Photos by Sean Grinstead
This year celebrated the 23rd annual High Sierra Music Festival from July 4th-7th in Quincy, Ca. and the 2nd year in a row that it sold out. I finally made it to the Ultimate Intimate Festival Experience! It should be at the top of your wish list of festivals and summer hangouts. It has more music than you can see, a beautiful location, easy camping, in a very organized and thought out
atmosphere. There is a kids area, yoga, showers, art and music workshops, and a ton of new friends to hang and share camp meals with. Everybody seems to be enjoying themselves in the crowd, the musicians, and even the staff and volunteers. Bring ear plugs! Some of your new friends will stay up late and wander around at odd hours. The shuttle drivers, security team, backstage hosts, and the vendors are all very nice people who really make your festy time go well. Thank you High Sierra!
Thursday July 4th
It was definitely America’s Birthday and people dressed in every conceivable combination of the Red, White and Blue and Stars and Stripes. No fire works were allowed due to the fire hazards but celebrating America through our diverse love of music is just as good. I missed some of the opening acts due to our travel schedule and setting up our camp site. It’s a little overwhelming for the first time.
The Tumbleweed Wanderers-Big Meadow Stage
Jeremy Lyon: vocals, guitar, harmonica
Zak Mandel-Romann: vocals, bass
Rob Fidel: vocals, banjo, guitar, harmonica
Patrick Glynn: keys, mandolin, melodica, glockenspiel
Daniel Blum: drums, percussion
I first heard them from their free EP download that they have available on their website. The show they put on was very different from what they put out on record. They rock way more onstage than there EP song choices would suggest. The recording is more lyrical and smooth and the live show is rougher and has more jamming guitar solos and crowd interaction. The first day included a Janice Joplin cover and they did get people moving in the heat to start the day’s activities. I wish I got their whole set in and not just half.
The Shook Twins-The Grandstand Stage
Katelyn Shook- Guitar, Slide, Glockenspiel, Mandolin, Vocals
Laurie Shook- Banjo, Guitar, vocals, beatboxing, bass, looping, ocarina, djembe
NikoDaoussis- mandolin, electric guitar, electric drums, bass, vocals
Kyle Volkman- Upright and electric Bass
Anna Tivel- fiddle, mandolin, vocals
The Shook Twins are identical twin sisters that have very tight, great vocal harmonies in the alternative folk genre. They play a more pop style of Bluegrass that is more lyrical than long jam based. They covered “Go Home” by Lucius after being inspired by their SXSW performance and although I have not heard it before it was a very nice version.
The Revivalists-Big Meadow Stage
Dave Shaw – Vocals/Guitar
Zack Feinberg – Guitar
George Gekas – Bass
Ed Williams – Pedal Steel Guitar
Rob Ingraham- Saxophone
Andrew Campanelli – Drums
Michael Girardot – Keyboards/Trumpet
The Revivalists are a big sounding groove/funk band that have a big sound that cranks out New Orleans dance and rattle your bones grooves. Both times they played you could hear them from a distance and tell they were high energy. The second day we could name songs they were playing form our campsite.
Miner-Big Meadow Stage
Justin Miner, Kate Miner, Jeremy Miner, Amanda Koosed, Justin Krook, DaveSchechtman
Miner is an indie folk-rock band from Los Angeles that plays songs that are upbeat and lyrical. I didn’t catch much of their set but they had some fun danceable tunes that they played to a hot, tired crowd. Kate has the better voice of the band and I think they should highlight her more than they do.
Allen Stone-Big Meadow Stage
The band came out one member at a time on to the stage and played until everyone was out. The piano player, bass, guitar, drums, keys and then Allen was last. It was a cool build up. They are a soul/R&B band out of Washington. I listened to most of the set from the campground. I thought it was a little too “love everybody” kinda forced and didn’t feel natural to the show. Too much of a trying entertainer for me. It’s definitely a band show and not a one man act.
Robert Plant Presents the Sensational Space Shifters-Grand Stand Stage(headliner)
1. Babe I’m Gonna Leave You
2. In the Mood
3.Tin Pan Valley
7.Going to California
8. The Enchanter>African Rap>Freedom, I’m Free
9. Please Read the Letter
11.Fixin’ to Die
Encore: “Wow! What a gig!” Robert Plant
14. Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down
15. Rock & Roll
Robert Plant-Vocals, Hoop Drum
_Liam “Skin” Tyson-Guitar
JuldehCamara-African instruments & vocals
This was one of the highlights of the festival that I came to see. The backstage and photo pit was closed to everyone. The VIP pit was really crowded. Robert Plant was in a really good mood and made jokes throughout the night about Britain repressing us and his career in bluegrass and soft rock. He came up to the monitors and did his classic RP pose and then laughed at himself. All the Zeppelin tunes have been tweaked slightly but sounded great. Robert puts his world travels into his music like an eastern twist to Black Dog. He is still the master and I enjoyed his show very much. The band is very tight and they work well together. The show was slightly under the 2 hour scheduled time but it didn’t seem short to me.
North Mississippi Allstars-Vaudeville Stage
Luther Dickinson – Guitar, Vocals
Cody Dickinson – Drums
Chris Chew – Bass
I downloaded a show of these guys so I could check them out before I saw them. It really didn’t do them justice at all. Very high energy, they change instruments, Cody plays keys with one hand and drums at the same time and Luther ran around as far as his guitar chord would let him. They are like Canned Heat in that they are an encyclopedia of the blues and licks.
Friday July 5th
Wandered around to get the hang of the place and then saw some of the same bands again. The Tumbleweed Wanderers started the day out well. They played a slightly different set at the Vaudeville Tent at 1:15 and I got to meet with them after the show. They felt it was one of their best sets and it was definitely well received by the crowd. Heard Nataly Dawn from the campsite, and she did an acoustic set with some nicely written songs. The Rivalists and the North Mississippi Allstars were a repeat of excellence in crowd pleasing covers of rock and blues. Houndmouth is great band that does mostly originals and covered the Jerry Garcia Band version of “I Shall Be Released” incredibly!
Although not really similar in genre, Leftover Salmon was before Primus on the Grandstand Stage. This was my first time seeing both of these bands and I love when festivals have different kinds of acts in a weekend. Leftover Salmon is a mix of rock, bluegrass, and jam band. They played extremely well and did “Aquatic Hitchhiker” “Gulf of Mexico” “Sing up to the Moon” “High Country” “Liza” “Down in the Hollow” “Breaking Through”.
Primus was so killer! “American Life” was the opener with plenty of America on the video screen. They did “Tommy the Cat” “John the Fisherman” “Southbound Pachyderm” and “Internal Consumption Engine” to name a few. The stage was very dark and the played in front of a video screen that played weird video clips to the music. 2 enormous astronauts with video faces were on either side of the stage. It sucked that it was so dark that you could not see Les Claypool play. Maybe that’s the plan? I loved their show so much. They are so talented and kinda weird! Skerik sat in to play sax.
Fell asleep listening to the John Scofield Uberjam Band in camp. Always something going on.
Saturday July 6th
Started the day out with American Jubilee at the Big Meadow Stage. For a big Deadhead it sure has taken me a long time to see Phil’s sons play. Mike Pascale played bass for them on this gig. They are a cool band and I liked their Bruce Springsteen cover of “Atlantic City” the most. They have a more rock sound than some jam bands and Ross James is a great guitarist! Brian Lesh, Scott Padden, Alex Koford are the rest of the band for HSMF.
Moksha played next and I went to see them on the recommendation of a friend. Very groovy and flowing music that had everyone dancing and moving despite the heat. Skerik and Jennifer Hartswick sat in to give them more of their sound from their albums. They have a fan base that follows them and adds a costume and fairy like feel to the show. Lots of fuzzy, frilly, colorful outfits and people sing along to their songs.
If you don’t know he is the son of Willie Nelson and has played in Willie’s Family Band for a long time. He writes his own music and has been touring on his own for a few years. He is a good song writer and much heavier in to rock than country. His voice is familiar but his playing is much harder and louder by nature. He played on Saturday and Sunday and rocked both sets really hard. Reminds me of the old days of Neil Young & Crazy Horse and turned up loud.
The Greyboy Allstars-Grandstand Stage
Kinda jazz/funk improv from the masters. Really talented musicians that are crazy good in their field. Definitely out of my league in description but I know talent when I see it. I have never heard anything like them, although I have seen Karl Denson sit in and play at Bob Weir’s TRI studio with Slightly Stoopid.
Thievery Corporation was mad packed with people at the gate to get in. I skipped them and went back to my tent before the Infamous Stringdusters came on. Turned into my undoing. The screw in my glasses came out and then the lens popped out. I can’t see shit without them and couldn’t get them fixed, so I threw a fit and went to sleep. I could hear them from my tent. Serves me right, they sounded awesome and I missed it. I didn’t get to see the first night of Anders Osborne either for the same reason.
Sunday July 9th
Started the day off with the Gospel Session with Jelly Bread as the backup band. Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz from ALO and Bo Carper of New Monsoon played and sang for the set. Carolyn Wonderland played on several of the songs when she wasn’t too hot from the heat. She had to play again in the afternoon. There were some other players in the band that I don’t know. I don’t know who was on fiddle and trumpet and there was also a 2nd drummer. They played “Deep Blue Sea” “Going to See the King” & Bob Marley’s “Thank You Lord”.
I went to see Lukas Nelson & the Promise of the Real again. Different tunes, same energy and awesome set. He did cover “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” & the Grateful Dead’s “Althea” plus “Sympathy for the Devil” & “LA Woman”. I heard that Jennifer Hartswick sang “Amazing Grace” in a workshop that killed and then coincidentally Lukas did an instrumental version a few minutes later.
I missed some of the music trying to get all the stuff out of the campgrounds. I had a long drive and I wanted to get out while I could still drive awake. I did get to catch some of Anders Osborne’s last set. I was glad I did. What a slide guitarist! He let a note feedback for what had to be close to 3 minutes. Really amazing. Ross James from, American Jubilee joined him for 3 songs (that I saw) including Franklin’s Tower and Neil Young’s “Down by the River” was a barn burner of a guitar exchange. I left as they sang about the 4 winds blowing us safely home again. Made me smile!