4.20 Guide
A Roundup of Shows and Heady Festivities Around the World

“Woke up this morning... stink kind!”

When the spring arrives, so do the good vibes of the fresh air and the impending summer season. This unofficial holiday for the burning crowd offers up some tasty nugs of live music from which to partake, if you wish. Hang on as we steamroll through the regions of the country in search of this year's kind offerings. I know, this article reeks of cheese. But a little cheese on top is a nice change every now and then, right?


Let's start things off with an international flavor, shall we? You really can’t beat the Southern Hemisphere in the spring. It is, after all, warm and sunny and the music is all good in Byron Bay, Australia for the East Coast Blues & Roots Music Fest. Byron Bay is known for its heady vibes and mellow atmosphere, and with bands like Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Ozomatli, Michael Franti and Spearhead, G. Love and the ultra mellow pairing of Jack Johnson and seminal burner Ben Harper, this is sure to be a time to remember (if you can).

Just a short plane ride away, late-night kings Particle are invading Japan for two shows, the first being a warm-up at Osaka Mother Hall on the 19th before hitting the JZ Brat: Sound of Tokyo on the holiday itself. Closer to home on the Canadian side of the border, the crowds are sure to be elevated as the Northern Cali groove band Vinyl plays The Boot Pub in the high altitude resort of Whistler Mountain, British Columbia. Crossing the vast expanse of Canada to arrive at the city on Toronto, Jurassic 5 will throw down the beats to melt your mind at a the Kool Haus. Canada, Japan and Australia are looking like great places to be on the high holidaze.

To the States we go united under a cloud of smoke and the increasingly watchful eye of Uncle Sam. Be good, kids, as you head out for the night of 1000 puffs. All over the country bands are playing their lungs out for the faithful who assemble to get blown away. As always the home of 420, California is goin' off the scale, and where better to be than the Humboldt Music Festival in the Redwood encrusted haven of Eureka. Hittin' the festival this year are both local bands like Lyckitty Split, old man clemins and Nucleus as well as non-native species the ultra shreddy Psychedelic Breakfast and Seattle’s own Flowmotion. To be in the middle you gotta be in Humboldt.

South on the Golden Coast they’re congregating in Golden Gate Park for an afternoon of music and forward thinking with the We The Planet event. Presented by Julia Butterfly’s Circle of Life, this event will feature such acts as Cake, De La Soul, speaker Woody Harrelson and Andy Dick, as well as acoustic performances by Bonnie Raitt and Alanis Morrisette.

Farther south in LA, mamaSutra will be hosting its third annual 420 party at the LED Warehouse/Gallery on April 19th. With a Wizard of Oz theme, free beer, wine and Red Bull & Vodka, cool lighting and art including live painting onstage, lots of people in freaky costumes and mamaSutra funking until dawn, it should be a good time.

Up in Oregon things are different; it’s still the West Coast, but you just can’t help think that you're in rural Kentucky sometimes, so it is and so it shall be now and ever more. In Eugene the king of the good time licks, Steve Kimock, is pulling up to The Annex for a night of soaring solos and deep basslines. If you’re looking for something a little different from the same strain you’ve been huffin' for years, head to Portland and the GoodFoot Lounge to catch a whiff of the East Bay scene's Kooken and Hoomen. If you’re in the area, grab a bud and head out for the show.

OK, I think I have this right. The Sail Inn in Tempe, AZ is cultivating a serious night of themed bands, is seems. Down Easy, Horticulture, Mojo Farmers and Phatty Acids, as well as Bemsha, are all playing for the 420 Fest. If you’re in Tempe, and I don’t know how many of you are, hit this fest. It seems like a good place to go if you’re in the know.

Colorado is normally a head stash of great music on any given night. This day it is a little drier than normal with only four shows to choose from. I would milk it for all it’s worth. Whether you’re in the bluegrass/newgrass/slamgrass heaven of Nederland for Bernie Worrell and the Woo Warriors at Ned Mex, or down the canyon in Boulder hangin' on "the hill" for Jyemo and the Extended Family at the Boulder Theater, a mile high in Denver at Wynkoop Brewery for the lovable Wendy Woo or out in ski country for the super ill scene surrounding Seattle band Siamese, I think you'll find the night a time to savor and enjoy.

Naturally the Greater Chicagoland area, and the Midwest in general, is a fine place to be anytime of the year. And on this night some of the best shows in the country will light up the scene. Local favorite Umphrey's McGee will be packing them in at Park West as part of the Free Mustache Rides Spring Tour 2003, where band members will be donning a mustache of their own desire. Taking it to new levels, boys! If you’re left out of the Umph’s circle, hit The Note for a triple bill of DJ Cappo, Future Rock and Brothers Past. Across town Glowb and the legendary John Sinclair are doubling up at the Heartland Cafe after their appearance at the 32nd annual Hash Bash in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This year's Bash is complete with the usual civil disobedience of blazing tweed in the city center. Be good, and the “po po” will be good to you.

There is a favorite story of mine about a friend’s dad and a river in Iowa, but I’ll save it for another time. Iowa isn't generally thought of as a musically inclined state, but this day is setting up to be the exception. Two shows are going down that are worth note, the first being Dan Bern at The Stoner Studio Theatre in Des Moines. Bern is a talented and lyrically deep musician who has his finger on the pulse of the scene, and you can be sure to leave this show in a contemplative state of mind. The second show of the night is a bit more hip and with a lot more soul. Maktub, the best thing going in Seattle right now, is a diverse group of musicians who are laying down the most original beats out there. I was just saying how long it has been since I saw an act to really blow me away. Maktub was it, last fall. Don’t miss their show. The song Just Like Murder is the dank!

So let's toss Texas in to the mix right here and now. Why? Cause I can. The king of the spliff, Bob Marley, is being celebrated with the Bob Marley Festival in Austin, which includes Papa Mali with his 11-piece Shantytown Underground ensemble featuring current and former members of Taj Mahal, Burning Spear and Killer Bees. If you’re looking for the original man of his word, The Backyard will feature Bob Dylan, and Railroad Earth performs at the third annual Space City SpaceGrass Fest in Houston.

If you need to be where the action is this, then this is the place this year. Florida pretty much deserves its own section with all the heat that is being delivered. Spirit of The Suwannee Music Park is hosting a two-day festival that features acts like String Cheese Incident, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, North Mississippi Allstars, Gov't Mule and Kynda. Around the rest of the state you can see if the rumors are true at the Willie Nelson show in Ft. Meyer’s, or hook up with King Bee in Miami. (This may well be the first show ever posted on JamBase for Miami.)

Rolling up the coast to South Carolina, Drums and Tuba are blowing through their sets at The Village Tavern in Mt. Pleasant, while in North Carolina Oteil and the Peacemakers play Ziggy's in Winston-Salem, Pilot Radio play the Blind Tiger in Greensboro, Acoustic Syndicate is at The Orange Peel in Asheville, and Phix play Triangle Billiards in High Point, Makisupa anyone? Rounding out the festivities in the mid-South include two personal picks for the night: Will Bernard and Motherbug at The New Belmont in Norfolk, VA; and Flaming Lips at the 9:30 Club in D.C. (Careful or you could end up the same way...)

New York City recently passed the no smoking law in public places such as bars and nightclubs; this no doubt does not include the mighty tweed. There is so much going on the 19th of April that I had to break off a little piece of that day and toss it in to shine the light on the sick shows goin' down. The Big Wu and upstarts Perpetual Groove are makin' moves for The Lion's Den, Jazz Mandolin Project is over at The Knitting Factory and Los Hombres Calientes are pulling a two-night stand on the 19th and 20th at Sweet Rhythm. That said, I recommend a double bill at, yes, Northern Lights in Clifton Park of RAQ and Addison Groove Project. It’s too easy with that one; I’ll just let it go at that.

Wrapping up our day in the ultra beautiful states of Massachusetts and Vermont, there are shows for everyone’s taste. Let's start of with some of the White. The White Stripes, while not exactly in our scene, are a refreshing band that represents what rock is all about. Whether you agree or not, these two deliver original and raucous music nightly and on this night at the Orpheum Theater, I can assure you they will provide again. If The White Stripes are not your bag, then I strongly suggest The Somerville Theatre on the 19th and a culturally significant band, The Slip. There are few bands that to me are truly contributing to the fabric of our nation, and these three free souls from Boston are one of them. Out west a bit in Northampton, the scholarly crowd who no doubt twists rather than packs will be banging heads with New York rawkers RANA at the Pearl Street Nightclub.

On to the Green Mountain State for the last stop on our tour. The Danny Godinez Band has been poppin' up all over the place lately. From Alaska to Montana, Ohio, and everyplace in between, these guys are on a serious road trip and no doubt running low on supplies. Bring 'em the love at Club Metronome and make them feel right at home in one of the most magical places on Earth.

Friends, be good this 4.20, and remember to celebrate the Earth for what she means to you as much as you celebrate what she provides.

Andrew J. Warren
JamBase | Mill Valley
Go See Live Music!

From the JamBase archives: 4:20: What's in a Number?

[Published on: 4/18/03]

Take full advantage of all JamBase has to offer by signing up for an account!

You'll receive

show alerts

when your favorite artists announce shows, be eligible to enter contests for

free tickets

, gain the ability to

share your personalized live music calendar

and much more. Join JamBase!