HIGH SIERRA MUSIC FEST: BETTER EVERY YEAR

BOCKMAN'S EUPHIO


Sean Canan by SuperDee
I was innocently walking by the Big Meadow stage when I heard a guitar wailing through the air. I was immediately filled with delight, glee. When I walked closer, I realized I was feeling the effects of the Euphio. No, it wasn't Dr. Bockman's invention in Kurt Vonnegut's short story "The Euphio Question." It was a band inspired by this invention--a mysterious void in space that gave off powerful radio signals to transmit feelings of happiness - called, appropriately, Bockman's Euphio.

Hailing from St. Louis, MO, I had heard the name but never glanced twice at what seemed to be yet another (*gasp*) jam band from the Midwest. But whoa, don't judge a book by its cover and all that. I was filled with euphoria at the personal discovery of a new rock band to follow. Bockman's also played the Americana stage where they did an exhilarating cover of "Wig In A Box" from Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Great to watch four boys sing out loud, "I put on some make-up/and turn up the tape deck/and pull the wig down on my head/suddenly I'm Miss Midwest/Midnight Checkout Queen/until I head home/and put myself to bed." Bockman's Euphio is my new band to watch this year.

- SuperDee



Patrice Pike by Susan J. Weiand

PATRICE PIKE
At last year's High Sierra, there was a new female force that took the fest by storm in the Vaudeville Tent--Patrice Pike and the Blackbox Rebellion. This year, Patrice came back with a new band put together just a few weeks before the trek out to the West Coast. A longtime Patrice devotee, I have seen her perform with Little Sister, Sister Seven, and a couple incarnations of the Blackbox Rebellion. This current band--Brad Houser (of Critters Buggin fame) on bass and bari sax, Steve Weidemeyer on guitar, and Elderidge Goins on drums--is the best I've seen her play with in years. For only being together a couple of weeks, they jelled perfectly. My favorite moment was during her Big Meadow stage set on Thursday night (she also had a superb afternoon set on the main stage on Saturday) when she was swapping her trademark scatting with Brad Houser's saxophone squawking.

- SuperDee


CHRIS ROBINSON & THE NEW EARTH MUD: LATENIGHT
I was absolutely ecstatic at the prospect of seeing Chris Robinson, one of my original musical heroes, with his new project, but I had also solemnly accepted the possibility of tragic disappointment. How could Robinson’s solo material measure up to the seminal work of the Black Crowes, one of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands of the last decade? Truth is, he did it, and he made it seem easy. The New Earth Mud were pretty much fledgling Crowes, their major difference mainly a matter of duration. That is, where the Crowes would’ve taken a song out for a six-minute spin, these guys stretched it into ten. Each gorgeous, psych-blues jam pivoted around the core of a powerful song, and for this particular crowd, at this particular festival, the music was perfect.


Chris Robinson and Audley Freed - Late Night - by SuperDee

Most obvious, beyond the old Crowes influence, was a very vivid touch of grey. Maybe it was Rob Barracco, whose keys were up in the mix, lending a sparkling, early-80s Brent Mydland vibe. More likely it was Robinson himself, and his deep, soulful Pigpenisms—not so much in sound as in manner. A masterful showman and an old soul haunted by crossroads-bargaining ghosts, Robinson channeled all those long-departed bluesmen whose music was their only salvation. With the trademark rock ‘n’ rasp, he crooned poetic lyrics with heated delivery, visceral and intellectual at the same time. Honestly, it was like an electrical charge just to so close to his presence; his humility and surrender to the music elevated my respect even more.

- Jonathan Zwickel

CHRIS ROBINSON: GRANDSTAND STAGE


Chris Robinson by Jeffrey Smith
I didn't get enough of Chris at the latenight so I headed over to the main stage to see his late afternoon set. When I got to the front of the stage, they were about to start a new song when someone yelled out, "Play the Crowes!" Chris said nothing, looked down, tuned his guitar, looked up and said, "Why don't you go and yell at a jukebox? You'll get the same response." Then they ripped the new (soon-to-be) hit off of This Magnificent Distance, "40 Days." Other highlights were "…If You See California" and "Train Robbers" (also off the new album) and "Ride" from the original New Earth Mud debut album. We were particularly entranced this set by the frightening yet calming performance of guitarist Audley Freed. The early-80s Brent Mydland vibe that Zwickel was talking about became further apparent with a great version of "I Know You Rider." Yep, Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud are the real deal. I cannot wait to see them again!

- SuperDee


Sunset over High Sierra with New Earth Mud by Kayceman

Note from SuperDee: If anyone's listening, I'd really love to see a "story tellers" tour featuring Chris Robinson & The New Earth Mud with Patrice Pike. Thanks.


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