moe., Robert Plant, Rubblebucket and More Highlight High Sierra
Photo via High Sierra’s Faceboo page
Quincy, CA’s intimate High Sierra Music Festival hosted a range of musical dexterity last weekend from multiple folk-based bands to modern jazz, experimental rock and electronica.
The four-day festival warmed up with up-and-coming indie acts like The Revivalists, Lord Huron and White Denim before blasting into new twists on instantly familiar Zeppelin classics with Robert Plant’s Sensational Space Shifters.
Plant’s project featured generation-spanning blues pieces like Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful” and Joan Baez’s “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” as well as the Shapeshifter’s blues-focused softer takes on Zeppelin songs like “Black Dog.” The band slid through classic Zep tunes (“Whole Lotta Love,” “Going to California,” “Rock and Roll”) mixing them with Plant’s new and old material (“In the Mood,” “The Enchanter”) before Plant wished the festival a happy Independence Day.
The first night’s blues focus continued with the North Mississippi Allstars. Meanwhile, Colorado Cajun Slam-grassers Leftover Salmon followed the blues with their unique take on Louisiana blue-grass as late night met early morning by 4am.
Friday saw the return of those two late night acts for those who needed sleep, along with several other second performances from Nataly Dawn, the Revivalists and Pimps of Joytime. The night ushered in more modern-based rocking experimentation and electronica with Primus, Emancipator and another later night set from Gramatik.
Primus took the stage with their current tour’s 3-D presentation but spanned their discography throughout the set. They launched off with “American Life” from the band’s second studio album Sailing the Seas of Cheese. Primus then took a trip through their ’90s material through to 2010’s Green Naugahyde before inviting electronic-looping experimental saxophonist Skerik—a veteran of Les Claypool’s solo bands—on stage for “Groundhog’s Day.” The group bounced back and forth from old and new material for the rest of the set from “Frizzle Fry” to “Jerry Was a Race car Driver” before encoring with “Tommy the Cat.”
Funky jazz guitarist John Scofield returned to High Sierra with his Uberjam Band for his first performance there in 10 years before late night sets by the Infamous Stringdusters and Gramatik.
Saturday opened up with the Terrapin Family Band’s Americana heavy brethren, American Jubilee. The rootsy warm up gave way to the funky Moksha, who brought back Skerik, along with Jennifer Hartswick. Skerik returned once again with Skerik’s Lab following a performance by the indie-dance outfit Rubblebucket. (Rubblebucket also lent their horn section to The Barr Brothers for a set that also included Mike Dillon on percussion.)
Electronic partying then re-emerged at High Sierra with Papadosio’s progressive jams before subsiding into groovy jazz once again with John Scofield’s Uberjam Band. Long running soul-filled funk masters Greyboy Allstars then played through a two hour set before Thievery Corporations headlining performance. Returning for their first performance since June’s Governor’s Ball Music Festival in New York, the worldly electronic group emerged with “The Forgotten People” from their 2008 album Radio Retaliation. The group then moved from the early 2000s with songs like “Labenese Blond” settling into most recent works from their album Culture of Fear.
Lee Fields and the Expressions followed Thievery Corporation’s grooves with classically soulful R&B before moe. and Emancipator finished off the long night with more high energy jams. Moe. kicked off with “Not Coming Down,” leading into “Wormwood” and then “Okay, Allright” just before inviting roots guitarist Andy Falco onstage for “McBain.” They then moved through two more songs before leading “Ricky Marten” into “Moth,” when ALO’s Dan Lebowitz joined in to play some guitar half-way through the set. The group encored with “Seat of My Pants.”
moe.‘s Sunday night set saw even more guests. As the band moved from “Skrunk” into “Time Ed,” which brought on both vibraphonist Mike Dillon and trombonist Carly Myers. Lukas Nelson of Promise of the Real followed, hopping on stage for “Opium.”
Lukas Nelson also played a set early Sunday with POTR, but not before the day kicked off with Jelly Bread, a Reno based funky band that also soaked up the folky-americana styles of Nevada.
The afternoon settled in with revival style tunes from the California Honeydrop’s second set of the weekend, followed by another set of Lee Fields & the Expressions and Anders Osborne.
Steel Pulse then took the Grandstand stage for a rootsy raggae-filled Sunday closer, settling the weekend down before final sets by moe. and Rubblebucket.
Sunday’s late-night shows huffed out one last big breath of energy to close out the weekend. Moksha brought back on Skerik and Jennifer Hartswick. And to close out, the Greyboy Allstars and Papadosio played sets through 3:30 in the morning.