Steep Canyon Rangers
Highlighted by spirited headlining performances by The Devil Makes Three (Saturday), The Infamous Stringdusters (Friday), and Railroad Earth (Sunday), there was a profound additional component to this year’s WinterWonderGrass Tahoe. The weather. Before turning all sunny on Sunday, Friday and Saturday’s proceedings included periodic showers of snow, graupel (look it up), and a little rain.
In a time where any musician can self-produce and release their own independent album, up-and-coming talents need to set the bar extra high, or at least posses image marketability. The story behind music industry insider Matt Reynolds’ debut release is far from this trend. The longtime road manager for Grateful Dead tribute favorite Dark Star Orchestra has released his impressively diverse Been Long Gone after years behind the scenes.
To return to a point in your life that you have already lived is metaphysical. Déjà vu, as most of us call it, feels mystical, even if it has a chemical explanation. Scientific evidence aside, to relive something that you have lived before is an experience that seems to connect us with something beyond ourselves. We can both be in the moment and be able to predict (or at least have the feeling that we are predicting) what is coming around the next corner. But to experience déjà vu and to be able to improve upon the actions that once were? Now that is something different altogether.
What a magical weekend it was indeed at the Dark Star Jubilee. Each year is just as good as the last if not better. I had the honor of attending this festival for the fourth year in a row out at Legend Valley, Ohio over Memorial Day weekend. There are so many positive things to be said about this festival. It is a world of its own filled with beautiful music, positive people, smiles in every direction, and of course Grateful Dead Tunes.
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.
For the third year in a row I had the honor to attend one of my favorite events all year. There is nothing else in this world that can put a smile on my face quite like a familiar Grateful Dead tune can. This year at Dark Star Jubilee was just as beautiful as the last three. I couldn’t have picked a better way to spend my Memorial Day weekend. As I walked through the gates, and to the top of the ridge of the pine trees, I remembered what it was like to feel at home.
Master magician, Steve Martin performed a neat trick Friday night at Eugene’s Hult Center for the Performing Arts—he twisted a blazing-hot bluegrass band (Steep Canyon Rangers), a “notorious” singer/songwriter (Edie Brickell) and his own show-biz savoir-faire into an entertaining, vaudevillian blend of musicianship and comedy.