival in Cookeville TN, Heavy Rebel Weekender in Winston-Salem NC, and just recently we played Return to Milltown IV in Palmer MA, and have two more on tap for September.
I hate to use labels on music, but just for description sake, at all of these festivals there were an eclectic mix of music ranging from Rockabilly, Psychobilly, Outlaw Country, Bluegrass and Appalachian music mixed with Punk.  But you also had some influx of juke joint Blues in there as well.   The audiences were, let’s just say, alot less reserved than you see at a typical festival.  Some of the things you might see from this crowd at these festivals,  as we were witness to and victims of,  are getting empty beer cans thrown on the stage (which is a form of applause), getting beer sprayed on you while you are playing, sloppy yet inspired dancing in front of you and on you sometimes,…err..lots of drinking (obviously), and even a  mosh pit.  You don’t find many mosh pits to country, bluegrass, or blues music!
This might not be your cup of tea as some of you reading this might not like what you hear from the details, BUT there is something very exciting about an active audience that drives a musician.  From my impression, they don’t want to hear Stormy Monday and old blues standards but they want to hear what you have inside you and what you need to express.   Frankly, blues has always been a renegade music , especially in it’s early inceptions, and they are accepting of original hardcore renegade blues music as part of this scene as well.
Because of these festivals, we got to meet a lot of new musicians, friends, fans, promoters, and venue owners.  We also got to set up more shows with these promoters, venues and musicians across the country.  But most importantly, it brought our music to a new fan base that might have never heard us in the first place.  Just something to think about for 2011.
Jim Chilson
Ten Foot Polecats

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