Best Newcomer: Benjamin Booker
Benjamin Booker was working against a sleepy mid-afternoon time slot and a debut album that doesn't come out until August 19th, but the 25-year-old still managed to win over the crowd within four songs. "This ain't no folk show," he warned before bursting into tracks off that that bluesy, raucous new record. Songs like "Have You Seen My Son" showed off his guitarist chops (intact even as he rolled across the stage) and his cover of Otis Redding's "Shout Bamalama" showcased a weathered growl that you wouldn't expect to hear coming from somebody only a few years past the legal drinking age. "This is the first festival we've played at where everybody's not falling down drunk," he said. "It's nice." So, you know, he's also a flatterer. C.D.