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.
Sean Canan by SuperDee
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.
Patrice Pike by Susan J. Weiand
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.
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 Robinsons 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 wouldve 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 Pigpenismsnot 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
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!
Chris Robinson by Jeffrey Smith
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.