In case you aren’t aware of this, the north state’s own Tristan and Tashina Clarridge are a cutting-edge force in American roots music. The point was seared home at the Memorial Day weekend Strawberry Music Festival at Camp Mather near Yosemite.
The brother-sister combo, who grew up in Trinity County but have also lived in Redding and Mount Shasta, played a memorable set with another young phenom — Sarah Jarosz — on Sunday afternoon on the festival’s main stage.
Tristan played cello (he’s been a national fiddle champion) and Tashina played fiddle in a set I’ll attempt to describe with the following words: hauntingly beautiful, virtuosic, exciting, fun, originally textured, honest.
It was a wonderful musical canvas they created for Jarosz to paint on with her voice, songs and playing. Jarosz (jah-ROSE) is blowing up on the music scene and for every good reason: She’s a 19-year-old force-of-nature who possesses a stellar voice, plays incredibly on any instrument you put in her hands (I saw guitar and mandolin, her site mentions piano as well), and is an inspired songwriter. Remember the name Sarah Jarosz, she’s going to be around for awhile. (I was remiss in not grabbing a photo of this group, left the camera back at camp.)
Tristan Clarridge (seated) performs with Crooked Still.
This was the same stage where just the previous night Lyle Lovett blew everyone’s mind with a dynamite performance that featured his own medium-sized combo (six members, I believe) and guests Warren Hood (mandolin) and (I think) John Randall Stewart from the band 18 South. I’ve seen Lyle twice (including once at the Redding Convention Center) and they were two of the best shows I’ve ever seen. Lyle’s set was being talked about in the camps and also by other musicians, who mentioned it from stage.
Jumping back to Tristan for a second. I was fortunate to hear another huge spectrum of his playing with the band Crooked Still. This is a beautiful (with an edge) newgrass string band that Tristan joined within the last couple years. He has an almost primal edge to his playing in this band and I’d love to see it again soon.
Who else stood out for me at Strawberry? I didn’t see every main stage act, but I certainly LOVED 18 South, an absolutely killer roots-rock-soul outfit out of Nashville. Aces across the front line in this band that would light up any venue it ever played. Bought their EP and loved it on the first listen.
Loudon Wainright III also blew my mind. Why in the world have I not been listening to this amazing songwriter all my life? I’m about to dive into a huge exploration of his music and I’m excited about that prospect. I feel like such an idiot for not knowing this man’s music. I can’t believe what a great writer he is.
The weekend weather was sweet at Strawberry.
Here’s what else: Fun bluegrass from Sweet Sunny South from Paonia, Colo. (near my hometown of Grand Junction); Warren Hood‘s (also of the Waybacks) rockin’ newgrass band showed off what a force he is; Joy Kills Sorrow (which recently played at Bernie’s Guitar) impressed the masses; missed Marley’s Ghost because it was so wet and cold; Richard Thompson — still brilliant; Brothers Comatose — more than just a great band name; the musical and visual sensation of the March Fourth Marching Band.
The March Fourth Marching Band got more cowbell.
It was wet and cold on Thursday, but the weather improved through the weekend and the weekend was just gorgeous in the pines near Yosemite National Park.
Jim Dyar is a news, arts and entertainment journalist for A News Cafe and the former arts and entertainment editor for the Record Searchlight’s D.A.T.E. section. Jim is also a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding. E-mail him at email@example.com.