The foundations of Negaunee were shaking last night, in ways that haven’t been felt since the closure of the Mather B. Heck, and yesterday as a “country” day. Thunder on the Iron Range 2022 is underway, and there is no question that there are more foundations being affected here than just Negaunee’s. Three bands opened the festivities yesterday, and they all brought it.
Adam Carpenter & the Upper Hand kicked things off with their style of “Frostbitten Country.” We caught Adam & Bill Arnold (also of One Ton Trolley) before they hit the stage (video available at our Facebook), and you could just see the excitement in their faces and body language. One thing Adam was EXTREMELY excited about was that they were playing “10 originals and only 2 covers.” Honestly, one of the covers may as well have been original to a lot of the crowd (Ryan Bingham’s “South Side of Heaven,” Jamey Johnson’s “In Color” being the other).
Most of the set comprised of songs that are currently off at mastering from their debut album, but even those that were being heard for the first time were positively received. The crowd went wild for “Tornadoes and Trailers” (a single, I think has potential for nationwide radio coverage), Waiting for the Thaw, and, of course, the regional anthem “U.P. Life.” We’re just darn lucky that we have these guys as a local act. Adam, Bill and Jake will be taking the stage again Sunday as bluegrass jammers Chasin’ Steel.
The first official returning artist from Thunder on the Iron Range 2019 came up next in Cecil Allen Moore. Moore, his wife Nicki were joined by their MIchigan Born drummer (who’s name is escaping me at the moment) to bring a set of Moore’s originals and a handful of country and folk classics. Moore’s style is very much rooted in the 1970’s outlaw masters, but as with many modern artists they have a tendency to put a bit of a rock/punk edge to it. However, at times there is no question that Moore is channeling the country musicians of old, and I’m talking the 40’s & 50’s.
We caught Cecil and Nicki before they hit the stage to ask about the family, and with a tinge of sadness and pride they said, “The youngest is at the merch’ table, but otherwise they’re all grown and gone now.” It’s still a family band, but the kids are out making it on their own and they couldn’t be more proud.
As with their set in 2019, the crowd was definitely into it, and the majority clearly were just being introduced. I really think we need to get Cecil up here a couple times a year and not just on a festival stage. They’re good folk, great entertainers, and just a lot of fun.
The night closed out with one of the most important bands in independent music. I’ve talked up Blackberry Smoke enough in recent days that I’m not going to do it much here, other than to say this band B-R-O-U-G-H-T, brought it. Negaunee was treated to 90 minutes of jams from BBS’s 8 albums, along with some classic covers thrown in (yes, including Stone’s covers from their recent “Stoned” EP).
Unfortunately, Blackberry Smoke has some contractual media restrictions so we don’t have any photos of the band from the show. That’s okay, though, because it gave this reporter a chance to just enjoy a band I’ve wanted to see for over a decade.
Day one in the books, and today is a day for Rock! In fact, as I hit publish on this piece the gates will be opening (noon) and local rockers Spun will be taking the stage at 12:30. Nashville Rockers Stone Senate follow then Chad Borgen. Of course, after that some bucket lists will probably be getting check marks with FireHouse, Lita Ford and Winger. We’ve been informed that Ford & Winger won’t be doing any public or media appearances due to Covid concerns and we absolutely respect that.
We’ll be live all day, in fact, we’re about to tear out of the office and get there as quick as we can! Do yourself a favor and do the same!
Day passes are available CASH ONLY!!! at the gate!