I love my life. Let me just be REAL clear about that. I have great friends, a great family, and a town that is, as we always used to say, "close to everything."
I'm due to speak on a panel next week about Sacramento's cultural life, and here's my main regret: I miss a lot of it. Yeah, Mr. Blogging the Grid misses a lot of what goes on here. That's because "here" also includes Tahoe, San Francisco, mountain biking in the foothills, and this weekend, High Sierra Music Festival. I just can't stay put. Used to drive my editors crazy. I'm on the move, because there's so much to move TOWARDS.
Honestly, I know I should stick around more, but there's so much to do within easy striking distance of this place. I've even thought about blowing off the title Blogging the Grid, for the simple fact that life here extends WAY beyond the Grid, though not necessarily to Citrus Heights or Folsom. But go an hour or so, and you're in all kinds of paradise.
Saturday night: Krauss and Plant at Tahoe. Brilliant. The Harvey's Outdoor Amphitheatre ain't much - like a smaller version of Cal Expo Amphitheatre, one friend called it "a parking lot - but a nice parking lot" - but when you have people like Plant and Krauss (and T Bone Burnett leading a band that featured Buddy Miller and the EXTRAORDINARY drummer Jay Bellerose, who just floored me), the setting is secondary. Even the numbskulls shouting requests for "Stairway to Heaven" couldn't spoil it.) Check out this review from the Reno Gazette Journal (the Bee didn't bother to attend).
Then, I spent an afternoon and evening with my gang at a friend's house in the foothills, a passel of kids playing in the water (with yours truly and a bunch of other grown-ups who still play like kids), and it was just perfect. Damn, life is good.
And next: High Sierra. Seriously, this is my fifth year there, my gang doesn't miss it, and I met my true love, Ms. Ultra, camping in the grass three years ago. I've seen Kinky blow the roof off an outdoor concert (not easy to do), I've seen Richard Thompson, Bill Frisell, James Blood Ulmer, Skerik, Chris Robinson, Galactic (whoa!) and a half dozen guitarists tearing through "Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)" as well as all sorts of bands I'd never heard of before, and this year looks to be more of the same. Honestly, this is music the way it's meant to be heard:
Five, six thousand people at about 4,000 feet (or higher, nudge), dancing and listening and being civil and CARING about music in a way that you just don't get at GasHog Arena or MattressSale Amphitheatre. Music is so much more than money and fame and cross-promotion, but when you go to most shows, you feel like a pawn, a target, a MARKET. But at High Sierra (and WorldFest, more on that to come) and other festivals, you feel like a PERSON, a person who loves music made by other PEOPLE. At shows put on by other people. People like Sherry Wasserman of Another Planet, who put on the Plant/Krauss show, and has revived the Greek Theatre tradition, and is hosting the Treasure Island Music Festival and the Outside Lands Festival (where BECK is opening for RADIOHEAD, fer cryin' out loud) and so many other shows. The spirit is still there, even with the world seemingly going to hell. Music has saved my life regularly, and it did so at Plant and Krauss, and it will at High Sierra and Outside Lands. Seriously.
But I digress: High Sierra. For $168 - less than one ticket for the Police show at Mattress Amphitheatre - you get FOUR days of dozens of bands and cool people and camping at altitude. It is a music lovers' paradise, and if you've not gone, and you love music, you're off your game. DO IT.
Why? OK, so...here are a few names: Gov't Mule, Bob Weir and RatDog, Michael Franti, Mother Hips, SambaDa, Built to Spill, Keller Williams, Mike Gordon, Critters Buggin', Railroad Earth, James Hunter, CHARLIE Hunter, the fabulous Bay area DJ Bassnectar (rocked my world last year) and a whole bunch of OTHER names you've never heard. Because the names aren't what does it. It's the place, it's the vibe, it's the freedom, it's the serendipity of happening upon a band - or a woman (or a man) - and falling in love.
We're in an era of big names, if you just float down the lukewarm mainstream. Fine, go see the Police. Great band, and SleepTrain's fine. But if you swim into the eddies, and up into the tributaries, you find out what it's all about, deep down. And it might be for the first time, or it might be AGAIN. And again is sweet. Damn, it's sweet.
Go buy a ticket to High Sierra. Yeah, it's a pitch, one you'd be nuts to ignore. This is one hell of a good time. Life is beautiful, and music is a big part of Why. The other part is...other people. And nature. And High Sierra has 'em all.