Tag Archives: Dumpstaphunk

Dumpstaphunk : Dirty Word

Dumpstaphunk - Dirty Word

When your last name is Neville and you pursue a career in music, the world is going to have some mighty high expectations for you, whether playing live or on record. So, it’s no surprise that on Dumpstaphunk’s latest release, Dirty Word, they have not only raised the bar of funk but that of New Orleans music. In other words, Dirty Word is the stankiest, greasiest, most bodacious album to come of the Big Easy in 2013. And, quite possibly 2014, 2015, and 2016.

It’s sad that it took the devastation of Hurricane Katrina to draw national attention to just what an incredible jewel and historical landmark the city of New Orleans is to America. It should be a government mandate that every citizen of the United States visits this place at least once in their lives. It’s bands like Dumpstaphunk that prove the amazing quality of artists who are born, bred, and developed there. Like the Marsalis clan, the Neville family tree only gives root to the strongest and beautiful entities in the music business.

Dumpstaphunk claims not just one Neville in keyboardist and vocalist Ivan, but also in Ian on guitars. Newest member Nikkie Glaspie has played with everyone from Beyonce to Big Sam’s Funky Nation, and she has folded herself into the mix as only a professional of her caliber can. How do you get your funk this sweaty and mindblowing? Simple … two bass players. The double-decker deuces of dirty devastation are Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III, and they carry on a birthright of bass playing that can be traced back to the godfather of New Orleans bass players, George Porter, Jr.

We pause for a moment of silent prayer to the majesty that is George Porter, Jr.

Dirty Word is the final proof that Dumpstaphunk is the legitimate heir to the great Parliament/Funkadelic. This, of course, makes you immediately ask, “Does that make Ivan Neville the next George Clinton?” Um, hell-to-the-yes! It is records like this that make you want to scream at urban radio station programmers to quit playing the disposable pablum that passes for R&B these days (I’m looking at you, Chris Brown and Ne-Yo) and put Dirty Word on hourly rotation. This is easily the best way you can spend an hour if you believe in the power of the funk.

Recommended If You Like: Curtis Mayfield and Allen Toussaint, Abita beer, shrimp po’ boys, being drunk on Bourbon Street at 4 a.m. during Mardi Gras, and dinner at your Grandma’s house on Sundays after church.

Dirty Word is out now on Louisiana Red Hot Records.

Crawfish Fest 23: Just when we thought 22 couldn’t be outdone…


Leading up to the 23rd annual Crawfish Fest, held in the scenic wilds of northwestern New Jersey, founder Michael Arnone had outdone himself 22 times. Naturally, expectations were high, but in year 23 and courtesy of the acts, atmosphere,  food and setting Arnone outdid himself yet again — seemingly having found complete harmony, and thereby again provided fans yet one more unforgettable experience.

Posturing itself like a mini (New Orleans) Jazz Fest, the festival combines a fine sampler consisting of some of the preeminent Louisiana music acts along with a smorgasbord of mouth watering delicacies of Bayou origin.

For one weekend, in a region that rarely serves up one of the famed Louisiana fares, let alone virtually all of the high notes, Arnone’s Crawfish Fest transports its attendees to Bourbon and beyond. Dishes like catfish or shrimp and oyster Po Boys, boiled crawfish, crawfish etouffee and grilled alligator sausage are featured in booth after booth, treating the annual gathering of fans that relish in Louisiana culture, but for whatever reason live hundreds or even thousands of miles away from The Pelican State.




All of the above are par for the Arnone’s Crawfish Fest course but this year, an extra dollop of Cajun sauce (if you will) had the Sussex County Fairgrounds buzzing at a fever pitch. The dollop came in the form of a fourth stage that played host to several Arnone-drafted artists that would provide musical workshops throughout the weekend.

The attendance was high and the reception, huge. Fans were able to interact with some of their favorite musicians. Children were given the opportunity to make music with the likes of funk stalwarts such as Bonerama and Stanton Moore, who gave workshops that subsequently gave way to lasting memories that will never be forgotten by the kids or the parents that looked on with glee.

The food, the workshops and the fantastic bill of acts — that included Dumpstaphunk, Dr. John, Galactic, Bonerama, Stanton Moore Trio, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Marcia Ball and Walter “Wolfman” Washington amongst others — made for a triumphant 23rd installment of an event that has grown from tiny to seminal, Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Fest.


The Headliners:


Dr. John


On the heels of his extremely successful release, Locked Down, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dr. John brought his seven piece band to the Saturday night’s headlining slot. Dr. John’s place of importance in the musical community, particularly within this subset, was plain to see. Members of Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Honey Island Swamp Band and Glen David Andrews Band flanked the stage, reverently taking in virtually the entire set, clearly showing respect for the “Night Tripper” man that holds slot 143 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (Gris Gris) and whose 1976 album with The Meters, Desitively Bonnaroo, served as the derivation of the oddball named festival.

This night found Dr. John playing with a renewed energy and happiness. Whether coming as a result of his new album, improved health or the all-star band he has with him, his show was righteous.

His band included popular funky mainstays Jon Cleary on keyboards and Ray Weber on drums, and collectively, the ensemble drove through an energetic, funky and soulful mix of heavily covered Dr. John classics like “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “I Walk on Guilded Splinters” (a tune that has been served up by everyone from Cher to Widespread Panic) and a nice mix from the new album. Collectively, all sounded fantastic on this evening in Jersey that even saw Dr. John showcase his original weapon of choice when he took three chances on guitar.




Galactic has been traveling with Corey Henry (Rebirth Brass Band) and Corey Glover (Living Colour) all year and has hit a stride that feels like one of, if not their very best yet.

Henry provides trombone harmonies that complement Ben Ellman’s sax, strapping solos and occasional hip hop vocals that provide a unique variance, as did those of Chali 2na in 2007 and 2008.

Glover is a first rate front man with a very powerful voice with chops to pull off classic R&B, funk and the myriad of styles from Galactic’s latest release Carnival Electricos to boot.

For the tuned in ear though, the true excitement at a Galactic show is in the interplay of the rhythm section, especially built around drummer Stanton Moore and bassist Robert Mercurio.

Mercurio is as rock-steady as any player you will ever hear and most songs start with him and Moore locked as tight as two players can be. So strong is Mercurio’s time and groove that Moore can take off and completely leave the pocket to ignite the music with swirling poly-rhythms that dance off of the solos. All the while Mercurio and his guitar mate, Jeff Raines, hold the song together, waiting for Moore to help peak someone’s solo, then return. This kind of backline, together with their impressive front line gives the current Galactic lineup explosiveness.

Two highlights of this set included a ripping sit-in by Stanton Moore Trio guitarist Will Bernard, and amidst a patchy sky, a vibrant rainbow that perfectly framed the throng of raging Galactic lovers for the band.




On Friday and Saturday nights at this festival, Michael Arnone provides night shows as a special treat for folks that camp for the weekend. On Friday night, a six band lineup was topped off in the Jaeger Pavilion by Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk. Crawfish Fest fans got their long time wish of seeing this band here, and were not at all disappointed by the super funky, jamming set.

Newest Dumpstaphunk member, drummer Nikki Glaspie, wowed the Friday night crowd with her aggressive funky drumming and great background vocals. In fact, all of Dumpstaphunk’s singers were on, showing off harmonies and range rarely seen in the funk world, this side of the Neville Brothers.

The set’s highlights were many, as the crowd wriggled and danced hard, but was crowned by a mighty cover of David Bowie’s “Fame.” The hypnotic driving groove took the band to a different level, tight and very deliberate.

By the time Dumpstaphunk had finished, the tone was set for the rest of the weekend… dance hard and get ready to be wowed.




New Orleans Suspects


The term “supergroup” is often overused, especially in a place like New Orleans where it seems all the musicians belong to just one big band and occasionally split off to do side projects which have their own names like Galactic, Funky Meters, Dumpstaphunk and the like.

In the case of the New Orleans Suspects — who opened Saturday’s festivities — however, the city filtered out some of the very best players and the results were fabulous.

The New Orleans Suspects are drummer Mean Willie Green (Neville Brothers), bassist Reggie Scanlan (Radiators), guitarist Jake Eckert and tenor saxophonist Kevin Harris (Dirty Dozen Brass Band) and keyboardist CR Gruver (Outformation).

There was a lot on display that sets this group apart from many other funk bands, and chief amongst were the vocals of Eckert and Gruver. Although they sing in a very similar range, the vocals are fresh, clean and simply put, very good.

Mean Willie Green brought the deep groove that has driven the Neville Brothers, one of the hardest grooving bands ever, for 25 years and Reggie’s bass playing grooving at a depth far beyond that of any outing that I’ve ever witnessed.

Jake Eckert’s playing was captivating; going from a clean and low down style, to dirtily  gritty with nicely timed crescendos.

Gruver found a vast blend of funky bad piano and organ that managed to add a very murky background, fresh out of the swamp while also intermittently switching from piano to organ mid-solo, and thereby injecting energy and feel.

Kevin Harris was outstanding; occasionally coaxing sounds well beyond the normal range of a tenor saxophone.

All told, the quintet was “super” in more than one way, a well tucked gem for those that made the clutch decision to rise and shine.




Crawfish natives Bonerama provided another great festival set and had some special treats in store.

Scheduled for two back to back sets, with the second being a stop on the kid’s stage, many of the young festival goers already had their trombones in tow. As luck would have it for one lucky eleven year old young man named Colin, Bonerama opted to not wait until their forthcoming set to join musical hands with their younger funk brethren. Rather, the band invited Colin to take the main stage with them.

In related news, Colin’s stage time didn’t end with Bonerama. Shortly after, he found himself onstage with two more guests, The Radiators’ Dave Malone & Reggie Scanlan, who offered up something that many a fish head in the crowd was pleased to hear,  “Like Dreamers Do” from the Radiators 1987 album Law of the Fish.


Glen David Andrews


Glen David Andrews’ Jazz Fest sets have become legendary and he did not disappoint at Crawfish Fest. Through his notable high-energy MC style of working a stage and crowd, Andrews had the multitude of Crawfish Fest  waving their arms in the air — jumping, dancing and singing all set long.

Mixing Gospel, blues and New Orleans standards, Andrews spendt as much time walking through the crowd as he did on stage. At one point,  he decided to grab his trombone and get all the horn players to follow him out into the crowd for a second line; all creating a palpable frenetic energy that was a force unto itself.

Being that his set fell right after Bonerama’s workshop, the trombone-in-hand kids had ambled their way back to the “parents” stage, it was only natural for the endearing front man to follow suit with the occurrences of earlier by inviting another one of the trombone lugging krewe to the stage.

This time, the honor went to a 16 year old named Abe Nouri. The excited teenager got on stage and joined two other guests already sitting in, Efrem Towns and Kevin Harris, founding members of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the crowd ate it up, fully psyched at the artist’s display of kinship with an aspiring musician.


Something Special:

(By Jay Austin)


A truly exceptional happening came in the form of New Jersey natives and originators of “Hick-Pop,” From Good Homes. Playing for just their third time since the band’s “farewell show”  (that gave way to Take Enough Home)on August 7, 1999, the band — that perhaps fell victim to the Hootie and Dave Matthews craze that was forming around them — made the absolute most of their time on stage together by rattling off a superb 19 song effort. Just as the case was when they reunited in 2009, the set managed to do many things. Peopledanced, sang and the like, but above all else, the set  left people hungry for more and just as has been the case since ’99, caused many a head to be scratched… “Tell me why this band broke up again.”

On the other hand, without said break up, there never would have been Railroad Earth (who played Crawfish in 2008), thus providing yet another layer and caveat to the headscratching.


Setlist: 2nd Red Barn On The Right, Suzanna Walker, Butterfly & The Tree, There She Goes, The Giving Tree,  Up On Cripple Creek, If The Wind Blows, Bang That Drum, I Only Want, Ride All Night, Broken Road,  Fruitful Acre, I am a Mess, Don’t Wanna Hang Up My Rock n Roll Shoes, Comin’ on Home, Raindance
Encore: Maybe We Will, Maybe We Will Reprise


In Summation


With additional fantastic sets turned in by Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, Stanton Moore Trio, Grayson Capps, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Walter “Wolfman” Washington,  the music was top notch. But just as was mentioned at the onset, the music is far from being the sole reason that makes Michael Arnone’s Crawfish Festival a destination that has turned most who take the plunge to become recidivists. Let’s face it: anyone with a large enough wallet can book great talent.

What makes Crawfish Fest such an especially unique outing is that each first weekend in June, it delivers a niche specific plate in combination with a vast array of focal points, to the point that one would be challenged a comparable suitor.

Whether traveling solo or bringing the whole fam, the festival is equally welcoming. Its food, vibe, atmosphere, idyllic setting and of course, its music, all combine at this festival to give a most memorable experience… 23 years in a row.



Click the thumbnail(s) to view more photos from the fest by Bob Adamek…




Toubab Krewe’s Carnavalito mini-fest set for Asheville in July


Toubab Krewe’s CARNAVALITO, a two-day mini-fest, has been announced to take place at the Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain, NC on Friday, July 13th and Saturday, July 14th, 2012. The outdoor event will feature headlining sets from Toubab Krewe as well as a different roster of supporting bands and DJs each day including Donna the Buffalo, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Rayna Gellert and DJ Chalice. DJ Equal will top off both nights with indoor late night sets. A shuttle system is conveniently available to travel between a local campground and the event.

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a KOA campground is located just one mile from the venue. CARNAVALITO attendees are encouraged to stay for the weekend and receive a 10% discount on tent and RV camping with the code PB. All sites come equipped with water and electricity. View the map and reserve camping spaces online through http://koa.com/campgrounds/ashevilleeast/.

Shuttles will be traveling between the campground and venue as well as between downtown Asheville and the Pisgah Brewery. Look for shuttle details coming in May at www.pisgahbrewing.com.

Tickets are $41 (two-day admission) and $26 (one-day admission) and go on sale Wednesday, May 1st through the Pisgah Brewing Company event site (pisgahbrewing.com/events). VIP packages will also be available for $76 (two-day VIP admission) and $51 (one-day VIP admission) and include early entry to the event, a private guided brewery tour and tasting, preferred stage viewing, and more. All attendees who purchase a two-day ticket by July 1, 2012 will receive an unreleased Toubab Krewe summer EP and a Toubab Krewe beverage koozie.

CARNAVALITO is a family friendly event. Kids ages 10 and under are free with a ticketed adult. On Saturday, children of all ages will dance to the rhythms and rhymes of Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, aka “The king of kid-hop.”

Toubab Krewe will donate one dollar from every CARNAVALITO ticket purchased to Instruments for Africa, a not-for-profit organization that aims to empower underprivileged and at-risk youth in Mali through the preservation of traditional music and arts. Toubab Krewe and Instruments for Africa have launched a campaign to build the Krewe House, a music school project set to break ground in 2013. For more information, visit http://instruments4africa.wordpress.com/.

July 13th Lineup – Gates open at 6:00 PM
Toubab Krewe
Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk
DJ Chalice
DJ Equal (Indoor Stage – Late Night)

July 14th Lineup – Gates open at 3:00 PM
Toubab Krewe
Donna the Buffalo
Secret Agent 23 Skidoo
Rayna Gellert
DJ Chalice
DJ Equal (Indoor Stage – Late Night)

For more information on Toubab Krewe, including upcoming tour dates, please visit www.toubabkrewe.com

Reminiscing at 10KLF

10,000 Lakes Festival

Detroit Lakes, Minnesota

July 18-21, 2007


Minnesota is known for many things, with lakes among the most popular.  Celebrating summer with good music has always been the way I like to remember my home state best, so heading back for 10,000 Lakes Festival is always a treat.  

This year marked the fifth 10KLF, with ticket sales at an all-time high.  I attended inaugural festival, so it was fun to come back four years later to see how the event had matured.  It was evident that plenty of progress has been made in developing and fine-tuning the grounds, an integral part of what makes the event special.  Surrounded by mature oak trees, green grass, and water, the temperature generally stays cool, making 10KLF an ideal summer fest respite for bands and fans alike.

This year the weather was warmer, but certainly not hot enough to slow the attendees down.  The festival grounds buzzed with seemingly non-stop activity that flowed through the huge festival field and the five campgrounds surrounding it and into the vending area, which was packed with a plethora of great food and craft vendors.

The four main stages were a good length apart, but not far enough that you get exhausted just thinking about moving to the next show.  But if a fest guest were too tired to walk back to their campground, a golf cart cabbie was readily available to give their dogs a rest.

The line-ups at 10KLF consistently provide something for everyone to enjoy.  I managed to take in 18 bands this year without seeing one mediocre performance; not a single show was even close to lackluster.  

I pulled in at dusk on Wednesday to the bluegrass-meets-rock sounds of Blueground Undergrass.  The first evening was mellow but very uplifting, and as the venue began to fill, it rippled with anticipation.

During the afternoons, the shows were played with plenty of verve under the blue and sunny skies.  Galactic, New Riders of the Purple Sage, Outformation, Everyone Orchestra, Keller Williams, Little Feat, and Toubab Krewe all brought an infectious enthusiasm to the midday settings. Crowds gathered early in front of all stages, and sheer ecstasy and rowdy applause could be found at every turn.  Even by day four, when you would expect partiers to show signs of fest weariness, the crowd’s energy remained surprisingly high.




The schedule for every evening was thoughtfully planned.  If someone truly wanted to see all of the evening bands, it was possible – providing, of course, you had the stamina to get you through it.  There was very little overlap of headliners, so you never really had to choose one over another.  Over nine hours of top notch performances were flowing every night

On Thursday evening Zappa Plays Zappa contributed two and a half hours of Frank’s tunes, played to perfection.  This delightful din, fronted by Frank's son Dweezil was followed by a very rambunctious two and a half hour set from Umphrey’s McGee. The Disco Biscuits finished out the night and provided a sort of pulsating electronic lullaby to those who went back to their camps to rest off the well danced day. 

moe. supplied just the right amount of Friday night spunk to prepare adoring String Cheese Incident fans for an emotional three and a half hour set. The usual celebratory weirdness you expect at a SCI show was present in full-force, and it was interesting to witness, knowing that the end of an era for both band and fans was unfolding right in front of me.

There was a sentimental vibe emanating from the audience, and the band was clearly enjoying the warm, err, fuzzies.  Anyone who wasn’t feeling too sentimental to continue rocking out went on to enjoy a riveting high energy performance by The Tragically Hip, but if pure stings strummed heavily in a foot stomping, front porch manner was more your style, the choice to see MN’s own Trampled by Turtles was also available.  TBT was extraordinary and it was pure pleasure to witness their exuberant fans enjoying the heck out of the show.  


Saturday night was definitely set up to be a grand finale.  Gov’t Mule started the evening off with every bit of force they are capable of.  The wind picked up and blew a refreshing breeze over the rhythmically warmed.  Just when I thought the show couldn’t get any better, Derek Trucks emerged on stage to add his slide on "32-20 Blues."  The band was in a rockin’ good mood and did not hold back as they prepared the crowd to embrace Bob Weir and Ratdog.  

Ratdog kicked off their set with "Help On The Way > Slipknot," and never looked back.  An absolutley unforgettable guest appearance by Warren Haynes on "Big Railroad Blues" closed out the first set, working the audience into a massive dancing frenzy in the process.  The second set saw Weir's playful side surface.  No Minnesota performance by any Grateful Dead member would be complete without a Bob Dylan tune, and "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall" quickly turned into an enormous feel good sing along.  Ratdog has been on the road with Keller Williams for several weeks, and the one-man band joined his tourmates to close out the second set on "Bird Song," "Cassidy," and "One More Saturday Night." 

A 30 min fireworks display was launched after Ratdog’s last note and revved the audience into gear for a phenomenal midnight set from The Derek Trucks Band. The music sounded fantastic under the starry sky, and the band was in great form, smiles beaming from the stage for the entire show.  

The raw and raunchy funk of Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk was also available during the same midnight time slot to assure that all dancers with even an once of energy left could set their souls afire in front of any active stage.  And if one last set was what a lingering guest needed, a great late night/early Sunday morning set came from The Lee Boys.  Nothing is quite as satisfying as a dose of sacred steel in the wee morning hours to close out a phenomenal weekend.  

I left 10KLF feeling tired, yet rejuvenated all the same.  The mind set of the staff who run the show definitely contributed to the culture of the event, and I didn’t meet a single employee who was not glad to be there or enjoying their job.  If there really is such a thing as “Midwestern nice” the people who put on 10KLF fit the definition.  No details were overlooked at this party, and my, what a party it was!


All photos by Candise Kola



High Sierra back in fine form

High Sierra Music Festival

Quincy, California

July 5-8, 2007


The High Sierra Music Festival has always been about more than just music.

At its best it is about magic. 

In the summer of 2007 that magic that was back in full force.

Thanks to the hard work and cooperative efforts of festival organizers and the city of Quincy, California, the Plumas County Sheriff's Office was not nvited to this year's festivities.  Instead, sympathetic community volunteers walked the festival grounds as a peace keeping force.  This allowed festival goers to freak freely and let the magic flow.

High Sierra was again the gem that all festivals should aspire to being.  By focusing on the hottest mid-level and up-and-coming acts on the circuit, this four day music festival draws true music lovers to revel in sound and each other's company for a long and lovely weekend.

If "the heat" had been held at bay this year, the heat was not.  As the fest opened Thursday temperatures climbed well past 100 degrees as campers settled in and built as many shade structures as they could. 

The weather proved no impediment to the fun, however, as Vince Herman and Great American Taxi  kicked off the music on the main stage, while Los Angeles' Shannon Moore entertained the Shady Grove stage with her hook-laden rock sounds, 

The March Fourth Marching Band combined burlesque and acrobatics with their set, Salvadore Santana (Carlos' son) fused world rhythms, rock and hip hop, Garaj Mahal turned into a quintet with the addition of bassist Kai Eckhardt's extremely talented pre-teen son on drums for their complex fusion jazz, and That One Guy worked his unique instrument of pipes, reeds and loops.

Sol Jibe proved itself one of the hardest working and most delightful new finds at the fest by lending it's world beats and Latin rhythms to two different stages during the course of the day, winning new fans every time it played.  The Waybacks offered their blend of bluegrass, rock and country sounds, Hot Buttered Rum tore it up in an acoustic way, while Zilla offered more electronic grooves.  As Galactic's hard New Orleans funk closed out the main stage the heat had not yet yielded, lending a Southern feel (minus the humidity) to the proceedings.

When the outdoor stages were closed for the night at 11 the heat finally let up.  Things may have eased up on the bodies of all the festival goers, but the music geared up for round two of day one. 

Anders Osborne kept the New Orleans vibe going in the Funk N Jam House with String Cheese Incident's Kyle Hollingsworth on keys and Galactic's Robert Mecurio on bass before Soulive held funky court there. 

String Cheese Incident's Michael Kang brought his electric mandolin to the African funk sounds of Chris Berry and Panjea in the Tulsa Scott Room before Kan'Nal rocked the psychedelic tribal groove there. 

But it was the Yonder Mountain String Band that was still rockin' the Music Hall with it extremely energetic newgrass as the first light of dawn cracked the sky at five A.M.  If there were those that were tempted to leave earlier, that temptation ended when Vince Herman came out and joined the band for "Cuckoo's Nest > Jack London" during the second set, including an extended, improvised romp with lyrics about what a dream High Sierra is.


all photos by Susan Weiand 





Read on for Friday


While it was warm again as day two began, temperatures would not again reach the brutal highs of that first day, providing some relief.  Some festivarians chose to hit the nearby swimming hole, while others opted for cold showers even though hot ones were available.  Many others began cooking bacon, which seems to have become the breakfast of choice for serious festival goers.  The combination of stomach-settling grease, water-retaining salt and  energy-providing protein in a candy-meets-meat form was almost as popular as coffee and Bloody Marys for breakfast in camps throughout the fairgrounds.

This morning was when the magic became palpable.  Start wondering where a friend was and they would appear.  Realize you needed something and it would be offered before you spoke.  Think you even wanted something and it too would manifest.  "Careful what you wish for" became a running joke but the reminder seemed unnecessary because the positive vibe was everywhere.

Friday also featured many of the acts of day one on different stages at different times, providing opportunities to see bands missed when the inevitable tough choices among High Sierra's four stages and playshop room all operate simultaneously.  Yonder rocked the mainstage just as they did during their evening set.  The Waybacks, Anders Osborne (again with Kyle Hollingworth), Soulive and Kan'Nal all did it again in the broad daylight.

New acts were also showing up to join the fun.  Brett Dennen was joined by members of ALO in an inspired Big Meadow stage set of his thoughtful, tender and utterly catchy songs.  Xavier Rudd proved himself equal parts Ben Harper, Michael Franti, Keller Williams and tribal rocker as he wailed away on electric dobro and three different didgeridoos; if there is one word that characterizes his music it might be "love." 

The Devil Makes Three is an old time string band on steroids, while the Drive-By Truckers rocked the house in a whiskey-soaked set to close out the mainstage in Southern style again.

The annual Camp Happiness cocktail party earlier in the day was set to feature the New Mastersounds at 4:20.  Their drums were still in transit as the party began.  No worries.  Vince Herman, the very spirit of the festival, had stopped by.  He picked up his guitar (after another rollicking set with Great American Taxi on the Shady Grove stage) had a mic taped to a keyboard, and proceeded to hold court with two members of Eddie & The Roughnecks on bass and keys and Sam Johnston (Box Set) on harmonica for over an hour of unalduterated joyuntil the New Mastersounds were able to take over.

After all that sonic goodness, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk still managed to steal the best act of the day award with a blistering set of funk the way funk is supposed to be played — loud and dirty.  Highlights included an Al Green tribute, A Rolling Stones cover, and the theme song from The Sopranos.  Two basses, a kick drum that could be felt more than heard and some serious shredding from the guitar of Ian Neville had folks dancing for hours and talking for days.

Late night again offered something for everyone as SCI drummer Michael Travis' project Zilla and DJ extraordinaire Bassnectar provided electronica,  The Waybacks and Hot Buttered Rum served up the grass, while The Phix's Phish tribute opened for Garaj Mahal's fusion in another room.




Read on for Saturday


Saturday began with temperatures still high but since they weren't as hot as day one, and people began to adapt, it was becoming more bearable. Some of Austin's finest took over during this day, including Guy Forsyth's Tom Waits inspired madness, Patrice Pike's conscious rock, and perhaps most importantly, Carolyn Wonderland

Wonderland is equal parts Janis Joplin and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  She clearly had the single best, most powerful voice at the festival and she can shred on the slide guitar.  All while remaining conscious of what truly matters and humble too.  Why Carolyn Wonderland is not a huge star is and shall remain a mystery.  Her Vaudeville Tent set brought down the house.

Other inspired sets were turned in by ukelele wizard Jake Shimabukuro, the rollicking country of the Mother Truckers,  Nickle Creek's Chris Thile's
solo project How To Grow A Band (featuring Greg Garrison and Noam Pikelny of Leftover Salmon), the African sounds of Asheville, North Carolina's
Toubab Krewe, the jazz of Bobby Previte's Coalition of the Willing, the crazy rock of Les Claypool and the old school bluegrass of Del McCoury.  The Ryan Montbleau Band won many fans for its sweet rock on their first trip to the far west.

Again it was the closing act of the Vaudeville Tent in the midnight hour that stole the show for many, however.  Something happened when JJ Grey & Mofro took the stage that mere talent alone can not account for.  It was that old High Sierra magic that infected that Blackwater swamp rock this night and many jaws were set agape by the Jacksonville, Florida unit's new lineup featuring a horn section.

Before one could fully digest what had transpired, however, the late night fun began indoors.  The funksters headed over to see the Meters inspired sounds of The New Mastersounds (with Papa Mali opening), those seeking heady trancefusion headed over to see the Disco Biscuits, while the largest crowd gathered to see the reunion of Leftover Salmon.

The sold out hall was first treated to Darol Anger's new supergroup, Strings for Industry.  Anger is a true virtuoso on the fiddle, but when he gathered his new Portland, Oregon based unit featuring Tony Furtado on guitar and banjo, Scott Law on electric guitar, Tye North (formerly of Leftover Salmon) on bass and monster drummer Carlton Jackson the magic was flowing again. 

But it was the Leftover Salmon reunion that drew the crowd.  Playing their first gig as a full band since they went on hiatus at the end of 2004 (a gig two weeks before at Telluride was without keyboardist Bill McKay), it was like they never left the road.  The band was on fire from the first notes and the crowd responded in kind.  Drew Emmitt is a spectacular player and singer, and Vince Herman is a force of nature, but something happens when the two of them are on stage together that is far greater than the sum of the parts. 

As if they could not get enough of playing together, the group kept it up until five thirty in the morning, going past the crack of dawn to dawn itself.  As the last notes of "River's Rising" greeted th new day everyone wondered how Leftover Salmon could possibly top that on Sunday, the final day of the festival.

Vince Herman was later seen playing a morning game of kickball with fans rather than heading to bed.  Your reporter managed to catch only two hours
of sleep after the Salmon set, but that is not the reason the majority of things he saw the last day were on the mainstage.




Read on for Sunday


For years now Maria Kelly has handled all the MC duties for the Grandstand Stage, but this year she could not be there. I was among the radio personalities given the honor to announce the acts there on Sunday.  It was an honor and a real joy to do so.  I did manage to catch the first hour of the Gospel Show on the Big Meadow stage while eating breakfast that morning, however, and what a way to start the day.  Carolyn Wonderland, Patrice Pike, Papa Mali, Shannon Moore, Guy Forsyth and others really know how to start a Sunday morning!  Sweet, rootsy, funky gospel goodness replete with prayers for peace is how to do it and they did right, song circle style.  With all that talent on stage there was no way to do it otherwise and, man, did it work.  If church
was always like this I would go every day.

As people started to wake up, however, it became clear that haze obscuring the mountains across the valley wasn't simple fog, it was smoke.  A few scary thoughts crossed everyone's minds until it was learned that the major wild fire creating all that smoke was over 30 miles away, not moving in the direction of the festival, and not being whipped by winds on this still morning.  So the smoke, which had settled into the valley overnight (and mostly dissipated by late afternoon), was an annoyance, not a threat.

Whatever else was going on at the festival (including sets by New Mastersounds, Eddie & The Roughnecks, Ryan Montbleau, Disco Biscuits, Chris Thile, ALO, the Budos Band, Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, I was content to be at the mainstage.  After a set by Lynx, a unique young hippie woman whose music combines folk, looping, computer beats and conscious lyrics, Albino, a San Francisco-based Afrobeat band, got people dancing despite the heat and the smoke.  The legendary Mavis Staples was up next, and the gospel theme continued into the afternoon.  An hour and a half break and the evening's festival closing sets were lined up. 

JJ Grey & Mofro were very good, even if they did not quite scale the heights they did the night before.  Phish's Page McConnell (who played a previously unannounced solo piano playshop earlier in the afternoon) brought his new band on and truly rocked the house for two hours of inspired rock.  McConnell may be the best leader to emerge from Phish, and he will certainly prove to be the most consistent unless Trey Anastasio eventually gets his shit together.  I was never much of a Phish fan so it was a great surprise to me just how good this group is.

After some heartfelt thank yous from the festival organizers to the city of Quincy for stepping up to quell the the civil rights violations of the Sheriff's office the last few years and trusting them, and the festivarians, to take care of ourselves, Leftover Salmon took the stage again.  With so little sleep and so much magic happening everywhere, it seemed a little like it was third set of a long Leftover Salmon show with some truly great tweeners as LoS took absolute command of the festival.

If their latenight extravaganza had been great, this was somehow even greater.  It was more focused, tighter and had even more energy, if that is possible. Guests included Darol Anger for most of the set, Chris Thile on mandolin, Page McConnell on keyboards for song, and others, but mostly it was Leftover Salmon proving that they are now and always will be the very spirit of the festival.  The group seems to understand the magic, chaos, joy and energy of the festival and turn it into sound.  It's just that incredible.  I for one hope they never stop playing together, even it is just sporadic summertime festival gigs every year.

Later on I wandered around a bit, tempted by the San Francisco party that ALO and Tea Leaf Green were throwing in one late night hall while Les Claypool or the Everyone Orchestra played in others, but instead went to a party I had been hearing about in Camp Harry in RV area near the Big
Meadow stage. 

What a scene that was as Eddie & the Roughnecks (another UK funk band led by Eddie Roberts of the New Mastersounds) tore it up as people danced and talked.  Eventually, however, I had to give into being tired and realize that it had really happened.  High Sierra 2007 had gone on for four days — almost around the clock — with virtually no trouble, great amenities (note to all other festival producers: the importance of clean portapotties for the entire weekend can not be underestimated and is worth whatever it costs!), great food and drink and most importantly, great people.

The campers not only enjoyed the music and each other's company, they respected the space they were in.  As the tear down began on Monday morning it was clear that people were bringing their trash and recyclables to the proper spots and leaving very little matter out of place for the Clean Vibes crew (who also did an amazing job) to deal with.

Let the news ring out throughout the land: High Sierra is back and believe it or not, better than ever.  The Best Fest in the West is back!