Having ventured to High Sierra for the first time last year, I must admit that I have found my new home away from home for future independence day weekends for years to come. I will say without hesitation that High Sierra Music Festival is the best run, and most enjoyable festival that I’ve ever had the pleasure of attending, so it was with great excitement that I seized the opportunity to relive some of my lasting memories in viewing C.M.H.’s Hitting the High Notes: 2004 High Sierra Music Festival.
Hitting the High Notes: 2004 High Sierra Music Festival is an in-depth look at one of the nation’s most incredible summer festivals. This DVD contains a peek inside both the performer’s experience, with interesting interviews on subjects that vary from the environmental impact of biodesial busses, to the role of politics in music, as well as fan based perspectives, with conversations on their undying music appreciation and infatuation with particular performers. The DVD also gives an onlooker the feeling that they are enjoying the festival at home, without collecting all of that nasty dirt under the fingernails.
Of course there are a variety of live performances that are showcased throughout the DVD, which creates the soundtrack as well as some of the more enjoyable viewing moments for this music junkie. The director, Jason Koornick, did a magnificent job of blending the personal experiences of fans and musicians, which gives this documentary its authentic feel.
A variety of bands that played the festival are showcased including; Leftover Salmon, The Radiators, Particle, Donna the Buffalo, the Hot Buttered Rum String Band, Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey as well as many others. The footage of each is up close and personal, and brings the viewer on stage for each of the performances. I also thoroughly enjoyed the continued showcasing of Leftover Salmon’s front man Vince Herman as he serenaded onlookers while he and his friends wandered through the campgrounds on the back of a golf cart. Don’t let anyone tell you that there is no room for humor in music.
In honesty it must be noted that there were a few peculiar absences that left me scratching my head. Galactic, Sound Tribe Sector Nine, and moe., all of which had a headlining slot on the main stage as well as their own late night festivities, were oddly absent. There is a brief interview with moe.’s guitarist Al Schnier, but after witnessing all of the incredible performances of those aforementioned absentees, a single interview was not nearly enough to satiate me.
Also it should be mentioned that there is a heavy focus on bluegrass on this DVD, that does not truly represent the festival’s musical diversity. It is not that the DVD is singularly focused on that style of music, because other styles and musicians are represented, but there is a much higher percentage of interviews and footage dedicated to bluegrass music, than what actually takes place on stage at the fairgrounds. However it should be noted that C.M.H., who produced this DVD explain their vision for their company on their website as being, “