Music For the Mountain – 2018 Sound Summit |

Music For the Mountain – 2018 Sound Summit

September 16, 2018

Photos and Review by Linda Tulett 

Music feeds the soul. The soul feeds the spirit that awakens the mind. The mind, if in the right set, feeds the body into action. The action? To protect the Mountain. For years, government funding has dwindled, which led to this event, first held in 2013 called Mount Tam Jam, that JBO attended and included Cake, Taj Mahal Trio, Galactic, Mike Farris & The Roseland Rhythm Review, and SF local act Danny Glick and the Hell Yeahs. That event was set in celebration of the Sidney B. Cushing Memorial Theater’s 100th anniversary and was sponsored by the 101-year old Tamalpais Conservation Club as a way of helping to keep the Park open to visitors. Then, and now, all proceeds (aside from operating costs) from tickets to t-shirts, raffle, food and beverage will go to support the Park. Also, as in the past, there was an eco-village where you could learn about the history of Mount Tamalpais and the area’s other natural and cultural history, the Theatre and Conservation Club, and Park Rangers on hand to answer questions about trails and wild-life.

Starting out with an up and coming local act from Mill Valley, we were treated to the young and fierce story telling, angst filled Meels. Mill Valley singer Amelia Einhorn is behind the indie-pop vibe. Ya gotta arrive on the Mountain early to catch the first act, hitting the stage at 11:00 am and leaving just a short 30 or 40 minutes later. I slipped in just to catch the end of one song and the completeness of their last, “Time to Rise,” which has appeared on ABC television. To hear more of her sound, you can find her on Soundcloud and social media sites (it appears as though no active website for now).

With about a 30 minute break between acts, there was just enough time to get into the shade to rest a spell or to roam the vendor area and check out the auctions set to raise even more funds for the Mountain. Signed guitars, rock and roll images, and other wares donated by local artists and musicians who are eager to help protect what nature offered to us.

Following Meels was another local act, Con Brio, who hail out of San Francisco with their jazz infused R&B soul sound. Their sound reminded me a bit of Jamiroquai or even a touch of Sly & The Family Stone here and there…. With two recordings out since forming in 2014, their name means “with spirit,” and their music addresses life, inequality, and capitalism and, most recently, speaks to the Black Lives Matter movement; their messages are all presented in their funkified sound. Their raw energy sweeps you away and the charisma and impressive movements of leader, Ziek McCarter had a touch of that James Brown persona that the audience can’t help but to be enamored by. Fast feet, jumps, splits, and well, even back-flips that I was not prepared for! Taking the bus ride down the mountain after the festival, I over heard some fans chat about Ziek and knowing, by his change of shoes, what was to come. I did notice he had left the stage and, well, silly me thought it was a sign the set was done, to be surprised to see him appear back on stage – with sneakers on that I didn’t notice through my lens until culling the images down…. next time, Mr. McCarter, I will be ready for you!

Nikki Lane, hailing out of Nashville, was the southern sound to rock out on top of the Mountain. Sounding old school, her voice is classic, in the likeness of Patsy Cline, Tammy Wynette, or Loretta Lynn; full and warm, with a little heartache. After breaking a string during the second song, “Send the Sun,” she took the mic from the stand and told us a story. She started playing music 10 years earlier; it was the anniversary of the start of her career which happened when she kicked her man out for cheating. As the song goes, he didn’t “Man Up.” There was a song about a girl she didn’t like, called, “Big Mouth,” and, her only cover song,“Why You Been Gone So Long” by Jessie Colter, suited her just as if her own. She also antiques for the “other half” of her living, and happily pointed to the pedal steel she found, amongst two others, at an estate sale in Montana. Claiming to have once purchased 92 pounds of old rock and roll t-shirts from a thrift store, she was particularly giddy over the one she was wearing – a vintage Grateful Dead Winterland 1978 t-shirt gifted to her from Rob Bleestein (SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead and Pearl Jam channels) that had her freaking out because it has her birthday on the back. As an antique improves in value over time, I have a feeling Miss Nikki Lane will do the same. So comfortable up on stage, songs are raw and real, her performance was classic, her band…. so tight.

After a quick reminder to go take a look at the raffle to get in on the bidding war for any of the signed rock-n-roll memorabilia (photos, instruments and other signed things up for grabs), Marin’s home town fella Bob Weir took the stage, starting out solo, just Bob and his guitar. Recently announced on the bill as, “Bobby and the Chew Toys,” it would be he, Robin Sylvester on stand up bass, and Jay Lane on drums. Ya know, keeping it simple, which was not necessarily what he did with the Grateful Dead, this stripped down, acoustic sweetness was perfect on a warm Saturday afternoon, up on Mount Tamalpais, gazing out over the beautiful San Francisco Bay, with The City standing proudly in the distance. In the mood for banter, he responded to the shout out for “Freebird,” acknowledged it and other fan favs may be heard, but it never did appear on the set list…. A mix of covers (Dylan’s, “Paint My Masterpiece” and Holly’s, “Not Fade Away”), Grateful Dead (“Loose Lucy” and “Peggy-O”), and a few of his own (“Easy to Slip” and “Only a River”), the set was short but sweet. As Bob and Robin got their swing going into, “Not Fade Away,” you could hear the crowd get louder and louder. I look off to the side of the stage to see Jay Lane running down the path towards the stage, and there is Weir with a huge grin on his face as Lane makes his way behind the drum kit to join in, kicking the song into high-gear. Saying he was stuck in that awful Bay Area traffic is well understood by those who fall victim, and all was forgiven as the crowd cheered and clapped along.

The insatiable Grace Potter hit the stage next. As I told a friend, she may have broken my camera’s shutter, but in a good way. Oh, so many movements and emotions on stage when she performs, there is so much going on, she LIVES her music out loud and the camera loves it. She is rock-n-roll, she is blues, she is soulful and draws you into her world. Starting out with, “Medicine,” she let the crowd know she was there to bring it. Really, though, when has she NOT brought it? Her ballads are just as heavy on the rock-n-roll; like, “Time Keeper,” and the beautiful, “Stars,” with the deep bass rumbling out of the speakers just as powerful as her voice is carrying the lyrics. They take over the stage, not just with instruments but with presence, with intensity, with a strong connection to both the music and the crowd, who gives her energy right back. They are the, “Instigators” of the high-energy rock-n-roll show they put on. Revolution loves company, as the song goes.

I eyeballed the extra mic they placed on stage towards the end of, “Stars” and had a feeling Mr. Weir would be joining the fun. They’ve shared the stage more than once, and reprised a slow and sweet, “Friend of the Devil,” exchanging verses, guitar chords and tons of smiles.

After Bob exited, they really ripped into, “Nothing But the Water (I)” into, “Nothing But the Water (II),” guitars, keys, drums, arms and legs flailing about to keep up with the pace of it all. And, I’m referring to the arms and legs on stage and in the audience! Then, there was that moment when she broke into Aretha’s, “Rock Steady,” which was, well, pure blissful insanity on my part. Mid step, I looked to my left and see what could have been a mirrored look of what I had on my face – pure joy. What a perfect little nod to The Queen of Soul, I wished it lasted just a tad longer….. Ending the set with that oh so recognizable, Ooh La La, drawing on every last ounce of energy for “Paris” – ya know, at one point at the start of this, I thought I also heard a nod to Led Zeppelin, with a little tease of, “Days of My Youth.” Anyone else? With the sultry feel of each, “ooh la la,” the song lifts the crowd higher just as the stage turned into a drumming frenzy, as each member, including Grace, went at the drum kit!

Closing out the evening was the ever incredible Herbie Hancock. This was a first for me. Not normally someone I may have on my concert “bucket list,” and, well, I got it checked off before it was even written down. I almost had butterflies in my stomach, waiting for this to start. I can’t really say I would recognize many of his songs, but that mattered not. It was an opportunity to embrace a performance, to fall blissfully into each note, to enjoy an hour and a half long set I won’t forget. It was spacey, it was beautiful, it was heady, it was complicatedly fulfilling in more ways than one. Each member brought their own style which all blended so perfectly Herbie. Sax and keyboard player (and well-known record producer), Terrace Martin, not only masters both but fills in the spaces with noises that conjure up images both spooky and spiritual. There were moments I was reminded of Pat Matheny’s music, as you bend your ear to understand, and finally get that he is speaking in tongue you may never know. Bass player, James Genus, who also may be famously known for his weekly gig with Saturday Night Live, is, well, a genius. I could not follow his fast and furious fingers, but I did follow his body language which spoke oodles of deep groove. And, drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta, held it all together while at the same time, busted it apart. That’s jazz. He is also known for playing with Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Sting, and the likes of Barbara Streisand, Faith Hill, John McLaughlin, Billy Joel, Wang Chung, and most recently on Steve Perry’s new release out this year. And, seriously, that is barely naming a few.

Mentioning the Headhunters just once, he pulled out a classic with, “Actual Proof,” filled with quick rhythm, perfectly jazzy sax, some other-worldly vocal sounds, and that Herbie piano work that moves from quick dances to purposeful key selections, filling in all the spaces he deems necessary.

Mr. Weir made another appearance before the night would end, showing up on stage to jam on, “Chameleon,” as Herbie hit the keys on that large Roland Keytar he’s been known to play. Oh, the look of joy on that man’s face as he jumped and jammed on stage.

This was another stellar year on the Mountain, for the Mountain, for the Sleeping Woman. JBO is sad to have missed all of the fun last time, was super happy to be able to get to this year’s event, and is waiting, with pen in hand and calendar out for 2019 ready to mark the date. We must thank the Roots & Branches Conservancy for all of their hard work putting this on, for raising over $175,000 so far for Mount Tamalpais, and for the man behind it all, Mr. Nash, thank you.

And, a final shout out to the sponsors, cuz without them, well…. Thank you!



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