This was my second Pickathon. Watching Bonnie Prince Billy a few years ago on the Woods stage, full of Dickel, was enough to draw me back. Hell, I’d go to see just about anyone on that fucking stage, and when I heard Howe Gelb would play this year, I forked out the big bucks and dug up the tent. Howe brought a full band and even played my request for “Wonder.” It just so happened that Victoria Williams was in the crowd, and she was invited up to sing along. Paradise.
Of course, this year would be different. Last time, it was just a buddy and I. This time, my family was along. There’d be no Dickel, no cell phone throwing contests and no sleeping wrapped up in my tent’s rain fly…
It nearly brought tears to my eyes to find Michael Hurley (aka Hi-Fi Snock) playing a kids’ show, unannounced, with Portland’s ingenious Cardboard Songsters. Snock played a fabulous “Slurf Song” and “O My Stars,” both brought to life with cardboard spaghetti, potatoes and even perch from Lake Champlain! Hurley has several shows coming up in the area: Saturday 9/21 in Big Sur, Wednesday 9/25 at the Great American with Vetiver and Thursday 9/26 at the Sweetwater in Mill Valley. Hurley is timeless and the last of his kind. He is not getting any younger. Do check him out.
The nature of Pickathon (like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass – OCTOBER 4-6!) is to foster collaboration and there were many more pleasurable mix-ups, like Andrew Bird with Tift Merritt.
Ty Segall howled at the moon for Charlie Moonheart’s birthday! While Ty usually plays drums with Charlie (in Fuzz), for this night he played guitar. Ty plays 9/2 (my birthday!) at the Great American and 9/5 at the New Parish (playing Sleeper in its entirety).
Over at Fir Meadows, there was some tasty Malian guitar work thanks to Ali’s son, Vieux Farka Toure.
And every night there was Deelicious PIE. Baked on the spot in head spinning varieties. Peach Blueberry, Raspberry Currant…mmmmm. Most all the food was crazy good. My top picks would go to the Pork Belly Bao, anything on a biscuit and to wash it down- a HUB Saison. With zero food containers/plastic cups, you can eat a plate worth, hand it in to be washed and grab a clean one. For drinks, you just keep refilling your sweet Pickathon aluminum mug. Do beware!! The movement of drinks in and out of each stage is verbotten! Trying to finish off those 7% microbrews before running off to the Galaxy barn can be dangerous!
Maybe it was the Saison, or perhaps the blue eye shadow, but White Fence put on a great show and finally got through to me in the Galaxy Barn. The barn can get hot, really hot, but it remains my second favorite venue of the festival. This year, they added a large fire pit just outside the barn with a huge screen above where you could watch King Tuff live with ice cold beer, fresh air and crackling fire. We still had to run in the barn and encourage moshing for a few sweaty songs. Somehow the King’s ice cream hat kept things cooool. See him this weekend at Outside Lands (Sunday 4:25pm, Panhandle stage) or Saturday night at Brick and Mortar!
Marco Benevento played some wild nawlins style piano alongside his trusty Tiger at the Starlight stage.
Adopted, previously orphaned horses were only one of the many treats to ensure this festival was supremely kid-friendly.
Walking to my tent Saturday night around 1:30am, The Felice Brothers were finishing off a fiery set with Neil Young’s “Love is a Rose” and all was right in the world. The Felice Brothers play the Mt. Winery 10/3, Pappy and Harriet’s 10/10 (Pioneertown), and most likely Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. See you there!