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Published: 2009/07/08

High Sierra Highs

Quincy, CAs annual High Sierra Music Festival took place from July 2-5. High Sierra bills itself as the ultimate intimate festival experience, and, indeed, few festivals evoke the communal spirit of the seminal West Coast gathering. In certain ways, High Sierra is designed for artist collaborations. In addition to marquee sets by the likes of John Butler, Ani DiFranco, Umphreys McGeee, the Disco Biscuits, DeVotchKa, Leftover Salmon, Galactic, The Del McCoury Band, The Wailers, Tea Leaf Green, Steve Kimock Crazy Engine feat. Melvin Seals, Ollabelle, Dr. Dog and ALO, High Sierra featured numerous playshops, jam-sessions and roving performers like Skerik and Joe Craven.

In fact, at High Sierra sit ins almost feel essential. This year alone Leftover Salmon invited out Garaj Mahals Fareed Haque and Del McCoury, The Lee Boys jammed with Del McCoury Band and Skerik joined Ani DiFranco during her festival co-headlining spot (longtime Skerik collaborator Mike Dillon is a member of the politically charged singer/songwriters band). Elsewhere, Vince Herman sat in with Cornmeal, Skerik performed with the Marco Benevento Trio and Tea Leaf Greens Reid Mathis and Trevor Garrod backed Steve Kimock. Likewise, a number of familiar faces participated in a Guitarmageddon powerjam: Tea Leaf Greens Josh Clark and Reed Mathis, Sean Leahy, Big Lights Jeremy Korpas and ALOs Steve Adams, Dan Lebowitz and Dave Brogan.
Several musicians also helped blur the lines between performers and fans. Tea Leaf Greens Trevor Garrod played on top of his RV and bands like Surprise Me Mr. Davis and Big Light played full sets in the Camp Harry are of Tent City (Garrod proved to be especially busy, sitting in with Surprise Me Mr. Davis during its Harry set). Other weekend highlights included Greensky Bluegrass cover of Michael Jackson’s Beat It and the Disco Biscuits version of Hot Air Balloon (the first time the quartet has played in song in California in over six years).

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