Nateva/High Sierra Festival Previews

By: Dennis Cook, JamBase Associate Editor

As the summer festival season rolls on, JamBase looks ahead to 4th of July weekend with helpful links and considered suggestions for two major gatherings, one in the East and one in the West.

Nateva Music & Camping Festival

Maine hasn't had a gathering like the inaugural Nateva Music & Camping Festival before. A more intimate cousin to big boys like Coachella and Bonnaroo, Nateva is a three-day (or four if you count the Thursday night warm-up with Gypsy Tailwind, Lettuce and Lotus) jam-happy event, July 2-4, at the 100 acre Oxford Fairgrounds, which are just a couple hours from Boston and 45 minutes from Portland, Maine. With headliners moe., Grizzly Bear, The Flaming Lips, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi, STS9 and festival closers Furthur, this is set to be an auspicious debut.

Nateva organizer Frank Chandler told the Bangor Daily News today, "It's all about creating this little temporary community that is centered around music. It's uniquely intimate, since we’ve capped ticket sales at 15,000. It's not like other festivals, where there are just thousands upon thousands of people. We don't want anyone to feel overwhelmed. That was always the goal."

Sounds like a good mindset and game plan for a fine festivarian experience. And here's a few pointers of our own for your listening adventure.

1. Greensky Bluegrass :: Friday :: 12:05-1:05 PM :: Main Stage 1
There's a curious, compelling mixture of roughneck energy and brainy sophistication to Greensky. They dabble in bluegrass ways but have just as much in common with the rowdy cleverness of early Ozark Mountain Daredevils and fellow contemporary rules breakers the Punch Brothers. They're also super swell when they take things down a bit, making folks lean in and plucking heartstrings as efficiently as their instruments.

2. The Heavy Pets :: Friday :: 5:30-7:00 PM :: Port City Music Hall Stage
There's no dirth of ambition in the Pets, who proudly wear the "jam band" tag in an age where it's increasingly less cool. If groups played with as much fire or snaking imagination as this Florida outfit then it might not be on the slide. The Heavy Pets have built a fan base the old fashioned way, i.e. through tireless touring, which has sharpened their chops and grown their catalog extensively. The lines between rock, reggae, electronica, soul and prog get blurred nicely in the Pets, who just released their self-titled sophomore album in May.

3. Crash Kings:: Saturday :: 3:15- 4:15 PM :: Main Stage 2
Dirty ass rock 'n' roll rarely happens without guitars, but there's wonderful exceptions like the Crash Kings, a trio with serious whomp that's got keys as their primary assault weapon. Throw that on top a rhythm section that reminds one of a robust young Zeppelin plus a singer with the raw energy of young Rod Stewart and you've got good times. Our guess is they'll bring it hard in this afternoon set.

4. Nate Wilson Group :: Sunday :: 1:15-2:00 PM :: Port City Music Hall Stage
Melodic hard rock has few better allies than former Assembly of Dust keyboardist Nate Wilson and his fine Group, who in more than a few ways nod back to the original Jeff Beck Group with AOD guitarist Adam Terrell burning hot front and center on many pieces (though the guy has a Gilmour-like subtlety, too – definitely one of rock's under-sung greats). What the NWG has over the competition is super strong songwriting that scoops out the yummy parts of rock and serves them up in a really appealing way. JamBase awaits the follow-up to their killer debut impatiently.

5. Moonalice:: Sunday :: 1:45- 2:45 PM :: Main Stage 2
Moonalice delivers good ol' hippie freak rock with a genuine love of festival type folks, you know quality weirdos who like to kick down a door of perception or three but wanna boogie a touch as they break on through to the other side. This rising West Coast group is working on being a national concern and this is a chance for our East Coast readers to get a taste of what we've been enjoying in the Bay Area for a spell.

The good folks at iClips will be webcasting from Nateva here during the festival.

Nateva Music Schedule

Nateva Directions

Nateva Official Site

Continue reading for our picks for High Sierra Music Festival...

High Sierra Music Festival

The High Sierra Music Festival celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. From Thursday, July 1st through late Sunday, July 4th, the mountain fairgrounds in Quincy, CA that serve as home to this fest will overflow with great music and hearty companionship. With tents and RVs surrounding the performance spaces and the most casual artist-fan relationship in the fest circuit, High Sierra stands apart in many ways. The "hang" is all, and it casts a spell over attendees and performers alike, where often the guitarist who shredded your mind in the afternoon is standing next to you in the evening while headliners like Widespread Panic, The Black Crowes, Railroad Earth and The Avett Brothers (it's nigh impossible to hold a summer fest in 2010 without them!) flatten the masses. You'll both have the same stupid, entirely copacetic grin on your faces, too.

Here's five winners from the broad assortment on offer this year.

1. Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers :: Thursday :: 12:15-1:30 PM :: Vaudeville Tent
It's worth getting set up early so you can leave your tent behind and catch this nooner with one of the most talented, charming young singers and bands on the West Coast. They've got the swerve and bluesy slap of vintage Linda Ronstadt and Traci Nelson & Mother Earth, though their straight pop chops ain't shabby neither. In a nutshell, good, good, good rock 'n' roll fronted by a powerful, fetching singer. What the hell else do you need to kick off your revels?
[Nicki & The Gramblers also perform on Friday from 11:30-12:45 pm on the Big Meadow Stage]

2. Nels Cline Singers :: Thursday :: 7:30-8:45 PM :: Vaudeville Tent
People who only caught wind of mind-blowing guitarist Nels Cline after he joined Wilco have whole worlds to explore in Cline's past, not to mention his ongoing solo, projects with gifted pals like Jenny Scheinman and more. However, it's with the Singers that one feels closest to whatever internal mojo fires up Cline. Flanked by Devin Hoff (contrabass, bass guitar) and percussion & electronics whiz Scott Amendola, Cline veers into hitherto unexplored sonic spaces. At times jarring or unexpectedly beautiful in the strangest places, the Nels Cline Singers harness adventurousness to some of the best musicianship we're likely to witness at HSMF 2010.
[The Singers also perform on Friday from 11:15-12:30 pm in the Vaudeville Tent]

3. Rubblebucket :: Friday :: 4:55- 6:20 PM :: Vaudeville Tent
Frequently those that delve into Afrobeat sound like mere copycats, though many come off well due to high energy presentation. What's swell about Rubblebucket is how they clearly draw from Afrobeat's ideas but mingle them with bits of Talking Heads and other rhythm-wise modern rock. Hailing from three fine B's – Burlington, Boston and Brooklyn – this is a cool opportunity for West Coasters to experience one of the most justifiably buzzed about bands on the circuit right now.
[Rubblebucket also plays Thursday 3:30-4:45 in the Vaudeville Tent]

4. The Black Seeds :: Saturday :: 2:20-3:40 PM :: Vaudeville Tent
New Zealand may not be the first place one thinks of when it comes to quality funky reggae music, but that might change real fast once you hear the Seeds. With a reach way beyond roots reggae (though they do that well, too), this band makes honestly soulful music with one of the strongest vocal mixes around. And their compositions are smartly drawn and full of perfect, unexpected twists and breakdowns. Come prepared to sweat a bit.
[The Black Seeds also play Sunday 1:45-3:00 on the Big Meadow Stage]

5. Newfangled Wasteland :: Sunday :: 5:30-6:45 PM :: Big Meadow Stage
You ain't never heard Beck like this. Made up of Trevor Garrod (Tea Leaf Green) on keys & vocals, bassist-singer Steve Adams (ALO, Big Light), guitarist Chris Haugen and drummer-singer Dave Brogan, the quartet shows real affection and just enough irreverence to make the material soar. Even the more familiar Beck ditties wiggle differently in their grasp, and their knack for unearthing pleasures in deep cuts is something else.
[Newfangled Wasteland also plays 2:30-3:45 pm on the Grandstand Stage on Thursday]

High Sierra Music Schedule

High Sierra Late Night Music Schedule

High Sierra Directions

High Sierra Official Site

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