The Lotus Fest was as awesome as one could have expected. I saw 15 artists/groups that were all excellent but a few shows stood out to me. Here are my top five:
1) Mucca Pazza
This self-proclaimed nerd fest was the surprise of the festival for me. Last year I had seen March Fourth Marching Band and their parade was amazing (which it was again this year). However, Mucca Pazza's stage show was hilarious, high energy, involving, and unique. My friend called it "eye candy:" a great description. Each member was constantly moving around and, while everyone obviously had the same comedic sense, they each found their own way to express it. Excellent show!
2) Little Cow
With a guy looking exactly like Yanni on the bass I was at first skeptical, but with a description of Hungarian Ska/Rock/Gypsy, I was ready. This band was silly, fun, and very danceable. They sang mostly in English, used puppets, and featured an accordion! Great fun!
3) The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
From Indiana's own Brown County, The Reverend Peyton, his wife, Washboard Breezy, and his brother Jayme (who plays a drum set complete with a 10-gallon pickle bucket for a floor tom) brought the tent down with some boot-stomping fun. One of the more committed acts I've ever seen in terms of style and performance, the Big Damn Band was musically interesting (especially the Reverend's good slide/fingerstyle guitaring) and hilarious. My favorite song was based on a true story appropriately titled: "Your Cousin's on COPS." Go see this band live when they come near you, which they probably will.
4) Sogbety Diomande's West African Drum and Dance Company
Members who once were part of the Ivory Coast's national ballet, Sogbety Diomande's West African Drum and Dance Company were amazing musicians and dancers. Doing traditional masked performance, the event was highlighted by an elaborately costumed stilt-walker doing flips, pop-ups, and any other physical thing that I can't do without stilts. The video doesn't show what the group performance was like but gives a glimpse at the drumming abilities and style.
5) Etugen Ensemble
A four-piece ensemble playing traditional Mongolian repertoire on two-stringed horse-head fiddles and a plucked zither plus their amazing overtone throat singing. A friend of mine called their performance "transcendent" and I felt it was quite compelling even though I know nothing about the tradition/music.
Honorable Mentions: James Hill and Anne Davison: A ukulele virtuoso (yes, you read correctly) and a cellist playing bluegrass, jazz, etc. and Pistolera: a Latin-Alt Folkklorico group that rocked the house.