The Rock White & Blue Music Festival, which is presenting the music for this year’s four-day Lincoln County Fair has assembled a varied array of popular contemporary musical styles, but one ensemble seems to stand out from the pack.
In contrast to the heavily electrified contemporary bands, Newport’s Thunder & Lightness World Beat Ensemble offers multicultural traditional and indigenous rhythm and song on handcrafted wooden hand drums and Native American flutes and it has been a featured element of Lincoln County Fair entertainment for nearly a decade.
The group features the Newport Community Drum Circle’s Chandler Davis on the drums and Osage Nation tribal member Terry Flier on the flutes, along with surprise special guests (there were thirteen drummers and other musicians on the stage for the Thunder & Lightness set at the fair last year). The group’s unique arrangements are inspired by the authentic rhythms of various ancient cultures including West African, Latin American, Native American, and Middle Eastern and the energy level tends to be high.
“I’m sure some people who are used to hearing a steady diet of contemporary rock, blues, jazz, hip hop, and country on popular media may wonder what we’re doing on the music schedule or think of our music as exotic or strange.” Davis said. “But it’s actually where the rhythms at the heart of most contemporary popular music came from. It’s the same music, really, just older by a few thousand years and closer to the primal emotional and biological origins of music.”
Thunder & Lightness performs on the Main Stage on Friday from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. Davis, who is 76, says it is “entirely coincidental” that Friday Is Senior Day at the fair.