Sound Fix Inter-reviews High Sierra Music Festival


During Independence Day weekend, the High Sierra Music Festival hosted its 25th annual installment in the mountain ranges of Quincy, California. What’s so unique about this historic event is its careful attention to fostering a family environment. For our second edition of Sound-Fix’s Inter-review series, we had the special opportunity to speak with people of all ages and backgrounds about their experiences at High Sierra 2015.

The camping festival took place from July 2nd – 5th and featured performances from an eclectic group of musicians including the String Cheese Incident, Umphrey’s McGee, The John Butler Trio, Lotus, The Motet and Papadosio (check out our preview of Papadosio’s upcoming album here). In addition to music acts, the festival also boasts a busy Family Village, a costumed parade, a group of certified childcare professionals called the “Rockin’ Nannies,”  and a Magic Foam Tub. As you peruse our attendee interviews, enjoy some great music from a few HSMF artists.

Lynda Unkeless from San Rafael, CA:

“The Soul Sisters of the Sierra showcase set was simply stellar! So much big talent wrapped into one hour! The back up band, Made of Men Musicians, was simply incredible too. Big high fives for the people who organized this one event! The Lake Street Dive set was a show stopper too!”

Gabriel Barkin from Novato, CA

“One of my favorite things this year was the photo spread Lisa Brown set up in the Music Hall. This being the 25th anniversary, Lisa solicited hundreds of pictures of people having fun at the festival from veteran attendees. So when my wife and I walked in the Music Hall to escape the heat on Thursday (before any of the play shops started), we had the pleasure of having the entire room to ourselves, and we spent 20 minutes walking around the walls ogling the decades of fun and family and friends. I was happy and proud to see a bunch of my shots on the wall – and happier still to show some of our friends later that weekend that their mugs were on the wall too. But most of all, I love that the festival allows US to celebrate ourselves. We the people — the fans, the musicians, the techies, the promoters and staff, and even the guys who empty the trash cans and RV tanks — are what makes HSMF so incredibly successful and a must-go event year after year. It’s either that or the vodka ice luge in Shady Grove.”

Sam Duarte from Long Beach, CA: 

“I was awaken at 3 AM to a plushy band in my camp! ‘Be cool, don’t suck.’ Best lyrics ever!”

Marcia Moore from Santa Cruz, CA:

“After seeing Nathan Moore’s set on Sunday, I walked over to the water spigot by the late night music hall. A young couple were blowing their kazoo’s as a 1 year old little boy stood by watching them play. He was dancing and bouncing in pure enjoyment and fun. His mom asked ‘you like that?’ He replied with a joyful ‘yeah!’ I remembered that I had a kazoo in my pocket. I walked up to him and asked ‘Hey buddy, would you like one?’ His whole face lit up with excitement and the young woman that was playing hers showed him how to use it. He started making music and dancing in the street. He was so happy and so blissed out to be making his own music. This was a highlight for me. I love the joy that High Sierra brings out of everyone.”

Austin Palda from Portland, OR: 

“Some tweaker stumbled into our campsite after we had just been told to quiet down. We didn’t know her but it was pretty apparent that she was on meth and she just started screaming bacon at the top of her lungs. She then proceeded to tell us that she would do anything for bacon and proceeded to try to do a ‘sexy’ striptease in front of us in the most cringeworthy fashion. We then told her she had to go. As she walked away she overheard one of us talking about Wendy’s and just screams ‘I’D DO ANYYYYTHING FOR WENDYS!’ Such a weird experience. Meth. Not even once.”

Kai Filippini from Torrington, CT: 

“A bunch of us created a flash mob’ish surprise for Nathan Moore’s set. We purchased hundreds of kazoos with Nathan’s website ( and his radio station (Revolution Radio) and passed them out before he came on. We made everyone hide them until one of us got on stage to queue us. This went off without a hitch and he loved that everyone was able to play along, literally!! We love you, Mister Mayor!”

Michelle Kaufman Olson: 

“The Kazoo is one of my daughter’s favorite mementos from the festival! She LOVED that whole thing! This was a different year for me at High Sierra, as it was the first time I was there with my daughter (at least out of utero!). Alice is three, and caused me to be present in a way that I have never been before. Rather than continually checking the book and rushing to things I wanted to see, I just allowed myself to be in the moment, finding the beauty and fun in every place I was. This year, rather than a set of someone’s music being the highlight, the highlight for me was the Children’s parade on the last day. Alice was dressed as a ladybug, and was so thrilled to lead the parade with her friends! Seeing to joy on the faces of the children and parents swept me away in the goodness and light of bringing this new generation into our culture.”

Michael Kanon from Los Angeles, CA:

“One moment that brought High Sierra Music Festival full circle was when Suzee and I walked by fruition’s campsite and Mimi Naja was asking who was hungry and handing out free food to any hungry takers of which I was one. Delicious, by the way, thanks Mimi! Anyway, it took me back to my first High Sierra when I was at my first sunrise kickball experience after raging super hard and Dan Lebowitz walked up and asked if I wanted any croissants and jelly. I was like … I just watched this guy slay my face off the night before and now he’s offering croissants while we watch silly lunatics tumble around kickball acres? Also, watching a little kid deliberately try to knock people off the slack line was super amusing.”

Eva D’Luscious from San Francisco, CA: 

“My favorite moment at HSMFas wNathan Moore reprising his role as Merch Guy for The Slip and tossing out kazoos, hilarious!”

Jeff Shepherd:

“This was a special year. The loss of Chef Larry and Denise hit a lot of us real hard and we knew we had to step up in their honor. We went long and succeeded. The love and honor shared by everyone who came to our corner was amazing. Cooking meals for hundreds of people every night, prepping all day, and having bands come and play in camp was so amazing it brought tears of laughter. The best individual moment may have been the T Sisters doing an accapella Attics while we were finishing up the fried chicken. The entire kitchen, to a person, started crying together in spite of our pact to ‘not shed tears in camp.’ Larry had the last laugh on that one. It was life affirming, cathartic, rejuvenating, fulfilling, and the best fest ever.”

A special thanks to all the wonderful HSFM family members who shared some great mementos and stories to our publication. To learn more about the High Sierra Music Festival for a future memory, make sure to check out its official website. Before you go, check out this fun interview montage released by High Sierra Music Festival when the gates first opened for this year’s event.

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