The Monkey’s Tale, featuring the NUVO/Oranje stages, was the ideal place for passersby. With its main stage separated from the street only by a short iron fence, it was the perfect place to wander past, stop for a sample listen, and drop in if you felt like it. The performers were equally accessible and presented an appealing mix of music. Sugar Moon Rabbit (featured previously in Barfly) dominated the outdoor stage in the pre-sundown hours with a brand of screaming bar-jam rock that simply demands to be performed with a mic in one hand and a drink in the other (and the band was more than willing to oblige). As night fell, Dell Zell took over while the combination of Mariah Page, Sam Flinn and Nurvous Vurn delivered sweet, soulful renditions of a variety of standards, followed later by Kilgore Trout and Ryan Pruitt’s acoustic sets.
Whitney Coleman and her band performed perhaps the most electrifying performance I saw all weekend. By the time they completed their warm-up, I had a pretty good idea what to expect — some high-quality soulful crooning. I had no idea. I certainly didn’t expect the explosive rock-based approach they took to soul; the opener channeled the spirit of Hendrix so well they could have only gotten closer if they’d set a guitar on fire.