Palomino Festival Draws A Cross-Section Of Three Generations of Country, Outlaw & Americana REVIEW: Palomino Festival @ Brookside at the Rose Bowl 7/9/22
LOS ANGELES, CA- There’s not a lot of old in Los Angeles. Not like, really old. But Pasadena is old. Even on approach from Downtown LA, the 110 freeway – that increasingly bloated thoroughfare linking the port to the city center, a concrete snake that molts its skin every 3 to 5 years to make room for yet another lane – as the 110 exits Downtown and tapers off into the Arroyo Seco Parkway, it’s no exaggeration to say that you feel yourself moving not just through space but through time. Backwards. Because even the parkway is out of chronological place. It’s a twisted stretch of highway that zigzags and braids its way through the foothills in a manner so wildly inconsistent with the needs of modern automobile travel that it could only be a remnant of the whimsical minds of fine de siècle architects and engineers who saw no limits but only possibility. The possibility of trains up mountains for pure recreation, observatories to see the planets and the stars because why not touch god, and the construction of a stadium to hold 100,000 people at a time when Pasadena’s entire population was only 45,000.
There’s a sort of humble audacity to old Los Angeles. Build it, whether they come or not. And what hits hard, that I don’t think you see quite as much these days, is how this blend of humility and bravado is born of both manmade and natural creations. Oak groves, scrub brush, and ridgelines are the backdrop for the vaulted arches that have held the Colorado Street Bridge 150 feet in the air since 1912.
You feel all the old. And even if you’ve never been there before, it’s an old that feels familiar. A bubble of nostalgia on a hot summer day. Home to old homes and old money. Not the glitz and glamour of young Hollywood’s upstarts and parvenus but the real power brokers of the 1920s, the big-balled fucks that pulled the strings behind the false fronts and facades. Oil barons, not movie moguls.
But also ranchers. A place where a horse wouldn’t be entirely out of place on any given day. Because even when the trees that line the arroyo are in full bloom, it’s always a little hot and dusty. A conceptually adept backdrop for music that has always been a little nostalgic for simple pleasures and simple heartaches, sometimes even nostalgic for itself. A music born of love, longing, and dirt.
This is the Palomino Festival.
Willie Nelson and Kacey Musgraves, the old and the new, headlining a daylong lineup of country’s finest – depending on how you spell country, of course. And at a moment when so many feel like they’ve time warped through the past 3 years, running into people you thought you saw yesterday, but between yesterday and today they somehow got three years more fat or three years more skinny or three years more gray – or got a three year old child. At a time when time itself feels unhinged, there’s something comforting about those phenomena in life that feel continuous and lasting. The Rose Bowl celebrating its centenary, parkways and bridges, old ass oak trees, Willie fucking Nelson.
If there’s any artist in our lifetime that feels like he’s been there forever and always will be, who keeps us anchored to the passage of time by his remaining true through the decades to what he’s always been… it’s gotta be Willie. Is there anything more certain than Willie Nelson’s two braids, bearded smile, and guitar named Trigger? He transcends time in a way that breaks the rules of quantum physics. Because that’s what he’s always been, a rule breaker, an iconoclast, the primordial country outlaw. Wry wit and grit, filtered through the most effortless, delicatel, yet velvety rich voice.
That’s what we all showed up for and hot damn, the collective “we” was a beautiful thing to behold. Fresh off the farm shitkickers, hillbilly goths, 10-gallon dilettantes, actual cowboys, women in cutoff jean shorts and Stetsons, men in daisy dukes. sequined cowboy hats, rockabilly punks, shirtless young turks, kpcc nerds, a bit of surf hipsterrati sprinkled throughout. As the late morning turned noon, it wasn’t the fullest spectrum of people filing into the Rose Bowl and out onto the Brookside golf course. But it was about as broad a cross-section as you’ll see for the three generations of country/outlaw/Americana that were lined up at Palomino. The Pancho Stage and Lefty Stage stood nestled between the stadium and the San Gabriel Mountains — just close enough to each other that you could bounce back and forth and catch every band at the festival (if you so desired) but not so close that one artist would step on the other’s dick if set times overlapped. And no sooner were the gates open when Logan Ledger was already on stage serenading the early arrivals…
OFFICIAL VIDEO CLIPS