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High Sierra Music Festival’s fresh, new acts

HSMFPhoto by Sam Heller

The annual High Sierra Music Festival has become a true staple of Northern California music culture over the past two decades. This year the event’s talent has deviated, just slightly, from some of the old favorites to some truly fresh acts. Here’s a look at some of the newcomers to High Sierra’s 23rd incarnation, set to take place at the Plumas County Fairgrounds in Quincy, CA between July 4th and 7th.

Listen to our High Sierra Music Fest playlist.

Primus – Les Claypool has graced High Sierra with his presence many times, but this year he brings his original claim to fame for a banner headlining set. Les, along with Larry LaLonde and Jay Lane, have been touring the heck out of his 90’s staple rock act the past few years, and it is only fitting we see him atop the lineup in 2013. A few years ago, Primus developed a 3D stage show to accompany their tour, and it has received solid reviews as an extra sensory rock and roll show experience unlike others. Though it appears this festival set will be in standard, human dimension.


Thievery Corporation – The DJ/production duo of Rob Garza and Eric Hilton have championed the melding of various world music influences with electronic music, both on record and the live stage. Their worldly influences range from classical Indian to Brazilian Bossa Nova to dub and everything caught in the middle. Some attendees may be less familiar with Thievery, but are sure to enjoy a warm evening’s worth of mellow downtempo music in a rare live format.

Steel Pulse – These roots reggae legends have been going strong for almost 40 years and show no signs of letting up their furious live touring pace. Luckily, Quincy will be on their summer itinerary for a premier set of Afro-Caribbean inspired roots reggae. Still as dynamic as ever, David Hinds and company are preparing yet another album to be released this year. Expect to hear some new material as well as favorites like “Roller Skates,” “Stepping Out” and my personal favorite “Chant a Psalm.”

Gramatik – High Sierra has always kept their roots in live bands, but has branched out over the past few years with the inclusion of a handful of electronic acts to draw in a younger crowd while widening the variety of music showcased. Denis Jasarevic is one of Pretty Lights Music’s rising stars, enthralling young crowds with his beat-driven style of funk, jazz, and hip-hop. His new stage dubbed “the Tesla Coil,” coupled with his inclusion of a live guitar player will up his act at the festival this year.

Lee Fields & the Expressions – Lee Fields is one of the few soul acts who is still continually touring and recording after some 43 years in the business, and will likely become a new favorite for attendees unfamiliar with the legendary name. Akin to Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, Fields’ style of soul music includes elements of James Brown era funk, lo-fi blues and contemporary Southern soul.

White Denim – Many festival attendees are thrilled to see this Austin, TX bands name listed on the lineup for 2013, and it’s for good reason, as White Denim is one of the most exciting rock acts playing. Having won over accolades last year as the touring support to Wilco, this act is an impressive amalgamation of progressive indie rock. Their early work leans more towards the lo-fi psychedelic, while their later releases feature a more polished indie sound with room, and skill, to improvise on.

Allen Stone – The self-proclaimed “hippie with soul” is set to make his debut, and his set(s) should not be missed, as he is one of the leaders of the soul and R&B revival sweeping the nation. His years in the local church choir have aided this young man’s ability to truly feel the words that he sings. Expect the female festivalgoers to go bonkers for this pitch-perfect crooner.

Lord Huron – Ben Schneider started using the name Lord Huron as a tag for his solo material about 3 years ago, but the project has grown to a full band. The indie folk outfit has been crafting a unique mountain-folk sound, rich with harmony and a romanticized view on the distant past. Lord Huron should make for a nice break between clustering banjos and electronic funk at the Plumas County Fairgrounds this July.

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  1. […] head to San Francisco after a pair of performances at High Sierra Music Festival this week, and they’re likely to premier new material. The group has shared videos (view them […]

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