Tag Archives: Drive-By Truckers

Beale Street Music Festival announces 2017 lineup

This morning Memphis in May announced the line-up to the 2017 Beale Street Music Festival.

Held on the banks of the Mississippi River, headliners this year include a wide range of names, including Widespread Panic, Kings of Leon, Soundgarden, Snoop Dogg, Sturgill Simpson, Death Cab for Cutie, and MGMT. Continue reading Beale Street Music Festival announces 2017 lineup

Jason Isbell: Something More Than Free

The time for talking about how much Jason Isbell has changed since his Drive-By Truckers days is long past. Yes, gone are the whiskey-soaked, carousals from his time in the seminal Southern band.  Also in the past is the triumphant story of his hard-won sobriety and newfound life as a successful solo artist.

In their place, a shelf-full of all the hardware the 2014 Americana Music Awards had to offer, in addition to numerous critical accolades and a new life as happy family man. Also: a new album called Something More Than Free.

His 2013 breakout album Southeastern set the bar extremely high, and the follow-up, Something More Than Free, manages to reach, and perhaps hurdle, it.

Thematically, the album is a bit lighter than its predecessor, but it shares a tonal similarity. Isbell has hit a comfortable creative stride that gives the impression he and his listeners are in the midst of a fertile stage of artistic output akin to Neil Young’s early 1970s oeuvre.

Throughout Something More Than Free, Isbell constructs a now-trademark rustic realm, a world inhabited by people yearning, searching and hoping for something better, and a few who think they have it figured out. These are hardscrabble folks living with regrets and seeking redemption.

He creates such vividly imagined characters that at the conclusion of nearly every track, you feel like you’ve just finished a novel or movie, or stepped out of someone else’s dream. These characters—the guy who feels fortunate to have lost three fingers in an accident so he could get a court settlement (“The Life You Chose”), the teenage parents who can’t tell the difference between the “sacred and profane” (“Children of Children”), the guy who just wants to leave town because there’s “nothing here that can’t be left behind” (“Speed Trap Town”) and others—are instant intimates. Isbell’s craft allows these characters to come to life and for you to step into it.

Isbell is a singular voice, but it’s hard not to hear his forbearers living through him. Hints of Warren Zevon’s “Mutineer” (a song he’s performed live) live inside of “Flagship” in more ways that one.  John Prine’s wit suffuses “If It Takes A Lifetime.” And so on. Neil Young’s work informs here, his contemporary Ryan Adams there.

Sonically, Isbell and his band, including wife Amanda Shires on fiddle, are in a comfortable zone, shifting easily from melancholic ruminations to rowdy rockers and country swing.

“Children of Children,” with a string section that floats eerily over Isbell’s slide guitar and soaring solo, is one of many standout tracks on Something More Than Free.  Elsewhere, he adopts old-time, bluegrass-tinged country stomp with “If It Takes a Lifetime” and raunchy rock with “Palmetto Rose.” Throughout, his melodies seem like they’ve been there forever, pulled from the heavens by his pen.

Something More Than Free is continuation of the songwriting maturity found on Southeastern, so much so that Isbell might be wise to make some room on that shelf.

 

Something More Than Free will be released July 17 on Southeastern Records. 

Drive-By Truckers to resissue ‘Alabama Ass Whuppin” in September

ATO Records will reissue the Drive-By Truckers’ Alabama Ass Whuppin’ on September 10, 2013. Alabama Ass Whuppin’ is the band’s third album. Originally released in 2000, the record has been out of print for years. The album has been re-mastered and includes updated artwork by Wes Freed. This will also be the first time the album has been available on vinyl.

Alabama Ass Whuppin’ documents a specific time for the band. Recorded from March 1999 through August of 2000 in clubs across the southeast including Tasty Word, The High Hat, The Star Bar, The Caledonia Lounge and the 40 Watt.

“This was our third album and the connecting thread between our earlier work and the band that we went on to become later. It’s a documentation of a period in time that I wouldn’t go back to for all the money in the world, but I’m proud of the shows that we played and the songs that we wrote, “ says Patterson Hood.

The band is currently in the studio in Athens, GA recording their 12th record. ATO Records will release the record early 2014.

 

Track Listing

1.  Why Henry Drinks

2.  Lookout Mountain

3.  The Living Bubba

4.  Too Much Sex (Too Little Jesus)

5.  Don’t Be in Love Without Me

6.  18 Wheels of Love

7.  The Avon Lady

8.  Margo and Harold

9.  (Alabama Ass Whuppin’) Banter

10.   Buttholeville

11.   People Who Died

12.   Love Like This

Mike Cooley : The Fool on Every Corner

Mike Cooley - The Fool on Every Corner

The Fool on Every Corner, the first solo release by Drive-By Truckers’ Mike Cooley, strips away the amps and his bandmates, leaving a man and his songs on stage for all to see. Recorded during a three show run in Georgia – a two-night stand at The Earl in Atlanta and a performance at The Melting Point in Athens – the album boasts some of his finest songs, reconfigured for a solo setting. “Cartoon Gold” stings with clever, concise wordplay and the delicate “Loaded Gun in the Closet” channels a painful tension that can only be released by firing a round. And while reworked takes on “Guitar Man Upstairs” and “Where the Devil Don’t Stay” don’t fare nearly as well in this setting, they do provide a fresh takes on Truckers’ classics that are worth a listen.

Mike Cooley’s contributions to Drive-By Truckers canon are often overshadowed by the hyper-prolific work of his cohort, Patterson Hood, but The Fool on Every Corner proves that his songwriting is just as essential.

The Fool on Every Corner is out now.

Shonna Tucker leaves the Drive-By Truckers

Bassist Shonna Tucker announced her departure from the Drive-By Truckers yesterday in a message posted on the band’s website stating:

 

Hello friends,

Unfortunately, I come to you all with some sad news.

It’s time for me to move on to the next great thing, whatever that may be.

I want to thank each and everyone of you, with my whole heart for your overwhelming kindness and support over the years. You are the greatest fans in the world! You really do amaze and inspire me. I can’t express how much you all mean to me. Your rock solid encouragement has carried me through, many nights. I have been so lucky to have had the chance to meet and talk with so many of you. Your stories and passion are so incredibly inspirational to me.

I am, without a doubt, not done. I will have a website up and running very soon so that we can keep in touch. I have a whole lot left to say and do, and I can’t wait to hear what all of you are up to. This is very difficult, so I’ll leave you with this… for now…

Thank you all so much!

Safe travels and Happy Holidays to you all!

See you soon somewhere…

All my love,
Shonna

 

Frontman Patterson Hood confirmed her departure, denoting that long-time producer David Barbe will be taking on bass duties over the course of the band’s upcoming shows. The Drive-By Truckers have high-profile gigs over New Years weekend at the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C., as well as their annual Athens homecoming run at the 40 Watt in January.

Tucker has played bass with the band since late 2003, performing over 1,000 shows and appearing on a number of well-received studio albums.

Drive-By Truckers : Ugly Buildings, Whores, and Politicians – Greatest Hits 1998-2009

drive_by_truckers_greatest_hits.jpg

What a bullshit title.

That was my first thought when I got my hands on Ugly Buildings, Whores, and Politicians – Greatest Hits 1998-2009, the recent collection of “hits” released by the Drive-By Truckers.

Continue reading Drive-By Truckers : Ugly Buildings, Whores, and Politicians – Greatest Hits 1998-2009

All Good ’07 in review

All Good Music Festival 

Marvin's Mountaintop  

Masontown, West Virginia  

July 13-15, 2007 

 

In Masontown, West Virginia, the major economic engine is coal mining. 

But in mid-July, thousands of people converge on the nearby Marvin's Mountaintop in the beautiful, rolling Appalachian Mountains to cleanse their souls by basking in the sun, vibes, and music that the All Good Music Festival provides each year. 

This year, the annual catharsis commenced with Thursday performances by British psychedelic trance-jammers The Ozric Tentacles and the Grateful Dead cover band, the Dark Star Orchestra.  The DSO, known for re-creating historic Dead shows in their entirety, transported the festival revelers to De Kalb, Illinois and the Field House at Northern Illinois University as they recreated the Grateful Dead show from October 29, 1977. 

On Friday, Yonder Mountain String Band delivered an energetic set of their Colorado jamgrass.  As always, Yonder was fun to watch as they kept the large crowd going strong, even when a thunderstorm rolled in and dumped heavy rain accompanied by lightning and thunder.  YMSB dipped into their entire catalog, from older tunes like "Bolton Stretch" to offerings from their new album like "Angel." 

A highly anticipated set from the trio, Keller and the Keels (Keller Williams with Larry and Jenny Keel) featured the Tom Petty cover-medley from their album Grass — a mish-mash of "Last Dance with Mary Jane" into "Breakdown" and back into "Last Dance with Mary Jane."  That was followed by an unexpectedly crowd-pleasing Jon Denver cover (!): "Take Me Home, Country Road" with its fitting West Virgina reference. 

Yonder Mountain's Jeff Austin joined the band as they covered his band's "New Horizon."  But the peak of this set was the final two songs when Bob Weir joined the band for smoking renditions of the Grateful Dead's "Loser" and "Dupree's Diamond Blues." 

Lotus was up next on the Magic Hat Stage.  They only had a 45-minute set, but came out on fire.  From the opening "Jump Off" until the closing "Sunrain," the band displayed power and energy.  Jesse Miller's thundering bass and the excellent guitar riffs and percussion were great all night, even though the set was short. 

Bob Weir and Ratdog headlined Friday on the All Good Stage, with Steve Kimock on lead guitar in place of the ailing Mark Karan.  Steve Kimock never fails to impress on guitar, and boy, did this combination work.  Bob's great voice combined with a bunch of classic Grateful Dead songs and Kimock echoing of Jerry Garcia riffs blew the crowd away.  After their starting intro, the band went into a nice "Casey Jones."  

The "real" show started with a very psychedelic "Dark Star" sandwich, Kimock screaming on the guitar.  They then navigated through a series of Dead classics including "Hell In A Bucket," "Me And My Uncle," and a sick "Tennessee Jed." 

Keller Williams joined Ratdog for a while, giving Weir a rest, and when Bob came back out and Keller departed, Ratdog went into a great rendition of the Beatles' "Come Together."  This long but excellent sandwich closed with the reprise of "Dark Star." 

 

 

 

As soon as the music stopped, the Benevento/Russo Duo started playing on the adjacent Magic Hat stage, only to be interrupted by Rat Dog saying "not so fast, we have one more."  This was an awkward moment for the fest but the "Touch of Grey" was worth it.  

Some seemed a little upset that Ratdog was perceived to be "breaking into someone else's already short time slot."  However, Benevento and Russo played very well despite the miscommunication, and were the talk of the crowd the next day as being the new find of the weekend. 

Friday ended with the late-night set from Sound Tribe Sector 9.  They played their trance-y brand of music well into the early morning and kept the crowd dancing into the wee hours. 

Saturday started off with some great reggae from SOJA and groove- rock from Assembly Of Dust

Perpetual Groove followed on the All Good Stage, though the daylight didn't exactly serve a band accustomed to light-show-enhanced late night sets. However, this was the band's first show in West Virginia, and it was one to remember.  P-Groove started with a great version of "A Day the Way," followed by the classic guitar-driven "Robot Waltz."  They played the new "Under Lock and Key", "Save for One" from their latest album Live Love Die, and ended the short set with "Out Here."  P-Groove put on a decent performance, but, perhaps because of the early slot, never really got into their groove and showed little deep jamming.    

Next up on the All Good Stage was Grace Potter & The Nocturnals.  It was good to see a band fronted by a female musician/vocalist and they brought out a large crowd.  Potter played both piano and guitar and led the band through a theatrical high-energy performance.  A highlight was the crowd-pleasing "Nothing But The Water" parts 1 and 2, where everyone in the band playing the drums in the middle of the tune.  More than one person walked away from that show comparing Potter to Janis Joplin, and nobody was disagreeing. 

Southern rockers the Drive-By Truckers mixed things up a bit following Grace Potter, providing the contrast that makes festivals like All Good great.  They brought a change of pace, delivering some high energy rock and roll fueled by Jack Daniels. Shifting gears again, Les Claypool and his band were up next, and showcased the bassist's quirky style, amplified by Mike Dillion's great percussion and Skerik's crazy facial expressions.

New Monsoon brought some San Francisco style to the Magic Hat Stage, albeit for a short but sweet 45 minute set.  The departure of the percussionists has forced New Monsoon to evolve— gone is the Indian tabla and Latin percussion and more prevalent is high energy rock and roll with screaming guitars and occasional banjo.  Lead guitarist Jeff Miller stood out as they ran through "Bridge of the Gods," the bluegrass-tinged "Romp," and closed with the fest-favorite "Traveling Gypsies." Michael Franti & Spearhead perform a high energy blend of modern day reggae, hip-hop, and funk that's just perfect for outdoor festivals.  If anyone can get the crowd to into the performance, it's Michael Franti; when he says jump, thousands of people do and when he says light up your lighter, thousands of points of light are seen across the crowd.  An often-repetitious setlist not withstanding, Franti is a top-notch performer.  Highlights were "East to the West," "Time to Go Home" (with a video intro of President Bush speaking the lyrics) and "Light Up Ya Lighter" with everyone doing just that. 

Immediately following was one of the better sets of the festival, courtesy of Tea Leaf Green.  They came out punching hard with "Franz Hanzerbeak," then tore it up with the lyrical sensation "Garden" trilogy and ended with a fantastic "If It Wasn't For The Money."  This performance was extremely energetic with great sound, and the energy from both band and crowd was awesome.    

Saturday's main event up on the All Good Stage was moe.  The Buffalo, New York act came right out of the gate blazing, starting with a killer "Rebubula" sandwich and into a "32 Things," "Spine of a Dog" and back into "Rebubula," making their way into a awesome "Plane Crash," and ultimately back into "Rebubula."  A nice "Akimbo" closed the set.  Their "Crab Eyes" encore was amazing, with featuring the sizzling dual guitars from Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier.  A camera strategically placed in Jim Loughlin's percussion kit gave the audience a front-row seat through the drum heads to the underside of his hands.  

The next couple hours….well into the early morning… provided one of the highlights of this year's fest – the Late Night All-Star Jam hosted by moe.  moe. started things off with fan favorite "Meat," followed by some hardcore Beat Box from The Bridge.  "Woodstock" with Reid Genauer of AOD was great.  P-Groove returned for a great Brock rap with a Kayne West "We Don't Care" which passed into a heavy hitting "Sex In The 70's" from Tea Leaf Green. 

The highlight of this all star jam was probably a superb rendition of Neil Young's classic "Cortez The Killer" from the talented vocalist Grace Potter.  moe. came back out to finish with a reprise of "Meat" and a "Godzilla" encore.  The set was perfect way to end a Saturday night at a great festival.

On Sunday, Soulive performed their set as the skies darkened and thunderstorms began pounding during their first song—a great version of "Steppin." The music was stopped for about 15 minutes for safety reasons and fear of lightning strikes.  But once the rain stopped, they returned to the stage for about another 45 minutes of great jazz- rock.  Eric Krasno is one of the best guitar players out there today and he delivered several power-packed solos.  Toussaint joined the band on vocals for several new songs.  They closed out with the classics "Jesus Children of America" and "Feel Like Makin' Love."  The crowd wanted more but apparently they couldn't stay as they had a plane to catch.  

The festival closed with just the third show of Leftover Salmon's brief reunion tour.   While the band had been hiatus for several years, it was clear they hadn't lost a thing, putting on one of the best sets of the festival.  The band walked onstage with a "Howdy West Virginia," and when they sang the lyrics "And the West Virginia waters went down, down, down" the final downpour of the weekend showered the crowd.  Luckily, the rain held up until the set was almost complete.

 

Click on for the photo galleries – photos by Brad Kuntz{mospagebreak} 

 

Friday

 

 {mospagebreak}

 

Saturday

 

 
 {mospagebreak}

Sunday

 

 

 

High Sierra back in fine form

High Sierra Music Festival

Quincy, California

July 5-8, 2007

 

The High Sierra Music Festival has always been about more than just music.

At its best it is about magic. 

In the summer of 2007 that magic that was back in full force.

Thanks to the hard work and cooperative efforts of festival organizers and the city of Quincy, California, the Plumas County Sheriff's Office was not nvited to this year's festivities.  Instead, sympathetic community volunteers walked the festival grounds as a peace keeping force.  This allowed festival goers to freak freely and let the magic flow.

High Sierra was again the gem that all festivals should aspire to being.  By focusing on the hottest mid-level and up-and-coming acts on the circuit, this four day music festival draws true music lovers to revel in sound and each other's company for a long and lovely weekend.

If "the heat" had been held at bay this year, the heat was not.  As the fest opened Thursday temperatures climbed well past 100 degrees as campers settled in and built as many shade structures as they could. 

The weather proved no impediment to the fun, however, as Vince Herman and Great American Taxi  kicked off the music on the main stage, while Los Angeles' Shannon Moore entertained the Shady Grove stage with her hook-laden rock sounds, 

The March Fourth Marching Band combined burlesque and acrobatics with their set, Salvadore Santana (Carlos' son) fused world rhythms, rock and hip hop, Garaj Mahal turned into a quintet with the addition of bassist Kai Eckhardt's extremely talented pre-teen son on drums for their complex fusion jazz, and That One Guy worked his unique instrument of pipes, reeds and loops.

Sol Jibe proved itself one of the hardest working and most delightful new finds at the fest by lending it's world beats and Latin rhythms to two different stages during the course of the day, winning new fans every time it played.  The Waybacks offered their blend of bluegrass, rock and country sounds, Hot Buttered Rum tore it up in an acoustic way, while Zilla offered more electronic grooves.  As Galactic's hard New Orleans funk closed out the main stage the heat had not yet yielded, lending a Southern feel (minus the humidity) to the proceedings.

When the outdoor stages were closed for the night at 11 the heat finally let up.  Things may have eased up on the bodies of all the festival goers, but the music geared up for round two of day one. 

Anders Osborne kept the New Orleans vibe going in the Funk N Jam House with String Cheese Incident's Kyle Hollingsworth on keys and Galactic's Robert Mecurio on bass before Soulive held funky court there. 

String Cheese Incident's Michael Kang brought his electric mandolin to the African funk sounds of Chris Berry and Panjea in the Tulsa Scott Room before Kan'Nal rocked the psychedelic tribal groove there. 

But it was the Yonder Mountain String Band that was still rockin' the Music Hall with it extremely energetic newgrass as the first light of dawn cracked the sky at five A.M.  If there were those that were tempted to leave earlier, that temptation ended when Vince Herman came out and joined the band for "Cuckoo's Nest > Jack London" during the second set, including an extended, improvised romp with lyrics about what a dream High Sierra is.

 

all photos by Susan Weiand 

  

Thursday 

 

 

Read on for Friday

{mospagebreak} 

While it was warm again as day two began, temperatures would not again reach the brutal highs of that first day, providing some relief.  Some festivarians chose to hit the nearby swimming hole, while others opted for cold showers even though hot ones were available.  Many others began cooking bacon, which seems to have become the breakfast of choice for serious festival goers.  The combination of stomach-settling grease, water-retaining salt and  energy-providing protein in a candy-meets-meat form was almost as popular as coffee and Bloody Marys for breakfast in camps throughout the fairgrounds.

This morning was when the magic became palpable.  Start wondering where a friend was and they would appear.  Realize you needed something and it would be offered before you spoke.  Think you even wanted something and it too would manifest.  "Careful what you wish for" became a running joke but the reminder seemed unnecessary because the positive vibe was everywhere.

Friday also featured many of the acts of day one on different stages at different times, providing opportunities to see bands missed when the inevitable tough choices among High Sierra's four stages and playshop room all operate simultaneously.  Yonder rocked the mainstage just as they did during their evening set.  The Waybacks, Anders Osborne (again with Kyle Hollingworth), Soulive and Kan'Nal all did it again in the broad daylight.

New acts were also showing up to join the fun.  Brett Dennen was joined by members of ALO in an inspired Big Meadow stage set of his thoughtful, tender and utterly catchy songs.  Xavier Rudd proved himself equal parts Ben Harper, Michael Franti, Keller Williams and tribal rocker as he wailed away on electric dobro and three different didgeridoos; if there is one word that characterizes his music it might be "love." 

The Devil Makes Three is an old time string band on steroids, while the Drive-By Truckers rocked the house in a whiskey-soaked set to close out the mainstage in Southern style again.

The annual Camp Happiness cocktail party earlier in the day was set to feature the New Mastersounds at 4:20.  Their drums were still in transit as the party began.  No worries.  Vince Herman, the very spirit of the festival, had stopped by.  He picked up his guitar (after another rollicking set with Great American Taxi on the Shady Grove stage) had a mic taped to a keyboard, and proceeded to hold court with two members of Eddie & The Roughnecks on bass and keys and Sam Johnston (Box Set) on harmonica for over an hour of unalduterated joyuntil the New Mastersounds were able to take over.

After all that sonic goodness, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk still managed to steal the best act of the day award with a blistering set of funk the way funk is supposed to be played — loud and dirty.  Highlights included an Al Green tribute, A Rolling Stones cover, and the theme song from The Sopranos.  Two basses, a kick drum that could be felt more than heard and some serious shredding from the guitar of Ian Neville had folks dancing for hours and talking for days.

Late night again offered something for everyone as SCI drummer Michael Travis' project Zilla and DJ extraordinaire Bassnectar provided electronica,  The Waybacks and Hot Buttered Rum served up the grass, while The Phix's Phish tribute opened for Garaj Mahal's fusion in another room.

 

Friday 

 

Read on for Saturday

{mospagebreak}  

Saturday began with temperatures still high but since they weren't as hot as day one, and people began to adapt, it was becoming more bearable. Some of Austin's finest took over during this day, including Guy Forsyth's Tom Waits inspired madness, Patrice Pike's conscious rock, and perhaps most importantly, Carolyn Wonderland

Wonderland is equal parts Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  She clearly had the single best, most powerful voice at the festival and she can shred on the slide guitar.  All while remaining conscious of what truly matters and humble too.  Why Carolyn Wonderland is not a huge star is and shall remain a mystery.  Her Vaudeville Tent set brought down the house.

Other inspired sets were turned in by ukelele wizard Jake Shimabukuro, the rollicking country of the Mother Truckers,  Nickle Creek's Chris Thile's
solo project How To Grow A Band (featuring Greg Garrison and Noam Pikelny of Leftover Salmon), the African sounds of Asheville, North Carolina's
Toubab Krewe, the jazz of Bobby Previte's Coalition of the Willing, the crazy rock of Les Claypool and the old school bluegrass of Del McCoury.  The Ryan Montbleau Band won many fans for its sweet rock on their first trip to the far west.

Again it was the closing act of the Vaudeville Tent in the midnight hour that stole the show for many, however.  Something happened when JJ Grey & Mofro took the stage that mere talent alone can not account for.  It was that old High Sierra magic that infected that Blackwater swamp rock this night and many jaws were set agape by the Jacksonville, Florida unit's new lineup featuring a horn section.

Before one could fully digest what had transpired, however, the late night fun began indoors.  The funksters headed over to see the Meters inspired sounds of The New Mastersounds (with Papa Mali opening), those seeking heady trancefusion headed over to see the Disco Biscuits, while the largest crowd gathered to see the reunion of Leftover Salmon.

The sold out hall was first treated to Darol Anger's new supergroup, Strings for Industry.  Anger is a true virtuoso on the fiddle, but when he gathered his new Portland, Oregon based unit featuring Tony Furtado on guitar and banjo, Scott Law on electric guitar, Tye North (formerly of Leftover Salmon) on bass and monster drummer Carlton Jackson the magic was flowing again. 

But it was the Leftover Salmon reunion that drew the crowd.  Playing their first gig as a full band since they went on hiatus at the end of 2004 (a gig two weeks before at Telluride was without keyboardist Bill McKay), it was like they never left the road.  The band was on fire from the first notes and the crowd responded in kind.  Drew Emmitt is a spectacular player and singer, and Vince Herman is a force of nature, but something happens when the two of them are on stage together that is far greater than the sum of the parts. 

As if they could not get enough of playing together, the group kept it up until five thirty in the morning, going past the crack of dawn to dawn itself.  As the last notes of "River's Rising" greeted th new day everyone wondered how Leftover Salmon could possibly top that on Sunday, the final day of the festival.

Vince Herman was later seen playing a morning game of kickball with fans rather than heading to bed.  Your reporter managed to catch only two hours
of sleep after the Salmon set, but that is not the reason the majority of things he saw the last day were on the mainstage.

 

Saturday 

 

Read on for Sunday

{mospagebreak}

For years now Maria Kelly has handled all the MC duties for the Grandstand Stage, but this year she could not be there. I was among the radio personalities given the honor to announce the acts there on Sunday.  It was an honor and a real joy to do so.  I did manage to catch the first hour of the Gospel Show on the Big Meadow stage while eating breakfast that morning, however, and what a way to start the day.  Carolyn Wonderland, Patrice Pike, Papa Mali, Shannon Moore, Guy Forsyth and others really know how to start a Sunday morning!  Sweet, rootsy, funky gospel goodness replete with prayers for peace is how to do it and they did right, song circle style.  With all that talent on stage there was no way to do it otherwise and, man, did it work.  If church
was always like this I would go every day.

As people started to wake up, however, it became clear that haze obscuring the mountains across the valley wasn't simple fog, it was smoke.  A few scary thoughts crossed everyone's minds until it was learned that the major wild fire creating all that smoke was over 30 miles away, not moving in the direction of the festival, and not being whipped by winds on this still morning.  So the smoke, which had settled into the valley overnight (and mostly dissipated by late afternoon), was an annoyance, not a threat.

Whatever else was going on at the festival (including sets by New Mastersounds, Eddie & The Roughnecks, Ryan Montbleau, Disco Biscuits, Chris Thile, ALO, the Budos Band, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, I was content to be at the mainstage.  After a set by Lynx, a unique young hippie woman whose music combines folk, looping, computer beats and conscious lyrics, Albino, a San Francisco-based Afrobeat band, got people dancing despite the heat and the smoke.  The legendary Mavis Staples was up next, and the gospel theme continued into the afternoon.  An hour and a half break and the evening's festival closing sets were lined up. 

JJ Grey & Mofro were very good, even if they did not quite scale the heights they did the night before.  Phish's Page McConnell (who played a previously unannounced solo piano playshop earlier in the afternoon) brought his new band on and truly rocked the house for two hours of inspired rock.  McConnell may be the best leader to emerge from Phish, and he will certainly prove to be the most consistent unless Trey Anastasio eventually gets his shit together.  I was never much of a Phish fan so it was a great surprise to me just how good this group is.

After some heartfelt thank yous from the festival organizers to the city of Quincy for stepping up to quell the the civil rights violations of the Sheriff's office the last few years and trusting them, and the festivarians, to take care of ourselves, Leftover Salmon took the stage again.  With so little sleep and so much magic happening everywhere, it seemed a little like it was third set of a long Leftover Salmon show with some truly great tweeners as LoS took absolute command of the festival.

If their latenight extravaganza had been great, this was somehow even greater.  It was more focused, tighter and had even more energy, if that is possible. Guests included Darol Anger for most of the set, Chris Thile on mandolin, Page McConnell on keyboards for song, and others, but mostly it was Leftover Salmon proving that they are now and always will be the very spirit of the festival.  The group seems to understand the magic, chaos, joy and energy of the festival and turn it into sound.  It's just that incredible.  I for one hope they never stop playing together, even it is just sporadic summertime festival gigs every year.

Later on I wandered around a bit, tempted by the San Francisco party that ALO and Tea Leaf Green were throwing in one late night hall while Les Claypool or the Everyone Orchestra played in others, but instead went to a party I had been hearing about in Camp Harry in RV area near the Big
Meadow stage. 

What a scene that was as Eddie & the Roughnecks (another UK funk band led by Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds) tore it up as people danced and talked.  Eventually, however, I had to give into being tired and realize that it had really happened.  High Sierra 2007 had gone on for four days — almost around the clock — with virtually no trouble, great amenities (note to all other festival producers: the importance of clean portapotties for the entire weekend can not be underestimated and is worth whatever it costs!), great food and drink and most importantly, great people.

The campers not only enjoyed the music and each other's company, they respected the space they were in.  As the tear down began on Monday morning it was clear that people were bringing their trash and recyclables to the proper spots and leaving very little matter out of place for the Clean Vibes crew (who also did an amazing job) to deal with.

Let the news ring out throughout the land: High Sierra is back and believe it or not, better than ever.  The Best Fest in the West is back!

 

Sunday 

{gallery}concert_review_photos/high_sierra/2007/sun{/gallery}