Known for its hippie camping and concert tribal gatherings such as The HipNic and Woodsist festivals, FolkYEAH! Presents is co-hosting the inaugural Big Sur Jamboree with San Francisco/Venice Beach's Mollusk Surf Shop this Friday and Saturday.
Although patterned much like the Hipnic and featuring some of that event's favorite bands, the Jamboree hopes to cultivate a whole new vibe with this festival.
"It's not exactly a mirror of HipNic, this might have a little more emphasis on improvisation and collaboration," said Britt Govea of FolkYEAH! "They all know each other and play with each other a lot, so there's going to be, for lack of a better word, incestual jamming. It's a communal gathering and it's definitely all about the music, it's going to be a lot of fun, it'll be a fun way for people to get together for two days and totally just play together, with an emphasis on a lot of sharing of bandmembers."
Acts scheduled to play at both the Fernwood Campgrounds stage and at the Fernwood Resort's intimate Redwood Room include such hippie rock and psychedelic folk favorites as Vetiver, Beachwood Sparks, McCombs Skiffle Players (a rare Cass McCombs super group), Allah-Las, Sonny and the Sunsets, The Autumn Defense, Little Wings, Neal Casal, Chris Cohen, F.D. and the Wizards of the West All Stars, Range of Light Wilderness, Nico Georis & Matt Baldwin, The Mattson 2, Sandy's, The Tyde, Tomorrows Tulips, Simone Rubi, Birds of America, Gnagoriaceht, Honeycrisp, plus special guests and "secret late night jam sessions.
Some interesting sidelights is that The Autumn Defense features two members of the popular rock band Wilco, bassist John Stirratt and multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone, and Casal is known for his guitar work with Ryan Adams and Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes.
Although Vetiver and Beachwood Sparks are probably the best-known groups, with Beachwood Sparks featuring festival co-founder Farmer Dave Scher, but L.A.-based rock band Allah-Las has lately been getting a lot of buzz for its Cali garage and psychedelic rock sound that not only owes a debt to '60s SoCal psychedelic rock, but primitive British Invasion rock.
"The Allah-Las are on the fast ride," said Govea. "Vetiver and Beachwood Sparks are amazing headlining bands, but the ones to watch are definitely the Allah-Las, it won't be long before they're playing the Fillmore (in San Francisco)."
How Govea got hooked up to do a music festival with a surf shop is another tale.
"It all came about because I'd been kind of watching this surf shop called Mollusk in San Francisco and Venice Beach, some friends of mine worked there," he said. "They started a music series in Venice Beach where they would have these intimate, 50-capacity shows in their surf shop. My friend Farmer Dave of Beachwood Sparks would put on these shows. Next thing you know Bill Gibbons (of ZZ Top) is in there playing. The next week Jackson Browne is playing. I told Farmer Dave we should cultivate this vibe for an annual thing in Big Sur, which they all like."
So the festival became a reality and Mollusk jumped in as one of the presenters.
"Having a surf company is almost a moot point, it could have been a shoe company. It was more me watching the vibe that was cultivated by Farmer Dave," said Govea. "I just kind of like that esthetic, that vibe. And I just wanted to do something in the fall because the weather's so good. Just looking for some people to have fun."
The first incarnation had films and surf sessions as part of the event, but with so many bands, Govea questioned when fans would have time to watch films or surf.
"The waves are not very good at the meadow at Fernwood Campground. In fact, there are no waves!" he joked. "I'm looking forward to some of the offstage moments, like the late-night singalong campfire."
Now that HipNic has "matured" and developed its own audience, Govea is hoping for the same with the Jamboree.
"We wanted to make it a bigger version of the Venice Beach shows where anybody would show up," he said. "That's what we hoping to cultivate in a few years."
Mac McDonald can be reached at email@example.com. GO!
What: Big Sur Jamboree
Where: Fernwood Campground & Resort, Highway 1, Big Sur
When: 4 p.m.-1:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 27; noon-1:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 28
Tickets: $190, 13 years and older for two-day pass (includes camping and all concerts), available at eventbrite.com; for motel, tent cabin, adventure tent and cabin accommodations, call Fernwood Resort at 667-2422
Information: www.folkyeah.com and mollusksurfshop.com/jamboree
What: Big Sur Jamboree