First off, in amelioration of anything I'm about to say here, Westfest is a free event. No cover charge for anything. Free anything is good. Free entertainment is fantastic.
The caliber of last night's entertainment was largely very good. The Ladies of the Canyon were enjoyable if obscure, and Lynne Hanson's bluegrass-y set got everyone moving. It was country night, after all.
Which kind of begs the question why the between-show pieces were so truly out of character, and in one instance, downright horrible. A pair of DJ's kept the music going before and after the Ladies, but it was techno-house music... a genre that I enjoy but considering the fact that most of the crowd was there to see Prairie Oyster, it seemed an odd choice. As well, if quickly became obvious that they were behind schedule on the performances, yet kept up the DJ'ing for what seemed like an hour.
Worse was yet to come, in the shape of a "media artist" called Bear Witness. For about ten minutes, we were subjected to his version of art: scenes sampled from "cowboy and Indian" movies, highly graphically processed, and accompanied by odd sounds and more thumping techno. Afterwords, my husband looked at me, wide- eyed and bewildered, and commented "Well, there's ten minutes of my life I'll never get back." The entire crowd was embarrassed for the so-called artist, who came out on stage following his piece and made an awkward bow.
In all honesty, I suspect the only thing which got his foot in the door at all was the fact that he is Native, and therefore everything he does is automatically better than any non-Native "artist". I think we've gone too far in political correctness, here, my friends... and if art smells and looks like shit then we should call it so, no matter if it's created by a Native or not. The Emperor has no clothes, but we're all gagged by our (government's?) society's need to kowtow to the poor set-upon aboriginals to call it as we see it. Enough already.
Okay. Rant over.
Finally, 45 minutes late, Prairie Oyster came on. Long story short, due to noise by-laws they had to cut their set-list to shreds as they still had to have the concert over at 11, no matter what time they started at. They were disappointed as was the crowd; although the two other country acts were okay, we sure as hell didn't come to see them, let alone some whacked-out "media artist" and a couple of DJ's.
The concert, what little of it was left, was awesome. Russell DeCarl has still got it goin' on after all these years.