Nateva/High Sierra Festival Previews

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

[Published on: 6/24/10]

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