Ryan Lawson's folk/country amalgam is unique for several reasons: he doesn't have much twang (like folk), he strums a lot (like country, and his vocals knob is perpetually set to "holler." He falls in the space between the genres, and his singular vision is always exciting and interesting. His set at Sooner Theatre Stage was no different. He entertained the audience with his excellent tunes and charming stage presence, despite putting up with some unnecessary shuffling of other people's equipment during the front end of his set. It was a joy to just kick back and enjoy some foot-stompin' good tunes.
It was also a joy to see Laura Wiederhoeft and Kyle Reid at Sonder Music. I'll listen to anything Kyle Reid does — so this set was guaranteed on that front — but it was also Wiederhoeft's (Off Boyd Jazz) last Oklahoma set before a move to Wisconsin. This can't-miss set lived up to its promise, as Wiederhoeft (vocals) and Reid (acoustic guitar) trotted out originals by both, jazz standards and even a Reid instrumental on cigar box guitar (his latest venture). The originals were the most riveting, with Reid's instrumental being a jaw-dropping highlight. Wiederhoeft's voice was sultry and inviting as usual, shining brightest on a Reid-penned tune about (what else?) the craziness of being in love. It was a thoroughly calming and enjoyable set. Wiederhoeft will be missed.
The venue helped the atmosphere as well. Well lit and well-insulated from outside sound, the intimate venue was an excellent place to watch the duo work their magic. I hope they expand their role in the fest next year.
Because I knew I was going to miss Penny Hill Party on the main stage, I stopped back in at Opolis to watch Penny Hilary ("I am Penny Hilary, my band is Penny Hill," Pitchlynn said) acoustic. Her loose, meandering songs quite impressed me, exciting me for a 7" record that she said was coming out on Nice People this summer. Although her modus operandi included a flowing, easy pace, her best songs tightened up the formula a bit, allowing for immediately memorable melodies.