LIBERTY -- Highways figure prominently in many blues songs, so, whether intentional or not, Ogden Friends of Acoustic Music's choice of venue for its first roots and blues festival is appropriate.
The thirty minute drive from Ogden to North Fork Park in Liberty takes you through some beautiful Ogden Valley countryside on Highway 126, and puts you in just the right frame of mind to absorb the down-to-earth, soulful music of the first annual Ogden Roots and Blues Festival.
There wasn't much shade to be had at North Fork Park. Many festival-goers chose to bring umbrellas and pop-up canopies, but the light breeze and 80-degree weather on Saturday didn't make such preparations an absolute necessity. In fact, after getting settled in, it was easy to forget any discomfort that may have come from sitting in the sun.
With a pulled pork barbeque sandwich from Miss Kitty's Outlaw BBQ in one hand, a cup of Dirty Blonde Ale from Roosters in the other, a cool breeze, and the sound of great blues music reverberating off mountain walls all around you, it's easy to justify the drive to the festival.
Suzy Dailey, owner of Grounds for Coffee at 30th Street and Harrison Boulevard, agreed as she made a mocha chiller for a thirsty customer. "You can't beat the splendor of this place. The beauty up here is incredible. It's a little harder to get to, but the payoff is great. The sound is incredible."
The music moved Linda and Jeff Anderson of Brigham City to get up and dance during The Legendary Porch Pounders' set. Linda stopped dancing long enough to say she preferred the North Fork festival to the OFOAM group's Fort Buenaventura festival. "This one's prettier. It's cooler here, too. We love the blues and we love the Porch Pounders."
Elaine Cobos, a volunteer for the festival, said the venue added a lot of appeal. "This is so spectacular out here. I mean, people were seeing moose on the ridge yesterday."
Jackie Slaughter, another volunteer, said Saturday's crowd was much larger and much livelier than Friday's crowd. If the trend continues, Sunday should be the best day of the festival.
A children's art camp was set up on one side of the festival grounds to keep kids busy with painting and making bubble wands out of pipe cleaners.
Brandon Bingham, general manager of Roosters in Ogden, said the Roots and Blues festival has a great vibe that is slightly different than other OFOAM events. "I love this setting. It brings people (who) come up and camp out longer. They hang out all day. They sleep over. They're up early with you drinking coffee. It's just a great scene."
Bingham and the Roosters crew were prepared to keep the party going with a selection of beer served in either biodegradable plastic cups or reusable metal cups to keep the festival as environmentally friendly as possible. Bingham also said he was serving up a special beer you can't get in liquor stores yet, called High Point Honey Wheat.
But blues music is deeper than just a good party. Watermelon Slim perhaps said it best in the prelude to his set. "Blues music is wild and free, but it's also somber."
Watermelon Slim asked the audience to remove their hats to pay tribute to fallen soldiers and played Taps on his harmonica before launching into the rest of his set.
If any music genre is going to make you feel deeply connected to the human condition, it could be blues music. If any venue is going to make you feel deeply connected to nature, it might be North Fork Park. Even though there's dust and very little shade, the combination of blues and nature is sublime.