High Sierra Music Festival: 07.01-07.04 | California

Words by: Dennis Cook, Jake Krolick, Susan J. Weiand and Aaron Kayce | Images by: Jake Krolick and Susan J. Weiand

High Sierra Music Festival :: 07.01.10-07.04.10 :: Plumas County Fairgrounds :: Quincy, CA

Anniversaries are funny things. Often too much or too little is made of them, but High Sierra 2010 struck a lovely balance in celebrating its 20th year, occasionally acknowledging that they'd hit two decades but mostly just nailing all the elements that make this festival unique and so dear to the regulars that return each 4th of July weekend.

It's tough to describe High Sierra to those who've never attended. On paper it makes little sense to say there are people everywhere – tents and RVs tucked into every nook and cranny of the Plumas County Fairgrounds, spilling into the woods and open fields surrounding every stage, building and port-a-potty – yet it never seems overly crowded or oppressive. In fact, High Sierra is one of the most peaceful, gentle, fun-loving assemblages of humanity most of us have ever encountered. Ebullient camaraderie is the general rule, so there are rarely hassles of any kind. One can walk right up to front of the stage at almost any set, and they'll usually be met by a smile, even if they're just meeting the person next to them. Rare is the walk through the maze of campers around the Big Meadow Stage where one isn't greeted with a handshake or a hug or offered some form of constriction loosening hospitality.

Yes, there's a strain of high octane Cali hippie-dippie-ness but mostly the citizens of this temporary city on a hill are just hardcore music lovers enjoying the smorgasbord laid out before them. High Sierra attracts folks with thoroughly catholic tastes, able to fully enjoy the rowdiness of big stage headliners like Widespread Panic and The Black Crowes but equally able to throw themselves wholeheartedly into the quietude of Dan Bern or the mesmerizing, rhythmic originality of Rubblebucket.

The 20th installment accentuated all the positives High Sierra has to offer. What follows are some of the highlights experienced by the JamBase crew as we quested after musical nirvana as America celebrated its 234th birthday. (Dennis Cook)

Continue reading for Jake Krolick's highlights...

Jake Krolick's High Sierra 2010 Highlights

High Sierra at Sunset by Krolick
Standout Moments on Thursday & Friday

Best Use of a Fretted Instrument
Both Nels Cline Singers sets in the Vaudeville Tent on Thursday and Friday were the place to be for some serious shredding, but the early afternoon set on Friday with guitarist extraordinaire Eric McFadden sitting in on a face melting "Maggot Brain" opener was an axe lovers dream. Speaking of great guitarists, by now you've probably heard of Big Light, and if you haven't then you will. Singer Fred Trophy, bassist Steve Adams, drummer Bradly Bilfulco and guitarist Jeremy Korpas played in some capacity everyday at High Sierra, and beside McFadden, who appeared everywhere throughout the weekend, Jeremy "Swordfish" Korpas definitely popped up on the radar of guitarists who made you lose your shit. Korpas really deserved the accolades as he wailed effortlessly at Big Light's sets, the White Stripes themed Guitarmageddon throwdown, the Gramble - where The Beatles "I've Got a Feeling" reigned supreme - and at a late night party at Camp Harry. Korpas has the patience of a much older guitarist with a confidence that allows him to shred effectively with any grouping of musicians. There were extra cheers every time he walked on stage and each performance the "Swordfish" was involved in was elevated to new levels of excitement.

Cult I'd Most Like To Join
Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros trouncing of the Big Meadow Stage on Thursday left more than one person whistling "Home" on Friday morning. The highlights of the show were the opening "40 Day Dream," a stirring version of "Desert Song," and Alex Ebert conducting a sing-along in the center of a seated crowd to finish. The band may have appeared a tad cultish but by the end of their set the audience was ready to drop all worldly possessions and follow their charismatic leader anywhere

Best Band BBQ
Widespread Panic barbequed all Friday afternoon before they tossed us some bones in the evening. A heated "B of D" into "Worry" ended their first set, which hinted that the band loved the unique H.S. setting. The second set secured that notion and was jam- packed with guests, starting with Eric McFadden on guitar for a meaty "Bowlegged Woman." John Bell introduced Jerry Joseph as "the reverend" when he joined in for a rolling "Light Is Like Water" before Karl Denson added saxophone for a rowdy "Ride Me High." Domingo "Sonny" Ortiz played a late "Drums" and was joined by the illustrious Wally Ingram before good papa Bell sung us out with the touching and apropos encore "Heaven."

Most Fun Field Trip During The Festival
All visiting Quincy for the High Sierra Music Festival should take some time to explore the Feather River. We hit this beautiful landmark on Friday and were instantly impressed. It's easy to find a swimming hole just minutes from the fairgrounds, and its cold waters are just about as refreshing as a full night of sleep. It should also be noted that the weather was perfect cold at night for sleeping and warm with zero humidity during the day.

Community and Camps Shout Out
High Sierra is a wealth of good times that fit together like a well worked jigsaw puzzle buried in some hidden chest that comes out on a rainy summer day. The edges of this fest are all well worn and by now all the people attending know where they fit. Many of one's best moments and memories come from the hard work of the community and the camps that moved your feet or blew your mind wide open with visual extravagance conjured by this pack of pro concertgoers. Where else do you get a Wookie Bingo game run through Twitter or a trampoline 10-feet off the ground and covered in lights? How about false eyebrows made to look like mini Fu-Manchu moustaches or kickball games with musicians sweating alongside campers at 6 am? Who else has a Hippie Bar where you paid for a drink with a joke or a dance or Kamp Kwitcherbitchen, where frowns were even frowned upon? Where else are Red cards and Yellow cards tossed at flagrant music fan fouls? Legendary Camp Harry threw its own pirate/mojilto party and two late night shows with Big Light and Surprise Me Mr. Davis. And let us not forget the tongue-in-cheek mayoral battle between Nathan Moore and Vince Herman that included campaign signs throughout the campgrounds. There were hundreds of camps and thousands of creative freaks – I'm impressed with you all for your freaky prowess.

Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers by Krolick
A Band I Need To See More
My age makes me less than a thought when CSNY and Buffalo Springfield hit L.A. and wandered up into the canyon. Perhaps that is what makes Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers so appealing. Since I missed the first coming I'll be damned if I won't catch the second. Bluhm was an early breath of fresh air on Thursday and Friday. She's a stage darling in the same way her famous Laurel Canyon predecessors Jimmy Webb and Joni Mitchell were jangly social and musical icons. Her easy way with songs and smooth vocal delivery was more than enough to captivate the crowds, but when you tossed in Steve Adams' groovy bass and husband Tim Bluhm's gallant guitar strum into the fold there was something incredibly desirable about the music.

Standout Moments on Saturday and Sunday

Best Use of a Kazoo
Yes, Nathan Moore pulled one out at his solo set but it was a good thing he forgot the whole bag. The act of forgetfulness led to a stirring Surprise Me Mr. Davis cover of The Beatles' "Honey Pie" at around 2:00 am on Monday morning at Camp Harry. The moment the bag of kazoos was handed out you just knew it was going to be special. The crowd participation and the smiles between Moore, Marc Friedman and the Barr Brothers said it all.

Hottest Late Night
Hindsight reveals that the better Mother Hips set was on Sunday evening in the Vaudeville Tent with a four song finale that would grow hair on a bald baby ("Pacific Dust > Space > Turtle Bones > Hey Emilie"), but as a whole Saturday night's late night was the hottest four band bounce of the entire festival. After catching Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacono with the Hips on the East Coast I knew I loved them, but it took a trip to the West Coast to really see them rock a proper crowd. Saturday evening's show was such a treat, with several highlights including "Jet Plane" with Nicki Bluhm and Grambler guitarist Deren Ney, "Been Lost Once" with TLG's Josh Clark, and a "Time Sick Son of a Grizzly Bear with ALO's Dan Lebowitz. The follow-up was a fast bounce over to catch Fanny Franklin and the L.A. crew Orgone, who established themselves as a funk force to be reckoned with. The crowd's energy during the end of their set was really incredible and steam poured out of all openings from the High Sierra Music Hall into the cool night air.

Meanwhile Dr. Dog was flexing their muscles at the Funk'n Jamhouse as they ripped through almost their entire repertoire, raging a version of "The Ark" off Fate and paying special attention to "Shadow People" off their latest album, Shame, Shame. Toby Leaman (bass) and Scott McMicken (lead guitar) were wild and energetic and their changes left the crowd stunned. Guitarist Frank McElroy even climbed to the top of his amp stack for a leap of faith before finishing at around 3:15 am. This left just enough time to get in to hear Karl Denson tear it up on flute and sax as well as toss us a joke about Giuseppe Garibaldi. The amount of steamy pizza flowing around Denson's funk down was obscene. I witnessed more than one patron dancing with a hot slice held high in their hands.

Vince Herman by Susan J. Weiand
Oddest Place To Find Sushi
The sushi guy next to the main stage making those delicious hand rolls in an "I am funkier than you" tee was surreal. The Widespread Roll was insane and included a wrapper filled with sticky rice, a smear of wasabi, huge chunks of albacore & mango, a spicy mayo spread and sprouts, all rolled to perfection for five bucks.

Best Sporting Event Combo
Kickball into the World Cup games. The new trampoline bases, the costumed Space Man, vevuzelas blown at 5 am, and the World Cup games made it worth never finding sleep. But the best moment happened on Sunday morning when a piñata was tossed into the middle of the kickball field. When it was finally broken open it was filled with airplane bottles of gin and all heck broke loose.

Best Use of a Child On Stage
Marco Benevento daughter Ruby has gained some serious stage confidence since last year's festival, and that showed as she used dad as her own personal jungle gym during his Trio's set. Marco made the best out of the moment when he took Ruby's hands and had her play the "Real Morning Party" to kick off the set.

The Well-Put Award
Nathan Moore summed up my feelings best on Sunday afternoon at his solo performance. To paraphrase what he said, "We are all out on the road day after day, each year just trying to hang on patiently until we are back together at High Sierra." I thought about this notion the rest of Sunday and realized that this festival never really ends; it just goes into a different mode, one focused on reconstruction. The community that has attended religiously for years, reuniting friends, campsites and intense feelings will no doubt be planning what they can do better for next year. It takes all the little touches coming together over the 4th of July weekend to really make High Sierra the incredibly special experience it is.

Continue reading for Dennis Cook's highlights...

Dennis Cook's High Sierra 2010 Highlights

Zach Deputy by Susan J. Weiand
The Load-In
I have the good fortune of getting into the fairgrounds on Wednesday night, where only a fraction of attendees are about, setting up twinkling strings of lights and grilling while the first case of beer ices down. This allows me a front row seat for the main deluge Thursday morning when gates open and the majority of folks pour in. It's like a colorful, pleasantly musky land rush – wild, hooting and excited as little kids on Christmas morning. I pull up a chair and sip coffee while all this beautiful humanity races past, hauling costumes, coolers, hula-hoops and inflatable beasts in red wagons, ready for adventure and eager to embrace their new neighbors with open arms.

Tim Carbone
The violinist for Railroad Earth and The Contribution predictably played two unshakeably solid sets with RRE and guested winningly with Cornmeal, Great American Taxi and more, but just seeing him strolling about always stirs great cheer. He's earthy music in motion, and where he roams there's likely to be something sweet being played, often by him since it's hard to keep Carbone off a stage if he's got something to add. And trust me, he's always got something GREAT to add. White haired and worldly wise, Tim is one of High Sierra's archetypal spiritual figures, emblematic of the many musicians here that are eager to engage the whole of music and wrestle it into new, exciting forms.

Guerilla Sets
For all the sanctioned stuff on stages, there's nearly as much unofficial music making afoot at HSMF. From campsite pick-a-thons to lawn sets with portable amps, the players here exhibit a healthy disrespect for order, allowing the notes bubbling in their veins to rule them. Despite two Big Meadow sets, The Heavy Guilt could often be found rockin' exuberantly near the food court, as thrilled to be laying down their grungy goodness to a few wandering souls as they were in front of a large crowd. And they were hardly alone this weekend in carving out off- program opportunities for themselves.

Thursday Highlights

1. Zach Deputy - 1:15-2:30 PM - Big Meadow
The Big Meadow Stage is, well, big, yet Deputy filled it effortlessly, picking and singing like a young Bill Withers transposed to a large, hirsute new honky frame. Zach's looping prowess far surpasses almost anyone out there – yes, even the hallowed Keller – in terms of originality and more importantly, musicality. While loops can come off as gimmicky, they only serve the songs with Deputy and enable his one-man operation to actually sound like a band. He's got swell tunes and plays guitar with intoxicating flair. While Nathan Moore may have snagged top honors, based on the word-of-mouth this year, Zach was definitely the Deputy Mayor by popular consensus.

2. Rubblebucket - 3:30-4:45 PM – Vaudeville Tent
Brooklyn has another amazing band y'all need to check out. Building up from a foundation drawn from roots reggae and Afrobeat, Rubblebucket layered a crazed yet brilliantly woven hodgepodge of sounds atop their gut level rhythms. Like the finest original groups, there's an internal logic that makes it all work in a very immediate, flatly exciting way. With female led vocals reminiscent of Bjork and Patti Smith, the group swerves confidently – true performers all who genuinely entertain onstage - on the prowl and sinking their sharp incisors in at all the right moments. Their Friday set was even stronger, inspiring their trumpeter/co-bandleader to leap into the waiting arms of the fevered audience, where he was held aloft to continue playing. Those enamored of Yeasayer, Akron/Family, Tricky and Antibalas are heartily encouraged to dig into Rubblebucket, easily my best new find at HSMF 2010.

Surprise Me Mr. Davis by Jake Krolick
3. Surprise Me Mr. Davis – 11:30-1:30 AM – Vaudeville Tent
Suited up like friends at a wedding, SMMD unleashed all the magic and mojo that's made them a mainstay at High Sierra for years. The combination of Nathan Moore, The Slip and Marco Benevento proved a wondrous reminder of how fun and fulfilling rock 'n' roll can be. Sure, they jam a bit but it's the songs and their scintillating delivery that offer nourishing marrow to be sucked and savored. If Henry David Thoreau and Paul McCartney had formed a band it might sound a lot like Davis. And I had my personal high for the day at this set when Moore ordered the backstage masses onstage for a dance party during "Sisyphus," passing out hugs and smiles as he frolicked and enjoyed his bandmates beside us. 'Joyful' is the word that most springs to mind with SMMD, followed quickly by 'holy' (an impression resoundingly confirmed by the closing "As Long As There's One of Us Still Standing" closer).

Friday Highlights

1. Nels Cline Singers – 11:15-12:30 PM – Vaudeville Tent
His lead guitar role in Wilco has raised Cline's profile higher than ever, but it's in this formation one experiences the full, devastating breadth of his genius. Genius is a word I use VERY sparingly but witnessing the voluminous range and imagination of Cline's playing at this set it'd be hard to argue against it in his case. Surrounded by ultra-sympathetic, equally gifted collaborators Scott Amendola (percussion, electronics), Yuka Honda (keys) and Devin Hoff (bass), Cline handily shattered preconceptions about instrumental music, raging in a way that frightened some morning listeners (one of my camp mate's literally fled with terrified eyes during a particularly noisy, disorienting stretch). But, the ensemble was equally skilled at hushed introspection and bebop-ish interaction. Overall, just bloody stunning.

2. Dr. Dog – 9:30-11:00 PM – Big Meadow
When the last notes of this breakneck performance died away I muttered, "They make me SO glad there's music." Dr. Dog is surely a rock band, and all the Beatles, Band and Beach Boys references are apt, to a point, but there's something way more primal and fundamental going on with them. Their songs address life with unblinking honesty and joyful engagement, understanding that light and shadow are a dance and then giving us the melodies that choreograph our constriction shattering gyrations. Song for song, note for note, nobody played a better set this year.

3. Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons - 11:30-1:30 AM – Vaudeville Tent
Jerry J was in full-blown preacher mode during this anthem-upon-anthem rock extravaganza. After playing several acoustic-leaning sets, the snarling rock animal inside Joseph and his mighty bandmates (bolstered with inspired extra percussion by Wally Ingram) let fully loose inside the steamed up Vaudeville, the tightly packed throng swaying and leaping like a congregation lit up from within. While often overlooked, Jerry's guitar strangling was miraculous this evening; the man is easily one of the most powerful, relentless guitarist alive. Beneath the hot, swirling lights, Joseph gesticulated and ranted like a man who'd crammed both Joe Strummer and Mick Jones into his compact body - a barefoot punk prophet and king of the motherfuckin' disco, too.

Saturday Highlights

1. Pimps of Joytime – 3:15-4:30 PM – Big Meadow
This set launched my repeated one word exhortation for the weekend: Hectic. The Pimps are on the funk like ink on paper, moving like calligraphy across the page where most make clunky block letters and sign with a thumbprint. Smooth but not too smooth, they captured the general bonhomie in the air yet kept things dirty enough to be credible. Clean funk isn't really funk at all. Their dynamics alone set them apart from the herd, with the whole band able to blast hard and instantly drop down to a compelling murmur and back again. Watching Brian J (vox, guitar, keys), Clark Dark (bass, moog) and Mayteana Morales (vocals, sampler, percussion) groove along the edge of the stage one felt compelled to reach down deep for all the Prince gymnastics they had in their dance trick bag. All killer, no filler.

Black Crowes by Jake Krolick
2. The Black Crowes – 9:00-11:00 PM – Grandstand Stage
While a 20-year Crowes veteran like myself might have liked to hear more than one tune from the band's two most recent albums (though "Oh Josephine" was mid-tempo ballad gold), this was a perfect festival set, peppered with bygone hits like "Hard To Handle" and anchored to material the band always plays well. What's highly enjoyable about the Crowes at this stage is how wonderfully consistent they are. From the sound of it many folks at High Sierra hadn't seen them since the mid-90s and were just about universally knocked on their tushes by this performance. The Crowes are one of the few rock acts one can mention in the same breath as Zeppelin, Aerosmith, et al. and this set ably showed why that is.

3. The Mother Hips/Dr. Dog – 11:45 PM-3:30 AM – Funk'n Jamhouse
Arguably the best late night combo this year – Pimps of Joytime opening for The New Mastersounds on Sunday being the obvious competition – the pairing of the Dog and the Hips was tangible proof that rock 'n' roll is anything but dead. Both bands played a little outside their comfort zone, especially the Hips who delved into some older fan faves and welcomed Nicki Bluhm and sublime Grambler lead guitarist Deren Ney for a mesmerizing, emotional version of "Jet Plane," a new Nicki tune that'll appear on her forthcoming sophomore album. So absorbing and enriching were both bands that it was easy to settle into the moment and really experience the music on a cellular level. By the end of Dr. Dog's headlining set I found myself leaping and spinning like my 3-year-old does when we watch School House Rock and every song is greeted like his favorite.

Sunday Highlights

1. Poor Man's Whiskey - 12:00- 1:15 PM – Grandstand Stage
Shirtless in an Uncle Sam long coat, Eli Jebediah and the rest of PMW were a lively reminder of some of the very cool things about Americans and American music. Taking their cues from a wide assortment of influences like Old & In The Way, Woody Guthrie and Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show, Poor Man's reminded us that we need to live our lives sometime and maybe this was the right day to dig in. Their music is a celebration of the right things in life, and they're all phenomenal musicians to boot. By turns folksy and rockin', they move along rhythms that are hard to resist and sling lines that you'll find yourself quoting to your friends later. A 100- watt stage presence and spot-on knack for covers (they closed with Tom Petty's "American Girl" in honor of the holiday) further up the ante. I see a lot of live music and can assure you there are few more charming, enjoyable groups going than Poor Man's Whiskey.

Allmond Bros Clan by Susan J. Weiand
2. The Allmond Bros Clan – 4:30-6:00 PM – High Sierra Music Hall
A tribute band is a tricky thing. Genuflect too much and you're a boring recreation, stray too far off the blueprint and folks won't recognize the source material, which is a central aspect to a tribute's pleasure. This Allman Brothers homage led by Guitar Player Magazine's Jimmy Leslie (who plays the Dickey role) gets the balance just right. Unlike the Grateful Dead, Beatles or Stones, few bands cover the Allmans because it is a separate language that swirls gutbucket blues with jazz sophistication. Just as most of us don't speak Esperanto, Allman-ese isn't common and it was exciting to see this large band teach themselves how to talk eloquently. Unlike today's ABB, the Allmond Clan uses the At The Fillmore East era as their Rosetta Stone, and one suspects their grasping at these numbers mirrors the Allmans' own during that time period. Simon "Eli Jebidah" Kurth was a fire hose of great guitar riffing as Duane "Sky Frog" Allmond, and stellar guest turns from Sean Leahy, Josh Clark, Greg Loiacono and Lebo added further air guitar heft to the session. PMW's Josh Brough was also murderously good as Gregg “Allmond Boy” Allmond, attacking the organ and vocals with the gusto of a young Gregg. Most of us weren't able to see ABB when Duane was alive but the hunger for that music remains. The Allmond Bros Clan fulfills that appetite in a way that honors Duane's memory by really wrestling with this music in a quite alive way. Festival bookers take note: Don't let the other guys get to this project before you.

Also worth mentioning that Simon Kurth also recently took over the reins with Guitarmageddon and blew out the doors on Friday with a White Stripes focused performance. If Kurth is involved I can just about guarantee two things: It's going to be entertaining as hell and the musicianship will make you salivate. Beyond that it's best to trust his instincts and go for whatever ride he's offering.

3. Carolyn Wonderland - 11:30- 1:30 AM – Vaudeville Tent
With The Mother Hips delivering yet another unbelievably great set before her, it was somewhat of a surprise that Carolyn Wonderland captured my final slot for the weekend, but damn if the tiny Austin blues belter didn't take my heels out from under me. I'm intensely picky about the blues and, like many grumpy old men, feel that maybe the best purveyors are no longer with us or not long for this world. I reject slick, modernized blues, and thankfully Wonderland and her on-the-money drummer and multi-tasking keyboardist (he provided keyboard bass, too) dealt in only the real stuff. Carolyn can shred mightily and her tone is gritty, loud and impolite. Glorious! She's got compositions that sit well next to the Bo Diddley and the like in her arsenal, and she's got an odd, alluring stage manner that draws you in but also makes you feel like she might cut you if you looked at her wrong. She's got depth and her band swung like all get out. As perfect a nighttime ramble as High Sierra has ever offered.

Continue reading for Kayceman and Susan Weiand's highlights, plus some video highlights...

Aaron Kayce's High Sierra 2010 Highlights

WSP's John Bell by Susan J. Weiand
1. Widespread Panic - Main Stage - Friday
Festivals aren't always the best place to get one's Panic on. Time constraints, questionable sound systems and a mixed bag of fans can often clip the band's wings, as was the case the last time WSP appeared at High Sierra in 1999. But the festival's 20th anniversary sparked an inspired two set affair that left hardcores fully satisfied. Taking advantage of the stacked lineup Panic welcomed a number of special guests including guitarist Eric McFadden on a dirty, sexy "Bowlegged Woman" that found bassist Dave Schools deep in a P-Funk inspired romp, guitarist/vocalist Jerry Joseph on his own "Light Is Like Water," saxophonist Karl Denson on an extended psych-funk workout of J.J. Cale's "Ride Me High," and percussionist Wally Ingram on "Drums" and the second half of "Surprise Valley." When the band closed the show with an emotionally saturated take on the Talking Heads' "Heaven" it was not only a reminder of Widespread Panic's power, but a nod to just how amazing the High Sierra Music Festival truly is.

2. Dr. Dog - Funk'n Jamhouse - Saturday Late Night
Dr. Dog's Saturday late night set proved to be a huge slab of dark, psychedelic rock that had a packed house of fans freaking out and dancing wildly until 3 in the morning. Leaning heavily on material from their latest release Shame, Shame, the show highlighted the band's remarkable evolution from lo-fi indie-pop to gigantic, confident rock. Though the new songs showcased Dr. Dog's amazing songwriting, it didn't seem to matter what part of the catalog they pulled from, everything was performed with razor sharp intensity and executed to perfection. From note one the band was locked in; every change was dramatic and full of force, every harmony soaring, and the jams thick with friction. For this writer, the band's HSMF late night show elevated the Dog from a really good band with serious potential to one of the best live acts on the circuit. It shouldn't be long until we see Dr. Dog headlining festivals.

3. Surprise Me Mr. Davis - Camp Harry - Sunday Late Night
For many High Sierra patrons, including a number of artists such as The Mother Hips' Tim Bluhm and Greg Loiacano, Nicki Bluhm, Wally Ingram and several others, there was no better way to end the weekend than with Surprise Me Mr. Davis at Camp Harry on Sunday night. Set up guerilla-style between two RVs, this annual tradition has turned into one of the most highly anticipated sets of the weekend for fans of Mr. Davis, The Slip and Nathan Moore (Surprise Me Mr. Davis being The Slip plus Nathan Moore). The defining moment of the night came when Davis took on The Beatles and created the very appropriate "High Sierra's Lonely Hearts Club Band" (The Slip celebrated their 12th consecutive HSMF this year) with shout-outs to High Sierra co-founder and close friend Dave Margulies in place of "Billy Shears." With fans passing bottles and funny cigarettes to each other and the band, the two hour set felt more like a summer camp send-off than the conclusion of a major music festival.

Susan J. Weiand's High Sierra 2010 Highlights

Carolyn Wonderland by Susan J. Weiand
1. Carolyn Wonderland - Vaudeville – Sunday Late Night
CW has played High Sierra three years now, but her closing set on Sunday night finally cemented her place as HS royalty. Fans were driven to tears and smiles by her ballsy playing and soulful singing. She held the capacity crowd in the palm of her hand. Many new Carolyn Wonderland fans were converted this evening.

2. Vince Herman's Great American Taxi- Big Meadow - Thursday
The self-proclaimed Mayor of High Sierra is a festie staple and to me, represents all things High Sierra. He and his Taxi bandmates kicked things into high gear with his "4:20 for 20 years" jam played at precisely 4:20 pm, of course.

3. The New Mastersounds - Camp Happiness - Friday at 4:20
Camp Happiness always throws a great happy hour party with crab cakes, gumbo, cocktails and great people. The New Mastersounds have played this annual party in the past and returned this year for a get-down funk-athon. With bandmate Joe Tatton playing a borrowed kid's keyboard (with the notes conveniently written on the keys), the band delivered the funky goods. Mega dance party!

Honorable mentions: Rads late night; the Funkify Your Life, Horns a Plenty, Rads Pre War Blues, Marco Benevento Trio, and Allmond Bros Clan playshops; Kate Gaffney main stage; Orgone Big Meadow; Poor Man's Whiskey doing Dark Side of the Moonshine.

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