Because Fish Can’t Jam for Themselves
The 3rd annual Guitarfish Festival was on the 26th-28th of July at the Cisco Grove campgrounds near Truckee, Ca. It is a small festival that is very similar in feel to the High Sierra Music Festival that happened over the 4th of July weekend. It was in the same campground as before but moved to a different area for more room and access.
There is a cause behind Guitarfish that is for sustainable waterways and education about overfishing. A very intimate experience with laid back crowds that gathered around 2 stages, to see very talented performers that gave almost non-stop performances. There is very little to no set breaks between the acts and you get almost non-stop music through out the day.
Almost anywhere you go, you can hear the music form the Dolphin or Orca stage. There really wasn’t too much difference in the stages themselves. Same size, same dance area, and sound just decorated differently and only a short walk of about 100 yards to get back and forth. You can hear the music in most of the campgrounds and the walk is very short from there too. The biggest inconvenience for some people is that there is no glass containers allowed in the “Fishbowl.” It’s just a precaution against broken glass for shoeless dancers and our four legged friends. There were quite a few dogs there but they were all well behaved.
And now for the music!
Friday July 26th
Drop Theory was the festival opener and I couldn’t see them from my spot at security but I could hear them. I didn’t see the crowd but I bet it was small as it took a while to get a crowd there. They are a funk based band and covered the Talking Heads “Girlfriend is Better” in a faster jazz tempo beat.
J Pinard (Sax & Vocals), Alex Dobbs (Drums), Peter Kowalczyk (Guitar), Mike Zucker (Guitar), Isaac Freed (Bass)
The Nibblers are from Sacramento and have been building a name for themselves by playing in lots of places. This is a newer version of the band after some members split into Joy & Madness (played Saturday) and they have their line up down. They have some new originals in their set “Step It Up” “People Say” “Let’s Dance” and “How Strong is a Woman” that are some good, solid, funky dance tunes that will help get them recorded and noticed. The Nibblers are Lynn Michael Palmer-low notes, Jon Wood -geeetar pickin’, Will Whitlock – Slappin and sangin, Courtney Miller-Slapping Skins, vox- Ivories.. er….plastics, vox, Tim Glaze- Trumpetitude, Darius Babazada- Tenor Saxolicious
I volunteered at the festival and I was checking wristbands and keeping glass out of the “Fishbowl” on Friday in my Deadheadland t-shirt.(You should have one!) I got a kick out of an older hippy dude that drove by in his golf cart and said “ Deadheadland? Hey! I’ve been there!” His BMW cart said Furthur on the back too.
These guys (and a girl) were a festival newbie for me and I had no idea what to expect from them. Hard to tell just from looking! I would call them a sophisticated punk band. There are some of the punk musical elements with out all the “Fuck you!” and shitty lyrics you have to listen too a bunch to understand. The lyrics are smarter and deeper than most bands and they are delivered by a singer that can scream and not a screamer that sings. They also mixed in some spacey/electronic jams in there care of member Hawk West, who gets bonus points for his Jerry Day t-shirt. ES Pitcher: vocals, guitar Noah Reid: guitar, vocals Hawk West: flute, automation Erik Lekas: bass Aaron Xavier: drums
Never know what to expect at these kinds of gatherings I tell ya. I stepped away to the bathroom and all festival had broken out! The Samba Stilt Circus had gathered backstage and came out at the end of the show to entertain us. There were 2 women on stilts, a dancer, flag bearer, and half a dozen drummers, moving into the crowd and eventually leading us over to the next stage in a fun parade of revelers and excited children.
The Samba Stilt Circus led us over to the Dolphin Stage where Joe Craven was playing his mandolin in time with the drumming and singing something in Portuguese. It was a wonderful improv jam that the musicians and crowd could really feel happening in the moment. Joe later commented on how this is the spirit of festival and what music and gathering is all about and what is the actual magic left in the world. He also commented on how wonderful it was to see so many children at the festival playing and dancing and meeting new friends. Joe plays mandolin, violin, bongos and other percussion while sometimes using digital looping to be his own back up band. It’s not just trickery though; he is very talented and entertaining. He played “Sitting on Top of the World” on his canjo. The canjo is a 3 string banjo he made out of a large hominy bean can that he played in an African style. He also brought up his 12 year old daughter Hallie to sing with him. They did a Bob Marley medley then the Samba Stilt Circus jammed with them to end the show and parade us out after a costume change. Hallie and Joe performed Saturday morning for the kids in the family camp too.
The band started a little late because they were lost/stuck in traffic. That was kinda ok because the Samba Stilt Circus kept us busy and the Fishbowl was starting to get more people in it. Things got much more lively duringtheir set because of their music and more dancers and it started turning into Friday night. Afroliscious is called a collective and they do have quite a collection of a DJ, live musicians and multi-layered singers for a total of 13 people on stage. They are also a collection of sounds that spins reggae, funk and groove numbers into a big sound that sounds great live and on record. They played most of their new album California Dreaming including the title track, “Revolution” “Never Let No One” and “Pleasure Power” and went over a little on the time schedule. Hard to resist such energy and passion. Afroliscious is:Pleasuremaker, Señor Oz, Qique Padilla, Diamond Vibes, Wendell ‘Get Down’ Rand, Will ‘Billy Magic’ trumpet, Aaron Leibowitz, Antonio ‘Fresh is Life’, Sergio Duran, Kate Pittard, Paul Oliphant, Ezekiel McCarter, Ijeoma
Kinda outta my league and genre on this one. They are a jazz quartet from San Francisco led by guitarist Will Bernard and Wil Blades on keys/organ and I don’t know who the drummer and sax player were. They were joined by Jazz Mafia members Adam Theis(Trombone) and Rich Armstrong(Trumpet) for a few tunes. I thought they were fabulous and an extremely talented band. Here is one of their songs:
The W-BeezThe W-Beez
Covered some James Brown and the Isley brothers and the light show kicked in by Carter Adams.There was a tarp that gave shade by day and backdrop for lights at night along with the natural pine tree surroundings. A big disco ball hung from the Orca stage. This was Carter’s 3rd Guitarfish Festival lighting.
Great band! Super funky! It was really great to groove to their music in the forest under the night sky that had a colorful light show that went along with it. Fanny Franklin has a great voice and sings really well and they are equally good on their instrumentals. Chuck’s percussion is more than just flavor, and adds a bunch t their rhythm section. I regret being too tired and finishing their 2nd set while listening in my tent. Sergio Rios:Guitar Dan Hastie:Keys Sam Halterman :Drums Darren Cardoza: Trombone Jordan Katz: Trumpet Gino Garafalo: Vocals / Bass Fanny Franklin: Vocals Chuck Prada: percussion Dark video:
I didn’t get to see these guys because I was in another part of the camp and another band was also sound checking. They were a bit on the mellow side and I did hear a cover of the Jackson 5’s “I want You Back” that was pretty cool. Guy Fox is:
Noodle Witherbee- Guitars, vocals Greg Waters- Guitars, sax, vocals Petey Granquist- Drums, vocals Charles Willhelm Moore III- Bass, vocals
Finally, some damn hippies! Or at least a hippy groove. Another San Francisco band that plays mostly original material form their 2 albums The Lesson and most recently Tricked. Soul and Rhythm and Blues especially with a gumbo tinge is what they do best. They definitely know who the Allman Brothers are and they might have seen the Dead a time or two. If you got 20 mins here is Franklin’s Tower >Help On the Way http://youtu.be/n724P2Df5Bs Fletcher Nielsen – Vocals, Keys, Harmonica, Guitar Derek Brooker -Guitfiddle, Vocals Mark Anthony Calderon – Bass, Vocals Inx Herman- Drums
Didn’t really see these guys either. Heard a Scarlet Begonias from a distance though. Upbeat and Reggae version. I can say I dug the cool twist. They say they play Beach Rock Reggae and if you dig the beach you will dig them! Travis Wheeland – Vocals,Guitar Nate “Frogg” Wheeland – Ukulele,Guitar,Vocals Marcus Agundez – Big Booty Bass Brandon Lark – Drums, Percussion
Vinyl has been around for awhile and resurfaces to jam our faces off for a funkin’ good time. Lyrics are for chicks anyways. Very full sound and when the horns aren’t jamming they played percussion. Kinda wished they played later in the night too.Billy Frates – Guitar Geoff Vaughan – Bass Jonathan Korty – Hammond Organ / Keys / Harp Alexis Razon – Drums Danny Cao – Trumpet Aaron Saul – Saxophone
What you do when you can’t play bassWhat you do when you can’t play bass
These guys have been making their way around the Northern California festival circuit and were just at the High Sierra Music Festival. They are a fun rock band that sticks to the more traditional jam time frame and not the 15-20 minute song marathons. They have lots of original songs that come from three of the five writing lyrics and the whole band contributing music. Zak Mandel-Romann (bass) broke his arm jumping over the Grand Canyon on his bicycle (the GC was unharmed) and was replaced by Charles Willhelm Moore III of Guy Fox. He learned the material right before the show and did a nice sub job. Zak still sang. And hula hooped. Probably how he really broke his arm. Jeremy Lyon: vocals, guitar, harmonica Zak Mandel-Romann: vocals, bass, shirtless manly hooping Rob Fidel: vocals, banjo, guitar, harmonica Patrick Glynn: keys, mandolin, melodica, glockenspiel Daniel Blum: drums, percussion Here is some HSMF & GF:
A freshly costumed Samba Stilt Circus led us from the Wanderers to the New Monsoon show and they opened with a Circus tinged “The Other Side.” Their jam band sound is much more rock influenced and I tend to think of more Allman blues than spacey Dead when I hear them. If you are going to hear about the death of JJ Cale, they are the right bunch of guys to clue you in. Jeff told us and then they did “One Step Ahead of the Blues” in his honor. Bo Carper: acoustic guitar, banjo, lap steel, vocals Phil Ferlino: keyboards, accordion, vocals Jeff Miller: electric guitar, mandolin, vocals Marshall Harrell: electric bass Michael Pinkham: drums Samba-Monsoon: http://youtu.be/ZyZe7nNHZF0
I think this is why some of the people came out to Guitarfish on Saturday. Lots of people were out and dancing to them. Gangsta funk from Brooklyn played by live musicians and digital sampling. Although the light show was awesome you do not watch the Pimps of Joytime. You either jump in to freak and groove or you are not getting the full effect. This was the mistake I made the first time I saw them. “Bonita” “San Francisco Bound” “Street Sound” “Pimpin Music” They tour a bunch too! http://youtu.be/a8-ueLrIums Brian J – Lead vocals/guitar Mayteana Morales – vocals/percussion Cole Williams – vocals/percussion David Bailies – bass/sampler John Staten – drums
These guys are a live electronic band from San Francisco with live drums and an electric guitar player. My bluegrass side be damned, this was some fun, techno driven, sci-fi laced, computer generated light show, craziness that still gathered us as a tribe in a hypnotic state. Greg Maximov on drums, DUDHAUS (aka Justin Ward) on effects and sequencers, Chuck Jones on turntables and samplers, and Mike Laglia on electric guitar and lap steel.
This was a set featuring the original material of Tim’s that had special guests Dave Berry – guitar/lap steel/vocals Cliff Porter – cajon/vocals Eric Matlock – keys/organ/vocals of Jelly Bread and Bo Carper-guitar/vocals Marshall Harrel- Bass of New Monsoon. When solo Tim loops guitar, percussion and violin with beautiful lyrics and singing. While I was more interested in Legos at that age, Tim was mastering the violin. He is an incredible musician that also added his violin to Bo & Lebo’s set but also Jelly Bread.
Bo & Lebo
Bo Carper & Dan “Lebo” Lebowitz play acoustic guitar with Marshall Harrel playing bass. Ok when don’t they play acoustic guitar? Bo from New Monsoon and Lebo from ALO play more traditional gospel, folk and originals than what they play in any of their other projects. They did “Deep Blue Sea” “John Henry” “When the Levee Breaks” “Baby Gone Fishin too” and a JJ Cale tribute on “After Midnight” and Lebo’s “Feel It” Cliff Porter and Tim Snider sat in to add percussion and violin.
I didn’t catch them either. I could here them and they were the bluesiest band there that also played some jazz. My shift ended and I broke my camp down and had to get my car form the front in time to see Jelly Bread.
Jelly Bread is a mix of genres that has mainly funky rock roots. Snappin Bass lines, soulful organ, hot guitar licks, and great harmonies make up the shows. You’ll even get some nitty gritty lap steel too with your killer drum beats. Tim Snider and Lebo joined in for some violin laced “hillbilly gangsta funk” session that was tons of fun. They will be opening for the Robert Cray Band in a few weeks too!Dave Berry – guitar/lap steel/vocals Cliff Porter – drums/vocals Brady Carthen – bass/vocals
Eric Matlock – keys/organ/vocals
A fusion of cultures, music, instruments, trance, dance, that spun out of Hamsa Lila. Traditional African instruments and modern electric guitar, bass and drums blended with African and Cuban lyrics. Very dynamic show that had the Samba Stilt Circus ladies dancing and leading us in the mesmerizing spectacle.
Yes! More Lebo! So this is jazz band project from some super jazz nerds. You don’t have to be a musician but it is definitely for people that appreciate talent. Very groovey and danceable, psychedelic and squiggley to dance too. No lyrics but some scat with the bass solo. They did play “Low Rider” and “Another Brick in the Wall” Not sure what it’s called but this is the opening song and they were all really long jams:
Sambada, Orgone and Peter Josh Burtt & Kingtide were next but I left early to get back to my life. I hear the Pimps of Joytime joined Orgone for awhile. I bet it was sick! Maybe it will appear online!? Guitarfish Festival is a great show. Very intense musically, but it has everything you need for a festival in a campground. Might be a better scene if High Sierra is too intense with the crowds. Hoping for GF IV! See ya next year!