COTTAGE GROVE – Back to normal? Or perhaps a bit better than back to normal.

That’s the way life is nowadays from the viewpoint of local musicians. 

“There’s so much more gratitude, actually, so much more excitement,” Sequel keyboard player Geena Glaser said at The Axe & Fiddle. “When you long for something, you miss it. It’s more of a celebration.” 

RYLEIGH NORGROVE/CHRONICLE PHOTOGeena Glaser, lead singer and keyboardist of Sequel, performed Saturday at the Axe & Fiddle in Cottage Grove.

Glaser’s bandmate, guitar player Joshua Heying, said he could feel the excitement of Saturday’s music festivities as he got off the interstate. 

“It’s better now than it was pre-pandemic,” Heying said. “Geena is writing silly-good songs, I’m writing songs I’m happy with. And it’s just good to look out and see people’s faces again.” 

Sequel is one of four local bands that played Saturday. Gabe Schiffler and the Sugar Pine String Band opened things up at the Brewstation, followed by Alder Street. At the Axe & Fiddle, Sequel opened up for The Muddy Souls. 

RYLEIGH NORGROVE/ CHRONICLE PHOTO Alder Street's Jesse Lawton, the band's lead singer and mandolin player, performs at the Brewstation last Saturday.

The music was the culmination of a long day that began with the Oregon Gran Fondo bike ride and included a farmer’s market, sidewalk sales, and food and drink specials. 

Schiffler and his band play bluegrass. Alder Street also has the look of a bluegrass band, with a banjo, a mandolin, a fiddle and a stand-up bass. But Alder Street has a bunch of high-energy guys. It’s just their personality. 

“We’ve written slow songs, but people show up and want to dance, especially now,” lead singer and mandolin player Jesse Lawton said. “People want to jump around, we can’t be the only ones being idiots up here.” 

Lawton, who said Cottage Grove is always one of his favorite spots to play, said “There’s something really nice about people responding the way they have to our music.” 

Sequel put quite a spell on the crowd with its psychedelic groove sound, then picked up the pace with a “So Good” rocker near the end of its set. 

Even though it was a rainy night, Cottage Grove fans came out to support their local music. Both dance floors were busy. Families were having fun.

Heying might be right. 

It’s better on the other side.