There was a decidedly day-glo hue to the bluegrass played at this year’s Northwest String Summit (July 16-19). Many of the musical merry-makers, and deadicated patrons alike, appeared to still be basking in the warm fluorescent after-light of the “Fare Thee Well” experience. The haunting presence of the now officially departed Dead continues to populate and positively inform a new generation of musical/spiritual adventurers.
“From death comes life and so on.”
I was honestly a bit wary of seeing my first Elephant Revival show sans Sage Cook. And I’m sure quite a few people felt that way. But most of me was excited to see what new journey the band was on with their new member Charlie Rose, playing a range of instruments and seamlessly adding his Rufus Wainwright-esque vocals on a number of songs. And like the lyrics above state, there’s a new life to Elephant Revival – one just as wonderful as I had hoped.
After eight years of playing with Elephant Revival, the ambitious Sage Cook decided to chase a different dream. He moved to an isolated patch of land on the border of Oklahoma and Kansas with the long-term goal of setting up a farming community. After a year of pruning fruit trees, caring for livestock, and cultivating that community- new music was just another logical, organic process. We Dream Dawn is the product of living close to the land and letting ideas slowly develop over time.
Nestled in the Sierras at the base of Squaw Valley Lodge, Winter Wonder Grass opened its door for the first time on the West Coast to deliver a top notch line up of Bluegrass music. The previously only located in Colorado festival spread its wings to expand to another Grass loving area in Tahoe. Billed as a Beer and Music festival the bill, did not lie. Every major brewer on the West Coast was in attendance from Lagunitas, Tahoe Favorite 50/50, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Green Flash and many, many more!
This has been an amazing few months of music for me, but once again, I cannot avoid writing about how music has literally spread its wings to reach out as far as possible with different mixtures of sounds and influences to combine into a genreless gumbo. Elephant Revival’s Facebook pages states, “Where words fail…music speaks,” and as a writer, I could not agree more. I often ask my muse, where do I get the words to describe some of the music that I have been seeing lately? Needless to say, it is difficult.
The final day of Harvest was one of celebration. We managed to have perfect weather, and even Yonder Mountain String Band was singing the praises of clear skies. As usual, some of the best shows happened on Saturday, the day when we all try to cram in as much music and fun as possible…ready-but-not-ready for our journey home the next day.
Yet another beautifully sunny day graced us on Friday at Yonder Mountain String Band's Harvest Music Festival. Not a drop of rain and enough sunshine to charge cell phones (a rarity among the few most recent Harvest festivals.) There is such happiness floating through the campsites and stages, families are playing and wrangling children, and barbeque nachos are in my near future. Life is good.
The pop-up and its small footprint we would call home for the next 4 nights was ready. The sun had long since set and the kids were happily snuggled under doubled over blankets in the 1975 Apache Mesa. The evening’s cold temperatures were more than the few packed layers of cotton could defend against, so Laura and I were doing our best to think warm thoughts and be thankful for the reprieve from last year’s unbearable heat as we sat outside in the still and dewy night. Her vapor filled exhalation was caught in the beam from her headlamp, over top of the festival’s program.