There are always a myriad of performers that I am excited about, but the one act I like to see consistently every year at the festival is Gillian Welch. Gillian Welch consists of (duh) Gillian Welch (vocals, banjo, guitar) and David Rawlings (vocals and guitar). Rawlings is a phenomenal guitar player, with quick runs and showman's style. Still, he fairly rarely speaks onstage. Maybe that's why the "group" is called Gillian Welch and his name is not included except in liner notes, despite that he has cowritten almost every song on their records. Once I saw them play at The Fillmore and David took lead vocals at one point as they played a fantastic, slow and sad version of "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." I loved how unexpected it was, not just that David was singing, but his song of choice. Check out a similar performance of the song in Nashville:
Did I mention that Gillian Welch's music is fairly pure, old school country? The songs are meant to sound as though they were written ages ago in the old time-y South, when they were actually written within the last 10 years or so by a California girl and a New England guy who have now planted themselves in Nashville. Their style is super Americana-y and my favorite aspect of their songs are the tight harmonies they include in almost every track. When I hear Gillian and David's songs I am also reminded of how important melodies and hooks are to songwriting, and how much most music these days is lacking either of those elements.