Sound of Resilience

“Any opportunity to play Big Sur is such a blessing,” says Ben Berry, second from left, the bassist with Marty O’Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra.

Britt Govea, (((folkYEAH!))) founder and Hipnic co-curator, views the ongoing landslides and Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge collapse less as adversity than opportunity to “celebrate Big Sur in song and dance and help out local businesses during this difficult chapter – and see a much less populated version of the joyous land that is Big Sur.”

Overcoming a bridge demolition hasn’t been the only hiccup in planning the boutique festival at Fernwood Tavern and Campgrounds: The Mother Hips frontman Tim Bluhm, co-curator of the annual three-day affair, is on doctor’s orders to stay off his injured ankle, so he won’t be leading his band through its tapestry of career-spanning epic sets, or partaking in the impromptu jam sessions that sprout in every nook around the campgrounds.

A pair of friends will stand in for him: extended member of the Grateful Dead family (and Salinas native) Jackie Greene and multi-instrumental Jason Crosby (who recently joined his father, David, for a show at the Golden State Theatre).

Prior to the Hips’ 8:15pm Friday slot, King Tuff (5pm) will kickstart the party with guitar-fueled garage rock. At 6pm, Midnight North – featuring Graham Lesh, son of Dead bassist Phil Lesh – are performing a special homage to the music of Robbie Robertson and The Band, followed by a Jackie Greene solo set (7:20pm). Then comes former Modern Lovers frontman Jonathan Richman at 10:15pm. (He also performs at 3:10pm Saturday.) Leading up to the Hips’ second headlining show of the weekend at 8:10pm, rambling poet/artist Little Wings (4:20pm), longtime fave Vetiver (5:30) and renowned producer/singer/songwriter Chuck Prophet (6:40pm) get it going. Saturday night’s tavern shows feature Peacers (10:15pm) and Titan Ups (11:30pm). A not-to-be-missed show 1pm Sunday, dubbed Cocker Power, features a rotating cast paying tribute to late great Joe Cocker, Leon Russell and Mad Dogs & Englishmen.

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At 4:45pm, Marty O’Reilly & The Old Soul Orchestra close Hipnic IX with what bassist Ben Berry describes as envelope-pushing music – there’s a drum and bass quality with an upper register that drives the bass line; then there are technically complicated songs featuring a melody derived from fiddle and bass. “We’re finding ways to stretch the sonic territory that our instruments occupy,” Berry says. “It just keeps evolving.”

Meanwhile, the Big Sur community continues to spirit itself through the complications. And music is key.

HIPNIC IX sets start 3pm Friday; 11:30am Saturday; 11am Sunday (May 19-21), at Fernwood Resort, 47200 Highway 1, Big Sur. $690/three-day camping pass for two with car pass. 667-2422, folkyeah.com

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(1) comment

Freida Tourette

I saw Phil Leah just last weekend. Pretty sure he's not dead.

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