By Dave Cantor
The Oregon-based folk singer was just one of 30 players on the bill as part of a three-day celebration of Harvest Records’ 10th anniversary. Ashevillean Angel Olsen, Steve Gunn — who performed in a trio that included Black Twig picker Nathan Bowles — and Wooden Wand did sets amid a clutch of eclectic acts. Sir Richard Bishop appeared as well, playing solo, and tossed out a few references to his years as 1/3 of the Sun City Girls, a noisy and adventurous rock ensemble dating to the ’80s.
The island’s hot and sunny day might have precluded a larger crowd from gathering for earlier sets — and sedated the folks there all day. But by the time Hurley took the stage at about 9:10 p.m. (his sound check functioning as the beginning of the set) enough people had amassed to properly fill out the field in front of the main outdoor stage. Performing several songs accompanied by a fiddler, Hurley began moving through his unwieldy catalog.
His song, “Portland Water,” which included the couplet: “Oh, the call up to Portland on the public telephone/Said it sure is rainin’ here in the state of Oregon.”
It began to rain. Surely, the songwriter doesn’t possess any celestial powers, but sometimes coincidences like that are a bit hard to dismiss.
The rain fell harder. Some folks began to leave. But most of those in attendance huddled closer to the stage, sang with choruses they knew and hollered out song requests. The performance maybe wasn’t as magnetic as Lee Fields’ funky set or The Bassholes‘ Ohio-inspired downer rock stuff. But there wasn’t another Saturday set where you’d be able to see the New Zealanders from The Clean laugh at amusing lyrics from another player, or Anna Fox Rochinski, Quilt’s lead singer, mill around in a sea of locals and out-of-towners.