BILLINGS - It was hard to beat the huge crowd singing to two hours of John Fogerty songs Saturday, but Lucinda Williams had fans yelling, “I love you, Lucinda,” by her second song Sunday at Magic City Blues.
For many of the faithful Magic City Blues fans, this year’s lineup was a dream year.
“Lucinda is the best thing that ever happened in Billings since Bob Dylan played the Shrine,” said Cass Sullivan who took in Williams’ set from the front row.
Williams opened with “Righteously,” and an early highlight was a stripped-down version of “Drunken Angel.”
This year’s Magic City Blues lineup was diverse enough — with a blues-heavy Friday night, country rock and pop on Saturday, and alternative rock and blues on Sunday — that it brought newcomers in and impressed the regulars.
Promoter Tim Goodridge raved Sunday about the “fabulous weather, music and fans.”
“Oh my gosh, yes. This is our best lineup yet,” Goodridge said.
He’d been working on getting Fogerty here since 2005 and for years at bringing in Williams.
“It’s funny how this year, the acts fell into place. We had 11 rejections this year, but everything always works out,” Goodridge said.
Saturday night’s crowd was estimated at 6,000, which is one of the largest in the festival’s history. Sunday’s crowd was smaller and mellower, with many families stretched out on blankets or dancing in the grass to opener Los Lobos.
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Chris Woolston and his 22-year-old son Will took in their first MCB show, running from their car to hear their favorite Los Lobos song, “How Will the Wolf Survive.”
“Can you believe it, we’ve never been before,” Chris Woolston said.
Opener Edward David Anderson played a cigar box guitar and a kazoo during part of his set. He also squeezed in a few covers, including “Gentle on My Mind” and a Hendrix song.
Los Lobos played polkas and Tex-Mex songs sung in Spanish, which were a hit with the dancing crowd. They finished with their signature song, “La Bamba,” which they turned into a mash-up with “Good Love.”
One Pryor family took in all three nights of Magic City Blues from the front row, including Buddy Guy’s set on Montana Avenue on Friday, John Fogerty’s on Saturday and Lucinda Williams on Sunday.
“We’ve been standing in the heat since 5 p.m. every night, but it’s been worth it, especially seeing Buddy Guy,” said Beau Fritzler. “He’s the closest I’ll ever get to seeing Jimi Hendrix.”
Beau and his brother Sean Fritzler have been to Magic City Blues a couple of times before, but this year, they decided to bring Sean’s two kids, Brenden and Camille, as well as Kissy Bird Rattler.
Rattler handed a pair of hand-beaded earrings to vocalist Kelley Hunt during Hunt’s set Friday. Rattler said they were designed in the Blackfoot style.
“She came right out on the edge of the stage, and I handed them to her,” Rattler said. “She was so happy to have them. That’s the perks of being in the front row.”