On the Air: Expect musical fireworks as 100 artists create High Sierra ‘At Home’ Festival on KVMR
Special to The Union
KNOW & HEAR
WHO: KVMR 89.5 FM & High Sierra Music Festival
WHAT: “Home Sierra,” a virtual music festival featuring over 100 artist performances from the past 29 High Sierra festivals, including shows from John Prine, Dr. John, Booker T, Ani DiFranco, The Radiators, Robert Earl Keen, Hugh Masakela, Achilles Wheel, Grace Potter, Ruthie Foster, Toots & The Maytalls, ALO and dozens of others
WHEN: 86 continuous hours, 10 a.m., Thursday, July 2, through Sunday night, July 5 at midnight
WHERE: KVMR 89.5 FM, Truckee 105.1 FM, kvmr.org
This would have been the 30th High Sierra Music Festival weekend in Quincy, but the pandemic sent it packing until 2021.
So several High Sierra stalwarts — including KVMR 89.5 FM Chief Engineer Dave “Buzz” Barnett — have organized the next best thing: a virtual 24-hour-a-day “Home Sierra” broadcast featuring over 100 historic festival artist sets and performance highlights.
That will be 86 consecutive hours on the air (KVMR 89.5 FM) and streaming (kvmr.org).
“Don’t worry, we’ve got way too much material,” says Barnett. “We’ve got 29 years of great bands.”
And Barnett’s been at just about all of them. High Sierra founder (and co-owner) Roy Carter asked Buzz if he could broadcast the festival, and that’s how Grizzly Radio was founded for the 1991 inaugural. And KVMR has also broadcast the event for nearly a decade.
In fact, this retrospective broadcast kicks off at 10 a.m. Thursday, July 2, with the late Dan Hicks and Jesse Colin Young from the very first High Sierra and then closes Sunday night, July 5, at midnight after performances by blues rockers The Tedeschi-Trucks Band from 2016 and original Americana artist Steve Earle’s 2000 appearance.
“It just came naturally,” explains Barnett about how the broadcast fell together. “It was a matter of multiple people thinking the same thing.”
High Sierra co-owner Dave Margolies, emcee Tim Lynch, longtime festival employee David Ogilvy and Paradise Audio Services owner Kyle Porter joined Barnett in putting the virtual event together.
It will also feature recorded memories from High Sierra staff and friends, as well as stories and performances recorded especially for what they’re calling “Home Sierra.”
Barnett credits the festival’s variety as one reason for its success and its appeal to audiences younger than at other events.
“The fact pretty much that there’s no limit to the music,” Buzz says. “You can literally find almost any genre at High Sierra. You see, the only requirement is that it has to be good.”
To Barnett, 1992 — year two— was “the classic breakout year” for the festival.
“John Prine, David Bromberg, wow, plus The Radiators becoming like the house band,” he recalls. “Everybody realized this was something special.”
At one point, somebody realized a light show aimed into the trees would look cool, and it was.
“I remember it like it was yesterday,” according to Barnett.
The 1992 show featuring Prine, whose death in April deeply moved the festival songwriting world, will air Sunday night at 7 p.m., while Bromberg’s ‘92 runs 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The Radiators are acoustic at 1:45 p.m. Thursday and jam at midnight Friday morning.
KVMR’s late legendary Wesley Robertson emcees a Sam Bush/Jorma Kaukoken workshop at 12:30 p.m. Friday, and Nevada County’s Achilles Wheel is featured at 9:30 a.m. Saturday, just after Ani DiFranco (9 a.m.) and before Yonder Mountain String Band.
Other selected performance times (subject to change) and will be at highsierramusic.com and kvmr.org:
Thursday: Joe Ely 12:50 p.m., Merl Saunders 3:20 p.m., Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe 5 p.m., Dr. John 6 p.m., Railroad Earth 7 p.m., Grace Potter 9 p.m., Ben Harper 10 p.m., Los Lobos 11 p.m.
Friday: Rising Appalachia 9 a.m.., Rowan Reggaebilly 10 a.m., Dumpstafunk 1:30 p.m., J. J. Cale 2:20 p.m., Gary Clark Jr 3:30 p.m., Travelin McCourys 5 p.m., Steve Winwood 6:30 p.m., ALO 7:15 p.m., Galactic 8:10 p.m., Warren Haynes 10 p.m.
Saturday: John Hiatt 7:15 a.m., Ani DiFranco 9 a.m., Leftover Salmon 2 p.m., Ernest Ranglin 3 p.m., California Honeydrops 4 p.m., Michael Franti and Spearhead 5 p.m., Femi Kuti 6:30 p.m., Greensky Bluegrass 8:20 p.m., String Cheese Incident 10 p.m.
Sunday: Michael Hedges 9:30 a.m., Ruthie Foster (gospel) 10 a.m., Hugh Masakela 11:40 a.m., NRBQ 1:30 p.m., Wood Bros. 5 p.m., Little Feat 6 p.m., John Prine 7 p.m., Toots & The Maytalls 8 p.m., Marcus King 9 p.m., Steve Earle 10 p.m.
Community radio stations in Chico, Fresno and Quincy will carry part or all of the “Home Sierra” retrospective special, along with Medford and Ashland, Oregon, and faraway on Maui.
On The Air is a regular feature detailing the life and times of Nevada City’s non-profit community radio station KVMR 89.5 FM. We also operate 105.7 FM and kvmrx.org streaming, in addition to the station’s website at kvmr.org The station offices are currently closed to volunteers and the public, but many broadcasters are producing new shows at home and eclectic programming continues 24/7.
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