Achilles Wheel rolls into High Sierra Music Festival

Larry Sabo / Tahoe Onstage
Achilles Wheel rocked the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room earlier this month. The Placerville band debuts this week at the High Sierra Music Festival.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Larry Sabo

Achilles Wheel is on quite a roll and it leads to the High Sierra Music Festival.

The Placerville band has played at Terrapin Crossroads, Great American Music Hall, Sweetwater Music Hall, The Kate Wolf, Strawberry and World Music festivals and now, for the first time, High Sierra.

“These venues came along over the course of the last three years,” said rhythm guitarist Paul Kamm. “Each one has been a talisman that we could touch for a bit and that leads us on to the next thing. High Sierra is another one of those moments where we travel down the road and here we are at High Sierra. I’m really looking forward to where this might take us next.”

Three of the Achilles Wheel members played at High Sierra when they were in the band DeadBeats. Kamm played the festival two other times when it was in Bear Valley with the acoustic duo Paul Kamm & Eleanore MacDonald.

The Grateful Dead and the Allman Brothers are big influences for the band, and lead guitarist Jonny “Mojo” Flores is a blues lover who used to host jams at Placerville’s Cozmic Café.

“Jonny probably knows all of Robert Johnson’s catalog backwards and forward,” Kamm said. “Every member of the band comes from very divergent backgrounds. I have a lot of history playing world music, more of the Latin and African tradition.

The band includes dual drummers Gary Campus and Mark McCartney, keyboardist/accordion player Ben Jacobs and bassist Shelby Snow.

“(The band’s style is) very much experimentation. We learn the songs but we try to remain fluid with them and take the day where it goes.”

The band debuts at the festival with appearances Saturday in the Vaudeville Tent and Sunday at Big Meadow. Kamm and Flores will play a late-night Troubadour Session with Andy Dunnigan of The Lil’ Smokies and Kat Myers of Kat Myers and the Buzzards.

“People who come to see those shows I think are there because they want to see what it sounds like without all the extra noise,” Kamm said. “They want to hear what the songwriters are doing. I personally really look forward to that.”

  • Achilles Wheel
    High Sierra Music Festival
    – 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Vaudeville Tent
    – midnight to 2 a.m. Sunday, Troubadour Session: Paul Kamm and Jonny “Mojo” Flores from Achilles Wheel, Andy Dunnigan of The Lil’ Smokies and Kat Myers of Kat Myers and the Buzzards
    – 5:50 to 7:05 p.m. Sunday, Big Meadow
  • Where else: Kings Beach, Music on the Beach, Friday, July 28
Tahoe Onstage
Paul Kamm writes songs and plays rhythm guitar.
Tahoe Onstage
Jonny “Mojo” Flores has a red beard and plays the blues.
Tahoe Onstage
Gary Campus is one of the two drummers.
Tahoe Onstage
Shelby Snow plays six-string bass.

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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