Marianne Dissard performs this weekend
The weather has turned at last in the high desert, and it’s time to grab your sleeping bag and your cowboy hat and head to Joshua Tree Lake for the semi-annual Joshua Tree Roots Music Festival this weekend.
The weekend lineup is almost completely new, which is a good thing, as the Hi-Desert groove scene can get somewhat insular.
Better known acts include Greensky Bluegrass (winners of last year’s Teluride Music Festival “Best New Band” title), and Blue Rodeo, a Canadian country standby. There are many lesser-known but worthy acts as well, including some “concept” bands worth checking out. Toubab Krewe hails from North Carolina, and plays a combination of southern jam-band and Malian (yes, as in the country in Africa) riffs that actually works. There is an all-girl act from Sweden called Abilone Dots, who may be stronger in conception than in execution, doing a style they call “soft-grass.” (Hey, don’t shoot the messenger). Brooklyn’s O’Death performs for the 2nd time in as many weeks in the high desert. They bring a gritty basement quality to their banjo-fied country, and have a darkness to them that sometimes recalls, dare I say it, a certain “Mr. Cave.” Also on the bill is the lazy stumble of Providence RI’s Deer Tick, who will surely having you grabbing for another beer as you contemplate woe.
But surely the most intriguing act of the weekend is Marianne Dissard. Dissard was born in Toulouse, France, and came to the US as a teenager. She settled in Tuscon, of all places, and found her voice – albeit French – in the desert. She has now teamed up with Calexico’s Joey Burns, and together they work a smoky French chanteuse thing that will have you wanting to throw roses and travel to faraway places. So good.
The Joshua Tree Music Festival is produced by “a family of friends and funsters convinced that music is the soul of life, and that art enriches and saves lives. That the experience is enhanced when embraced in the great outdoors amongst fellow music lovers.” So sayeth the promoters. In other words – let’s listen to music and party outside.
Oh, and two magical words: FREE WATER!
Joshua Tree Lake is the nefarious campground outside the park. It is a legendary meeting place of celebratory minds – many Full Moon parties have been held there along with other events. It is a popular spot for young Europeans and other backpackers looking to explore the park but meet like-minded souls at night.
The event itself has grown by leaps and bounds. This year it will include two stages, so that musical acts will be going constantly throughout the weekend. Also included will be some very Joshua Tree-esque sideline activities. One of the highlights are the yoga and meditation practices which go on at regular intervals all day. Watch for numerous “guerilla theater” actions, along with the usual music festival sideshows, like fire performers, who frankly have become the balloon-animal-makers of adult parties. But still…
Speaking of balloon animals, JTRF goes out of its way to be kid friendly. There is an all-day/all-night play and activity area, and a full schedule of events that are child-focused, such as yoga for kids, children’s theater, and face-painting.
Oh, and did I mention: FREE WATER!
The campground is in the Sunfair district of town, to the north of 29 Palms Highway, past the minute Joshua Tree Airport. You’ll pass an enormous sculpture garden on your right; sadly, it had to be fenced off two years ago because of vandalism, but its still worth a quick stop and a look-see.
Joshua Tree Lake Campground is located on Sunfair Road. Just drive north on Sunfair to the end of the pavement, and it’s on your right. Can’t miss it.