The atmosphere at the Joshua Tree Music Festival is like stumbling across a campsite of a large family reunion full of cousins whose names you can’t remember but they are still glad to see you. For three short days Joshua Tree Music Festival creates a unique world in the California desert with over 26 bands, food, and various desert vendors
The sunset takes your breath away as the sky slowly fills with glittering stars. A couple of bands stood out as musical highlights.
From Monterrey, Mexico come the kings of alternative dance rock, Kinky. With their albums produced by UK’s Chris Allison, they have enough international appeal to make us want to break through Bush’s border patrol and sneak across the border in the opposite direction to set up residence in Mexico! Kinky breaks open your tired clich?©d ideas of genre or what is important in music, and takes it all several nacho notches further. Dance pop with techno playfulness and the heart and soul of blazing guitar, singing and hip shaking all fit together effortlessly.
The all-out highlight was ‘Mas’. If you hear it once, anything else you hear just won’t qualify as a dance song. The chorus had us all yelling along ‘Mas y mas’ at the top of our lungs, crackling with the pounding beats, laced with layers of Latin congas. The sound of danger and excitement in the beat, the anthemlike chorus, rocking dance, hip-hop funk forget worrying about what to call it, just get your pear off the wall and start shaking it like your life depends on it! I can forgive the first chords are straight from Ray Charles’ ‘What’d I Say’. In case anybody there was resisting singing along, they broke into a pumped up version of ‘Oye Como Va’ by Santana with guitars blazing through the spicy beats. ‘Anorexic Freaks’ is a witty funkified sweaty dancing swirling party. Your hair will get mussed.
‘Field Goal’ has mischievous jazzy atmospheres with groovin keyboards you would have to be seriously stoned to be able to stand still through. ‘Sol’ is rock and roll straight up with a more traditional Latin chorus. Pop officially now has new meaning instead of dried up all life sucked out of what used to be authentic rock, now pop means we can have glittering Latin pounding fun complete with enough passion and fire to fry huevos rancheros on a rock.
In a word we’re Jammin’! How else to describe seeing, hearing and grooving with Groundation under the desert sun. This jazzy, soulful, roots reggae band of eight musicians from Northern California is keeping the one world message of reggae alive. The lead singer, Harrison Stafford, doesn’t just talk the talk but teaches it too. A professor from Sonoma State, he teaches the school’s first History of Reggae class. When it comes to rubbin’ the dub, this band knows their beats too. They are skilled musicians who, for a band of eight, produce a clean jazz-reggae sound.
With his powerful, expressive voice I am sure no one sleeps through that class and just imagine the after school jams! The lyrics remind me that things are far from perfect in this world but each of us has the power to change it for the better in our little part of the planet. These are no Bob Marley imitators. With their own unique sound they continue the thread of hope for a better day that is woven through his music. A few minutes of dancing and partying with Groundation makes you believe it’s real. I hope ya like jammin’ too!