|Not Just Another Festival 2010|
The Second June Lake Loop Mountain Music Festival has become Legendary. For those who were fortunate enough to catch it, these three days of August, in the little Village of June Lake, California, offered a rare blend of Classic High Sierra Artists, Emerging Local Talents and Outstanding Imported Icons. Moving through the LOOP, from one end to another, every day and every venue provided a rich and fresh musical experience for the attendees.
From Mariposa, The Trespassers stopped by to join the festivities, with their dueling fiddles, banjos, guitars and stories. Their sweet folk music and harmonies lilted through the town. Passerbys stopped and stayed to listen. They were pleasantly surprised to see the quality of musicianship playing right on Main Street at Trout Town Joe’s. That evening the new crowd, affectionately called the Loopers, filled in the T-Bar at the Sierra Inn. Led by the town’s own professor of music, Andy Borza, new artists showed up in a big way at the Songwriter’s Showcase. You had to use a shoehorn to get people in the door! Each act was presented from behind the leopard skin curtain; shy and sultry songstresses, wacky storytellers, poets and bards all graced the stage. Even a new Momma played her cello, while her newborn was cradled in the arms of Daddy. A dozen or more artists were embraced by an adoring audience who cheered, laughed and cried. Babies danced and rolled on the floor. This new generation of songwriters created a show that was deliciously reminiscent of that bygone era called the 60’s. It was high energy and a remarkable opportunity to see what the locals are up to.
On Friday, The LOOP had it’s own version of wine tasting at the Double Eagle, but this was no ordinary sip and spit! Leave it to say that it was an interactive Wine and Song Pairing with Bonnie Tamblyn & Tom Nolan, where the audience was part of the show. A capacity crowd filled every corner at the Eagle’s Nest patio. A gentle breeze wafted down from Carson Peak, as Rush Creek gurgled by. Tom and Bonnie led the participants on a journey like a grapevine, twisting and turning through selections of songs packaged in “Suites.” After two hours of sampling, everyone was a-glow and up on their feet singing and swaying together to the last song…Que “Syrah, Syrah.” Meanwhile, uptown, the T-Bar was serving up some Old Town Honkytonk activities. A Poker game was going on at the “Wild Card.” With a couple of gorgeous dealers, and the wiley floor-boss - June Lake Jake, as well as other assorted characters …you could almost smell the cigars and taste the whiskey! Oh Ridge, engaged the crowd in the bar with great fun and fantastic harmonies. Downstairs in the T-Bar, Jeffrey James managed to fit his big bad self up on the little stage to dish up his signature Retro-Country songs with the Wanted Gang and his beautiful six-shooter, Claire Herrera, at his side. They started late, but eventually played to a full house and it was rumored that the owners did not get out of there till the crows called.
Saturday was a culmination of all things possible. Perhaps overreaching, but not to be outdone by the southern metropolis of Mammoth, June Mountain presented the Great Outdoors Concert on the QMC platform. The day was gorgeous…a classic high country end-of-summer. It had finally cooled off, and the wind was mild to wicked, whipping lenticular clouds into that famous Sierra Wave. The attendance was fair to midlin’ but many regions represented. People came from Orange County, Los Angeles, Barstow, Bakersfield, Ridgecrest, San Francisco and Reno and all up and down 395. It was a small but mighty audience, with many locals and new devotees of the LOOP. The Kids Music Camp opened up with a rousing version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land.” They had been rehearsing for 2 days prior, and their sweet voices, under the direction of Suzanne Lukather, boomed out into the valley. Musical moms, dads and aunties provided the band for this endeavor…so special. Then getting right into it, Fiddlin’ Pete, with “podnuh” Neil, warmed up the audience. As one of the Local Legends, Pete is a consummate poet and story-teller, and he set a tone of excellence for the day. Then one of the originators of this Festival, Bonnie Murray Tamblyn with her original Blue Heaven Band, guitarist Rick Huhnke, drummer Bill Brumback and bassist, Johhny Albert, took it up a notch. Bonnie brought it on with a mountain hollar, “Goin’ Up on the Mountain” which called in the spirit for the rest of the event. The wind blew in the “Badman from Bodie.” They delivered a short, but hot set, making way for the new blood…the exceptionally talented songwriter, Jesse Nolan. With his band, Red Arrow Messenger, Jesse connected to his audience immediately. Good on the eyes, these fellows performed with star-quality. Jesse is a chip off the old Dylan Block, with vocals a sweet as Tim Hardin. Word on the street is that the women, young and old alike, were quite taken with this young recording artist both in word and deed. Finally, all dressed in black, the original Standells, ( not a tribute Band…ahem…) performed their old classics. They looked and played like they were still 25 years old. Fresh off their European tour, they brought the audience to their feet. They invited all the performers up on stage for their last number, their signature song…”Dirty Water”…even the kids got into the act. Quickly, the venue was disassembled and everyone moved Down Canyon to the Horseshoe Canyon Giddy- Up at the Double Eagle. This event was a favorite last year with the Horseshoe Canyon Allstars. Basically, anyone who was playing the Festival joined in on original songs and great old-timey country classics. The girls got up and line-danced, and couples did the two-step around the room. From sunset till about 9, this group of festival goers really whooped it up. The Double Eagle hosted delicious gnoshes and spirits, and everyone had a smile on their face as the Allstars kicked some country butt! Once again, the floor was packed with all the folks…lots of All Festival Passes, and happy campers.