Waterfront Blues Festival 2016: A colorful palette to feed the soul

Waterfront Blues Festival 2016By Tom Dellinger //

Waterfront Blues Festival //
Tom McCall Waterfront Park – Portland, OR
July 1st-4th, 2016 //

Portland is a remarkable city. It’s a city I’ve found to be one of the most hospitable I’ve ever encountered, and it was once again a great pleasure to cover their annual Waterfront Blues Festival over the Fourth of July weekend.

Now in its 29th year running, the Waterfront Blues Festival remains an anomaly in the world of modern music festivals. With a daily entrance cost of only $10 per day, though other levels are available like patron and benefactor which offer more perks, they continue sell out at all levels and annually raise surprisingly large amounts to donate to the Oregon Food Bank. This year they once again raised a stunning $1 million dollars! Represented in the musical lineup were artists ranging from the Portland area to California, Louisiana, Brazil and Nigeria with several of the higher-profile artists — JJ Grey & Mofro, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Samantha Fish, The California Honeydrops and Femi Kuti — also appearing at High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, Calif., over the weekend.

Over the course of four days, there was a lot to take in. The festival featured two large stages at opposite ends of the main field, and beyond that, there were also a couple of smaller intimate stages — one offering a one-on-one opportunity with festivalgoers and the other with a dance floor. Both Portland and the Northwest in general have a wealth of excellent musicians to pull from, and every year I see a few new faces in addition to some I’ve witnessed a few times over the years. Local guitarists Ty Curtis and Ben Rice have become a couple of my favorites, and the soulful vocals of Andy Stokes and LaRhonda Steele never fail me. They always seem to provide memorable performances.

Waterfront Blues Festival 2016 - Christone Ingram

Christone “Kingfish” Ingram

There were many memorable moments over the holiday weekend, but one in particular came late in the day on July 4th as Christone “Kingfish” Ingram and Ty Curtis sat in with Samantha Fish. At just the age of 17, Ingram already has a few years of touring and recording behind him and has always been considered to be one with great potential. During his set on Saturday, it was obvious he was making good on that. He had a stronger stage presence, his voice more matured and the guitar work more expansive. It was a solid set that was well-received.

But on the festival’s final day as he, Curtis and Fish were taking things “out there,” Ingram let loose with some blistering hot runs, which in turn drove Curtis and Fish all that much harder. And the fans were loving it as if they were on a wild ride with no limits. Once the dust settled, everybody knew this was one of the great moments of the weekend with smiles all around.

Another standout performance came from Portland-based vocalist Liv Warield, a member of The New Power Generation who performed alongside Prince for several years. She reached out to members of TNPG as well as other locals to put together a tribute for Prince in a way she said he would want to be remembered. In addition to some Prince songs, there were also some of her own (Prince co-wrote songs with her) as well as from other artists whom Prince liked to play or cover. It was a riveting and powerful performance.

Waterfront Blues Festival 2016 - Igor Prado Band

Igor Prado Band

I always appreciate an international element at music festivals, and we had a few overseas acts again this year. The great Femi Kuti & The Positive Force played a stunning set with a large band that was heavy on horns, percussion and dancers as they worked a passionate performance in the Afrobeat style of his late father, Fela Kuti.

Hailing from Brazil was the Igor Prado Band, whose passion and understanding of this very American music form is undeniable. Prado is riveting on guitar, both for his playing and for his stage presence. The man knows how to work a crowd. They were also joined by keyboard ace Jim Pugh (who was in on many sets over the weekend) and Portland-based Curtis Salgado on harp and vocals.

Another big surprise came from Bay Area artist Aki Kumar. With a strong backing band at the singer’s side that featured Christoffer “Kid” Andersen on guitar, Derrick “D’mar” Martin on drums, Vance Ehlers on bass and Jim Pugh on keyboards, they played a wildly fun set that featured blues mashed up with Bollywood. It worked very well, and the crowd loved them.

Waterfront Blues Festival - Royal Jelly Jive

Royal Jelly Jive

There were artists who stretch what we might expect at a blues festival. Few embody that idea more than Los Straightjackets. Sure. Why not? We all need surf music from time to time, and these guys are fun to watch as well.

Bay Area collective Royal Jelly Jive defy categorization. With strong elements of swing, they nevertheless have a very modern sound with smart, well-crafted songs that both swing and rock a crowd, which is exactly what they did. In addition to being a fun band to watch, their unique sound and style made them a standout.

Ayron Jones and the Way were interesting. Though they are heavily blues-based, at times it felt like head-banging metal. What a kick that was!

Waterfront Blues Festival - Tedeschi Trucks Band

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Few bands seem to be so universally loved and admired more than Tedeschi Trucks Band, and on the festival’s opening night, they gave us one of their sublime sets. It was a perfect night in Portland with the Willamette River in the background and the band running through another one of its flawless, tasty performances, marking an elegant start to the festival.

Over the weekend, many names we’ve come to know and love made an appearance. Maceo Parker, Dr. John, Jimmie Vaughan, ZZ Ward, JJ Grey & Mofro and The California Honeydrops were all exciting sets to see. It was a festival that was rich in many ways. The diversity. The quality. The vibe. Even the weather was about perfect (last year it was in the 90’s).

Portland remains an impressive city that knows how to throw one hell of a party. I continue to be impressed with all they are able to accomplish, and this festival is at the top of the list. Big props to the city, the artists, the staff and the volunteers who make it all possible. I can’t wait for next year.

Fruition flex their muscle at The Chapel

FruitionBy Tom Dellinger //

Fruition with Steep Ravine //
The Chapel – San Francisco
April 28th, 2016 //

For the third stop on their current six-week tour, Portland-based band Fruition hit The Chapel last Thursday, playing long, hard and deep to the delight of a near-capacity crowd. Currently touring in support of their latest release Labor of Love, all five band members were in top form as they ripped through a pair of sets that lasted until almost 1 a.m. If you were looking to get your weekend started early and with a jolt, this was the show to be at.

After a set from Bay Area four-piece Steep Ravine, Fruition opened with the smooth soul of “Santa Fe” from their new LP and kept things going from there. Moving into the night, they drew heavily from Labor of Love and their ever-expanding catalog. I saw the quintet open for Animal Liberation Orchestra last year, and it was exciting to experience Fruition’s significant growth that was evident during this visit to SF.

Playing shows in their hometown and beyond along with stops at some of the country’s top music festivals, Fruition sounded tight, focused and seasoned at The Chapel. Both sets had a nice balance of energy as they took us on a ride that was always rock solid, varied and often dazzling. With Jay Cobb Anderson (vocals, lead guitar, harmonica), Kellen Asebroek (vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards), Mimi Naja (vocals, mandolin, electric and acoustic guitar), Jeff Leonard (bass) and Tyler Thompson (drums, banjo), they showcased songs that were both sonically complex and satisfying.


Fruition draw from a number of genres — including folk, soul, blues and rock — to create an Americana feel, and on Thursday night, they leaned heavily on their rock ‘n’ roll tendencies. While their first set offered a tasty mix of styles, it also offered glimpses into their full-driving rock sound. After a short break, the second set came on strong and remained there for a while as they hit it hard and loud.

As The Chapel rang and shook with impossibly rich guitar tones and flying mandolin runs coming from Anderson and Naja that were backed with the fullness of the band’s rhythm section, the crowd responded loudly as the room once again came roaring back to life. In addition to many moments like this, it was also laced with gems like the psychedelic jam “Early Morning Wake Up” and the heavy blues rock of “Death Come Knockin'”. Throughout the night, there were many aspects to enjoy. Anderson and Naja were equally impressive in fulfilling their duties as lead vocalists and while harmonizing with Asebroek. By the time it was all over, Fruition had played a solid, two-hour show that left the fans thoroughly happy.

With a history that began with a folk-based string sound, Fruition have continued to evolve over the years, and this show in SF was solid evidence of that growth. While Labor of Love remains a joy to play over and over again, the band’s live performances take its sound well beyond what a studio recording can convey. Keep your eyes peeled for Fruition on festival lineups this summer and at your local venues — an evening of fiery chemistry, excellent musicianship and good times will most certainly be your reward.

A revival at The Independent with The Revivalists

The RevivalistsBy Tom Dellinger //

The Revivalists with KOLARS //
The Independent – San Francisco
March 19th, 2016 //

The term “revival” conjures up images of being renewed, restored or revived — physically, mentally or spiritually — and is something we often seek in our lives from time to time.

Growing up in the South, I can recall the days when religious revivals used to roll into town, setting up their tents and attracting the locals to be spiritually renewed by seeking that deep experience. Today’s music scene shares a great deal in common with those fond memories of mine, and on Saturday night, The Revivalists honored that expectation in a very big way as they played their second show of a two-night, sold-out run at The Independent.

The Revivalists

The line started forming early for Saturday’s show as Bay Area fans and ones from as far away as the East Coast arrived. Many I met were active in the fan community, known as Rev Heads and had attended Friday night’s show. As was mentioned to me more than once, many agreed that the group’s cover of Grateful Dead’s “Morning Dew” the night before had been a pleasant surprise. And as is the case with many bands today, The Revivalists have also earned the love of an expanding and dedicated fan base that will go to great lengths to see them perform all over the world.

After witnessing Saturday’s performance, it’s easy now to see why. With three full-length albums under its belt — including 2010’s Vital Signs, 2014’s two-disc set City of Sound and most recently Men Amongst Mountains in 2015 — and a busy touring schedule, the band has clearly established itself with fans as well as venues and festivals.

The Revivalists

A beaming David Shaw led the New Orleans-based septet onstage as they launched into “Keep Going”, a tune that instantly had the house dancing and rocking. With Shaw (guitar, vocals), Zack Feinberg (guitar), Ed Williams (pedal steel guitar), Rob Ingraham (saxophone), George Gekas (bass), Andrew Campanelli (drums) and Michael Girardot (keyboards, trumpet), The Revivalists took us through their catalog to what felt like impossible heights at times. It was a dynamic show with excellent song choices that kept the house energized and the fans happy.

Slowing down a little once in a while, the band played flawlessly, and as the evening went on, one had the sense something rare was beginning to take place. If you experience a lot of live music, we all see this once in a while. The energy from the band to the audience is established and returned, but once in a while, that energy seems to grow well beyond expectations and everybody feels it. If you’re lucky, the performance becomes transcendent, which is exactly what happened on Saturday night. Everybody in the band played with a passion that was a straight shot to the heart. If you weren’t already a fan of The Revivalists, this performance most certainly sealed the deal.

The Revivalists

The fans were intense, the band was intense and the joy between the two was off the charts. It was obvious they were having a great night. They seemed relaxed from the beginning and by the end of the night were ripping into every note with abandon. After the scorching set closer “Criminal”, the band returned for a three-song encore to close things out, only to return one more time for a stupendous rendition of “Gimme Shelter”. For those in the house who came from both far and near, it turned out to be a pretty good bargain; we made the journey to The Revivalists, and in return, our souls were once again rejuvenated. The spirit of their music touched us all in that unique way good music does. There was no substitute.

Opening the show were KOLARS, an alternative-indie duo consisting of husband Rob Kolar (guitar, vocals) and wife Lauren Brown Kolar (drums, vocals). Though they are sometimes seen in the context of the Los Angeles band He’s My Brother She’s My Sister, they’ve been taking this minimalist approach, which served them well in SF. Offering a set of songs that defy categorization (they coin their music as “desert disco, glam-a-billy, space blues and R&Beyond”), their opening set continued to build as they earned a positive response from those around me.

Keep Going
Souls Too Loud
Appreciate Me I
Appreciate Me II
Catching Fireflies
Fade Away
Move On
Bullet Proof Vest
Gold to Glass
Wish I Knew You

Encore #1:
King of What
I Believe It Was a Sin

Encore #2:
Gimme Shelter (The Rolling Stones cover)

With The Sam Chase & The Untraditional leading the way, The Chapel celebrates Halloween in style

The Candy Butchers Bash - The Sham Chase & The Untraditional

The Sam Chase & The Untraditional

By Tom Dellinger //

The Candy Butchers Bash featuring The Sam Chase & The Untraditional, Royal Jelly Jive, The Crux and special guests Mission Delirium //
The Chapel – San Francisco
October 31st, 2015 //

Halloween just came and went this past Saturday night. The weather was perfect as the streets of SF filled early with trick-or-treating kids as well as those out to celebrate the night with some big-kid entertainment. All across the Bay Area, there were many parties and shows to get that itch scratched. One of the best was The Candy Butchers Bash, a sold-out show at The Chapel that featured The Sam Chase & The Untraditional, Royal Jelly Jive and The Crux, along with special guests Mission Delirium and a number of talented aerialists to give it that something extra that made it one of the more unique shows in Northern California.

Decked out for that All Hallows’ Eve vibe, the venue’s stage was decorated with pumpkins and strands of light bulbs over it gave the room a carnival-like feel. Royal Jelly Jive vocalist Lauren Bjelde and The Crux vocalist Josh Windmiller pulled that off together and did a fine job of decorating The Chapel properly. By the time The Crux hit the stage first, most of the crowd was on hand, dressed in costumes and ready to have a good time.

The Candy Butchers Bash - The Crux

The Crux

Opening the show was the Santa Rosa-based band consisting of Josh Windmiller (vocals, guitar), Joshua Jackson (bass), Kalei Yamanoha (trumpet, accordion) and Taylor Cuffie (drums). With a style they refer to as “folk punk”, The Crux have a stripped-down, rough sound that felt like a mix of Tom Waits and Kurt Weill with a vaudevillian vibe. Windmiller is no doubt an engaging performer, as his persona and rough vocals easily connected with the Halloween audience. After a few tunes into the band’s set, he was joined by aerialist Sierra Faulkner, who performed using silk fabric as she effortlessly twisted and turned her way up the strands above the crowd to perform numerous maneuvers. Graceful, stylistic and with a bit of danger, she added fuel to the fire as the evening continued to warm up.

During the ensuing set break, brass band Mission Delirium came out into the crowd, lined up at the front of the stage and proceeded to keep the energy high as they playfully ripped through some funky tunes with blasting trombones, tuba and drums. The crowd loved it as many audience members laughed and danced with the band, signaling that the festive party and carnival vibe was in full swing at this point.

The Candy Butchers Bash - Royal Jelly Jive

Royal Jelly Jive

Keeping the momentum going, Royal Jelly Jive hit with another one of their explosive sets. Foot stomping and swinging, they lit up the place as Bjelde tore into the band’s catalog with a fervor. With irresistibly rich grooves from the rhythm section of Felix Macnee (drums) and Tyden Binsted (bass), Bjelde and the band touched upon many of their best tunes, including “Indian George” and “Pterygophora”, both of which continued to elevate the crowd’s energy. Rich songs and compositions are the norm for this dynamic up-and-coming band, which also offers enchanting vocals from Bjelde, wide-ranging keyboard styles and sounds from Jesse Lemme Adams and an enviable, articulate horn section comprised of Robbie Elfman, Luke Zavala and Danny Cao. Also joining the band was aerialist Caroline Dignes, who performed on a hoop high above the crowd. Elegant and visually riveting, she continued to add to the carnival theme of the night.

After more shenanigans from Mission Delirium, headliner The Sam Chase & The Untraditional hit the stage with style. Introducing the band beforehand was a pair of twins with a creep factor reminiscent of those in “The Shining”, as they invited the house to enjoy The Sam Chase forever and ever … and ever. With drummer Ted Desmarais dressed as Igor from the 1974 comedy film “Young Frankenstein”, he entered the stage bent over with a massive hump (“what hump?”), and one by one, he physically moved, pushed and cajoled each member of the band to their place on the stage. The band members appeared to be in a zombie-like state as Desmarais positioned them and patiently placed instruments in their hands. It was a fine little piece of theater before the band would explode with the final entrée of the night.

The Candy Butchers Bash - The Sham Chase & The Untraditional

The Sam Chase & The Untraditional

Though The Sam Chase & The Untraditional describe their music as “kick-ass folk” on their Facebook page, they are that and more. Many of Chase’s songs are rowdy and delivered with a weather-beaten, whiskey-colored vocal style as he and the band rolled through their catalog. It’s not surprising they’ve become a favorite among SF bands. Their songs are well-crafted — much like an artisan cocktail — and delivered with a precision that stands in contrast to Chase’s seemingly reckless, almost drunken delivery style.

For The Sam Chase & The Untraditional’s set on Saturday night, we were treated to a ride that was at times bombastic and exhilarating but also included the occasional easygoing folk tune. Chase has a tight band behind him between the aforementioned Desmarais, Dave Rapa (bass), Joshua James Jackson (trumpet), Debbie Neigher (keyboards), Devon McClive (cello) and Nikko Rios (guitar), and they all lit into the music with an infectious energy that they sustained to the very end. During the performance, we saw the return of Dignes and Faulkner to perform on the hoop together. In costume as zombies, these two aerialists were dramatic as they went through their routine, adding both elegance and a sense of danger by pushing the envelope of possibilities, all while the crowd roared with delight.

Reminiscent of the Great American Spirit Ball headlined by Royal Jelly Jive back in July (read our review of the show here), The Candy Butchers Bash has the potential to become another highly sought-after, recurring show in SF. Unique in presentation, both events delivered some of the most memorable performances I have experienced in some time. And for those who found themselves at The Chapel on Saturday night, we all know we experienced some of the very best that the Bay Area music scene has to offer right now.

SF’s own Megan Slankard is an artist at the door

Megan SlankardBy Tom Dellinger //

Megan Slankard with Peter Case //
Great American Music Hall – San Francisco
October 16th, 2015 //

Last Friday night, KC Turner Presents and KFOG radio partnered to present The Boob Project, a fundraising event for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, featuring SF indie-rock act Megan Slankard and opener Peter Case. The idea for The Boob Project, which originally took shape at KFOG, has led to the song Boob Spelled Backwards is Boob, a rallying cry that has brought together many artists such as Michael Franti, Elle King, ZZ Ward, Graham Nash, Steve Earle and many more with Slankard as one of the co-writers and producer of this project.

Megan Slankard

Early in the evening, KFOG on-air personalities Renee Richardson, No Name and Irish Greg shared some of the history and purpose of The Boob Project as well as honoring Slankard’s contributions. Slankard is well-known and popular among live music fans throughout the Bay Area and beyond as she’s been out performing and honing her considerable skills for several years now. Along the way, she’s released four LPs with her most recent offering Running on Machinery coming out earlier this month. A rich, complex and rewarding journey filled with spine-tingling moments, it shows an artist on top of her game. Slankard and the band soar and dive free as a bird, resulting in an album that is an absolute joy to hear — an exhilarating ride that’s constantly moving in new and unexpected directions. This collection of songs is broad in scope and allows her to touch us in the gentlest way as she shows on “If I Knew” before taking us to dizzying heights on the hard-rocking “Bones Live Forever”. Masterfully produced by Alex Wong and with a band that is a perfect fit, Running on Machinery will no doubt be a tough act to follow for her.

With a loyal fan base in attendance for both Slankard and Case, the line to get into the Great American Music Hall developed early and was down the block by the time the doors opened. Case, a classic storyteller and songwriter with a long and storied career that includes time busking on the streets of SF and a colorful run with The Plimsouls, is one of those guys who has influenced many successful musicians today. He came out filling the room with his stories along with the big growling sounds of a 12-string guitar. He would later join Slankard and her band as they romped through a Plimsouls tune.

Megan Slankard

Hot on the heels of a recent head-turning performance at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival (see our photos here), Slankard took the stage with her stellar band, which features Danny Blau (keyboards, guitar), Jeff Symonds (bass), Kyle Caprista (drums) and lastly James DePrato (guitar, lap steel guitar), and picked up right where she left off on that brilliant outing in Golden Gate Park. Crystal clear, Slankard’s vocals gently floated and at times effortlessly cut sharply through the air. The band was tight and offered up a vast sonic tapestry for her vocals. As she and the band drew heavily from her most recent work in the first set, they took a break and came back to give us a complete playing of Led Zeppelin II in the second, which they nailed. Perfect in every way, it was a pleasure to hear such a classic LP covered so well.

After witnessing this performance and looking at Slankard’s career so far, it’s obvious she’s on a very fast and steep musical path that seemingly knows no bounds. Surrounded with the talent that is her perfect complement, one gets the sense something big is in store for her. At the very top of an arc, she stands ready at the door, waiting for the broader recognition that she deserves — and may that door soon be flung wide open.

Joshua Tree Music Festival 2015: Where less is more

Joshua Tree Music Festival 2015By Tom Dellinger //

Joshua Tree Music Festival //
Joshua Tree Lake Campground – Joshua Tree, CA
October 8th-11th, 2015 //

It’s no secret that music festivals are big business, and in recent years, we’ve seen a phenomenal amount of growth in their numbers across the country. They range in size from the small to the huge megafest, and while Joshua Tree Music Festival is not new on the scene (2015 marked its 10th year), it may not exactly be a household name due to its size. Located only a couple of hours away from Los Angeles and San Diego while adjacent to one of our great national parks, this little festival offers a unique experience that rivals the best and largest music festivals in the U.S.

Running for a total of four days, JTMF is like walking into a village, an otherwise separate reality — one that thoroughly removes you from all your normal daily routines and trappings. Of course, there are plenty of vendors offering food, goods and services (especially those that relate to one’s health and well-being), and there are architectural creations unique to this fest that serve as entrances to different areas as well as artistic creations that define the environment as a happy, loving space.

Joshua Tree Music Festival 2015

The place has a vibe — an overwhelmingly positive one that you immediately feel from both staff and other fans as you experience JTMF. With the festival not offering tiered ticket prices or perks, it was refreshing to not be micro-managed by an army of security with a list of things you can’t do or can’t go. In fact, the word “yes” seemed to be the norm. JTMF is a delightfully chill and egalitarian experience.

Musically though, you’re not likely to encounter the mega, high-dollar artist performing at a small fest like this. Instead, you will encounter music and artists that range from the local to other fairly well-known artists, such as Xavier Rudd, Scott Pemberton Trio and Moon Hooch.

Gene Jr and the Family

Gene Jr and the Family

One of Joshua Tree’s favorite local bands, Gene Jr. and the Family (who toured as the opener for Elle King earlier this year), served as the bookend act of the weekend as they opened on Thursday night and were the final band to perform on Sunday. Joining Gene and his band on Thursday was San Francisco funk favorite, RonKat Spearman and Katdelic. With Thursday being somewhat of a soft opening for the festival, it was these two bands who kicked things off. And what a fine beginning it was as they both delivered tight, energetic and tasty performances that ran nearly two hours each.

The stage Gene Jr. and the Family played with and RonKat Spearman and Katdelic on, called the Boogaloo stage, was particularly nice. It was located in an area away from the festival’s main stages and was set up like a club with a bar, some well-thought-out seating and one of the most beautiful stages you’re likely to encounter, striking for its well-executed outdoor theme (think of a thicket of bare-branched trees), but also for its elevated viewing areas on the sides and above the stage, which was available to all festivalgoers. Again, major props go out to the festival organizers for the egalitarian quality of JTMF.

Bang Data

Bang Data

Over the next three days, two stages would host the majority of performances while one smaller one (the Café Stage) would host a few, including the Cactus Wine Experience, a bawdy, funny and racy burlesque show that was met with great approval. With sets that ran 90 minutes each, fans were treated to deep performances from all the artists.

Along with Bay Area band Katdelic, Oakland’s Bang Data were also on hand with an engaging set of hip-hop. Coming from Portland, Yak Attack and the Scott Pemberton Trio livened up the place. Joined by dancers Jessi Trauth and Casey Lomax, Yak Attack had a solid set of electronica while Pemberton, who seems to be performing at many festivals this year, also made his presence felt at JTMF. Known for his unusual guitar technique, he and his trio worked the crowd to a fever as I heard many raving about the set in its aftermath.



Brooklyn, meanwhile, was well-represented at JTMF by funk band Turkuaz and musical oddity Moon Hooch. Both bands delivered over-the-top, blowout performances that made huge impressions. Turkuaz were not only incredibly tight, but the level of musicianship from all the members was also stunning. There was no doubt that they are a very complete package featuring great songs and compositions with crisp vocals and arrangements that kill. It was refreshing to experience them as they rolled through their set with brilliance and precision.

Of course, then there’s Moon Hooch. Defying all musical genres, they connect with their audience in a similar way to Turkuaz. I guess you could call them a “sax” band with only a drummer and two saxophonists, though once in a while, a synthesizer is used. Playing an assortment of saxophones, the trio goes non-stop from one piece to the next as they work up the crowd and bring it back down repeatedly — with the whole show serving as a tension-and-release process of some sorts. As one of the most unusual bands out there, Moon Hooch left nothing on the table and in return, the crowd loved them.

Xavier Rudd

Xavier Rudd

There was also a bit of reggae at JTMF thanks to local favorites the Desert Rhythm Project and headliner Xavier Rudd. With Gene Evaro from Gene Jr and the Family on keyboards and Piper Robison on bass, it was nice to see a third Evaro perform as Amanda Davis joined in on vocals. And as the festival wrapped up on Sunday, Xavier Rudd closed out the main stage with his message of positivity.

After a beautiful weekend in the California desert and specifically at JTMF, you can’t help but feel like you’ve done something therapeutic for yourself. Having covered a few large-scale music festivals this year, JTMF serves as a reminder that sometimes less is indeed more. The JTMF experience is worth any effort you may make to get there. In one of the most sublime spots on the planet, this is a festival that will take you in as a family member and send you home with more than what you came with.