A tumbleweed bouncing along the flats, bouncing toward no particular destination. The shack in the distance, the one with no conceivable residents, running water or address. That little arc of dust blown over the offramp near the semi-truck turnout.
These things have no melody or timbre, and yet all of them and more are present in the uniquely reedy voice of Jimmie Dale Gilmore, who plays this week with his supergroup, the Flatlanders, at Santa Rosa's EarleFest. Not to discredit fellow members Butch Hancock and Joe Ely, but Gilmore's voice truly is the star of the band; a hypotenuse in a triangle of style that includes Willie Nelson and Iris DeMent, evocative not just in lyric but mere tone.
With the lineup including Paul Thorn Band, Chuck Prophet & the Mission Express, Audrey Auld and the Jug Dealers, this year's EarleFest is a slam-dunk for Americana lovers. Hosted each year by the Earle Baum Center of the Blind, the outdoor fest includes lawn seating, food booths, a stellar vista on the fringes of the Laguna de Santa Rosa and the warm feeling of benefiting a good cause. Ride the dusty trails on Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Earle Baum Center of the Blind. 4539 Occidental Road, Santa Rosa. Noon-7pm. $25-$30. 707.523.3222.