High Sierra Music Festival 2008
Despite the forest fires that plagued Northern California, the festival went off without a hitch, providing its own smoking performances and hot jams along with inventive instrumental interplay and socially conscious songs.
High Sierra Music Festival 2008
As the 18th annual High Sierra Music Festival approached, some doubt was cast in the smoky air from the wildfires that plagued Northern California. Word was the main access route to Quincy might be closed off. The fires were still burning so recklessly around Plumas County, there was even speculation the entire festival could be cancelled. This fortunately did not occur and fans were treated to four days and nights of big festival vibes in a small festival setting, resulting in a glorious Independence Day weekend of near-utopian peace and harmony. The main route in from Highway 70 was closed off near Oroville, though, meaning most travelers had to go further east to Truckee and backtrack up Route 85 or take a circuitous canyon detour around Bucks Lake. The detour extended the trip by quite awhile, although it did offer some beautiful canyon scenery. Traveling out of the Bay Area on July 3 is always a dicey proposition. Even in this foul year of rising gas prices and economic downturn, traffic was still agonizingly heavy all the way from San Francisco to Sacramento and beyond toward the Sierras. Campers who were really on the ball traveled up the day before, leaving the traffic to late arrivals. Festival organizers were well aware of such potential issues though, as the first day of the festival wasn’t exactly front-loaded with top draws. But just about everyone had arrived by the time Idaho alt-rockers Built to Spill hit the main stage for Thursday’s headlining performance. Powered by three guitars, the band’s psychedelic sound sparkles as it soars across the starry night sky; the Big Dipper seemingly pouring cosmic ooze down onto the stage. Now it’s onto the late night action. On each night, one band performs for free in the Vaudeville Tent, while two or three other double-bills are offered in the late night music halls for extra ticketing fees. Depending on your mood and taste, these extra fees could be well worth it for four or five extra hours of entertainment. On Thursday night for example, The Slip plays the Vaudeville Tent; the Mother Hips, a band going through an impressive musical renaissance over the past year, are playing for $18; trip-hop star Bassnectar for $22; and rising jam phenoms Blue Turtle Seduction for $12. Opening for Blue Turtle Seduction is Phix, a Phish cover band that can’t seem to help keep getting back together even though they’ve supposedly broken up. The band delivers the goods with a truly Phishy sound that has the room moving to a variety of Phish classics. The key to the band’s sonic success is bassist Brian Adams, who delivers the dynamic low-end without which a Phish cover band would just sound like a garage band. He’s also the one member of the group who bears an uncanny resemblance to his likeness, as if he could be Phish bassist Mike Gordon’s younger brother or cousin. The highlight of the set is a stupendous rendition of “Divided Sky”. The classic tune is delivered with as much energy and precision as any “phan” could hope for, with guitarist Paul Murin nailing every one of Trey Anastasio’s licks.
Blue Turtle Seduction