Chicago's Dolly Varden brought to the stage a collection of pop-minded alt-country tunes that rang of times past, but held impact and meaning outside any sort of perceived nostalgia. Husband and wife duo Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen have a good thing going, but lead guitarist Mark Balletto may have stolen the set with his blistering work on both the lap steel and the Stratocaster.
Making their 4th appearance at Twangfest, much-beloved hometown boys the Bottle Rockets had no trouble stirring the crowd to attention. Frontman Brian Henneman stayed playful, telling a truncated (but still not very short) story about how he came about to own his Rickenbacker 360 and introducing a string of songs near the tail end as "the hits, if we had any."
The endcap of the evening came when the Bottle Rockets returned to the stage with Marshall Crenshaw. Pulling from various albums over his 30+ year career, the set provided a spirited crash course in the work of one of the godfathers of power pop. Yes, he closed out the set with "Someday, Somewhere", but not before saying much more.
All photos by Bryan Sutter.