FORT MADISON — RiverFest 2018 was a well-crafted event and we must now hand out a few well-earned kudos.
We give the RiverFest four-day bash four stars out of five.
If you want five stars from us, you'll have to book Paul McCartney, Sting, U2 or Keith Richards doing an acoustic, feel-good solo act.
Or, wishfully, Elvis.
We don't yet have a name for our newly-minted award, but we're considering Festie Bestie, and the first one of those goes to organizer Charles Craft — and he has to share it with his team of volunteers.
Craft gets the Best Bestie for resurrecting RiverFest three years ago, steering it into a rock niche, adorning it with family-oriented activities and topping it off with several more-than-interesting events plus a number of competitions which, over time, will surely become embedded in the psyches of true southeast Iowans. And northern Missourians. And western Illinoisy folk.
Our gold-star-with-an-asterisk goes to Craft's right-hand woman, Shawna Ross, because she's exactly the kind of get-it-done-gun we'd hire to get the heavy lifting handled while we run around getting other things done via cellphone.
Ross adroitly gunned us down about something we wrote about a local band, and although we support all local bands and we believe what we said was spot-on, Ross is exactly the kind of person we want to see co-piloting a vehicle as dangerous and shaky a craft as a four-day rock festival.
No pun intended, Mr. Craft.
Other Besties go to Pop Evil, the Brandon Gibbs Band and Stumptown, with longtime favorites who include Jerad Harness on vocals and Nathan Gosnell kicking you-know-what on guitar.
We always favor local musicians over the big names but we can't give all of them a Bestie or the award will become meaningless.
Pop Evil gave our neck of the woods one of the best outdoor feel-good rock concerts in too many years; singer Leigh Kakaty and drummer Hayley Cramer led the band — and the crowd — into a Woodstock-induced frenzy unlike anything we've seen in two decades of reviewing top bands doing their thing.
Kakaty and sidekick Cramer optimize what rock and roll concert acts need to be in this jaded age: happy to be alive and happy to be lucky to be doing what they do.
Another gold star goes to local guys Chaz and the Channel Cats. Ross jumped on The Hawk Eye for calling them "old guys" and suggesting they were out of tune.
Gosh. They're old guys and they were out of tune. After 50-some years of being on stage being an old guy — oh, never mind.
Let's clarify: After more than 50 years of stage time with an out of tune guitar, we know how to identify one when we hear it.
However, these are awards and thus we give the Cats a very special nod and thank-you for putting in a full set in spite of the technical problems that got them off to a shaky start.
No old man jokes here, please.
Our final Bestie goes to Mike O’Neill and his sound crew for providing, once again, excellent high-end sound reinforcement for all the bands at RiverFest.
They'll all be back next year.
And we'll see you down there at Riverview Park.