MOUNTAIN AIRE
MUSIC FESTIVAL
5/26/2002
CALAVERAS COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS
ANGEL'S CAMP, CA.


               The sound of a great band you've never heard before, the taste of all organic salad and stir fry, a gathering of the people that love to live, and live to love. I'm talking about the Mountain Aire Music Festival, of course, and this year's event was a great show without the crowds. Promoters must have been a little dissapointed with the small turnout, but the people were not, to say the least. It is nice to be able to locate your friends at a three day camping event such as this one. I have been to this event in the past and it was you so crowded you just couldn't find people that might have been ten feet away the whole concert. This event was very exciting and yet still had that small show feel to it. That is until Trey Anastasio hit the stage and the true numbers were revealed as everybody staggered from their cozy campsites to check out the freakshow. A little rock, a little big band, a little gospel, a little weird, but mostly good.

            The truth is, I was most excited to see Elvis Costello as he doesn't come around here too often. It was even more fantastic than I had hoped as he opened his set by playing a "45." This new song totally rocked out and set the mood, it's the first on his latest CD release titled, "When I Was Cruel." Then he jumped right into the time warp machine to bestow upon us the songs we know and love. Playing old classics from his 1977debut album "Waiting for the End of the World" and "Watching the Detectives." Elvis went right back to the second song off the the new album, a song we can all relate too (some more than others), called "Spooky Girlfriend." A trademark Elvis song with all the umpph and contrast you can get from a veteran songwriter/guitarist at the top of his game.

                         The imposters sounded great and the few people who were there to see Elvis were ecstatic. This English rocker lit the dusky sky up with with his electric eyes as he stared the crowd down. Elvis Costello turns the blues upside down and dumps them into his slightly punk rock and overly rebellious nature. The byproduct is a lifetime of musical inspiration and fiery passion that reveals a montage celebrating the eccentric. I think that most of the crowd came to the festival to see Trey Anastaio, lead guitarist from the now defunct band Phish. But, I think that everybody who took the time to check out Elvis Costello left with an appreciation for his music and a thirst for more in the future. A great artist, a great performance and lots of room to dance right up front with a great view of the band. Elvis ended the first set with a "Chelsea," "15 Petals," "Tart" and the title track from 2002 Island Records release "When I Was Cruel." The first set was more than enough for to encourage the crowd to stick around. The break was about fifteen minutes and then all aboard for classic 1977 Elvis as he opened the second set with "(The Angels wanna wear my) Red Shoes." Just out of sight, Costello performing with original members of The Attractions. So many years later and their sound unchanged as Elvis' voice has held such constancy throughout a lengthy and illustrious career in rock and roll. The old Elvis is back after a less than satisfying collaboration with Burt Bacharach in 1998. His old bandmates have rekindled the chemistry that makes this performer shine.

                         Mt Aire Music Festival is all about music, from way back in the day when the Grateful Dead used to play here and you never saw more hippies in your life. Unless of course you saw the Dead in the summer on the east coast in the early nineties and that was something else all together. Galactic added heavily to the attraction of this year's event. I love Galactic, they are a jam band that won't quit and they always take the crowd on a trip to outer space with Jeff's stellar guitarmanship. I was lucky enough to see these guys play on a riverboat floating up and down the Mississippi in New Orleans, what a night! They always put on a great performance no matter wherever you see them play, and you will love it, so I recommend you check 'em out. Galactic invited Robert Randolph up to perform with them and that's what is special about a Galactic show--you never know what might mix it up. Robert is an inspiring young artist who performed a vivid version of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Chile" earlier in the day that made the audience stand up and take notice.. He added a nice ring in the bell to the funky jam sound of Galactic.

           Trey Anastasio headlined the night's festivities and suddenly there was no room. The place looked pretty full compared to how it was for all the other performers of the day. Still not even a fifth of the capacity of the Calaveras Fairgrounds. I tell you, I sat at my camp at one of the first High Sierra Music Festivals and missed J. J. Cale just because I didn't know who he was. I still kick myself in the butt for that, never miss a band at a festival because you've never heard of them. Check 'em all out and go do something else if you don't like a performer. Trey is not ever going to play with Phish again, that's the impression I get anyway. He seems quite content to play music with his puppet studio musicians, they do everything to his precise requirements exactly as he instructs them. It takes a little away from some of the good things about his old band Phish, which were the fantastic improvisational instrumentals and the spontaneity of their music. Still the music was not unappealing, I just did not like it as much as Phish. The festival was a culturally rewarding experience, and special Rocktime Magazine recognition goes out to a young band from southern California that will soon be a household jam band name, Particle. They are deep rooted in the endless jam and have songs with several musical suites that are as long as forty minutes. Just when you think they are winding it down to end a song they forge off in a new direction with the same song. Very melodic and pleasing to the ears with heavy Sabbath and Led Zeppelin like undertones. This band desperately needs a singer/frontman that can find the words to fit their jams and they will become a formidable force in this industry that will crush all other bands and leave them at the top of the heap. Thanks for reading and we'll see ya at the shows.
                                                                                         NICK RUNNING

ELVIS COSTELLO AND THE IMPOSTERS

--------------
GALACTIC

--------------------
TREY ANASTASIO


NEW ROCKTIME PHOTO!!! (6/3/02)


 
 
COUNTING CROWS
 
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