A West Coast fixture, the High Sierra Music Festival took place between July 5 and 8 in Quincy, Calif.
With two nights of The String Cheese Incident and performances by Sturgill Simpson, Lettuce, the Wood Brothers and more, it was a fun filled weekend with plenty of surprises.
One of the weekend’s’ biggest highlights came with the return of The Slip and, effectively, Surprise Me Mr. Davis. This marked the first Surprise Me Mr. Davis Set since High Sierra 2015.
The supergroup (combining The Slip and Nathan Moore) billed their Friday afternoon set as “Surprise! It’s A Surprise Surprise Me Mr. Davis Playshop” and they opened quite playfully with Nathan Moore singing a song called “The Man Behind The Curtain” while actually hiding behind the curtain. As the set went on, the band played a slew of originals like “Sleepy Head” off their Only in Montreal EP and “One Sick Knave” off their 2010 album That Man Eats Morning For Breakfast.
“The last time we did this was here at High Sierra, it’s funny how that happens,” Moore said from the stage. “Thank you so much, High Sierra. What would I ever do without you?”
After closing their set with the appropriately-titled “Last One Ever,” the band encored with a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “19th Nervous Breakdown.”
Meanwhile, on the Grandstand Stage ALO’s Dan Lebowitz led his second Lebo & Friends set of the weekend, enlisting George Porter Jr., Melvin Seals, Jay Lane, Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman to jam along.
The night before, Lebo welcomed the same lineup for a late-night show at the High Sierra Music Hall. The set was punctuated by special guest Mihali of Twiddle, who added guitar and vocals to the Grateful Dead’s “China Cat Sunflower.”
Lebo appeared once more on Sunday during Pigeons Playing Ping Pong’s set. He played acoustic guitar on an extended version of the band’s original “Poseidon.”
The Slip (Brad Barr and Andrew Barr of The Barr Brothers and bassist Marc Friedman) played their own late-night set over the weekend, marking their first reunion since 2015 as well. Interestingly, The Slip have played High Sierra more than any other band.
Other sit-ins included an appearance by the Dirty Bird horns during The Wood Brothers set. (They added their brass to the Wood Brothers’ “Luckiest Man” and Allen Toussaint’s “Get Out My Life Woman.”) The Barr Brothers Friday night set also included special guests like Skerik, Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman.
On Sunday, Chris Robinson Brotherhood dug into their newer material, treating fans to tracks newer fare like “Chauffeur’s Daughter” and “Venus In Chrome.”
“HSMF was the first festival we ever played when we started the band in 2011, so it always feels like a homecoming for us,” CRB guitarist Neal Casal said afterwards. “It was nice to see other great acts like The Wood Bros and Billy Strings tearing it up.”
Check out the Surprise Me Mr. Davis setlist below:
Surprise Me Mr. Davis
July 6, 2018
High Sierra Music Festival
The Man Behind The Curtain> Sleepyhead, Summer Of My Fall, If You Knew, One Sick Knave, I’m No Good At All, When A Woman, Sissyfuss, To You, I Want To Get To Heaven (Before I Die), Last One Ever
Enc: 19th Nervous Breakdown