There is nothing better than a Halloween festival in northern California. Hosted by Pet Project and High Sierra, the third annual Hangtown Halloween Ball was held at the El Dorado County Fairground in sunny Placerville, California.
The comfortable feeling this small town has makes this festival feel like home. The small festival has a huge positive energy that is lighthearted and family oriented. The size, cleanliness, and short beer lines make for a well run weekend. With play workshops, yoga and meditation workshops, Kid Zones and circus acts, there is a little something for everyone, during the day, to keep everyone happy.
But don’t be fooled by its size or comfy family feel because this little festival rages into the late night. Trying to pace your self is not an option with music this good. “Sprit the Marathon” was one piece of advice I received from festival attendee Whitney Pomeroy.
The night ended around 4am with a crushing DJ set by the magical Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth-Fiddle). He played some of my favorite old school funk on the ones and twos as I was in for the long haul.
The next night kicked off with one of my favorite local bands, 4 Piece Puzzle, blaring some hard funk. With the bass from the Moog rattling my tent, I was forced to make a cocktail and boogie on with the marching band dressed funksters.
When Peter Joseph Burtt and the King Tide took the stage, I couldn’t help but watch in awe. Infusing funk, blues, and soul, Peter Joseph Burtt interchanges his slide guitar with West African Kora. Something about the organic sound of a Kora really makes me happy.
After a bone crushing hard rock set by Anders Osborne, I was ready for some straight dance music. There is no better band than the perfectly named Pimps of Joy Time to get you dancing. These guys and gals went on to make the crowed erupt into the first major dance party of the weekend. With my rage face on I knew this was gonna great time.
The late night dance all ended with a set by NOLA funk masters Galactic. Notably, Galactics new front lady, Maggie Koerner, closed down the late night dance hall with the Rolling Stones cover Give Me Shelter that left my jaw on the floor.
Day 3 began with Hot Buttered Rum featuring bad ass fiddler Allie Kral. That gal (Kral) should get a medal for her performances that weekend. She showed those boys up and sat in with just about every other band that weekend. In fact one of the best parts of Hangtown was other musicians sitting in on just about every set. Mike Dillon, Marco Benevento, Tim Carbone, and Allie Krawl all had multiple guest appearances.
After some intense fiddle, I thought it was gonna be a relaxing music day as the California Honey Drops grooved me into a mellow mood. Just as I sat down these guys had mind F***** me into singing like I’m in the shower and dancing like a kid. Take notes children because the CHD will work a crowed.
I really looked forward to the Talking Heads cover band Naive Melodies and they did not disappointed. The crowed really enjoyed these classic sing-a-longs with a jam twist.
These guys are on the forefront of unique, progressive, bluegrass and proved why this is their festival through their overwhelming musicianship. They keep you guessing. One moment they have you singing every word at the top of your lungs dancing faster than you thought your legs could move and then swaying in a massive group hug filled with your closest friends.
RRE just makes you want a little more.
As the weekend flew by, and the days molded into each other, I couldn’t stop smiling. Sunday fun-day came together with a musical line up that was a perfect way to end the weekend. Elephant Revival, Greensky Bluegrass and Railroad Earth are just what you need after a long weekend of intense dance funk with your friends.
What really keeps me coming back to Hangtown (besides 3 sets of Railroad Earth) is the size. The stages are close to everyone, it’s easy to find your friends, zero dust, soft grass and paved walkways. You can go to your camp and back and not miss a thing. There are clean showers, real bathrooms (f-ports potties,) almost no lines, and a grocery store right next to the fairgrounds.
Along with everyone dressing up in silly Halloween attire, the intimacy of the venue really makes the overall feeling a Railroad Earths Family festival.
Without a doubt Hangtown is the best kept festival secret.