Jim James, The Claypool Lennon Delirium take us on a psych-rock roller coaster at The Wiltern

Jim James


Jim James

By Josh Herwitt //

Jim James & The Claypool Lennon Delirium with Uni //
The Wiltern – Los Angeles
July 3rd, 2019 //

Ever since he launched his solo career more than five years ago, Jim James has been trying to bring people closer together.

The frontman and primary songwriter of My Morning Jacket frequently preaches peace, love and equality on and off the stage, but at a time when technology continues to dominate our way of life and our political divides grow bigger by the day, unity has become a challenging proposition to achieve no matter how famous or popular you are — unless you’re Oprah.

It’s not for a lack of effort from James (born James Edward Olliges Jr.), though.

Claypool Lennon Delirium


Claypool Lennon Delirium

The Louisville native remains steadfast in his commitment to doing and saying the right things, whether it’s helping to get out the vote or raising awareness and funds around a number of important environmental, climate and humanitarian issues.

Because when James sings “No use waiting and wondering why / Better get together while we still got time” on his third solo album Uniform Distortion that dropped last year, it’s a message that many of us could learn from. After all, actions speak louder than words, and a songwriter with as much talent, insight and creativity as James certainly knows that.

Embarking on a 33-date North American tour that included festival stops at Shaky Knees and Bonnaroo in support of the 11-track LP, the 41-year-old multi-hyphenate was back in LA — the city he now calls home since moving there in 2016 — on the eve of Independence Day for only one night at the always-beautiful Wiltern. The last time we caught James in the City of Angels, he was headlining another historic SoCal venue just a few miles down Olympic Blvd. after the release of his second solo effort Eternally Even. And boy, was that a lot of fun at the Orpheum Theatre as celebrity fanboys like Christopher Mintz-Plasse (aka “McLovin” from the 2007 film “Superbad”) showed their appreciation for one of rock’s last remaining guitar heroes.

Jim James


Jim James

But things were a little different for this occasion, in large part because James would be billed as a co-headliner alongside his psychedelic counterparts in The Claypool Lennon Delirium for much of the tour. Even so, with Primus bassist and lead singer Les Claypool being a legend in his own right and guitarist/vocalist Sean Lennon conceived by a couple himself, we had quite the pairing for a Wednesday affair. Heck, the duo even covered Pink Floyd, King Crimson and The Beatles among cuts off 2016’s Monolith of Phobos and its stellar follow-up South of Reality that arrived in February. So if you like psych rock with an extra dose of weird, then these guys are probably for you.

That said, one could argue fairly easily that James’ songs are a bit more accessible than The CLD’s, and with that in mind, it wasn’t hard at all to understand why the man who has also put out music under the pseudonym Yim Yames assumed the closing duties for this tour. It became even more evident once James took the stage, shredding his way through tracks on Uniform Distortion like “Over and Over” and “You Get to Rome” before going to an acoustic guitar for “A New Life” from 2013’s Regions of Light and Sound of God. James would end up performing almost all of Uniform Distortion, but the real standouts of the show were in fact slightly altered versions of the Marvin Gaye-inspired “Here in Spirit” and the ever-haunting “Same Old Lie” to close what felt like a roller-coaster set full of peaks and valleys — and of course, plenty of screeches and squeals emanating from his Gibson ES-335, too.

James didn’t break for long before beginning a three-song encore with one from My Morning Jacket’s catalog in “I’m Amazed” and then dueting with Amo Amo’s Lovell Femme on “Of the Mother Again”. While it may have been somewhat predictable for him to offer us “State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)” as a parting gift, it wasn’t as if it came unwanted. If anything, it was a strong reminder of how powerful music can be as a unifying force and a gateway to a more positive and promising future, especially with someone like James serving as a guiding light.

JIM JAMES

Setlist:
Over and Over
You Get to Rome
A New Life
Out of Time
Just a Fool
Throwback
No Secrets
Here in Spirit
No Use Waiting
All in Your Head
The World’s Smiling Now
Yes to Everything
Same Old Lie

Encore:
I’m Amazed (My Morning Jacket song)
Of the Mother Again (with Amo Amo lead singer Lovell Femme)
State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)

THE CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM

Setlist:
Astronomy Domine (Pink Floyd cover)
Blood and Rockets: Movement I, Saga of Jack Parsons / Movement II, Too the Moon
Little Fishes
Cricket and the Genie (Movement I, The Delirium)
Cricket and the Genie (Movement II, Oratorio Di Cricket)
South of Reality
The Court of the Crimson King (King Crimson cover)
Easily Charmed by Fools
Boomerang Baby
Breath of a Salesman
Cricket Chronicles Revisited: Part 1, Ask Your Doctor – Part 2, Psyde Effects
Tomorrow Never Knows (The Beatles cover)
Third Rock From the Sun

Tool continue to melt minds on their latest tour

ToolBy Mike Rosati //

Tool with The Crystal Method //
SAP Center – San Jose
June 21st, 2017 //

With prog-metal giants Tool back on the road for a month-long trek across North America, my first experience at “The Shark Tank” (aka the SAP Center) in San Jose last Wednesday proved to be a memorable one.

After an early and sparsely attended set by big beat pioneers The Crystal Method, Tool hit the stage in standard formation as guitarist Adam Jones stood front left, bassist Justin Chancellor front right, drummer Danny Carey back right and vocalist Maynard James Keenan back left in the dark, sporting tactical assault gear that was replete with Puscifer rainbow logo stickers on his chest and knee pads.

The three-time Grammy winners haven’t released an album since 2006’s 10,000 Days, but they did debut new visuals on this latest tour, which ended with an epic, day-long event at Glen Helen Amphitheater out in San Bernadino, Calif., that also featured performances by Melvins, Fantômas, Clutch and Primus.

Set 1: The Grudge, Parabol, Parabola, Schism, Opiate, Ænema, Descending, Jambi, Third Eye, Forty-Six & 2

Set 2: Drum Solo, The Pot, Sweat, (-) Ions, Stinkfist

A Perfect Circle make their triumphant return to SF at Bill Graham Civic Auditorium

A Perfect CirclePhotos by Mike Rosati // Written by Andrew Pohl //

A Perfect Circle with PRAYERS //
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium – San Francisco
April 13th, 2017 //

In the world of rock supergroups, there are few that have sprung up in the last few decades that can hold a candle to A Perfect Circle. From the onset, APC have been a powerhouse on the senses, combining members from bands such as Tool, The Smashing Pumpkins, Failure, Primus and more over the years. Their body of work has been met with high praise across the board, and they have been able to solidify themselves as one of the most unique and tenured groupings out there, as opposed to bands like Zwan and Velvet Revolver.

It was a bit of an earlier start for a show even with it being on a weekday, and the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium was only half full through the opening act. Hailing from San Diego, Chicano electronic-rock duo PRAYERS, who describe their music as “Cholo goth” and are comprised of vocalist Rafael Reyes and producer/keyboardist Dave Parley, initially seemed like another one of APC frontman Maynard James Keenan’s side projects given how Reyes looked and behaved similarly to Keenan’s “Country Boner” persona that he assumes with Puscifer, but after taking a closer look, it was obvious that wasn’t the case. PRAYERS’ music was a sharp contrast to A Perfect Circle’s, but they did have some awesome lighting, which helped keep our attention. As their set ended, the venue had sufficiently filled up, which wasn’t unexpected given that the show had been sold out for weeks.

A Perfect Circle kicked off their headlining performance with a giant shroud in front of them and a rad backlight on each band member that created five different shadows. They opened the show with “The Package”, the first track from their sophomore studio album Thirteenth Step, which was a great way to build tension. As he usually does when performing with APC and Tool, Keenan opted to stand concealed in a dark area toward the back of the stage and centered between guitarist James Iha and drummer Jeff Friedl, who were also on their own platforms in addition to Keenan’s. Taking center stage was the band’s creator and guitarist Billy Howerdel, who along with bassist Matt McJunkins, kept the energy at a high level by moving around the front area of the stage from right to left throughout the evening.

A Perfect Circle

The Thirteenth Step-heavy set started with APC’s earlier tunes from their debut LP Mer de Noms before leading into the group’s awesome rendition of John Lennon’s timeless classic “Imagine”. Along the way, they ended up covering Brinsley Schwarz’s “(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding”, which ultimately wasn’t much of a surprise.

As the night moved along, Keenan managed to get a few quips in, at one point mentioning that he could smell the marijuana smoke permeating from the crowd. He even stopped the show at one point to give Iha a chance to tell some vaudeville-esque jokes, which included rimshots from Friedl. My favorite was “Where do penguins keep their money?” … “in a snow bank” (ba-doom, crash!).

Although I didn’t get to hear my favorite APC song (“3 Libras”), I was stoked that they played “Magdalena”, “The Hollow”, “Weak and Powerless” and “The Outsider”. They winded down with “Gravity”, and for the closer, APC treated the audience to a brand-new song that’s called “Feathers”. This hopefully means that the rumored new album on the way may be coming out sometime this year, after their tour ends with a grand finale of a show at the Hollywood Bowl. With this supergroup, you never know, but they’ve been great about surprising us in the past, so keep your eyes peeled for more new music on the horizon.

Setlist:
The Package
The Hollow
The Noose
Weak and Powerless
Rose
Imagine (John Lennon cover)
Thinking of You
By and Down
Thomas
(What’s So Funny ’bout) Peace, Love and Understanding (Brinsley Schwarz cover)
Magdalena
Vanishing
Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums
A Stranger
Blue
The Outsider
Gravity
Feathers

Editor’s Note: A Perfect Circle debuted a new song titled “Hourglass” the following night at their April 14th concert in Reno, Nev.

Primus bring Danny Carey from Tool into a Bay Area tradition

Primus_postPhotos by Mike Rosati // Written by Scotland Miller //

Primus – An Uber Drum Spectacular //
Fox Theater Oakland – Oakland, CA
December 31st, 2014 //

There are few things in this world that are as much of a sure thing as a local New Year’s Eve show from the kings of oddity and tweakerdom. If you are unaware, Les Claypool and the boys of Primus have established a tradition in the Bay for the past 25 years, and don’t show signs of stopping any time soon. In his first banterings of the night, Les joked and welcomed everyone to the “45th annual New Years show … only 73 to go!”

In efforts to keep things fresh and new smelling, each year’s celebration is centered around a fantastic and goofy theme to accompany an already weird and bizarre psyche that is Primus. Past motifs have included a night with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 3D projection screens and full-album performances. This year was dubbed the “Uber Drum Spectacular”, featuring a second set guest appearance by the percussive giant Danny Carey (Tool, Pigmy Love Circus, Volto!). As if Tim “Herb” Alexander (Laundry, Blue Man Group, Puscifer) wasn’t enough?

There is something especially dirty about having two 180-degree thunder kits next to each other on stage playing “My Name is Mud”, with the closing drum rolls lingering until utter hysteria breaks out in the crowd.

Primus_post2

The atmosphere at these well-known evenings is always a feature of the night and rarely disappoints even those who aren’t on some sort of psychedelic substance. “Some people, like Dave Grohl, need to drive around the country looking for inspiration. What do we at Primus do? We suspend a 60-foot inflatable sperm whale in the air and gaze up at it as we play.” It was as if the show was contained in an deep sea wonder world, watched over by Spermy. The patterned ceiling of The Fox was splattered with bluish lights that served to resemble the shimmering of aquatic world of the epic Moby Dick. This would eventually lead to the “Uber Drum Spectacular” that was the post-countdown antics and song selection obviously inspired by the mighty Bonzo himself.

As the second set hammered on with “Herb” and Danny dueling away on such songs as “Last Salmon Man” and “Southbound Pachyderm”, the clock neared midnight. “Jerry Was a Race Car Driver” ended, and Les dribbled his way through a Hendrix rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner”. 2015 closed in and the balloons fell like backwards bubbles from above Spermy’s watery home. The oh so familiar engine-like rumblings of Van Halen’s classic “Hot for Teacher” began as a long, unseen member of the Primus family appeared. Bob C. Cock performed the vocals in his best David Lee Roth garb and impression, only substituting the chorus with “I’m hot for cock”. The “Spectacular” culminated with an extended rendition of Led Zeppelin’s “Moby Dick”.

Primus has had very few lineup changes since their original EP release Suck on This, but the addition of Danny Carey to the mix is surely to be a well-remembered appearance. After filling in for “Herb” earlier in the year, it was a great surprise to see his name on the bill.

PRIMUS SUCKS!!!

Set 1:
Sailing the Seas of Cheese
John the Fisherman
The Toys Go Winding Down
Frizzle Fry
Lee Van Cleef
Del Davis Tree Farm
The Heckler

Set 2 with Danny Carey:
Those Damn Blue-Collar Tweekers
Last Salmon Man
Southbound Pachyderm
Too Many Puppies (Ænema chorus included)
Eleven
My Name Is Mud
Jerry Was a Race Car Driver
The Star-Spangled Banner (countdown to midnight)
Hot for Teacher (Van Halen cover with Bob Cock)
Moby Dick (Led Zeppelin cover)

Encore:
American Life
Here Come the Bastards

Showbams Photography 2013: A year in review

Purity-Ring

Purity Ring // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13


The power and impact of a great photo is undeniable. Striking photos take you to another place, inserting you into a spectacular moment from the past.

The photographers in the Bam Fam have produced many memorable, inspiring live music photos in 2013. Feast your eyes on 50 of our best shots from the past year.

Click a band or artist name to view the original article.

Fiona-Apple-and-Blake-Mills

Fiona Apple & Blake Mills // Sam Heller
Zellerbach Hall at UC Berkeley //10.8.13


Killer-Mike

Killer Mike // James Nagel
The Independent // 7.31.13


Crystal-Castles

Crystal Castles // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 4.27.13


Phantogram

Phantogram // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Warpaint

Warpaint // Marc Fong
The Independent // 9.17.13


Cut-Copy_

Cut Copy // James Nagel
Fox Theater Oakland // 11.2.13


Geographer_post

Geographer // Sterling Munksgard
Bimbo’s 365 Club // 11.23.13


Thee-Oh-Sees

Thee Oh Sees // Pedro Paredes
Great American Music Hall // 12.18.13


Grouplove

Grouplove // James Nagel
The Independent // 9.14.13


James-Blake

James Blake // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.20.13


Matthew-Dear

Matthew Dear // Mike Frash
Mezzanine // 5.22.13


Palma-Violets

Palma Violets // James Nagel
The Independent // 4.23.13


Polyphonic-Spree

Polyphonic Spree // Marc Fong
The Chapel // 8.19.13


Zedd

Zedd // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 10.9.13


Robert-Randolph

Robert Randolph // Steve Kennedy
Notes For Notes Benefit // 12.6.13


Savages1

Savages // James Nagel
The Independent // 9.27.13


Steve-Aioki

Steve Aoki // Sterling Munksgard
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium // 11.16.13


The-Flaming-Lips

The Flaming Lips // James Nagel
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium // 10.31.13


The-xx

The xx // Marc Fong
The Greek Theatre // 6.1.13


Atoms-For-Peace

Atoms For Peace // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Thundercat1

Thundercat // James Nagel
The Independent // 11.13.13


Trey-Anastasio-Band

Trey Anastasio Band // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 4.20.13


Alabama-Shakes

Alabama Shakes // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oakland // 3.5.13


AlunaGeorge

AlunaGeorge // Marc Fong
The Independent // 9.11.13


Autre-Ne-Veut

Autre Ne Veut // Mike Frash
The Independent // 3.11.13


chk-chk-chk

!!! // James Nagel
Great American Music Hall // 2.28.13


CSS

CSS // James Nagel
The Independent // 6.16.13


Danny-Brown

Danny Brown // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


Father-John-Misty

Father John Misty // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.24.13


HAIM

Haim // Marc Fong
Treasure Island Music Festival // 10.19.13


How-To-Dress-Well

How To Dress Well // Sam Heller
The Independent // 8.26.13


Jagwar-Ma

Jagwar Ma // James Nagel
The Independent // 12.11.13


Jamie-Lidell

Jamie Lidell // Sam Heller
The Independent // 3.29.13


Primus

Primus // Sam Heller
High Sierra Music Festival // 7.5.13


Run-The-Jewels1

Run The Jewels (El-P & Killer Mike) // James Nagel
The Independent // 7.31.13


Toro-Y-Moi

Toro Y Moi // James Nagel
Fox Theater Oakland // 11.15.13


Wild-Belle

Wild Belle // Eldon Christenson
The Independent // 9.26.13


alt-J

Alt-J // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 8.29.13


Andrew-Bird

Andrew Bird // Sam Heller
Congregation Sherith Israel // 12.16.13


Andrew-WK

Andrew W.K. // Marc Fong
The Independent // 10.12.13


Anna-Calvi

Anna Calvi // Marc Fong
The Independent // 11.17.13


Big-Boi

Big Boi // Mike Frash
Mezzanine // 5.17.13


Deerhunter

Deerhunter // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13


MS-MR

MS MR // James Nagel
The Independent // 6.16.13


Phoenix

Phoenix // Chaya Frash
The Independent // 4.1.13


Rogue-Wave1

Rogue Wave // Marc Fong
The Independent // 7.12.13


Sigur-Ros

Sigur Rós // Marc Fong
Fox Theater Oaklnad // 4.16.13


STS9_Post

STS9 // Sam Heller
Fox Theater Oakland // 3.1.13


Washed-Out

Washed Out // Marc Fong
First City Festival // 8.25.13

High Sierra Music Festival 2013: Top Sets

Photos by Sam Heller // Written by Kevin Quandt, Mike Frash & Pete Mauch

Lennon-McCartney said it best when they stated, “Got to admit it’s getting better, getting better all the time.” High Sierra Music Festival, held every Fourth of July weekend for the past 23 years in lovely Quincy, California somehow keeps getting better each year. The success of this event isn’t anything too surprising, as the producers truly know how to run a seamless event while drawing in such a rich diversity of musical talent from across the globe, year after year. The Plumas County Fairgrounds are amazingly transformed into a wonderland for both adults and kids, alike, becoming a community environment that allows people to lose themselves in the festivities.

Scene1

Young and old are ever-present at HSMF — while the little ones enjoy family yoga and children’s sets by the one Vince Herman from Leftover Salmon, the older attendee may likely enjoy wine tasting by sponsors or fresh sushi in the morning or fresh oysters in the afternoon. From the wide variety of cuisine available from Gerard’s Paella to crab smothered artichoke to the array of music playshops to explore the deeper, inner workings of music. It’s qualities such as these that lend to one overall thrilling experience, which keeps so many returning every year, and most newcomers pledging the same.

High Sierra caters to everyone, and if you are unable to have an amazing time, you may want to check your pulse. But let’s be honest, the masses primarily flock to the Sierra Mountains to enjoy the varied selection of musical acts. Here are Showbams’ top sets from the long weekend.

Allen-Stone

Allen Stone
Thursday • Big Meadow • 7:15pm

Young soul powerhouse Allen Stone and his electrifying band held down a two hour (!) set at the Big Meadow Thursday — not bad for a performer who self-released his two full length albums and toured hard and strong enough to catch fire over the past year. He stretched his set out for the last 20 minutes by announcing a dance off and asking the crowd to create an aisle down the middle toward the soundboard. Either it was too early in the fest on a hot day, the two hour set was too long, or people were too high, because no one obliged. Stone had to collect himself before trying again, and after some chastising by the neo-soulster a the dance off ignited. -MIKE FRASH


White Denim
Thursday • Grandstand • 7:15pm + Friday • Big Meadow • 7:15pm

Fast rising indie-psych rockers White Denim delivered a couple excellent sunset shows on Thursday and Friday. The foursome is tightly synced, precisely nailing oft-changing time-signatures in a set that rarely paused. The songs segued seamlessly, blending with the help of swirling electric guitar layering and looping. The Thursday show on the Grandstand came as a relief as the ridiculously hot sun dipped behind the trees, and many were sitting down waiting for the legendary Thursday headliner. The Friday show at the Big Meadow ended spectacularly — a tighter crowd gave way to more heady psychedelic fare, including a sneakily-effective light show once full darkness arrived for the set-ending song “Drugs”. -MF


Robert-Plant

Robert Plant presents The Sensational Space Shifters
Thursday • Grandstand • 9:30pm

Robert Plant’s a legend, we all know this, so to have this mammoth performer be featured as the first major headliner of the event led to seriously large crowds, especially on Thursday. His banner set did not disappoint with his mix of rockin’ Zeppelin classics, blues-laden solo material and a rich representation of various world music styles. Plant’s band was a very impressive conglomeration of modern musicians featuring players from Massive Attack and other highly regarded acts, which lent well to the characteristic howl of the Zeppelin legend on a clear, cool first evenin. Highlights were a show opening “Baby I’m Gonna Leave You”, Zep classic “Black Dog” and a version of Willie Dixon’s “Spoonful”. The response was unanimous that Robert Plant and his latest touring act were a rousing success as one would expect from this caliber performer. -KEVIN QUANDT


Tumbleweed-Wanderers

Tumbleweed Wanderers
Friday • Vaudeville • 1:15pm

Oakland’s Tumbleweed Wanderers benefited from being placed in the shady Vaudeville tent Friday afternoon, and the folky, soulful group took full advantage of the dense crowd seeking solar protection. Frontman Zak Mandel-Romann fearlessly ripped into tracks from their 2012 debut LP So Long as he would jump off the stage to engage with the audience. The crowd reciprocated, and upon the end of the set the rousing applause was so widespread and forceful that the band members tried to hide their unbridled joy, an indication they were experiencing the best response of their careers. It was a goose bump-inducing moment, and after the continuous applause interrupted the stage emcee, the Tumbleweed Wanderers were called back for a rare encore. -MF


Nataly Dawn
Friday • Big Meadow • 3:45pm

Nataly Dawn was yet another newcomer to the festival, and she represented the singer-songwriter sect in splendid form. Her songbook may not be extensive, but is incredibly strong with playful elements of both comedy and heartfelt songs of real life and love. Dawn’s delivery was flawless as she was simply accompanied by an electric guitar player, augmenting her vocals ever so slightly. Some may know this Sacramento rising star as one half of the act Pomplamoose, but with a recent release How I Knew Her making waves, she is sure to be a name to look out for. High Sierra is generous with the amount of time a performer gets onstage, and in Dawn’s case, too much time for her limited song selection. However, with the crowd gaining size, she went through a few selections twice, including “Caroline”. Hey, exposure is exposure. -KQ


Houndmouth
Friday • Big Meadow • 5:45pm

Indiana based Houndmouth showcased their Americana folklore to the High Sierra masses on Friday afternoon, and they did so with amazing harmonies, precise musicianship and all around great whiskey-drenched songwriting. Their songs speak of troubled travelers, coked-up drug dealers and any vigilante vagabond looking to make amends with oneself. The set focused on their debut album From the Hills Below the City, with “Come On, Illinois”, “Houston Train” and “Penitentiary” rounding out the show highlights. One aspect that makes High Sierra so wonderful is the intimacy of the Festival — after Houndmouth’s set, I let them know their set was excellent. They were extremely grateful and thanked me as I walked away to my next adventure. -PETE MAUCH


Primus

Primus
Friday • Grandstand • 9:30pm

Primus is weird in all the right ways. Legendary bassist Les Claypool’s primary vehicle headlined Friday night, proving to be an über-suitable headliner that fits High Sierra’s full embrace of individuality. An intense, trippy “Southbound Pachyderm” gave way to more energetic favorites like “Jerry Was A Race Car Driver” and “Jilly’s on Smack”. Skerik appeared to add yet another twisted layer of sax to “Groundhog’s Day”. Two consistent factors relate to Claypool — his bass is the driving force and his uniquely weird songwriting and vocal delivery make it work every time. Claypool hid in the shadows all night, letting his jazz-paced diction and offbeat baseline and leadership boggle the minds of the packed main stage. -MF


The John Scofield Uberjam Band
Friday • Vaudeville • 11:30pm

The return of John Scofield’s electric band was a bit of a surprise to longtime fans of this freaked-out, electric jazz-fusion act. Jazz legend Scofield brought old friends and new to blaze through some selections from his past catalogue (Up All Night, Uberjam) and most recent (Uberjam Deux) to a healthily packed free, late night show. His mix of funky-fusion, hip-hop and electronic drum beats generally adds up to sonic grooves that are easy to dance to, but complex in their melody and solos arranged onstage. Some highlights were “Polo Towers”, “I Brake for Monster Booty”, and “Everynight is Ladies Night.” Try to catch this act on tour, as it could be the last time Scofield brings this band on the road for awhile before he likely returns to more straight-ahead jazz projects. -KQ


Skerik’s Lab
Saturday • Music Hall • 3:30pm

High Sierra vagabond and artist at large Skerik once again showcased his teaching abilities, along with his oddly-interesting poetic musings. The best woodwind and brass musicians, some in official acts and others just at High Sierra to camp and have fun, line up on stage at the Music Hall. With Mike Dillon supporting on drums, each player on stage gets a turn to take the lead, and everyone else joins in until a ferocious jam builds to a peak. Skerik then introduces the next performer, and often will ask the audience for the next musical key. Once again Carley Meyers from Mike Dillon Band stole the show. -MF


SCENE


The Barr Brothers
Saturday • Big Meadow • 7:55pm

Brad and Andrew Barr are two longtime performers who have graced the many stages at High Sierra for well over a decade. Generally, they represent their early project the Slip, sometimes with their Marco Benevento and Nathan Moore collaborative project, Surprise Me Mr. Davis. This year, they towed along a giant harp for the Barr Brothers, a rising indie-leaning project garnering impressive underground success. Songs like “Give The Devil Back His Heart” demonstrate Andrew’s complex rhythmic arrangements and Brad’s ability to write dynamic songs under any moniker. This set saw the band joined by Mike Dillon on vibraphone and the Rubblebucket horns for a bombastic set closer. -KQ


Thievery Corporation
Saturday • Grandstand • 9:30pm

Thievery Corporation brought a much needed dance party to the main stage Saturday, also delivering on the promise of being an ideal headliner for HSMF. With rotating live singers seriously augmenting the beats laid down by Rob Garza and Eric Hilton, the upbeat set never got too stuck in downtempo territory. After getting “Lebanese Blonde” out of the way early, hip hop and dance influences took center stage. So much more than a DJ show, the DC based duo have curated a revolving door spectacle supported by Rob Myers, Frank ‘Booty Lock’ Mitchell, Jeff Franca and Ashish Vyas and live instrumentation. Put it all together and it was an awe-inspiring production that hit the High Sierra sweet-spot. -MF


Scene3


Lee Fields and the Expressions
Sunday • Vaudeville • 12:15am

The final Vaudeville late night featured soulful R&B brought by the charismatic Lee Fields and his young, competent band, the Expressions. A possible new name to many in attendance, few could deny the soul-drenched revue delivered in true professional form by a 40+ year veteran. Hands in the air in rejoice were plentiful while the dapper dressed frontman channeled the obvious comparison, James Brown. Come Sunday, the High Sierra faithful were murmuring about their new favorite act, for the time being, and how friends had to catch Fields’ set on the big stage for their final Sunday performance in Quincy. -KQ


moe.
Sunday •Music Hall Late Night Show • 1:30am

Sunday night jam headliners moe. played a sold out late-night show early Sunday morning, and as usual it raged. Rob, Al, Chuck and and the rest of the gang were pretty subdued as a physical presence on stage, but they sounded as good as always. Classic opening one-two punch “Not Coming Down –> Wormwood” kicked things off nicely, and “McBain”, “Moth” and “Timmy Tucker” were set highlights. “Seat of My Pants” ended the epic third day on a high note. -MF


Scene


Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real
Sunday • GrandStand • 12:45pm

Lukas Nelson & POTR made their High Sierra debut this year and put on quite an impressive set that caught the eye of many a festivalgoer, including that night’s headliner moe.(Nelson guested on “Opium” in Moe’s set). Nelson started things off with his single “Forever is a Four Letter Word”, which was well received by the growing crowd. Nelson is the son of the legendary Willie Nelson, and he truly shines on his own, clearly not leaning on his namesake to achieve success (I’m looking at you Jakob Dylan). Nelson delivers high energy sets full of excellent originals, many of which are about “Weed”, so the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree. The band also ran through great cover songs including an amazing take on The Grateful Dead’s “Althea”, Pink Floyd’s “Money” and set closer “Sympathy for the Devil” by The Stones. Lukas Nelson should just be getting started –plan on seeing him grow exponentially from here. -PM


Guitarmaggeddon
Sunday • Music Hall • 4:00pm

The 10th annual Guitarmaggeddon face-melt was a special treat. Each year, Tea Leaf Green’s Josh Clark leads a group of electric guitar thrashers on a set of covers that revolve around a theme, and the songs always give way to epic guitar wailing and thrashing. It seemed like last year’s Talking Head’s set would be tough to beat, but the “Stadium Rock!” theme was plenty epic. From the steady opening of “Slow Ride” to “Satisfaction” (with a younger Mic Jagger in tow) to “Layla”, the show just killed it as expected. Lukas Nelson and Al Schnier from moe. guested for multiple songs, and fest-goers who still had a couple ounces of energy left benefited from a jamtastic, raging two hours of fun. -MF


Scene


Steel Pulse
Sunday • Grandstand • 7:15PM

Roots reggae legends Steel Pulse would also make their debut appearance at the event this year, and they filled the Sunday “worldly afternoon” slot in proper form. The legendary Birmingham, England act are some of the most proficient performers in the business, likely do to nearly 40 years of pumping out revolutionary songs and touring the globe. “Roller Skates” and “Chant a Psalm” were just a few of the hits played to a nicely sized late-festival crowd as the sun dropped behind the Main Stage one final time this year. A new, tribute song to Trayvon Martin called “Put Your Hoodies On [4 Trayvon]” may have been too borderline serious for the crowd, but the masses embraced the message of equality for all. -KQ


Rubblebucket
Sunday • Big Meadow • 10pm

Representing Brooklyn, Rubblebucket has really come into their own as an entrancing mix of pop, rock and world music that thrives on crowd energy and is helmed by one helluva front-woman, Kalmia Traver. This would be there first evening set after gracing the fairgrounds for a few years now, and they brought their already stellar show to the next level on the final evening. Highlights from the set included “Overstaurated”, “Rescue Ranger” and “L’Homme”. Kalmia invited attendees up on stage to join in the revelry, and the throngs rewarded this act by crowd-surfing her across the stage during “Came Out a Lady”. -KQ

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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