Hangtown: Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Dark Star explode

Tahoe Onstage

Dark Star Orchestra lights up the second night of the Hangtown Music Fest in Placerville.
Tahoe Onstage photos by Michael Smyth

Day 2 of the seventh Hangtown Music Festival brought perfect weather for a costume-filled marathon featuring soul, Americana, psych rock, and the Dead.

The daily brunch wake-up began at 11 a.m. with reggae from Ancestree, followed by the lovely harmonies of Katelyn and Laurie Shook, aka The Shook Twins. With nourishment and coffee secured, Mojo Green played the first of two wrap-around sets on the small stage, with NorCal’s Monophonics taking the main stage in between. It was a great three-hour run of fantastic soul performances from two different perspectives. The Monophonics really rocked their 75 minutes on the big stage despite dropping a few pounds in blazing direct sun under their choice of white shirts with black “Tri-Lam Revenge of the Nerds” sweaters.

The Gallows stage wrap-around theme continued with The Contribution, featuring an ever changing carousel of musicians, with Friday’s iteration including Tim Carbone of host band Railroad Earth, Jeff Miller of New Monsoon and Steve Adams of ALO.  Thrust in the middle on the big stage was Portland-based Americana rockers Fruition. Their costume choice was a self-proclaimed “vintage track and field uniforms” and their striped T-shirts and running shorts were a keen choice. I thought the striped tube socks were a nice touch and matched the playfulness they exuded onstage. Blending rock, folk, and sprinkles of bluegrass, with natural harmonies from three lead vocalists, Fruition brought great energy and joy to an engaged crowd as they capped a six-week tour with their two appearances (including closing out Night 1 in Hangin’ Hall) at Hangtown.

The sun dropped and the weather rapidly cooled just in time for the freaks, as followers of The Chris Robinson Brotherhood are known, to get their jam on. The CRB did not disappoint, kicking off their fall run with a 2-hour, 14-song set and featuring several cuts of its latest record “Barefoot In The Head.” Neal Casal’s brilliant solo guitar and Chris Robinson’s unique lyrical sensibilities commanded the stage. But the CRB’s swirling psychedelic journey, with the occasional quite beautiful ballad mixed in, is really the sum of all its players. Adam MacDougall’s keyboard work weaves its way in and out of prominence while Jeff Hill and Tony Leone drive the whole thing.

The outdoor portion wrapped with a four-hour double set helping of Grateful Dead cover impresarios, The Dark Star Orchestra. The Deadheads came out and partied, danced, sang, smiled, laughed and partied some more.  It was great day of music in Placerville and, for those hearty enough, two more bands awaited for late night in Hangin’ Hall. Rest up weary souls, one more day remains.

-Michael Smyth

Tahoe Onstage

Tony Leone and Chris Robinson rock the Hangtown Music Festival.

Tahoe Onstage

Neal Casal plays guitar with The Chris Robinson Brotherhood.

Tahoe Onstage

The spirit of Halloween remains in Hangtown Festival.

Tahoe Onstage

The Monophonics play a fiery set in the midday sun.

Tahoe Onstage

Fruition plays its tracks in vintage attire or perhaps broke out of El Dorado County Jail.

About Michael Smyth

Michael Smyth moved to Reno in 2007 after living more than 40 years in the Bay Area. In addition to going to live shows, he enjoys golf, skiing and fly-fishing. Check out his website https://michaelsmythmedia.com/

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