Spanning four nights, the Las Tortugas Dance of the Dead IV festival brough a variety of artists in the jamband scene – both new and old – to beautiful Yosemite National Park at the Evergreen Lodge in Groveland, CA. The Smokedaddies kicked off the festivities on Thursday night, and first day highlights included a set by Bag of Trix (ALO minus Dan Lebowitz) that featured new music written specifically for Las Tortugas.
Zach Gill’s solo set opened Friday’s festivities, with New Monsoon sitting in and learning Gill’s “Don’t Touch My Stuff” on the spot. Second day highlights included The Mother Hips playing material from its new album Pacific Dust, the Nathan Moore and Big Light fused group “Dun Four” and Ivan Neville sitting in with Umphrey’s McGee. Continuing the “sit ins” theme, Las Tortugas “honored guest” Bill Kreutzmann made the rounds, sitting in with Neville’s group Dumpstaphunk on Sly Stone’s “Thank You (Falettinme be Mice Elf Again)” and with both Tea Leaf Green and Umphrey’s McGee on Halloween night. Kreutzmann and Papa Mali later brought Halloween to a close in style by playing until 7 AM.
A few short hours later, the Trespassers played a “Bluegrass Sunday Brunch” and another full day of music ensued with Bay Area natives Tea Leaf Green closing out the festival. Other final day notable acts included Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers playing an alt-country set that featured her husband Tim Bluhm on vocals. The set included original music by the Bluhms, as well as covers of Bonnie Raitt’s “Finest Loving Man,” Boz Scaggs’, “Another Day Another Letter” and Fairport Convention’s “Reno Nevada.”