The Borderland Music & Arts Festival lives up to the hype and delivers two amazing days of unique music and arts with craft beer, culture, artisans and food.
By Thomas S. Orwat Jr.
East Aurora, NY – The inaugural, two-day long, Borderland Music & Arts Festival on the grounds of Knox Farms State Park, came to a glorious close on Sunday evening. With this being the very first music festival of its kind in Western New York, nobody, including the promoters, really knew what to expect. But what we got was a well-organized, weekend of great music, food and family fun.
Although the weather was a bit more fall-like on Saturday, it was absolutely beautiful on Sunday, with warm temperatures and a bright sunny sky. This unique grassroots festival featured an eclectic music lineup, which included: Sam Roberts Band, Sam Bush Band, and The Revivalist on Saturday, and then John Oates and the Good Road Band, Margo Price and Oteil & Friends on Sunday. Although attendance was a bit light on Sunday, about 2500, Saturday had a crowd size of over 3500.
John Oates, the legendary guitarist/vocalist/songwriter from the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame duo – Hall & Oates, hit the stage at 5:15pm, and performed an intense hour-long set, proving that he is a star of his own. His incredible backing band, the Good Road Band, features some of the best studio musicians in Nashville: Sam Bush on mandolin, Russ Pahl on pedal steel, Guthrie Trapp on electric guitar, Steve Mackey on bass, Nathaniel Smith on cello and Josh Day on drums.
Oates and the Good Road Band’s performance concentrated mostly on material from Oates early 2018 release, ‘Arkansas.,’ which is a ten track throwback to early 20th century American music, but re-imagined with a bit of a modern twist. Oates describes “Arkansas,” as “Dixieland dipped in bluegrass and salted with Delta blues.”
Oates was in good spirits and seemed very comfortable leading the band. His finger picking on his acoustic guitar was impressive, and a skill that he doesn’t utilize often while performing with Hall & Oates.
Oates teased the audience by stating, “We are going to play some hits…from the 1930’s.” He then explained that his performance is all about the music and is real. “Don’t expect to see me riding in on a white horse. You’re not at a Celine Dion concert,” he joked.
Midway through the show, Oates switched to his electric guitar for “Digging Deep” and played it for the remainder of the show. “Edge of the World,” followed with an intense guitar solo from Guthrie Trapp.
For those in the audience wanting to hear classic Hall & Oates hits, Oates made them wait under the last three songs of his set.
“And now one from the 80’s,” Oates said, as he proceeded with the massive 1981- Hall & Oates hit – “I Can’t Go for That (No Can Do).” The crowd responded with a loud cheer, and many started dancing near the stage. He kept everyone on their feet when “Sarah Smile” was performed next.
For the final song of the evening, Oates explained that he went to Jamaica in 1982 and wrote a song that had a reggae style to it. But, Daryl Hall didn’t think it should be recorded that way.
“This is “Maneater,” the way it would have sounded, if I didn’t listen to Daryl Hall.” Oates then performed a very cool and convincing reggae style version of the classic pop hit.
After Oates played the final note, he addressed the audience and stated, “This is a great festival! Thank you for having me! I hope you have many more great years!”
Oates was right, it was a great festival and the sound mix was crystal clear. It will be interesting to see what the organizers and promoters will plan for next year. They certainly have set the bar high, already.
For more on the Borderland Music & Arts Festival, please visit borderlandfestival.com
Also read our recent interview with John Oates here.