Words by: Liz Carrol | Images by: Susan J. Weiand
Hangtown Halloween Ball :: 10.28.11-10.30.11 :: El Dorado County Fairgrounds :: Placerville, CA
Extensive photo gallery begins at the end of review and you can see the rest of the photos here, here and here!
Halloween weekend, festi-folk from across the West Coast traveled to Placerville for the Hangtown Halloween Ball, a rock fusion festival organized by Pet Projekt and Railroad Earth. Hosted at the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in honor of Railroad Earth's approaching tour, the three-day festival included performances from the featured band and their guests. With a tight lineup of renowned artists, a scenic venue and ample dancing room, the Hangtown Ball was the perfect Halloween treat.
|Railroad Earth by Susan J. Weiand|
Two weeks before the event, Pet Projekt made a surprising announcement – the two-day festival had been extended to three, now beginning a full day early with no added charge. Psyched for the surprise trifecta at a bargain price, the Hangtown crowd arrived on Friday in high spirits. Inside the Fairground’s spacious venue, RRE improvised an original soundtrack while showing the silent horror classic Nosferatu. Next, New Monsoon delivered an energetic performance that had its audience stomping to bluegrass one second and grooving to reggae the next. Comprised of two guitars, one electric and one acoustic, keyboards, bass and drums, NM captivated its audience with confident versatility, graceful transitions and smooth vocals. In a highlight performance, NM expertly covered Pink Floyd’s “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”. The indoor venue trapped NM's swanky vocals and chilling guitar solos, creating the perfect sound effects for Floyd. Finally, Headphone Union dished an upbeat set of rock and soul, bringing the Ball’s first night to an optimistic conclusion.
|New Monsoon by Susan J. Weiand|
The following day, fans and vendors posted in front of the main stage for a bluegrass marathon, with performances from Sugarcane, Poor Man's Whiskey and Elephant Revival. Then at around 5 P.M., the David Grisman Sextet took bluegrass in a fresh direction with some 'Dawg Music', Grisman’s signature fusion of bluegrass and jazz. “I heard sex sells!” the mandolin legend joked as he introduced his latest band. Backed by a versatile string band, Grisman tickled his mandolin through a set that dabbled in rock and soul.
|David Grisman Sextet by Susan J. Weiand|
Next, Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann and his band 7 Walkers rocked some familiar Dead classics, including “Sugaree” and a nostalgic “He’s Gone”. Kreutzmann later treated fans to a second performance when he joined RRE to play “Mississippi Half Step Uptown Toodeloo”.
The Funky Meters brought Saturday’s schedule of banjos and bluegrass to a smoking halt with their electric midnight performance. These musical legends were determined to funk every second of every jam, as George Porter Jr. and Brian Stoltz playfully challenged each other on guitar and bass. The Funky Meters closed out Saturday’s performance with a Jimi Hendrix medley, beginning with “Voodoo Child” and finishing with an explosive “Purple Haze”.
|JGB by Susan J. Weiand|
The final day of the Hangtown Ball featured an eclectic group of performances, including a swinging show from the one-man band Zach Deputy. At sunset, Melvin Seals & JGB honored Jerry Garcia with covers of his favorite rock classics. In a performance that included Bob Dylan’s “Tough Mama” and a soulful “Mighty High”, guest lead guitarist Dave Hebert temporarily filled the void left by Jerry with his gentle vocals and clean guitar riffs. RRE delivered Sunday’s final set, concluding an epic festival and leaving fans excited for their upcoming tour.
Continue reading for more photos from the Hangtown Halloween Ball...