QUINCY, CALIFORNIA — The High Sierra Music Festival this Fourth of July weekend was a joyful celebration of life, love and music. Seattle’s The Dip were one of the best at creating that experience.
The seven-piece soul band has numerous ways for putting the dip in the hips of crowds that flock to its shows. It can come from the sensuous swirl of brass from Evan Smith (baritone sax), Levi Gills (tenor sax) and Brennan Carter (trumpet). It can come from the velveteen pipes of Tom Eddy or from the tasty licks Eddy and guitarist Jacob Lundgren concoct. It can come from the tantalizing rhythms of Mark Hunter (bass) and Jarred Katz (drums). Their set at High Sierra under the warm evening sky Sunday filled you up with the butterflies that usually come with the blossoming of a summer love and nighttime escapades under a full moon. It was rich with life and color and people left with a swell of good feelings rushing through them.
The open-air setting was the perfect place to hear the sweet sounds of The Dip and the group agrees it enjoys spreading the love in the fresh wide open, especially for festival crowds. “We just played Sasquatch (Festival) and it was in the middle of the day. But you could see the whole crowd growing and everybody was really into it. I thought it was one of our better shows in a long time, just cause you feed off that energy that the crowd is giving back to you. I think all musicians kind of feel the same way. It’s open, you can see everybody, it’s cool,” Smith said “The whole vibe feels differently. A lot of people are there and totally open and free and listen to anything that maybe they haven’t heard before,” Eddy added.
A couple hours before, the sweet sounds of The Dip were still locked away in the hearts of the band members as they scurried around the festival trying to take in all it had to offer. Eddy, Katz, Lundgren and Smith managed to take in a couple songs at the Grand Stand stage from The Del McCoury Band and were impressed by the the hard-charging bluegrass legend. Smith was anticipating sets from Femi Kuti, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Lettuce, but balancing responsibilities with fandom does have its challenges, especially when working on only a couple hours of sleep on tour through California.
“I want to listen to as much music as we can. It’s trying to juggle our responsibilities to perform with wanting to check out music that is inspiring for us. It would have been nice to get up here a little earlier. We went to bed at like three in the morning, went to a Denny’s (laughs). Best intentions to get up early,” Smith said.
The band swept through Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco on the way to High Sierra and is about to put a cherry on top of that tour sundae with a handful of shows in British Columbia and its home state of Washington over the next week. It is supporting the May release of its excellent new EP “Won’t Be Coming Back,” which comes a year after its eponymous debut. It’s a delicious collection of four instrumentals that all have the smooth, creamy finish of early soul records from the 1960s and 1970s, with a more contemporary parallel being drawn to the music of Daptone Records. The band credited a lack of second-guessing in helping to get that fresh, in-the-moment feeling.
“A lot of those Daptone records are really crunchy. I think what is really great about those records is that they allow whatever magic in the studio happens to come through, they’re not revising. So we kind of took that ethos, ‘We’re good, let’s move on. Let’s make a decision and go.’ It makes it come out more raw and honest and compared to the last record we did, it’s way more legit sounding cause we didn’t fuss over it,” Eddy said.
That easy, breezy attitude served them well on record and it serves them well on stage. Life seems to open to you watching them do their thing under the lights and you’ll be compelled to follow them wherever they’re dreamy melodies take you.
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