by Kat McReynolds
When you see three didgeridoos set up onstage at a concert, stick around. Friday’s RiverMusic festival certainly proved this to be a good choice. Three-piece global-Americana group The Billy Sea played a free performance on July 11 for the third segment of RiverMusic’s five-part summer concert series.
Early on, front man and slide guitar guru Billy Cardine warned the crowd that he would require several “French Broad River welcomes” for the multitude of guest performers he had planned for the evening. Cardine also demonstrated his command of the slide guitar, sharing the spotlight with bandmates Jake Wolf (six-string bass) and River Guerguerian (percussion), along with the promised guest musicians, including Jeff Sipe (percussion), Bill Bares (piano), Andy Pond (banjo) and John Vorus (you guessed it – didgeridoo). The virtuosity and stage presence of each collaborator contributed to a very relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere throughout the nearly four-hour jam session.
Friday’s full moon hung directly above the RiverMusic crowd, providing the perfect visual accompaniment to Cardine’s nature-infused soundscape. The slide guitarist’s reverence for the celestial backdrop was solidified when he struck up a conversation with tubers on the French Broad, saying if he wasn’t on stage he’d “rather be out there on the river.”
Meanwhile, every nod or glance between Guerguerian and Sipe created a musical conversation that was universally accessible and observably appreciated by the swaying crowd.
RiverMusic’s remaining 2014 lineup includes headliners The Artimus Pyle Band on Friday, Aug. 29, and Fruition on Friday, Sept. 12. Performances take place at the RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 144 Riverside Drive, with gates opening at 5 p.m. and music going until 10 p.m.
For more information on upcoming RiverMusic events, visit riverlink.org.