So the second time we saw Opal Creek was at the Oregon Country Fair, exactly a week after the first time we saw them. This time their bass player was a girl, in a cowboy hat. Nice. We saw them playing at the Shady Grove stage at the OCF, which was a much more intimate venue: a small natural amphitheater, with trees on one side and a dusty path on the other, with the creek on the other side of that. They put on another excellent show.
But the big serendipity of it all was that we showed up early to get a patch of ground for Opal Creek and ended up catching the second half of the Crow Quill Night Owls' set, and that was just as confoundingly awesome as you could possibly imagine.
Now, I'm on record on this here blog as having an abiding tolerance for hokum; the CQNOs are loving curators of hokum, wild-eyed bodiers-forth of it. Picture R. Crumb's Cheap Suit Serenaders if they were fronted by Captain Beefheart, imagine if Roxie Hart (in Renee Z's knobby-kneed version) had a jug band, conjure up the mental image if you will of Gentleman Jim dressed like a gas station attendant and thumping on a tub to accompany a troop of liberated Sasquatches who learned everything they know about music from reading the names of '20s orchestras from the labels of shattered 78s: the New Orleans Feetwarmers, the Red Onion Jazz Babies, the Mississippi Sheiks, the Washboard Ragamuffins, the Golden Pheasant Hoodlums.
All of which is to say that they were as visual as they were musical, a conceptual art schtick as much as a performing unit, and while that sort of thing should rub me the wrong way, they were absolutely perfect. I loved them.