Sound Advice: Freedom overload and good ol' American capitalism

Amurica: I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our fair country than dancing to some good ol’ Americana in the great outdoors.

Nature. Camping. Beer. Bluegrass. It’s seriously all the best American stuff, and it’s all at the High Sierra Music Festival.

Time to start planning. Now in its 24th year, more than 50 musicians will play from Thursday, July 3, through Sunday, July 6, in Quincy. It’s a family-friendly affair, equipped with kids’ activities and even nannies. And programming extends far beyond normal music-festival stuff. There’s an organized lake trip, colorful parades, a little film festival, yoga and fire-dancing lessons.

I have, admittedly, never been to High Sierra before. But the lineup alone excites—overwhelms, even. Oh, America and your constant overabundance of choice!

Widespread Panic, STS9, Ms. Lauryn Hill and Beats Antique headline the festival, but the whole lineup is stacked with enticing bluegrass, rock and indie bands.

Bombino may be the most intriguing name on the list. He’s a Tuareg singer-songwriter from Agadez, Niger, and one of the most celebrated guitar players in Africa. His sound is bright, jammin’ and bluesy, with undeniably infectious rhythms.

He was raised at a time of violent, armed struggles for independence, and his music captures that rebellious spirit. He became the subject of a documentary, the 2010 film Agadez, the Music and the Rebellion. The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach became a fan and produced Bombino’s second record, 2013’s Nomad. Now he’s on an international tour.

But this festival is mostly rooted in, well, roots. I can’t wait to see the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the old-time string band from North Carolina. Banjo, cello, fiddle, mandolin and a bunch of interesting percussive instruments meld together into a Grammy Award-winning sound reminiscent of 1920s jug bands. Check out its cover of Blu Cantrell’s “Hit ’Em Up Style,” which sounds so perfect that it ought to be the original.

And I’m looking forward to seeing the California Honeydrops again. The Oakland-based, brass-heavy roots band with soulful vocals and a distinctly New Orleans style is always a party.

Jazz fans can’t miss legendary guitarist Bill Frisell—that goes without saying. There’s also Moon Hooch, a young, funky jazz trio out of Brooklyn with sax and clarinet over danceable beats.

Plus, alternative indie sounds from Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, chamber pop from Hey Marseilles, 12-piece post-pop from Typhoon, melodious indie folk from Lord Huron and—oh my goodness—it’s just too much!

Tickets are available also in an overwhelming variety of options that are tailored to adults, teens and kids. Visit for details.

See you in Quincy, if I can ever pick which stage to watch.


Broken records: Heads up, my fellow music nerds, this weekend Capital Public Radio will host its annual Used Record & CD Sale. Yay. But, also boo: Turns out that after this outing, the sale will no longer be annual. As in, it will no longer exist. (Insert sad face here.)

So what’s the deal? In an article posted on CapRadio’s website, Dennis Newhall, the station’s sale coordinator and jazz host, explained it as a sign of the times. We live in an era in which people tend to download music rather than buy physical copies of it. Thus, there are fewer CDs and albums to donate.

“People are switching to digital and not buying physical media like they used to,” he said.

Kind of ironic considering that vinyl sales have actually increased in the last few years, and more and more, artists are releasing music in that format. I mean, you can buy Katy-freaking-Perry records on vinyl. If that won’t save the industry, what will?

Let’s enjoy this last hurrah while we can, OK? The sale takes place from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, June 27, and picks up again on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and ends on Sunday, June 29, same hours as Saturday. The Friday event costs $20, or $10 for CPR members. In addition to first dibs on low-priced goods (members save an additional 20 percent on items purchased), there will also be live music via Mick Martin and the Blues Rockers, as well as tastings from Amador Distillery and Silk Road Sodas, and food from Magpie Cafe. Admission on Saturday and Sunday is free (and CPR members still enjoy that generous discount). The sale happens at the Howe ’Bout Arden Shopping Center at 2100 Arden Way, Suite 172. For more information, visit