Zach Gill by Casey Flanigan

David Brogan by Casey Flanigan

ALO (Animal Liberation Orchestra): WEEKEND
ALO is now a bona fide High Sierra darling. Whether providing a perfect start to the day Saturday on the main-stage, getting funky at the band's late-night costume ball or jamming acoustic for the Santa Barbara campers, ALO participation helps make the weekend one to remember. In addition to playing, every member of the band took part in playshops over the weekend; showcasing guitarist Dan Lebowitz's chops, Zach Gill's songwriting and Steve Adams versatility, as he was the sole bassist at Josh Clark's Guitarmageddon. With tight grooves and tighter playing, ALO creates a warm experience and is one of the best festival bands on tour this summer.

- Forrest Reda

Damn was I not expecting this set to blow me away at 11 a.m.! I sauntered over to the Main Stage, dripping with enthusiasm at my first full day at High Sierra. Iced coffee in hand, I was tractor-beamed towards the stage and within moments, and with help from Renault the inflatable Buddha rising up behind the stage, the early morning clouds parted and the four boys of ALO led us all into a frenzy with a fantastic rendition of keyboardist's Zach Gill's tribute to his wife and daughter, "Waiting for Jaden." This was followed up by my giddy favorite, "Mashed Potatoes." Hula hoops, Frisbees, and poi were scattered about the grass as the festival goers from the lawn suddenly swarmed the stage. They closed out the set with "Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down," with a stunned, hungover crowd begging for more. As always, the boys from ALO can be counted on to liberate your inner animal! And this was only their first of three sets throughout the weekend... Man, were we in store for some fun.

- Monica Way

Dan Lebowitz by Casey Flanigan

Steve Adams by Casey Flanigan


Caroline Pond
by Susan J. Weiand
Hot baking sun at the Americana Stage was the perfect place to witness the Snake Oil Medicine Show on Friday morning (morning being relative of course). This incredibly talented, truly unique four-piece plays some type of tripped-out bluegrass, rung through 1920s vaudeville stylings. Although the band is led by bassist and songwriter George Pond, both Caroline Pond (vocals/hypnotic violin), and Andy Pond (banjo) share stage and musical responsibilities. It's Caroline's voice that seems to separate Snake Oil from the pack as she leads the crowd through a constant foot-stomping good time. This band is full of bubbling light, infectious string work and a generous helping of positive energy, definitely a band worthy of attention.

- The Kayceman

Garrin Benfield by Susan J. Weiand

Garrin Benfield, a talented singer/songwriter from San Francisco, proved he possesses not only a powerful voice and quick hand on the guitar, but some savvy marketing skills as well. His Americana Stage set was excellent—a blend of moody, understated folk rock and tender ballads that rolled through shifting musical landscapes like a tight-winding byway. During a far ranging, reggae-tinged version of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer,” someone from his crew handed out red egg-shaped noisemakers—plastic rattles with “Garrin Benfield Band” printed on them—to everyone in the crowd. Benfield finished up the song, and before his next number, got everyone shaking along to the beat. The result was a barrage of crispy percussion coming from the crowd, the perfect backbeat to the band's vibrant playing.

- Jonathan Zwickel

Maybe you were one of the one million women who traveled to Washington D.C. this April to take part in the March for Women's Lives. If you were, you probably would have seen a rockin' SONiA (also of Disappear Fear) on stage with her belting yet tender voice, hammering away on a guitar and chanting words of love, choice, and political freedom. I wasn't at the March, but I did have the pleasure of encountering SONiA's midday set at the Big Meadow stage. It was a lazy afternoon and yet as things picked up and SONiA bounced from piano to acoustic to electric guitar, her wise words and rhythm began drawing in the crowds from the mist of tents and RVs, and before we knew it the vibe blended into a body-twirling blend of joy and enthusiasm. SONiA is currently on tour promoting her newest, and in my opinion greatest album, "no bomb is smart" and all of the songs she performed during her set displayed the assured musicianship and tenderness she is known for.

- Monica Way

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