Here’s our full lineup for 2021 Hangtown Music Festival!
Join us for:
Join us for 3 nights of Railroad Earth
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
The Travelin’ McCourys
The High Hawks
The Lil Smokies
The Nth Power X2 Including Nth Utero performing Nirvana
Scott Pemberton O Theory
Kamani (feat members of Nth Power, Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce, Snarky Puppy)
Royal Jelly Jive
Island of Black & White
Red Dirt Ruckus
Joe Craven Emcee
Scroll down for bios!!
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!”
Clearly looking for a more specific answer, but realizing that he isn’t going to get one, Marty laughs. “Rock & roll…”
Well, that’s the way it is sometimes: musicians play music, and don’t necessarily worry about where it gets filed. It’s the writers, record labels, managers, etc., who tend to fret about what “kind” of music it is.
And like The Band, 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.”
Songwriter/lead vocalist Todd Sheaffer continues, “When we started, we only loosely had the idea of getting together and playing some music. It started that informally; just getting together and doing some picking and playing. Over a couple of month period, we started working on some original songs, as well as playing some covers that we thought would be fun to play.”
Shortly thereafter, they took five songs from their budding repertoire into a studio and knocked out a demo in just two days. Their soon-to-be manager sent that demo to a few festivals, and – to the band’s surprise – they were booked at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival before they’d even played their first gig. This prompted them to quickly go in and record five more songs; the ten combined tracks of which made up their debut album, “The Black Bear Sessions.”
That was the beginning of Railroad Earth’s journey: since those early days, they’ve gone on to release five more critically acclaimed studio albums and one hugely popular live one called, “Elko.” They’ve also amassed a huge and loyal fanbase who turn up to support them in every corner of the country, and often take advantage of the band’s liberal taping and photo policy. But Railroad Earth bristle at the notion of being lumped into any one “scene.” Not out of animosity for any other artists: it’s just that they don’t find the labels very useful. As Carbone points out, “We use unique acoustic instrumentation, but we’re definitely not a bluegrass or country band, which sometimes leaves music writers confused as to how to categorize us. We’re essentially playing rock on acoustic instruments.”
Ultimately, Railroad Earth’s music is driven by the remarkable songs of front-man, Todd Sheaffer, and is delivered with seamless arrangements and superb musicianship courtesy of all six band members. As mandolin/bouzouki player John Skehan points out, “Our M.O. has always been that we can improvise all day long, but we only do it in service to the song. There are a lot of songs that, when we play them live, we adhere to the arrangement from the record. And other songs, in the nature and the spirit of the song, everyone knows we can kind of take flight on them.” Sheaffer continues: “The songs are our focus, our focal point; it all starts right there. Anything else just comments on the songs and gives them color. Some songs are more open than others. They ‘want’ to be approached that way – where we can explore and trade musical ideas and open them up to different territories. But sometimes it is what the song is about.”
So: they can jam with the best of them and they have some bluegrass influences, but they use drums and amplifiers (somewhat taboo in the bluegrass world). What kind of music is it then? Mandolin/vocalist John Skehan offers this semi-descriptive term: “I always describe it as a string band, but an amplified string band with drums.” Tim Carbone takes a swing: “We’re a Country & Eastern band! ” Todd Sheaffer offers “A souped-up string band? I don’t know. I’m not good at this.” Or, as a great drummer/singer/mandolin player with an appreciation for Americana once said: “Rock & roll!”
Gov’t Mule never lost sight of where they began. During a break from The Allman Brothers Band in 1994, guitarist and front man Warren Haynes and original bassist Allen Woody formed Gov’t Mule with drummer Matt Abts, with whom Haynes played alongside in the Dickey Betts Band. Confidently merging rock, blues, jazz, and funk, the trio carved out a place in the American rock ’n’ roll canon with a string of influential albums, beginning with 1995’s Gov’t Mule, followed by Dose , and Life Before Insanity . In the aftermath of Woody’s tragic passing, Haynes and Abts joined forces with a barrage of legendary bass players, including John Entwistle, Jack Bruce, Phil Lesh, Bootsy Collins, Flea, Les Claypool, Mike Gordon, and more for The Deep End, Volume 1 and The Deep End, Volume 2 in 2001 and 2002, respectively, as well as 2003’s RIAA Gold Certified live offering, The Deepest End, Live in Concert. Welcoming Andy Hess on bass and Danny Louis on keyboards, the quartet released Déjà Voodoo  and High & Mighty . 2008 saw Jorgen Carlsson enter the fold on bass for By A Thread , cementing the current lineup. In 2013, Shout! proved to be another watershed moment as the group collaborated with the likes of Ben Harper, Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Grace Potter, Dave Matthews, Myles Kennedy, Steve Winwood, and more on alternate vocal tracks. Rolling Stonepraised the album, saying, “Gov’t Mule, led by singer-guitarist Warren Haynes, write solid rock songs in the power-blues, heroic vocal tradition of Free and Led Zeppelin.” From 2014 through 2016, the band delivered a series of archival releases celebrating its 20th Anniversary that achieved chart success across genres as Dub Side of the Mule went #1 for Reggae, Sco-Mule claimed #2 for Jazz, and Dark Side of Mule landed #10 for Rock. In 2018, Gov’t Mule released their 10th studio album, and their most diverse to date, Revolution Come…Revolution Go, which lyrically speaks to the emotions that Americans felt during the divided political climate surrounding the presidential election. The following year, the band released their live album and full concert-length film, Bring On The Music – Live at The Capitol Theatre, shot and directed by Danny Clinch and bringing the excitement and spectacle of a Gov’t Mule show directly into fans’ homes. In 2020, the four-piece began releasing a series of streaming-only live albums via Evil Teen Records including Live At The Angel Orensanz Center, Live At The Beacon Theatre, and Live At The Cotton Club. Led by visionary GRAMMY Award-winning artist and guitar legend Haynes – a cornerstone of the American music landscape – the enduring, globally revered group has showcased its virtuosity, intelligence, and breadth over the course of 20+ studio and live albums. Their flexible interplay in the studio and on stage makes them a true living, breathing ensemble and Haynes is lauded as one of the most formidable guitarists and vocalists of the modern era and a prolific songwriter and producer. Gov’t Mule has become a human encyclopedia of great American music while adding to that canon with their signature sound. Along the way, their catalog has impressively racked up 120 million-plus Pandora plays, over 60 million Spotify streams, 3 million downloads from their official website, and millions of album sales.
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
St. Paul & The Broken Bones – Young Sick Camellia
Blood is thicker than water, and it can leave scars. But like it or not, those in our bloodlines are stuck with us—and us with them—for better or for worse. Paul Janeway understands this conundrum of heritage well. The singer of the Birmingham, Alabama–based rock and roll soul band St. Paul & The Broken Bones was born and raised in America’s Deep South, a place where social consciousness can still take a backseat to unsavory traditions and where a family’s expectations sometimes supersede all else. Despite the fierce familial love, he enjoyed and constantly gave back while growing up—especially to his father and grandfather—from an early age Janeway realized that the way he thought about the world was a little different from those around him, and he began to seek an outlet from which to share what was in his heart and on his mind. Blessed with a powerful voice, a magnetism for connecting with people, and a gift for making music, he traded in a career in ministry to start his own band.
“I’ve always been the artsy weirdo in the family,” Janeway says. “I’m liberal, a blue dot in a very red part of the world. When you’re from Alabama you have to go out of your way to make people understand that you think a little differently. But we’re an Alabama band—it’s who we are.”
St. Paul & The Broken Bones formed in 2012, releasing their debut album Half the City in 2014 and its follow up, 2016’s Sea of Noise, too much acclaim. Those strong efforts helped place them on the national scene, and the band worked hard to prove they were no mere retro-soul band—from touring the world relentlessly, including being selected to open for The Rolling Stones and headlining two nights at the Ryman Auditorium, to TV appearances including The Late Show with David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Conan, Austin City Limits two appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, one being the very first episode. Janeway’s fearless showmanship, thoughtful lyrics, and dedication to his performance soon became the band’s calling card, and paired with the inventive and skillful direction of co-band leader Jesse Phillips as well as a full eight-man roster comprised of some of the best young instrumentalists in the South, they soon became a must-see event. (In addition to Janeway on lead vocals and Phillips on bass and guitar, the lineup is rounded out by Browan Lollar (guitars), Andrew Lee (drums), Al Gamble (keyboards), Allen Branstetter (trumpet), Chad Fisher (trombone) and Amari Ansari (saxophone), who replaced Jason Mingledorff following the album’s recording) Over time, Janeway has learned the art of balancing expectations and how to reconcile his past with his future, just as his band have learned how to overcome their perception by pushing against its ceiling. In embracing those things he cannot change, he has forged ahead as an artist and as a man. And with his band’s new album, Young Sick Camellia, Janeway has created a space for St. Paul & The Broken Bones to rival any forward-thinking band making music today, based on a concept all-too familiar to him: family, and how we love them despite our differences.
Upon completing Sea of Noise, Janeway began working on its follow up immediately, with the idea in mind to write directly about his relationship with his father and grandfather. “I was dwelling on my family and the complexity to all the men’s relationships,” Janeway says. “My papaw was not a warm person, but he showed his affection through hard work. He and my father had a complicated relationship and didn’t communicate well. This record is about me growing up in a digital age, and my father and papaw growing up in their different times, and exploring the dynamics of those relationships.”
Originally envisioning the project as a trio of EP’s, each from the perspective of the three generations of Janeway men, he realized he had enough material in the first volume—written from his own vantage—to make a full-length record. Assigning himself the image of a camellia, the Alabama state flower, Janeway uses his lyrics as a conduit for interpersonal conversation and excision, in addition to pieces of an actual conversation with his grandfather he recorded months before his unexpected death. “I wanted to explore the dynamics and their views on life,” Janeway says. “It’s an extremely personal record—not that I haven’t written personal records before, but this is more in-depth and with a vulnerability that I was maybe scared to try. But you have to have that exposure. I think we’re in a much better place than we’ve ever been as a band. We weren’t totally confident with the ‘retro soul’ label that was thrust on us and we knew we had to explore more ground. Young Sick Camellia is the first record we’ve done that just felt right all the way through, like we’re doing us. Nothing was rushed and everything has intent.”
Janeway leaned more heavily than ever before on his band to help with the songwriting. In the past, he and Phillips served as a “two-headed monster” who ultimately called all the shots; this time around, however, the band was invited to add song ideas. “The record really flexes the muscle of this band,” Janeway says. “Musically, it’s a kaleidoscope of flavors and it covers a lot of ground.”
Furthering this notion, the band chose the hip-hop / modern R&B producer Jack Splash to record in Los Angeles, a choice that Janeway credits with taking the band outside of their comfort zone and establishing a connection to a new sound. Fusing the use of samples, fresh rhythms, and new instruments with Janeway’s specific interpersonal subject matter, Young Sick Camellia is sure to place St. Paul & The Broken Bones in a whole new sphere. From the opening space-opus of “Convex” to the snappy, buoyant charm of “Apollo” and the intensely personal bent of “LivWithoutU” and the album-ending “Bruised Fruit,” it’s clear that this represents a new chapter of the band. As Janeway howls the words “Blood is what I can’t escape” during the final number, the chills are affecting, reminding the listener of the place and circumstances from which the singer and the album come—especially considering the unexpected passing of a central character, one whose appearance is both heard and felt throughout.
“I recorded a conversation some months ago with my papaw, who was in his 80’s and had smoked everyday since he was nine,” Janeway says. “I made the decision to use that audio on the record, and then he got sick and passed away a few months later after we had finished the album. It felt like that’s why we did this; it’s just the way the world works, a beautiful thing. In my mind music lives forever, and that will always be there.”
Just as his family makes a grand imprint in the very DNA of Young Sick Camellia, Janeway and his band are set to have a lasting impact in today’s musical landscape. The album they have created, whether a standalone affair or eventually accompanied by successive parts of a trilogy, challenges the notions of what a soul outfit can be, and establishes their reputation as a band as likely to make you think as to dance. A darker, more cerebral affair, the album embraces a variety of sonic experiments and blurs boundary lines but its focus remains sharply on the titular frontman and his bold, intensely personal and brave examination of his own family tree and how it has shaped him.
“For now, this feels like our opus,” Janeway says. “But the story doesn’t feel finished, so with that, it has to continue. We’ve already got music for the next one. What I perceive this to be is different from anything anyone is doing. It’s so terrifying and so fun at the same time.”
History doesn’t stand still. It impacts, influences, and inspires the ebb and flow of the future by informing the present. Galactic draw on 25 years together in order to progress with each performance and subsequent record. After 10 albums, over 2,000 gigs, and tens of millions of streams, the proud New Orleans, LA quintet—Ben Ellman [saxophone, harmonica], Robert Mercurio [bass], Stanton Moore [drums, percussion], Jeffrey Raines [guitar], and Richard Vogal [keyboards]—have kept the torch burning through five U.S. presidential regimes, the turn-of-the-century, Hurricane Katrina, a Global Pandemic, and a much-anticipated recovery. They’re the rare collective who can support Juvenile on Jimmy Kimmel LIVE!, contribute music to a blockbuster soundtrack such as Now You See Me, and light up the stages of Coachella, Bonnaroo, and New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (a staggering 22 times).
Joined by vocal powerhouse Anjelika “Jelly” Joseph, they continue to forge ahead with a 2021 headline tour and more new music.
“There is a history to the band, yet we continue to release and perform new material,” says Stanton. “I’m truly excited for our fans and audience to hear this next record we’ve been working on. I think it’s some of our best work yet.”
They laid the groundwork for this future upon coming together in 1994. Two years later, the guys dropped their full-length debut, Coolin’ Off, and hopped in a Ford Econoline van (with trailer in tow) for their very first official tour. Along the way, they released seminal albums such as 2007’s From the Corner to the Block, boasting collabs with the likes of Chali 2na, Juvenile, Trombone Shorty, DJ Z-Trip, and Boots Riley. During 2015, Into The Deep marked their first debut in the Top 25 of the Billboard Top 200 and second straight #1 bow on the Billboard Top Contemporary Jazz Albums Chart. Not to mention, it boasted the title track “Into The Deep” [feat. Macy Gray], racking up nearly 20 million streams and counting. Along the way, they performed alongside the likes of Dave Matthews Band, The Roots, Jack Johnson, Talib Kweli, the Allman Brothers Band, Widespread Panic, B.B. King, Counting Crows, James Brown, and many more. They’ve also recorded and performed with the likes of Allen Toussaint [“Bacchus”] and Big Freedia “Double It”]. Most recently, 2019’s Already Ready Already garnered acclaim from New York Times, NPR Weekend Edition, Exclaim!, and many more, while they’ve appeared on the covers of Downbeat and Relix Magazine.
Around the same time, they welcomed Jelly to the fold after joining forces on stage for a handful of unforgettable performances.
“I was super nervous at first, because I had some pretty big shoes to fill—but like those other singers I had to bring myself and I think I’ve fit in pretty well,” Jelly smiles.
“Jelly came to Fuji Rock in Japan with us to sing background with Macy Gray,” recalls Stanton. “We needed someone to sing one of our Galactic originals, and she stepped up. Since there was no time for rehearsal or soundcheck, she showed up prepared, knew the tune completely, and rocked it. When it came time to find someone new to sing with us, she was our first choice. She has such effortless stage presence and a very comfortable rapport with audiences. She also brings an element of unbridled fun!”
That fun came across loud and clear on the 2020 single “Float.” Uplifted by Jelly’s powerhouse pipes, it hinted at the potential of their collective chemistry.
“I love listening to Galactic’s older records, because they were very funk driven,” Jelly goes on. “Now, it seems like they’re incorporating more pop, rock, and soul to create a newer sound.”
As they continue writing, recording, and performing, Galactic always keep New Orleans close to their hearts at all times. In 2018, the band purchased and took over one of the city’s most hallowed venues—Tipitina’s Nightclub. Their history with the venue even predated the band as Ben’s first job was as a cook in the old kitchen, while they’ve graced its stage more than 100 times over the years.
In the end, Galactic keep moving forward as they add more chapters to their incredible history.
“We’ve just achieved 25 years as a band of brothers, so we know how to work with each other and move ourselves through the next 25 years,” Robert leaves off. “We’re always trying to push ourselves with our songwriting and studio collaborations. I look forward to where the future will take us.”
Few bands stick around for 30 years. Even fewer bands leave a legacy that marks them as a truly special, once-in-lifetime type band. And no band has done all that and had as much fun as Leftover Salmon. Since their earliest days as a forward thinking, progressive bluegrass band who had the guts to add drums to the mix and who were unafraid to stir in any number of highly combustible styles into their ever-evolving sound, to their role as pioneers of the modern jamband scene, to their current status as influential elder-statesmen of that scene — casting a huge shadow over every festival they play — Leftover Salmon has been a crucial link in keeping the traditional music of the past alive, simultaneously pushing that sound forward with their own weirdly unique style.
The band marked their 30-year anniversary in 2019 with Leftover Salmon: Thirty Years of Festival!, an intimate portrait of Leftover Salmon through the personal recollections of its band members, family, friends, former band-mates, managers, and the countless musicians they have influenced. It is a tale of friendships and losses, musical discoveries and Wild West adventures, and the brethren they surround themselves with who fortify Salmon’s unique voice. Their story is one of tragedy and rebirth, of unimaginable highs and crushing lows, of friendships, of music, but most importantly it is the story of a special band and those that have lived through it all to create, inspire, and have everlasting fun.
In 2021, the band returned to Compass Records for their release Brand New Good Old Days. The band now features a line-up that has been together longer than any other in Salmon history and is one of the strongest the legendary group has ever assembled. Built around the core of founding members Drew Emmitt and Vince Herman, the band is now powered by banjo wiz Andy Thorn and driven by the steady rhythm section of bassist Greg Garrison and drummer Alwyn Robinson. This line-up is continuing the long, storied history of Salmon, which first found them emerging from the progressive bluegrass world and coming of age as one the original jam bands, before rising to become architects of what has become known as Jamgrass. Leftover Salmon were pivotal in creating a musical climate where bands schooled in the traditional rules of bluegrass could break free of those bonds, using nontraditional instrumentation and tapping into their innate ability to push songs in new psychedelic directions live.
Salmon is a band that has never stood still; they are constantly changing, evolving, and inspiring. If someone wanted to understand what Americana music is, they could do no better than to go to a Leftover Salmon show for a musical tour, with the band taking them to Appalachia for an old-time bluegrass song, stopping at Bourbon Street in New Orleans for a swampy Cajun-influenced number, to the hallowed halls of the Ryman in Nashville, before returning to the mountains of Colorado to fire one up.
With 15 years of relentless touring behind them, Vermont-based rock band Twiddle has built an impressive resume spanning Red Rocks to Bonnaroo, and multiple sellouts of historic rock venues including Port Chester, NY’s Capitol Theatre, and Washington D.C.’s 9:30 Club. And with the second half of the band’s third studio album, PLUMP, on the horizon, the band’s career continues to catapult forward. Buoyed by the generous support of 359 Kickstarter donors, the 27-song album does more than showcase the group’s beautiful music, but also tells an important story, comprised in PLUMP Chapters 1 & 2.
Recorded during a two-year span with legendary producer Ron St. Germain, PLUMP serves as a reflection of four brothers’ triumphs and struggles, both individual and as a whole. On Chapter 1, songs like “Lost in the Cold” and “Every Soul” detail what it’s like to hit rock bottom and how to rise back up.
“So many fans have shared how these songs carried them through very difficult times, and that alone makes this all worth it,” said Brook Jordan, Twiddle’s percussionist and vocalist.
Comparatively, Chapter 2 contains genre-bending instrumentals, as well as mystifying epics like “Nicodemus Portulay” and “Orlando’s.” More than ten years later, these songs mirror the earliest Twiddle arrangements of 2004-2005 when Mihali Savoulidis and Ryan Dempsey were collaborating in their freshmen dorms at Castleton State College. The completion of PLUMP is timely, coming at a moment when the band’s fervent fan base is at an all-time high and expanding rapidly.
In the live setting, more and more people are invigorated by Twiddle’s community, promoting positivity and the band’s skillful improvisational music. So many like-minded people believe in the greater good, and they find that good in Twiddle.
Twiddle is comprised of Zdenek Gubb on bass and vocals, Ryan Dempsey on keyboards and vocals, Mihali Savoulidis on guitar and lead vocals, and Brook Jordan on percussion and vocals. A more detailed biography of each band member, along with upcoming tour dates and updates, can be found at TwiddleMusic.com.
The Travelin’ McCourys
The Travelin’ McCourys✭2019 Grammy winner for Best Bluegrass album✭2018 IBMA Instrumental Group of the YearFrom a source deep, abundant, and pure, the river flows. It’s there on the map, marking place and time.Yet, the river changes as it remains a constant, carving away at the edges, making new pathways, gainingstrength as it progresses forward. The Travelin’ McCourys are that river.The McCoury brothers- Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (banjo) – were born into the bluegrass tradition. Talkabout a source abundant and pure: their father, Del, is among the most influential and successfulmusicians in the history of the genre. Years on the road with Dad in the Del McCoury Band honed theirknife-edge chops, and encouraged the duo to imagine how traditional bluegrass could cut innovativepathways into 21st century music.“If you put your mind, your skills, and your ability to it, I think you can make just about anything work onbluegrass instruments,” says Ronnie. “That’s a really fun part of this- figuring the new stuff out andsurprising the audience.”With fiddler Jason Carter, bassist Alan Bartram, and latest recruit Cody Kilby on guitar, they assembled agroup that could take what they had in their DNA, take what traditions they learned and heard, andpush the music forward. In fact, the band became the only group to have each of its membersrecognized with an International Bluegrass Music Association Award for their instrument at least once.There were peers, too, that could see bluegrass as both historic and progressive. Rock and Roll Hall ofFame inductees The Allman Brothers Band, improv-rock kings Phish, and jamband contemporary KellerWilliams were just a few that formed a mutual admiration society with the ensemble.The band played the Allman’s Wanee Festival, and guitarist Warren Haynes’ Christmas jam- an annualholiday homecoming of Southern music. An early-years jam with the Lee Boys was hailed by many asthe highlight of the evening, and with the video catching fire online, earned a legion of new, young fansof their supercharged combination of sacred steel, R&B, and bluegrass. There were unforgettablecollaborations with country smash Dierks Bentley, and onstage magic, jamming with titans String CheeseIncident and Phish, cutting an album with Keller (Pick), and creating the Grateful Ball- a tributeconcert-turned-tour bridging bluegrass with the iconic music of the Grateful Dead.“That’s something that’s part of us being who we are,” says Ronnie. “It comes, too, with us plugging in.It gets louder, for sure. We can’t be another version of our dad’s band. It wouldn’t make any sense forus to do that.”Their concerts became can’t-miss events, whether headlining historic venues or as festival favorites,drawing the love and respect of a growing fanbase craving their eclectic repertoire. At the 2016 editionof DelFest, an annual gathering of the genre’s best aptly named for the McCoury patriarch, the banddelivered the take-away highlight. Rolling Stone called it “a sublime combination of rock and bluegrass,contemporary and classic, old and young. The best set of the festival…” The river was going newplaces, getting stronger. It was time to re-draw the map.
“We’ve tried to pick songs we think people are going to enjoy,” says Ronnie. “Something we learnedfrom our dad is that a good song is a good song. It can be done in any way.”So arrives the long-awaited, self-titled debut album from the quintet. A brilliantly executed setoverflowing with inventive style, stellar musicianship, and, of course, plenty of burnin’ grass, the 14-songcollection is a true culmination of their decades-long journey. From the headwaters of Bill Monroe andthe waves of Jerry Garcia to a sound both rooted and revolutionary, soulful and transcending thatbelongs only to the Travelin’ McCourys.“The album definitely shows what we’ve evolved into as a band. And, it’s a pretty good representationof what’s happening with the whole genre,” says Rob. “The old bluegrass material is something I lovebut it’s been done many times. We’re forging ahead with our own sound. That’s what you have to do tomake it all work.”…and the accolades continue to come. The Travelin’ McCourys were honored by the InternationalBluegrass Music Association in 2018 as the Instrumental Group of the Year. They were further feted inFebruary 2019 with the Grammy Award for Bluegrass Album of the Year.
The High Hawks
The word supergroup gets overused to describe side musical projects, but it’s apt and well-earned when it comes to The High Hawks. With nearly 150 years of collective touring and playing between them, Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon), Tim Carbone (Railroad Earth, Blue Sparks From Hell), Chad Staehly (Hard Working Americans), Adam Greuel (Horseshoes & Hand Grenades), Brian Adams (DeadPhish Orchestra) and Will Trask (Great American Taxi) have maintained a generation-spanning presence at the forefront of the roots music scene for over two decades.
But talk to the band members, and you’ll find that their reasons for getting together were much more down to earth.
“Sometimes you meet somebody and you hit it off, and you feel like, ‘Man, I don’t want to just look at the cover, I want to read that book,’” says guitarist Adam Greuel with a laugh. “It’s a tight-knit music community in our Americana-bluegrass-jam band world. Over the years, we all kept bumping into one another and realizing there was a deep sense of fellowship and kindred spirit. The main impetus to form The High Hawks was really a curiosity about one another, both musically and personally. This band came out of a yearning to hang out.”
“And the reason I think it worked so well is that we’d known each other for so long,” agrees multi-instrumentalist fiddler Tim Carbone. “I’ve sat in with Adam’s band. I produced two Great American Taxi records. I’ve worked with Chad in super creative situations. I’ve known the guys in Leftover Salmon for over twenty years. It’s one big happy family. It’s kind of the perfect situation. You have a group of guys who know and love each other. And oh yeah, by the way, we get to play these cool original songs too.”
But two years ago, when they first convened at guitarist-singer Vince Herman’s house in the Rockies, there was no clear road map for where they might go. Greuel says, “We had a run of shows booked in Colorado, and we didn’t know what kind of music we were really going to make. Everybody brought a few song ideas along. It was two days before our first show, and that’s when a lot of the songs came together and our whole vibe as a band came together. We have shared influences, shared musical vocabulary, but even with that, there was a kind of telepathy that was like, ‘Holy moly, not only should we be playing some shows, but let’s cut a record too!’”
“We went in with zero expectations,” says Carbone. “Once we got together and played the songs we had in mind, it was like, ‘Wow, there’s something going on here! This is not just a bunch of guys playing some songs. This is a band.’”
Indeed, the baker’s dozen of songs that make up their debut have the strong identity and cohesiveness of a band three records in to their career. The summery, fiddle-infused opener “Singing a Mountain Song,” with its self-referential line – Soaring like a high hawk across this mountain top – acts as a kind of mission statement for the whole collection. There’s a lot of good feeling and optimism in these grooves, from the celestial cowboy vibe of “White Rider” and the revved-up Cash rockabilly of “Bad Bad Man” to the catchy, sauntering “Do Si Do,” which sounds like a great lost Grateful Dead track, the spare emotional cover of Woody Guthrie’s “Fly High,” and “Just Another Stone,” a moving ode to love’s redemptive power. Throughout, the creative hand-offs between four songwriters and four distinct singers all come together to channel influences from bluegrass to folk to reggae to cosmic Americana into a singular, appealing voice.
“All of us love The Band,” Greuel says, “and I think part of the reason they’re so compelling is the different kind of vibes that come into one shared unit. You have different vocalists, different songwriters. You bring in all these songs and they have different vibes initially. But when they’re brought to the other players, they all kind of become one within this band. These songs wouldn’t sound like High Hawks songs if it was just one of us playing them. When it all comes together, there’s a sound.”
“I think we all appreciate the freewheeling aspect in this band,” Carbone says. “In Railroad Earth, we have a great songwriter and we kind of follow his lead as far as creating the structure of the arrangements and the sound. The process is largely the same from record to record. That’s my job, my career. With the The High Hawks, I had more of a creative hand in writing and producing. It’s different because there are multiple songwriters, and everyone’s bringing something to the table as a song. Everyone seemed to get out of everybody’s way, but also help everybody do their thing. It was refreshing.”
When it came time to name the band, they looked to the skies. Literally. “All of us started noticing that there would be hawks everywhere,” Greuel says with a laugh. “Sometimes in really uncanny ways. Aside from its beauty and grace, I think there’s a really cool mythology associated with the hawk, about intuition, unification and spiritual awareness. It seemed to match the music.”
Carbone adds, “For me, the name kind of embodies freedom, and scaling the heights of creativity. It’s that rare moment when everything gets to another level and you feel like the people that you’re working with are enabling you to be at your best.”
Of course, any new creative endeavor these days has to pass through the reality check of the pandemic that we’re all living through. While the band remains hopeful that they’ll be able to play some live dates by the end of the year, for now, they’re more focused on sharing the positive, healing vibes of their debut album. “There’s a lot of stuff on this record that’s soulful and soul nourishing,” says Carbone. “That’s what I get out of it. So I hope that people who listen will get something similar – a replenishment and a nurturing of the soul.”
“We all came together at a time when we needed one another,” says Greuel. “I don’t know that we all knew that initially, but it slowly became apparent that the closeness that occurs from being in a band really ended up being good medicine for us all. We have a never-ending text message thread that keeps us all laughing and communicating and sharing songs and discussing trials and tribulations. Being an ear for one another and giving each other a sense of fellowship has really been awesome. I might hope that that sort of vibration can extend from the band to the folks who listen to the record. Maybe they can find a feeling of togetherness from the the music. Maybe in some ways know that that they’re not alone in some of their struggles. Maybe some of the songs can make the good times better and the bad times bearable. To me, that’s the greatest gift of music.”
The Lil Smokies
Drawing on the energy of a rock band and the Laurel Canyon songwriting of the ‘70s, The Lil Smokies are reimagining their approach to roots music on Tornillo, named for the remote Texas town where the album was recorded. Produced by Bill Reynolds (The Avett Brothers, Band of Horses), Tornillo is the band’s third studio album. Formed in Missoula, Montana, The Lil Smokies have built a national following through constant touring, performing at Red Rocks, LOCKN’, High Sierra, Telluride, Bourbon & Beyond and more.
The Nth Power X2 Including Nth Utero Performing Nirvana
The Nth Power
Proving that soul music can be exponentially greater than the sum of its parts, The Nth Power is on a mission to share the light.
Formed during an impromptu late-night jam during the 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the relentlessly funky and soulful band believes in music as a higher power. They tap into an energy that is simultaneously sexy and spiritual, with songs that will inspire audiences to dance, groove, make love or just stand there with goosebumps.
Hailing from diverse musical backgrounds, races and creeds, the trio brings together some of the most coveted backing musicians in the game. Renowned funk drummer and vocalist Nikki Glaspie is the heartbeat of the operation — Beyonce’s former world-touring drummer who’s worked with Maceo Parker, Chaka Kahn, Ivan Neville, Robert Randolph and is a frequent guest drummer on Late Night With Seth Meyers. She joins bassist Nate Edgar, longtime member of Billboard reggae chart-toppers, John Brown’s Body, to create the group’s intoxicating rhythm section. Guitarist and lead vocalist Nick Cassarino, who’s toured with Big Daddy Kane and collaborated with Jennifer Hartswick, completes the formula. And at the core of their original vibe is a deviously simple concept — the healing power of love.
“It’s my dream team,” said Glaspie. “Each one of us is a songwriter, so when we get together, everything becomes that much stronger. Music is what brought us together, but it’s the spiritual bond that makes us play so in touch with each other.”
The Nth Power’s 2013 independent EP, Basic Minimum Skills Test, showcases a first glimpse of the spark shared among the group, delivering gospel-style harmonies with soul, jazz, funk and world-beat riffs in nearly mathematical fashion. Two years later, the band dropped its full-length studio debut, Abundance, which was produced by industry legend Ira Schickman and garnered national acclaim from Modern Drummer, Offbeat, Curve Magazine, Relix and others. After original member Nigel Hall left his full-time duties with the group, The Nth Power went on to release two live albums, 2016’s Live To Be Free and 2018’s Rebel Music: A Tribute to the Message of Bob Marley. Now a power trio, The Nth Power continues to grow in their mission to spread love and healing across the land.
“We’re going as far as you can go on planet Earth as musicians,” Glaspie said. “We want to change the world through music — that’s the goal.”
Scott Pemberton 0 Theory
One thing is clear when you hear SPOT. This is something new. Rooted in the familiar yet utterly unique, this nimble Power Trio creates their own brand of progressive roots music blending deep jazz, blues, rock/grunge, funk and psychedelia; often during the same song. Driven by Scott’s wildly unorthodox approach to the guitar, improvisation and songwriting; every concert is an entirely fresh experience. Playing festivals, theaters, taverns and nightclubs from coast to coast, they prove during every performance their dedication to the fact that making music is an honor and a gift.
More than a band or even a supergroup, KAMANI is a funk collective, and in the words of founder Nikki Glaspie, “on a mission to heal the world through funk”. Born out of necessity during a brutal pandemic, and fueled by a burning desire between musicians to spread love, KAMANI came together organically and serendipitously. Conceived by the celebrated drummer/vocalist and incorporating Glaspie’s longtime friends and fellow funksters from Lettuce, Ghost-Note, Snarky Puppy and beyond, KAMANI sets out with a stated goal to simply perform safely for people at a time when they’ve never needed music more.
Due to circumstances surrounding travel and performing in these confounding times, the KAMANI project first took shape in Florida at the end of 2020. An amalgamation of core members Glaspie (The Nth Power, Maceo Parker, Beyonce, Dumpstaphunk), bassist Matt Lapham (Roosevelt Collier, Shak Nasti) and guitarist Kat Dyson (New Power Generation, Cindy Lauper), KAMANI is a healing tree native to the Hawaian Islands, and brilliantly symbolic of their collaborative musical energies.
KAMANI is often spearheaded by one of the most dynamic rhythm duos to hit the scene, starring Glaspie and multiple Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Robert “Sput” Searight of Snarky Puppy, Ghost-Note and TOTO. World-renowned as a top flight drummer and bandleader, Sput touches a number of instruments within KAMANI performances, and the chemistry radiates from the center of KAMANI’s soul-thumping sound. Other KAMANI combinations find Nikki reconnecting with longtime foil Nigel Hall, as Lettuce’s spirited keyboardist/vocalist has deep roots with Glaspie in the earliest iterations of The Nth Power. Kindred souls, Nikki and Nigel also share a truly unique musical partnership that is reawakened in the context of KAMANI.
To diversify the fluid lineup even further, KAMANI often welcomes keyboard virtuosos like Xavier Taplin of Ghost-Note and Shaun Martin of Snarky Puppy. An inventive player, Taplin has logged time with Paisley Park offshoot NPG Q and backed Prince protege Judith Hill. Shaun Martin is an bombastic bandleader and Go-Go general, in addition to his numerous accomplishments with the venerable Snarky Puppy ensemble. Both bring their own brand of swagger to the stage, steadily electrifying audiences with their immense talents.
KAMANI places a laser focus on the funk, specifically classic material from the Seventies and early 1980’s glory days. Nothing that bumps is off limits, from James Brown to the GAP Band, Parliament Funkadelic to MAZE, Prince to The Four Tops, plus beloved cuts from the collaborators themselves. Majestic gospel harmonies are in abundance, thunderous drums and a fat bottom end power the pulsating R&B and soul grooves, and the dancefloor is always bubbling with energy when KAMANI takes the stage.
“We play the funk a bit differently because we’ve played with the masters. We’re taking that knowledge and keeping it alive,” said Glaspie. “I’m a purist when it comes to funk music. There’s no water in this — it’s real, unfiltered, uncut, unadulterated funk.”
For nearly two straight years following the release of their critically acclaimed debut, Chasing Lights, Ida Mae lived on the road, crisscrossing the US from coast to coast as they performed hundreds of dates with everyone from Willie Nelson and Alison Krauss to Marcus King and Greta Van Fleet. And while those shows were certainly formative for the electrifying British duo, it was what happened in between—the countless hours spent driving through small towns and big cities, past sprawling suburbs and forgotten ghost towns, across rolling plains and snow-capped mountains—that truly laid the groundwork for the band’s transportive new album, Click Click Domino.
“Coming from England, the US feels like this incredibly vast landscape full of freedom and isolation and beauty and tragedy and lostness all mixed together,” says Chris Turpin, who co-founded the duo with his longtime musical partner, Stephanie Jean. “Driving over a hundred thousand miles for months on end, we couldn’t help but be inspired by it.”
Written primarily in the backseat of a moving car, Click Click Domino embodies all the momentum and possibility of the great American unknown, offering up a series of cinematic vignettes full of hope and disappointment, promise and regret, connection and loneliness. The songs here are raw and direct, fueled by an innovative mix of vintage instruments and modern electronics, and the performances are loose and exhilarating to match, drawing on early rock and roll, classic country, British folk, and 50’s soul to forge a sound that’s equal parts Alan Lomax field recording and 21st century garage band. Turpin and Jean produced the album themselves, recording primarily on their own in their adopted hometown of Nashville during the COVID-19 pandemic, and while the collection is certainly bolstered by appearances from high profile guests like Marcus King, Greta Van Fleet’s Jake Kiszka, and Ethan Johns, the heart and soul of the record remains Ida Mae’s enthralling chemistry, which has never felt more vibrant, ambitious, or self-assured.
“Working just the two of us, there’s always been a bit of a Bonnie and Clyde aspect to what we do,” says Turpin. “Spending all that time driving around America, though, things took on more of a Steinbeck or Kerouac feeling. We were on an journey of discovery together, and every day brought us closer together.”
Now married, Turpin and Jean first met a little over a decade ago while attending university in Bath. The pair bonded immediately over their love for the sounds of bygone eras—Turpin, the old-time guitar work of Robert Johnson, Charley Patton, and Mississippi Fred McDowell; Jean, the timeless vocals of Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, and Bessie Smith—and quickly earned rave reviews everywhere from the BBC to the NME with their raucous first band, Kill It Kid. Starting over fresh with a new group named for Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee’s “Ida Mae,” the first song they’d ever harmonized on, Turpin and Jean relocated to Nashville in 2019 and released Chasing Lights to similarly widespread critical acclaim. Rolling Stone hailed the album’s “stomping swirl of blues and guitar-heavy Americana,” while The Independent lauded its “retro lustre” and “impressive experimentation,” and NPR’s Heavy Rotation called it “tightly drawn, harmonic and hypnotic.” The music helped earn the duo a slew of support dates with the likes of Greta Van Fleet, The Marcus King Band, Blackberry Smoke, Josh Ritter, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and The Lone Bellow, as well as performances at Bonnaroo, the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, Germany’s Reeperbahn Festival, and Switzerland’s Zermatt Unplugged.
“We just said yes to everything and played every single chance we got,” says Turpin. “We started off at barbecues and dinner parties and it snowballed until we were onstage in theaters and stadiums playing to thousands of people every night.”
To call the band’s tour schedule relentless would be an understatement. On one particularly grueling occasion, the duo played a headline album release show at Omeara in London’s South Bank, then hopped a flight to straight to Kentucky, where they landed just in time for their second performance of the day, a tour kickoff show with Blackberry Smoke at the Louisville opera house. Rewarding as it was to play for audiences all over the world, the rigors of the road left little time for traditional writing sessions, and when a friend came onboard to help with the driving, Turpin jumped at the opportunity to retreat to the backseat with an iPhone full of voice memo melodies and a notebook packed with potential lyrics.
“I’d curl up in a ball with my headphones on and start trying to match bits of music I’d recorded at soundchecks or in hotel rooms with words I’d jotted down whenever something inspired me,” he explains. “It was a process of sifting through this scrap yard of ideas until something synced up, and then running with it from there.”
When it came time to record, the band had planned on working once again with legendary producer Ethan Johns (Ray LaMontagne, Laura Marling, Kings of Leon), who’d helmed Chasing Lights back in England. With COVID-19 taking international travel off the table, though, Turpin and Jean decided to forge ahead and make the record themselves, leaning on everything they’d learned collaborating with Johns and other top shelf producers and artists over the years like T Bone Burnett (Elvis Costello, Robert Plant & Alison Krauss), M. Ward, Ryan Hadlock (The Lumineers, Brandi Carlile), Jake Gosling (Ed Sheeran, Shawn Mendes), and Mike Crossey (The 1975, Arctic Monkeys). Working out of their house in Nashville, they set up a series of bare bones recording stations and began cutting tracks together in one or two take performances, embracing the spontaneity of the moment and relying on the intuition of the live show they’d spent the past few years perfecting.
“We’d come straight home from tour when COVID canceled everything,” says Turpin. “We had the gear and we were road ready, so we didn’t want to overthink it.”
Where Chasing Lights was the sound of a band just beginning to discover their true potential, the performances Turpin and Jean captured for Click Click Domino showcased a duo confident in their powers and hungry for fresh challenges. The pair pushed themselves to break new ground on the record, both as artists and producers, experimenting with a bold palette of colors and textures and following their insatiable creative curiosity wherever it led them. The resulting leap forward is palpable on every track, a distinct elevation in ambition and execution that reaches back into the past in order to reimagine the future.
“Our goal was to take our sound further than it’d ever gone before,” explains Turpin. “We wanted to get heavier and open things up and weave together all these different strands of what we do in one place.”
After capturing the foundations of the album live America, Turpin and Jean sent the music back to England, where Johns and Nick Pini added drums and bass. Meanwhile in Nashville, the duo continued fleshing out the rest of the arrangements with a broad array of instruments they’d acquired during their travels: a century old parlor guitar, a gut string banjo ukulele, a vintage Japanese drum machine, a 1920s mandolinetto, analog synthesizers from the ’60s and ’70s, a Beatles-esque mellotron, even a Native American buffalo hide drum.
“Clashing all these different instruments from different time periods together was a chance for us to reframe their context,” says Turpin, “as well as a way to pay homage to the land that inspired us. We get thrown in with labels like ‘Americana’ or ‘rock and roll’ a lot, but truth be told, what we do is a weird cacophony of all these different eras and influences coming together.”
That much is clear from album opener “Road To Avalon,” which mixes Appalachian folk and Celtic mythology into an otherworldly, transatlantic dreamscape. Like much of the music on Click Click Domino, the track embodies a sense of motion and longing, a search for deliverance somewhere beyond the horizon. The hazy “Line On The Page” recalls Sticky Fingers-era Stones as it meditates on the magnetism of the road, while the searing “Long Gone & Heartworn” mixes pub rock charm with punk rock snarl as it tears on down the highway, and the rowdy “Deep River” follows two lovers with big dreams who leave home only to find themselves lost in a system beyond their control.
“I don’t really think of this as a political record,” says Turpin, “but there’s no way to write about what we saw traveling around America over the past few years without some of that darkness seeping in.”
Indeed, that darkness looms over the collection like a storm cloud threatening to break at any moment. The eerie “Little Liars” teeters on the brink as it grapples with truth and consequence; the ominous “Has My Midnight Begun” questions how to carry on in the face of so much turmoil; and the blistering “Click Click Domino” lands somewhere between Pops Staples and Jack White as it reckons with a culture driven by clickbait and instant gratification.
“That title track was written to push back against a modern world where everyone wants to look and sound and dress alike,” says Turpin. “When everyone’s trying to do the same thing, you just wind up with a bunch of dominos in a pack.”
Ida Mae, on the other hand, have always managed to follow their own compass. And as Click Click Domino proves, the best stories are often found off the beaten path.
Diggin Dirt began planting its roots back in 2011 in the town of Arcata, CA in Humboldt County. The original lineup was a peanut butter and jammed out quintet that consisted of a double guitar rhythm section like no other, and a tenor saxophone…like no other. The original five (Rory Urquhart, Joey Incorvaia, Drew Weitzel, John Callahan and Aaron Gottesman) had high hopes of getting house party gigs and maybe even performing on a stage one day. Little did they know. Many, many dreams later, the quintet became seven. As the band moved forward, taking pieces from each chapter, they all the while stayed anchored to the heavy groove that Diggin Dirt has become known for.
Dirt found its current form when it added soul man Zach Alder, a Humboldt local. His commanding vocal element was a natural addition to the mix. The horn section rounded out its sound with the addition of Humboldt musician Tyler Martin on baritone saxophone. The newly conglomerated 7-piece band had instant chemistry, and released their Full Season LP shortly thereafter. The debut album, comprised of 11 tracks, showcases musical influences ranging from afrobeat to reggae and rock, tainted in just the right way with that signature Diggin Dirt heart.
The band began touring outside of Humboldt County in the spring of 2017 throughout California and Oregon, and was met with a tremendous response. A reputation of quality original music backed by high energy performance grew around their name, and all involved were inspired to keep growing. Next up in 2018 came the release of the Bedrock EP, recorded at Bongo Boy Studios in their home town. With more musical maturity and a new depth of identity, the album was a true sign of more to come.
And come it did. Expanding their reach in 2018 and 2019 across the entirety of the Western United States, Diggin Dirt dove deep into the grind. Playing from San Diego to Bozeman and out to Denver, the band spread its reach far and wide and found great success. In an unprecedented move, their second place finish in the High Sierra Music Festival band contest landed them an opening gig at the festival in 2018. Something must have worked, because they returned for the 2019 iteration for several primo sets, including a late night opening spot for legendary modern NOLA funk band Galactic.
After their blowout year in 2018, the band returned to the studio, this time at Killion Sound in Hollywood with Orgone guitarist Sergio Rios to lay down their third album, Funkacillus Groovidophilus. A true unique strain of funky goodness. Continuing into 2021 and beyond, the band has released three singles and continues to write, record, and tour.
The band is, of course, influenced by funk heavy hitters such as James Brown, Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, WAR, and Sly and the Family Stone as well as reggae bands like Steel Pulse and modern funk like Orgone, New Mastersounds, and Lettuce. Dirt has appeared at festivals around the nation including High Sierra Music Festival, Hangtown Halloween, Whale Rock Music Festival, Salmonfest, Emerald Forest, the Trinity River Jamboree, Northern Nights, the Benbow Summer Arts and Music Festival, and many, many others.
More inspired than ever, Diggin Dirt is on the road and ready to bring the music to the people. With tour dates near you, and fresh material coming out every month, the group shows no signs of slowing down as they expand their reach. Dust the Dirt off those dancing shoes because we’re looking at you tonight! Keep checking in on this funky force, and make sure to come out and groove when you find them in your neck of the woods. We’d love to see you.
“Dusty Roads, gonna take me there…I aint traveling far. Packing my suitcase…tie my knapsack tight and I took off down the road. Telling all my friends not to miss me none, down in the valley below…and I know, I’m gonna find it…it’s just a matter of time”
– Diggin Dirt
Royal Jelly Jive
“San Francisco Soul Jive” is the best term Royal Jelly Jive can find in describing their unique and intoxicating sound. Led by dynamic front-woman Lauren Bjelde, this sultry sextet rocks into uncharted musical territories with their infectious blend of modern and throwback sensibilities. Armed with retro horns, heavy grooves, and catchy songs that are impossible to resist, RJJ can pair with your fancy cocktail at a smoky jazz club and shake up the funkiest dance party.
Born out of Funk and Happenstance at John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom Room, Royal Jelly Jive has gone full-steam ahead in embracing music as their truest calling. From prominent festival stages all along the West Coast, East Coast and U.K., they continue to sweep crowds off their feet with a high energy live show that leaves crowds yelling for Mo’ JELLY! Tour highlights include opening for and sharing stages with The Roots, Michael Franti, Lake Street Dive, Thievery Corporation, and Avett Brothers, as well prominent slots at festivals such as Napa Valley’s Bottlerock, Portland Waterfront Blues Fest and Outside Lands. The future is Jelly.
Mescalito formed in 2016 rather organically, where a group of local South Lake Tahoe musicians found each other through their shared love of similar music and a mutual admiration for each other’s musicianship. Some members have toured nationally and internationally, while others have been staples in the local Tahoe music scene for years. Their music could be described as a mixture of the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Black Crowes, Little Feat, and more, but over the years they have also found a sound all their own.
Mesaclito is Martin Bush (guitar, vocals), Simon Kurth (guitar, vocals), Marty Ylitalo (drums, vocals), Seth Hall (sax, vocals), Andy Voelkel (trombone, vocals), Keith Ovelmen (bass), and Lowell Wilson (keys).
Community is really important to the band. They place a high value on playing fundraisers and socially-conscious events that support their local community and good causes. They have also been very fortunate to share the stage with a vibrant community of artists, many of whom happen to be life-long friends. Here are some bands and musicians you may see Mescalito playing and/or collaborating with from time to time. Check them out! ALO, Jen Hartswick, Greensky Bluegrass, Elephant Revival, Fruition, The Mother Hips, Tea Leaf Green, Cris Jacobs Band.
Island of Black & White
A fusion of rock, blues, funk, and reggae, Island of Black and White emerged from the foothills of El Dorado County in 2004. A staple in the Sacramento music scene for over a decade, IBW has established itself as a soulful, musical powerhouse, playing nearly 300 shows per year. Their live performances have gained a substantial and loyal following as they more frequently play for crowds in the thousands. IBW delivers high energy performances playing crowd-favorite originals like “Egyptian Lullaby” and “Como Sofia” that are guaranteed to get fans up and dancing. Their infectious energy is shared with the entire crowd…it is a live experience like no other.
Red Dirt Ruckus
Take a scoop of bluegrass and mix it up with a half glass of reggae, a healthy pour of funk and a dash of jam rock. Thats a recipe for some Ruckus!
Red Dirt Ruckus has been serving up their high-energy blend of NorCal foothill fusion since 2010. With a focus on crowd-pleasing forays into bluegrass, funk, reggae and rock and roll, this group mixes a traditional string sound with blazing horns and a general disregard for standards.
Ruckus has been making news in the last few years garnering multiple Sammy nominations for best sacramento area bluegrass group as well as securing a top 5 finalists spot in the 2020 Jack Daniels Battle of The Bar Bands.
The band is primarily focused on developing their original material and found a ton of success with their most recent album release, Walk With Me, which hit #1 on the Relix National Radioplay Jamband Charts and was played on over 200 radio stations across the country.
Alongside a healthy mix of classic songs you know and love, this eclectic, multi-genre band has been garnering some serious attention lately – delivering stellar live performances that you don’t want to miss!
Ranging in age from 13 – 16, these youth are the future of Bluegrass. The band features Lucy Khadder (fiddle, vocals), Jasper Manning (mandolin) and Sophia Sparks (mandolin and vocals) with David Grisman Quintet alumni Chad Manning on guitar and Jim Kerwin on bass. Expect to be delighted by their artful new interpretations of traditional and contemporary bluegrass music as well as their original compositions. They have an eclectic reach with a sound that remains uniquely their own.
The band met through a common love of bluegrass music, and through studying at the venerable Manning Music studios in Berkeley, CA. They have performed together since 2018, bringing their talents to farmer’s markets and a variety of public venues as well as house concerts in the East Bay. In December 2018, the band was featured in a theatrical run of An Appalachian Christmas to great acclaim. After leading CBA youth jams and performing in the Kids On Bluegrass program at the Father’s Day Festival in 2019, they also participated in the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Kids on Bluegrass program in Raleigh, NC and performed as a California Bluegrass Association showcase band as part of the 2019 IBMA festival. In September 2019, the band was awarded 1st place at the 2019 Berkeley Old Time Music Festival String Band Contest.
Now that things are reopening, they look forward to performing at DelFest in Cumberland, MD, CBA’s Fall Campout, Hangtown Music Festival, and at next summer’s High Sierra Music Festival in July 2022.
Emcee Joe Craven
Joe Craven, the “Old Rugged Crossdresser of Hangtown” is also a sound farmer, music producer, educator, carnival barker, and former museologist. For over 40 years, Joe has made a living playing forward folk tradition by reworking it and playing it forward as new music. Joe has recorded and played with Jerry Garcia, David Lindley, David Grisman, Alison Brown, Howard Levy, Vassar Clements, Rob Ickes and many other innovative artists. He is a featured artist/educator in the PBS television series, Music Gone Public, and Joe has created music and sound effects for commercials, soundtracks, computer games and contributions to several Grammy-nominated projects. He’s the Executive Director of Vocáli Voice Camp, WinterTunes and RiverTunes Roots Music Camps in California. He’s a recipient of the Folk Alliance Far-West Performer of the Year Award and the Swannanoa Gathering’s Master Music Maker Award. Joe has also been a Master of Ceremonies at music festivals, including Delfest, Telluride, Wintergrass, High Sierra, Grand Targhee Bluegrass, Live Oak and others. He also a poet and eulogist. He sleeps occasionally. “Joe Craven is magical” – San Francisco Chronicle