On the weekend preceding Halloween, a tie-dye-colored witches’ brew of imaginative seasonal costumes worn by attendees and musicians, vibrant autumn hues, and a couple of dozen improvisational bands of psychedelic rock, progressive bluegrass, funk, and more defined the 2017 version of the Hangtown Music Festival in Placerville, California.
There's a great scene in The Last Waltz – the documentary about The Band's final concert – where director Martin Scorsese is discussing music with drummer/singer/mandolin player Levon Helm. Helm says, "If it mixes with rhythm, and if it dances, then you've got a great combination of all those different kinds of music: country, bluegrass, blues music, show music…"
To which Scorsese, the inquisitive interviewer, asks, "What's it called, then?"
"Rock & roll!"
It is my honor to be writing to you all again about the wonder and beautiful sight that is Dark Star Jubilee. However, this year I write to you with feelings of pure joy and love that come from this festival but also a heavy heart. Dark Star Orchestra has had a tough week, as they face a possibly career-changing event. But more about that later, let’s talk about the joyful, blissful, wonderful, paradise event for friends and family that was Dark Star Jubilee.
The members of Railroad Earth aren’t losing sleep about what “kind” of music they play – they just play it. When they started out in 2001, they were a bunch of guys interested in playing acoustic instruments together. As Railroad Earth violin/vocalist Tim Carbone recalls, “All of us had been playing in various projects for years, and many of us had played together in different projects. But this time, we found ourselves all available at the same time.”
Railroad Earth recently revisited their acclaimed 2014 album, Last of the Outlaws, pulling together a filmed live performance augmented by a string quartet on some of their favorite cuts from the record. The Castle Inn Sessions, as it was to be called, was filmed in an idyllic turn of the century hotel in Delaware Water Gap, PA, and is now a brand new 4-song EP, premiered today with RELIX (see link in header) and is now available for release.
Sitting at the base of the mountains in Placerville, California, High Sierra’s sister festival Hangtown Music Festival covered 4 days of festivities which included beer tasting, meditation, yoga, costumes, but most of all, for the rock solid line up of diverse musicians. El Dorado County Fairgrounds opened its door with a freshly titled, Hangtown Music Festival. They may have dropped the Halloween Ball from their name, but that certainly didn’t slow down the party of twirling costumes under sunny skies and cool mountain air all weekend long.
Fall bluegrass festivals are usually pretty perfect no matter where you are. There's that cool heaviness in the air and the crisp laughter of folks coming together to enjoy the natural sound of bluegrass. This year's Hillberry Music Festival in Eureka Springs, AR was no exception. The stellar lineup and fantastic scenery compelled people from all over the U.S. to travel to Arkansas for a weekend of music and meaningful experiences.