It’s a tough life at the Huichica Music Festival, listening to bands all day and drinking cold Gewürztraminer.  With little shade, some attendees were found curled up on blankets motionless.  But the children remained spunky!  They were hula-hooping, dancing and running around like it was summer camp.

mt eerie

We arrived early enough to catch the solo set from Anacortes, Washington’s Mount Eerie.  It must be all the rain up there, but that Damien Jurado melancholy seems pervasive.  Check out Tim Draut’s review of his SF show last week.


Portland’s Houndstooth seemed a little sleepy until their final song, but it was worth the wait.  The long VU-style jam included the best guitar work of the day with a serious touch of Television.

meg baird

Meg Baird was far and away the mellowest act of the day.  High wispy vocals and gentle dual guitars were nearly blown away by the merciful breeze.  She will be at Woodsist on August 6th.  Between sets, DJ Golden Gram had it going on with CCR, Dylan’s “Hurricane” and “Unpack Your Adjectives,” the Schoolhouse Rock classic.  Catch him at the Legionnaire Saloon or Missouri Lounge.

blank tapes

LA’s The Blank Tapes have a new 7″ and played a song about Joshua Tree.  They called Eric Johnson up to sing and play tambourine.

blank tapes with eric johnson

Since the untimely demise of Fruit Bats, Eric has spent a lot of time fine tuning Huichica into the strange but wonderful festival that it is. When is the last time you attended a music festival with pairings of wine and sandwiches?  Delicious even if it made me a lil’ uncomfortable.  The festival has become greener than ever before with well marked compost and trash, and vendors used compostable plates and silverware.  The only plastic in sight was the $5 festival cup.  Maybe they can ditch that next year.  It’s the kind of crowd you could trust with actual glass.

cairo gang

The Cairo Gang was represented by a solo Emmett Kelly, just guitar and voice.  Using a fair bit of whistling and spoken vocals, there is a timelessness to The Cairo Gang, as if they indeed walked amongst the pyramids of ancient Egypt.  They did make an album with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy after all.

When the Cairo Gang played Oakland last we were treated to a slew of killer Mekons songs.  Despite shouts for 1986’s “Hello Cruel World,” we got the even more obscure “Power and Horror” from 2000’s Journey to the End of the Night.  Proving himself a king of great covers, Kelly also tackled Big Star with a beautiful “Take Care”.  Cairo Gang’s mirror image, gnagoriaceht, will play this Thursday June 19th at the Vortex Room.

light fantastic

SF’s Light Fantastic came on next.  I knew absolutely nothing about these guys.  Sunny, hazy, swirling, catchy little pop ditties.  Seemed just right for lying in the grass with an empty bottle of wine.

michael hurley

And then it happened, the moment we had been waiting for. Michael Hurley took the tiny Arbor stage.  He opened with a Tom T. Hall tune about George Jones on the jukebox, but of course with his own spin, putting Bo Diddley on the Jukebox.  There was a very soulful version of “Don’t Treat Me Bad,” the hilarious “Cars, Jars and Guitars,” with the rhyme of ‘witches’ and ‘bitches’ and “Sweedeedee,” with nods to her fine cooking and clothes-washing talents.

“I Paint a Design” only hinted at the gorgeous artwork he has created on the record covers being sold less than 100 yards away.  I aimed to grab the brand new one LAND of LOFI, but it had already sold out.  The movie of the same title is still in the works, but should be out soon!  Snock asked that we avoid GMO’s and ‘if it is in your power, destroy the devil’….”Monsanto!”  With all the mounting evidence linking their poisons to the bee holocaust as well as the autism epidemic, it is high time we stood up to these evil bastards.  This was followed by the beautiful “O My Stars,” and devastating “Eyes,” with Marilyn Monroe pointing her toe and Smokey the Bear with a tear in his eye.  Apparently Michael joined Vetiver on stage the night before for “Blue Driver”.  If you missed it, be sure to get to Portland’s Pickathon from August 1-3, where he will make a surprise appearance!

magic trick

SF rock soldier Tim Cohen from The Fresh & Onlys brought his other project, Magic Trick.  The set proved to be the highlight of the day on the main stage.  The band is now sixty percent women, including Anna Hillburg (of Dreamdate fame) on keyboard, vocal and trumpet!

magic trick

best tattoo of the day

The band excelled when all three women provided backup vocals, particularly of the doo-wop persuasion.  Their first song was dedicated to Ruby, who is either five or ten years old.  Tim’s actual daughter must be closer to two now.  There were lots of songs from 2013’s River of Souls, including great versions of “The Store” and “Salvation.”  Magic Trick play Bottom of the Hill June 27th with Cocktails, Violent Change and Big Tits!  Be there.

eric johnson

Eric Johnson returned to the stage for a quick tune before Kelley Stoltz came on.

eric johnson and fan

As Kelley broke into Cheap Trick’s “Surrender,” the sun was setting and the air was cooling.  Unfortunately, we had to hit the road without a chance to see Dirty Projector‘s David Longstreth or SF’s fabulous Extra Classic.  I was always afraid of white blues and white reggae until Extra Classic showed me the way.  Fortunately, they play The Chapel August 16th.  Don’t miss ’em.