Rainin' nothin' but the blues

The amazing thing about the blues -- and all wistful, gut-wrenching music, for that matter -- is it ends up making you feel not sad, but just right. And Thursday night was a fine example of how some wailing licks and plaintive vocal tricks can help it all shake down.

Blue Rodeo reminded everyone why they're Canada's Poster Band. By turns playful, sentimental and darkly soulful, they held the crowd fully in sway during their varied set. A few new tunes, due out this fall, added spark and surprise to a welcome roster of familiar numbers.

Who else can tunefully compare a broken relationship to an iceberg adrift at sea? Hell, they ain't got no icebergs in Texas, so stop lookin' there.

Coyote, who captured several more ace images at all four stages, summed up Blue Rodeo nicely: "Reliably excellent."

Lucky Peterson and wife Tamara revved things up on the River Stage (hey, you can actually see the river before sunset), with a rollicking, borderline campy but greatly inspiring run through classics including Proud Mary. I haven't seen a crowd having more fun in a long time.

Throw in some new sounds from Michael Nau and his band Page France, a dose of the Strong Persuader himself, Robert Cray, plus rain, rain that stayed away another day, and you've logged another worthy notch on that guitar indeed.

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