As the night grew later I knew overwhelmingly that Sweetwater Shakedown was one of the absolute best music festivals that I ever attended (& that’s in the hundreds). To be a part of it in so many ways is for sure among my proudest most satisfied moments. The gorgeous setting of Lutsen Mountains completes the experience. Paradise on snow. Live music to shake it down.
For apres ski we were delighted with the Cascade Mountain Sirrup Likkers at Papa Charlie’s featuring my friend Bump Blomberg & the rest of the talented drenched band including Barbara Jean Meyers on banjo along with others.
The band meandered thru their afternoon sets with crowd pleasing candor & contagious charm touching on bluegrass, American roots, traditional string band & more. Some of the songs put forth were “Rollin’ in my sweet baby’s arms” & Dylan’s “I shall be released”. I very much was enthralled by their vibe & await catching them again soon.
Feeling the vitality of skiing earlier & the food buzz of a tasty dinner, it was time to venture back to the live music with the Absynth Quintet from the redwood hills of Humboldt County California. These fine seasoned musicians blaze out what is self describes as “fire breathing indie grass”, which I found to be curiously refreshing.
Absynth sounded eclectic, eccentric & acoustically lush providing the dancefloor with a feverish restive reason to dance & carry on. Myself included.
The heady headliner for the closing night of Sweetwater was the mountain sprung wonder gang Emmitt Nershi Band, who are the combined brainchild of singer mandolinist Drew Emmitt (Leftover Salmon) & singing guitarist Billy Nershi (String Cheese Incident) along with wizardly friends Andy Thorn (5 string banjo) & Johnny Grubb (upright bass).
The ENB play up a freaking storm raging out traditional bluegrass flavored rootsy songs that would be ideally played around a campfire. Some of the tunes that moved the dancing contingency were the festive “I can’t work tomorrow”, climax building “Black Clouds”, storytelling “Texas” & Tom Waits‘ “(Looking for) the heart of Saturday night”.
Another completely magnificent & wildly impressive Sweetwater Shakedown Festival was now done until next spring when we do this all again. I never want to miss this magical fest for as long as I live. Keep your dreams close. Shake it down with sweetness & passion untamed.