TOP 3 FROM THE HSMF
Skerik :: Les Claypool's Frog Brigade, Syncopated Taint, Dead Kenny Gs, Critters Buggin, Crack Sabbath - Saxophone
1) James Blood Ulmer
2) Jamaaladeen Tacuma
3) G. Calvin Weston
(Editor's Note: All of the above performed as Man vs. Machine)
Michael Franti :: Spearhead - Leader/Guitar/Vocals
1) Chet Helms - R.I.P.
2) Bret Dennen
3) SageMan Drum Tent
Eric McFadden :: EMT, Stockholm Syndrome, P-Funk - Guitar/Vocals
1) Chuck Prophet & The Mission Express. Great songwriter and guitarist, awesome band too.
2) James Blood Uhlmer Man vs. Machine
3) Bill Frisell. This man is a treasure indeed. No one plays guitar like Bill Frisell. The beauty and dissonance...
I found it a difficult task picking only three seeing as how there were several more equally impassive acts. For example, Les Claypool. What can I say about ole Les and the crew? And how 'bout our pal Skerik, Aphrodesia, Jacob Fred etc etc...
Marco Benevento :: The Duo - Keys
1) Fire Dancing
2) Jamie Janover
3) Jamie Janover
Bronco :: The Duo - Road Manager
1) Skerik's Syncopated Taint Septet at the Vaudeville on Friday. First time seeing this project of Skerik's. Have loved the CD and was blown away live.
2) Russo being announced as the new Biscuits drummer at the Conspirator set on Big Meadow Stage.
3) New Mastersounds Late Nite before Karl - My new discovery of the weekend.
Marc Friedman :: The Slip - Bass
1) Bill Frisell
2) Les Claypool in an ape mask and tuxedo
3) A man getting detained by 7 police officers for tripping out too hard. Whoops!
Brian Haas :: JFJO, Dead Kenny Gs - Keyboards
1) The Slip opening up for McFadden Late Nite. The Slip is still one of the best bands on earth............. take a deep breath and dig how much musical ground they cover on accident every second they are on stage.
2) Marco Benevento on the Thelonious Monk sessions. I was sitting about two feet away from this freak (playing Fender Rhodes) and his left hand Hammond organ shit combined with his right hand lines were absolutely stupid, fluid, effortless jazz perfection. This guy is a fucking genius. Someday I hope to be in a quartet with Marco, Myself and both members of Hella.
3) The Dead Kenny Gs. These guys are ego-maniacal Zen Buddhists from Broken Arrow OK; shitty music, but great conversationalists, all three of 'em. The best talk I've ever had about one-dimensional, 4d control of the weather using the power and truth of Wilhelm Reich.
Reed Mathis :: JFJO, SKB - Bass
1) Bill Frisell Quintet - with Matt Chamberlain on drums and Victor Krauss on bass. Unbelievable beauty and cosmic improvising... a huge thrill to see this band anywhere, let alone at HSMF!
2) The Slip - every set of theirs I've ever seen
3) Bela Fleck/Trilok Gurtu - Banjo Raga Playshop
Steve Adams :: ALO - Bass
1) Tea Leaf Green jamming on top of an RV.
2) Camping with Hot Buttered Rum String Band and catching their rippin' psychedelic hoedown Sunday late night in the Music Hall.
3) Everyone Orchestra Sunday late night Funk 'n Jamhouse - Nathan Moore coming up on stage with megahorn sirens, ballading the story of his High Sierra mishap; Jamie Janover conducting like a ninja.
My ALO Highlight:
Being surrounded by phreaks on trampolines (audience), High Sierra stilt walkers (on stage) and a roaming Mike Gordon (backstage) at the Grandstand ALO set Sunday Evening.
Dan Lebowitz :: ALO - Guitar
1) Bret Dennen - troubadour session. I had never heard of him and was totally blown away. So unassuming. His whole vibe was really inviting. Great voice, great lyrics, and great songs. I want to hear more!
2) Kinky - Late Nite. Our late night set was on Friday night and the opener was Kinky. I had not heard them yet but was hearing a lot about them. I made sure that I got there early enough to check them out and was glad that I did. They had this high energy wall of sound that got me super pumped. Keep an eye out for these guys.
3) Benevento/Russo Duo - Big Meadow & Late Night. I love to watch the way these guys interact on stage. I feel like they must have a lot of love for each other and each others playing and it really comes through in the music that they make. They get some really interesting sounds and I find their compositions to be really inventive.
Jenna Lebowitz :: ALO - Manager / Jenstar Productions
1) The Saratoga Boys sunrise set = ALO acoustic Trevor Garrod and Rob Binkley at Campa Barbara on the 4th of July
2) Jamie Janover and friends on the Realms Mobile - always a High Sierra favorite
3) Benevento Russo Duo - deep, emotional and beautiful
Brock Butler :: Perpetual Groove - Guitar
1) Benevento & Russo w/The Slip (Late Nite)
3) Kinky Late Nite
Matt McDonald :: Perpetual Groove - Keyboards
1) The Soul Rebels
3) Benevento Russo... The Duo
Albert Suttle:: Perpetual Groove - Drums
1) The Duo
3) The Soul Rebels
Al Howard :: K23 Orchestra - Leader/Vocalist
1) Benevento/Russo Late Nite killed it. I stood in the front completely mesmerized by their unique manipulation of sound. They lock in on so many rhythms and ideas during the improv parts of their songs, it is really inspiring. I got to meet them this weekend and I'm pretty sure I drooled and made an ass of myself, Joe Russo made our keyboardist fall off his skateboard.
2) Both Jacob Fred sets blew me away. It was like going to band class for a few hours. Their unique takes on familiar songs like Bjork's "Isobel" and the Beatles' "Happiness is a Warm Gun" had such a vintage Fred approach that at first I had no idea what songs they were. Plus the well sculpted cacophony of their own songs provide a beautiful madness no one else is really putting out there. They are on fire right now and have so much control over their improvisation that it borders on uncanny.
3) This is probably kind of lame because I happen to be in the band. But the K23 Orchestra set at the Vaudeville was the most fun I've ever had with my clothes on. I've been coming to the High Sierra Fest for four years and it is hands down my favorite. To get to play a rockin' set for the most energetic fans, as well as amongst the top bands on the scene extends slightly beyond an honor. This weekend was amazing.
Margaret Pitcher: High Sierra Music Marketing Manager
1) Bands that stretched the musical format of High Sierra and added a fresh element to our line-up. The Bill Frisell Band, Mexico's Kinky and especially Two Gallants from San Francisco might seem like a departure for High Sierra, yet their performances went over well with scrutinizing music fans seeking something outside the twang and jam worlds. Props to my friends in Surrounded By Ninjas and the JP Cutler Band, two first-time High Sierra showcase bands that offered a different sound, put their hearts into their performances, and made me proud.
2) Rare moments when I could relax and appreciate the music. Bill Frisell Band Late Nite in the Vaudeville Tent: The way these musicians connected with each other and the audience exemplifies High Sierra in many ways. A smiling Frisell blew me away and his band (Greg Leisz, Viktor Krauss, Jenny Scheinman and Matt Chamberlain) was amazing. Watching Leo and Mike and percussionist Neil Symonette on the Grandstand Stage felt more like enjoying an intimate performance in someone's living room. An even more intimate moment was early Sunday at my friends' campsite with Brock Butler from Perpetual Groove playing Allman Brothers and Pink Floyd songs on acoustic guitar into the wee morning hours.
3) Positive feedback on the festival from all of you. Throughout the weekend I heard incredible comments from friends and strangers – giving me a much-needed perspective on High Sierra. We get so mired in production and minutiae that we need to step outside of it to realize why High Sierra is so meaningful to many people. It's a bit deflating when the festival ends but everyone's feedback is helping me stay focused on and excited for next year's event.
Aaron Benor :: Relix Advertising Account Executive
1) Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - What an amazing set of pipes! This chick can wail with the best of 'em and with a solid band backing her up, she's destined for big things.
2) Conspirator – Aron, Marc and Chris really nailed it. Deep grooves, fantastic peaks and great guest sit-ins (Brock Butler, Joe Russo, Kim Manning) blew me away. They get better each time they play.
3) Alfred Howard and the K23 Orchestra – Why haven't more people layered hip-hop over jam music? Keep it coming, Al!
Ami Heinrich :: Tsunami Publicity, LLC
1) KINKY! - Completely amazed me live and their CD is equally exciting and refreshing
2) Bill Frisell - Just like making love to melody
3) Surprise Me Mr. Davis - Nathan Moore + the Slip = New Frontiers in Poetry and Music
Adam Haft :: New Monsoon, Morgan Heritage - Manager
1) Spearhead - Michael Franti has an uncanny ability to inspire, and the band was smoking.
2) Hot Buttered Rum String Band - This is one of my favorite bands, and their performance at HSMF only reaffirmed that.
3) ALO - Another of my favorites, they stepped it up big. And I loved Dan Lebowitz sitting in with Samantha and the Ritual (who were great, also).
3a) Ty Towry's margaritas and bloody marys. Yummy good.
Eric Gerber :: JFJO, Dead Kenny Gs, Hairy Apes BMX - Manager
1) Bill Frisell Band at the Vaudeville Tent. Pure artistry with sound. Bill and band created a soundscape of notes that weaved together into some of the most beautiful tones and rhythms I have ever heard, delightful. For 90 minutes, the music turned the HSMF paradise into heaven.
2) Dead Kenny Gs at the Vaudeville Tent. Good thing that this show was at noon. If it had been in the dark I think the energy from the packed house would have lit the tent on fire.
3) The D'Addario workshop with Fareed Haque and Steve Kimock. Two masters with two distinct styles playing together to create something entirely unique. This was my son's first HSMF Playshop, what a treat.
J. Gibson :: reapandsow Director of Operations
1) Al Howard and the K23 Orchestra blowing up the Vaudeville Tent
2) The Slip Late Nite - Constructing an Art Piece made of sound
3) Benevento and Russo Late Nite - Continuing that art piece of sound
3(a) JFJO - Big Meadow
Melissa Adair :: InHouse Ticketing - Marketing Coordinator
1) Everyone Orchestra Late Nite Sunday. At least 20 of the best musicians at HSMF joined forces to create the ultimate late night. Orchestrated by Jamie Janover and Matt Butler the EO was funkier than ever.
2) ALO Grandstand Sunday. With some of the sweetest summer jams to go along with four awesome musicians, trampolines, and a crowd handing out free tiki coladas this was definitely a lifelong highlight.
3) Benevento/Russo Duo Big Meadow Saturday. Jaw dropping two-piece that rocked my world.
Andy Gadiel :: JamBase CEO
1) High Sierra – The festival itself makes my Top 3 this year – the whole thing is set up perfectly so you can flow from one stage to another, stop by to see your friends at their campsites and catch some shade and a refresher and then back out into the seemingly never-ending array of musical choices. The scene, the vibe, the music, the people -- It all really lives up to the "Best Fest" claims by fans year in and year out.
2) Grace Potter - wow
3) Meltone – the Japanese rock band crafting inspired original melodies from completely authentic American influenced music.
Super Dee :: JamBase - Director of Content & Production
1) "Summer Of My Fall" by Surprise Me Mr. Davis
2) "All Night Long" by Perpetual Groove
3) Meltone from Japan
Andrew Warren :: JamBase - Minister of Information
1) The Slip's High Sierra Music Hall Late Nite performance's of "Proud," "Wolof" and "Happy Snails" (with The Duo).
2) Surprise Me Mr. Davis' two set show in the Vaudeville tent with stellar performances of "I Hate Love," "Red Sky" and "Summer of My Fall."
3) Brock Butler (Perpetual Groove) and Deanne Herman (JamBase) on "All This Everything (Part 1)" at the RV before the Late Nite Benevento/Russo throwdown.
Adam Kaye :: JamBase - Copy Editor
1) Kai Eckhardt's smile while his 9 year-old son Danilo was trading licks with his daddy and Alan Hertz on his little drum set toward the end of Garaj Mahal's Main Stage set Friday afternoon. He wasn't good for a 9 year-old. He was good.
2) Everything Nathan Moore touched, particularly the stillness surrounding his new song "If I Should Be in Jail Tonight" Saturday morning at the Americana Stage. He wrote it in the holding tank in Quincy the previous night, and while he sang, the wind flowing through the trees seemed to slow just a bit.
3) A tie between the end of Yonder's first set late Thursday night ("Ramblin' In The Rambler" > "Reuben & Cherise" > "Ramblin' In The Rambler") and the beginning of their second set ("Stairway To Watchtower," "Natural Woman," and "Kentucky Mandolin" - all featuring Keller Williams).
Tanner Wyer :: JamBase Employee
1) ALO – As if their Late Nite was not a fun enough party, their Main Stage set on Sunday will be something to remember for a long time. Complete with trampolines and a portable mini bar, they truly brought out the animal in everyone.
2) Perpetual Groove – Their sound has developed so much since the first time I heard them several years ago. Such a fun band to watch play, as you just wait for them to absolutely explode. When they do, it still catches you by surprise. One of my new favorite bands without a doubt.
3) The New Mastersounds – What the funk. Seriously, these guys were blowing the roof off the place. Such a treat to see a band I had heard so much about really come through. Come back to America... right now!
Michael Ryan :: JamBase - Intern
1) Yonder Mountain String Band with Keller, and then the army of mandolins, and battalion of banjos
2) Hot Buttered Rum String Band with Peter Rowan, Shannon Gilchrist, Mike Marshall, and Chris Thile
3) Meltone - Japanese jam band on top of RV
Ted Kartzman :: JamBase Rhapsody Blog Maintainer
1) "Red sky, yellow line, apple pie, friends of mine...this time, this war, we don't belong here..." - Surprise Me Mr. Davis, emotionally and with very poetic imagery of what was happening to both Nathan and our country in the super two set suite of Surprise Sunday songs.
2) The strength that Joe Russo had to muster up to play the Sunday Late Nite after being whored out on like a dozen stages all weekend, bringing classic The Duo crescendos of "9x9" and "My Pet Goat" to epic proportions.
3) After huge crowd roar in the Vaudeville Tent, the nice little fellow from Meltone spoke with very deliberate word choice, "Please help us get back here!"
Dennis Cook :: JamBase Primary Contributor and Freelance Journalistic Monkey
1) Surprise Me Mr. Davis (Sunday afternoon) - The combination of ThaMuseMent's Nathan Moore and the good men of The Slip proved a heady, nicely nuanced pop-rock explosion, with more than a few touches reminiscent of Rolling Thunder-era Bob Dylan. Far different from either of their regular gigs, Mr. Davis uses the same raw ingredients as Wilco and beats them at their game by writing better songs. Outside of a mini-set at last year's festival this was their West Coast debut, and we can only hope they bring this vital, extra catchy comes back for more soon.
2) The Dead Kenny G's (Friday afternoon) - Skerik, Mike Dillon and JFJO's Brian Haas tore the tops of our heads off and stirred our brains like so much fruity yogurt. Mid-show Skerik screamed, "We're here to free you from the tyranny and commercial oppression of your ears!" Scathing, cleansing, exhilarating.
3) Bill Frisell Band (Friday Late Nite and Saturday afternoon) - The very music the trees and rivers around us would have requested if they had a voice. Such stirring beauty and sublime interaction that both sets brought me to happy tears.
Robyn Rubinstein :: JamBase Writer
1) New Mastersounds - Unadulterated funk.
2) Kinky - Raucous Latin tinged electronica funk meets rock and deep house. Highly danceable and HIGHLY recommended.
3) Lotus - Finally, an electronica styled band that has eliminated the B-grade trance sound and sticks to the all-important business of making you get down.
Susan J. Weiand :: Photographer
1) Garaj Mahal Late Nite - What can you say about these guys and their legendary late nite throwdowns. This one lasted well past 5 a.m. with sit-ins from Jessica Lurie, Reggie Watts, Al Howard and a sleepy little Nina Narachi. Also Kai Eckhardt's 9 year old son Danilo played a drum kit during their main stage set and also participated in the Everyone's Drumming and Karl Denson playshops. The talented kid is a rock star in training!
2) Carolyn Wonderland - Vaudeville stage - Soulful blues from Texas, her voice a cross between a young Bonnie Raitt and Janis Joplin with a little Susan Tedeschi thrown in, this woman had the killer pipes and guitar chops. In the same vein, Grace Porter and the Nocturnals, another young 21 year old bluesy mama with B3 chops and a great voice and stage presence.
3) Meltone - Vaudeville Tent - a Japanese jam band, their second time playing in the US, sounding like Phish or even a bit like Particle and oh so appreciative of the American crowd's adoration. They also did a RV set and an Americana set, after which the buzz spread they were one band not to miss on Sunday.
Dave Vann :: Photographer
1) The Benevento/Russo Duo - Sunday Late Mite set - Funk 'N Jamhouse. All of the High Sierra Late Nites were the bomb. The Duo's Late Nite set in the Funk 'N Jamhouse in particular was amazing. The whole set was very emotive and The Duo definitely had the packed audience under their hypnotic spell. They also played two sublime covers of Radiohead's "Myxomatosis" from Hail to the Thief and Elliot Smith's "Waltz #1" from XO that were very moving.
2) Electric Apricot - Artist Playshop with Les Claypool & Friends - Saturday Afternoon - Tulsa E. Scott Building. Part of the uniqueness of High Sierra comes with the intimate performances and interactions that you can have with the artists. The playshops which happen every day in the Tulsa E. Scott Building are a perfect example. This very phunny parody performance was a band lead by Les Claypool as his alter ego Lapland "Lapdog" Miclovik (happy-go-lucky, technical marvel drummer/percussionist/singer/songwriter) and three of his friends shifting between heavy brooding jams and cliché shiny happy hippy melodies. Les was in full hippie regalia with long black wig, groovy John Lennon Shades and Rolling Stones "Lips" shirt. He played the drums, sang, as well as played the wind chimes and cow bells. The rest of the band also took a few moments to "Enlighten the world through music" - by throwing actual dried apricot's out to the audience. The funniest part about the whole thing is that some people in the crowd didn't even realize that it was a joke.
3) Conspirator - Sunday Evening - Big Meadow Stage. The newest Disco Biscuit side project featuring Aron Magner on keys, Marc Brownstein on bass and DJ Omen from Final Phaze NYC on turntables definitely was a highlight. Their sound was ambient, brooding and driving all at the same time. Their evening set on the Big Meadow Stage drew a full enthusiastic audience dancing hard to the heavy electro-trance beats. They also had some help from friends to fill out their sound including sit-ins from Brock Butler from PGroove, Kim Manning (P-Funk) on vocals and the Duo's Joe Russo. Look for more Conspirator on the road later this summer -- www.conspirator.org.
Jon Bahr: ASCAP - Marketing / Photographer / The Slip - Manager
1) Just being at High Sierra! The pace is a couple steps slower than a festival like Bonnaroo. There is less urgency in seeing everything and more of a focus on the overall enjoyment of the weekend, however you want your pace to be. This is partially because some of the bands are smaller and everyone plays at least twice, which is a huge bonus. This is a huge plus that leads to much more hanging at the campsite (big ups to the JamBase homestead) and more interactions with the good, good people of the West Coast.
2) The saga of The Slip and their good friends. It was a bizarre week in California for sure. With the week beginning with Brad Barr of The Slip being struck with a case of Vertigo just hours before his first Cali solo show (a great show nonetheless), it got even more atypical. The Slip's 8th straight High Sierra was a strange string of ups and downs beginning with an incident that made for a good story and an even better song. Following this, Brad was struck by a sudden illness after the Late Nite set (causing him to miss the Saturday Slip set) and then the illness hit Andrew Barr (who fought through fatigue and nausea for two fantastic sets of Surprise Me Mr. Davis). Luckily The Slip have many friends at HSMF who came to their need as Marco Benevento filled in with the help of Al Howard and Nathan Moore while Brad was ill and getting ready to be hooked up to an IV.
3) Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey. They keep doing it. The latest evolution of the Fred is pure magic. With a set mostly comprised of tributes (not covers), a host of songs by musicians that have influenced them including The Beatles, Brian Wilson, Bjork and Neil Young, JFJO has advance their greatness to new heights. The new album, due out in the fall with many of these songs on it, looks to be a gem.
Josh Miller :: Photographer
1) Tea Leaf Green - Perpetual Groove Late Night in Tulsa. What a great way to start off my High Sierra! I'd never seen Perpetual Groove live and they surely delivered the goods. TLG is a favorite of mine and I enjoyed the guest appearances of Eric McFadden, Sean Leahy, Jordan Feinstein and Grace Potter... pure High Sierra all the way! Always rockin' and what a great band to photograph.
2) I had the opportunity to see both of The Mother Hips sets. I love this American Rock n Roll band! Tim is one the best front men in the business and The Hips just flat out rock!
3) ALO's mainstage appearance. This band is getting better and better by the day. They really know how to put on a show that puts smiles on all the faces in the crowd. Every time I looked back at the crowd I saw nothing but wide grins!
Grace Dunn :: JamBase Photographer
1) Surprise Me Mr. Davis
2) Al Howard (Late Nite Vaudeville Tent)
3) Close tie between The Duo on the Big Meadow and YMSB on Main Stage
Aaron Kayce (Kayceman) :: JamBase - Editor, Senior Writer
1) Watching my fiancé "get back to her roots" at YMSB's Main Stage Performance. Cheesy? Yes. But without question the highlight of my weekend.
2) Surprise Me Mr. Davis at the Vaudeville Tent. Nathan Moore proves to be one of the most under-appreciated song writers and story tellers of our day. Backed by The Slip, this band is a sure thing.
3) The Slip Late Nite. What can I say--I gotta major soft spot for The Slip. In fact, I'd be more than happy to argue that they are one of the greatest bands that can't seem to get over that proverbial hump. From instrumental madness to song-writing genius The Slip remains one of my favorite bands of all time. If there was but a shred of justice in the music biz The Slip would be leaking out of your radio.
I gotta throw an "Honorable Mention" out there for my boy Al Howard's inspirational Late Nite set in the Vaudeville. Check him out.
Don't forget to check out Susan J. Weiand's HSMF Photo Gallery for more images.
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