October 5, 2010

FNBP: Spaten Oktoberfest & Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival

I know what you're thinking, because I'm thinking the same thing — It is not Friday and the events I'm about to pair have already passed. How inept can I get? Nevertheless, I move forward. 

Nearly everything I know about the history of bluegrass I learned from a Robert Earl Keen song. I think there was a time in college when I alienated myself from nearly everyone on my dorm room floor by listening to country and bluegrass, but honestly, I couldn’t have cared less. The DMXes of the world come and go, but there is an enduring factor to those old-timey sounds that trumps the need to conform musically with your peers. Although the particular beverage I enjoyed at the time of alienation was probably something on the lower end of the cost spectrum, for this Hardly Strictly pairing I'd like to bring out the gourmet (ironically, I sipped Modelo Especial for the bulk of the weekend). Meet Spaten Oktoberfest. 

Out of Munich, the origin of the fall festival, the Oktoberfest edition is subtly sweet and reminds me of a slightly cloudy Belgian. It is crisp and refreshing, but has a slightly strange aftertaste. The pairing goes well not only because of the timing, but also due to the strong associations I have with Oktoberfest, bluegrass and being outdoors. For live bluegrass I enjoyed the Bright Eyes front-man Conor Oberst, Bonnie Prince Billy and Robert Earl Keen Jr. on Saturday followed by Lucero, James McMurtry, Randy Newman, a fleeting moment of Elvis Costello, Yonder Mountain String Band and, finally, The Avett Brothers. I must admit, I was most impressed going in and coming out of the weekend with a longstanding QuickCrit favorite, Lucero. Absolutely worth the "early" start-time arrival.  In totality, certainly hardly, strictly bluegrass, but quite entertaining and especially so considering the event is free to all. 

Bluegrass, and derivatives thereof, to me is front-porch-music that seems to resonate with old souls and young ruffians alike. Oktoberfest was originally conceptualized around a horse race and agricultural show, so the event, and therefore the beer that bares the name, has rustic and outdoorsy undertones that parallel the stripped down appeal of bluegrass music. A great combo... any time of year.


awmercy said...

Dad is shaking his head, but it is so true: "Nearly everything I know about the history of bluegrass I learned from a Robert Earl Keen song."

Nightrain said...

What can I say... the guy tells a great story in song.

sandenuts said...

Glorious post my friend. Robert Keen is my favorite song writer of all time, and the fact you got to work him into a post is amazing, congrats.

Nightrain said...

Thanks buddy. Pick a concert, and let's hit it... Been too long.