The High Sierra Music Festival, held annually at the quaint Plumas County Fairgrounds, is a great opportunity to discover new bands and groove to traditional acts that have called HSMF home for a number of years.
The 28th edition kicked off Thursday. While most festivalgoers headed to the Grandstand Stage as evening approached to catch headliners The String Cheese Incident, an opportunity that may not come around again was unfolding on the Big Meadow Stage.
Guitar legend Ernest Ranglin, master of jazz, ska, and Jamaican tones, was playing his final show at High Sierra at 86 years young. Ranglin, smiling and showing off his skills to an appreciative crowd of guitar aficianados, has said that he’s ready to just play locally in Jamaica, because he’s “getting too young” to tour.
High Sierra organizers appreciate the artists who come to the Feather River Canyon town of Quincy, California, and they took the opportunity to create the Ernest Ranglin Lifetime Achievement Award and present the honor to its first recipient, Mr. Ranglin himself, who accepted it aside his son — along with a giant key to the city.
Dressed in a camp shirt and slacks, and slinging a Chet Atkins signature guitar, Ranglin displayed various techniques and shared the stage at different times with vocalist Erin Wallace, saxophonist Skerik, guitarist Scott Pemberton and The California Honeydrops frontman Lech Wierzynski.
The ska legend also had an affinity for playing to the crowd and frequently working his way over to the stunning Angeline Saris, who also handles bass for Zepparella, to ham it up a bit and make her smile.
It was truly special performance and one that a number of other artists took in from the side-stage wings. Hopefully, he sticks around for a day or two and finds his way to pair with Dan Lebowitz, who probably most resembles his stylings as a current artist and is playing a number of sets at this year’s HSMF.
— Michael Smyth