The faces of High Sierra


All photos by Erik Anderson

Consider the camping festival. A chance for music, art, and recreational drug use fans to slough off the shackles of outrageous office jobs in the summertime and head out for the hills, to engage in traditional Mardi Gras mode where playing is your job, three concurrent stages of live music is the norm, and everyone -- everyone! -- has the residue of somebody's glitter in their facial hair (and they all have facial hair).

Such was the 2011 High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, Calif. -- can you tell it was a good time?

High Sierra, I've always thought, is one of the most manageable festivals out there. It's not too big -- but not too small (typically, it hosts about 10,000 happy campers). It's far enough from the city that you feel like you've achieved something when you round that last bend of the Feather River into the clear night of the Sierras, but you can still get out there if you leave mid-afternoon from the Bay.

Most importantly (unless like me you like to spend these weekends shooting the shit with friends you only get to see come festival-time), the music is supremely varied -- Maceo Parker's soul jazz rocked the main grandstand in the Saturday afternoon gleam and then the gleamy-eyed Sunday night late night party. Electronic beat maker Emancipator zoomed prettily through a Blackalicious remix that made the post-Dawes and Diego's Umbrella-klezmer-power-surge crowd sink into a deep groove at the Vaudeville stage. Local boys Soft White Sixties brought the rock, Morning Jacket and Ween headlined, Sunset Productions' Silent Frisco silent disco -- which will make an Outside Lands appearance this year -- provided essential (lack of) background music for the dawn games of kickball in the shady grove, small impromptu sessions sprang up in every camping zone and bend in the dirt paths by the vendors and late night venues, and the kid's stage -- well hell, Dead-style environmental educators Banana Slug String Band killed it, per usual.

But hey, every music festival's got music -- and you can peep all these bands in the Youtube links I just shared with you. What you can't catch on Youtube is the baby balancing on his dad's outstretched palm (gonna be a surfer!), the impromptu high fives after the Samba Stilt Circus, parachute parties, and the innertube suspenders that some lucky man was still wearing after taking the customary HSMF break to dunk into the freezing cold mountain waters. 

So lucky us, photographer Erik Anderson's sharing his flicks to those effects. You're officially invited to clear your mind, click through the slideshow above, and pretend you spent your Fourth of July weekend with us. 


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