This weekend’s adventures in Joshua Tree, CA went far beyond the gates of the 7th Annual Joshua Tree Roots Music Festival, a fall gathering focused on featuring genuine artistry and musicianship of the highest caliber. Within the first hour of being a part of the intimate event, I’d already begun making plans to return in the Spring for the May Festival. There’s a lot of magic in this Mojave and this gathering was the first (of hopefully many) attractions drawing me out of L.A. and over to Joshua Tree.
The weather, the setting, festival art/vibe/aesthetics and food were all high quality accents to this wondrous affair and the ability to spend the morning hiking in the vast and grandiose National Park before settling in for a day at the Fest is difficult to beat. Continue below for some musical highlights and an extensive photo gallery from the weekend.
Musical Highlights of the Weekend (In No Particular Order)
- Arriving in time to catch the last half of KCRW DJ Jeremy Sole’s blues revival late night on Friday. The side backstage tent is one of the most vibin’ little festival venues I’ve seen, a carpeted and tented area that felt like someone’s large living room (couches et al). Notably, the twists on standards like a bass-y “Howlin’ For You” (The Black Keys), Heart’s “Magic Man” Led Zeppelin’s “Fool In the Rain”, and a killer Bettye LaVette cut. Cool dude and an interesting guy to talk to as well.
- Musketeer Gripweed’s take on The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It Black”.
- Blues man Earl Thomas setting the tone for an amazing Saturday at the festival.
- Anders Osborne’s entire captivating performance – from the opening “Send Me A Friend” to “On The Road To Charlie Parker” closer – this set stood out not only above this Fest, but also lands on a short list for best shows I’ve witnessed all year. After over ten times seeing the guitarist over the past three years, Osborne’s show is as on-point, fiercely intense and heavy as ever. The electricity in the air during this blistering 90-minute set was palpable and Anders himself remarked to me during a chat after the show that this was an extraordinary set and setting. Also, the take on “Friend of the Devil” was a nice touch. Still baffling that we get to watch this guy in such intimate settings.
- The talent parade at Joshua Tree continued when Steve Kimock and his new all-star touring band (that includes Bernie Worrell, Andy Hess and Wally Ingram) hit the main stage. The two-hour set was the perfect contrast and a soft landing back to Earth after Anders. The 68 year old Worrell (Talking Heads / Parliament-Funkadelic alum) stole the show, no easy task with Kimock involved. A beautiful cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Stella Blue”, plus takes on the Talking Heads classics “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody)” and “Burning Down the House” were all huge highlights of a fantastic set.
- Spotted multiple shooting stars during the weekend. Just seeing stars in general after being locked in L.A. for the last month-and-a-half straight was a nice change.
- Drive over to the legendary Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown, Keys View in Joshua Tree National Park and a visit to the famous Room 8 at the Joshua Tree Inn added some surrounding flair to the weekend.
- A small town with legendary, if-these-walls-could-speak type appeal at every turn.
THIS MUST BE THE PLACE (NAIVE MELODY)