Break out the tie-dye and the sun hats because the Millpond Music Festival is coming to Bishop this weekend.
Featuring dozens of unique and diverse offerings, from Americana and cowboy songs to Tuvan throat-singing to 1990s swing revival, this weekend’s festivities once again cover a wide gamut of styles and tastes.
In addition to the world-class musical performances, Millpond offers a cultural experience cultivated by local nonprofit groups that will include kids games, arts and crafts and even a little education.
Millpond will kick off Friday night at 6:30 p.m. and continue through Sunday evening.
Saturday and Sunday, residents and visitors are invited to check out the Native American and Latino cultural villages, which are sponsored by grants from the James Irvine Foundation and California Arts Council.
According to Inyo Council for the Arts Executive Director Lynn Cooper, Wünüt, a Native American Youth Group, will be organizing and running the Native American Village and La Causa will be providing entertainment at the Latino Village.
Cooper said the villages, which were introduced to Millpond last year, will feature basket weaving, pinata-making and other demonstrations, music and other cultural performances.
“Also, local talent from the Villages have ‘tweener’ spots (segues between acts) on the main stage,” Cooper said.
The Arts Council has also arranged for kids’ activities at Millpond, including face painting, arts and crafts and a bounce house on Saturday, courtesy Calvary Baptist Church. Plus there’s plenty of open space to run around, fly kites and throw frisbees.
Also, all Inyo and Mono county students through eighth grade are invited to attend all three days of Millpond for free.
Despite all the extra-curricular activities planned for the weekend, Cooper said the music can’t be overlooked.
The homegrown event boasts an eclectic mix of musical taste from its 15 performers.
For those who find a new favorite performer, Cooper said the workshop tent located at the north end of the park is a favorite destination Saturday and Sunday. Many Millpond Main Stage performers host workshops where they are able to interact with fans, tell stories and discuss their personal creative process.
“A lot of people like the workshop performances best of all, because they’re small and intimate and they can get up close and personal with the artists,” Cooper said.
In addition to the Main Stage performers, residents can check out the workshop tent Saturday and Sunday morning for open mic performances by local and visiting artists.
The event also includes seven food vendors and 20 art vendors, selling everything from homemade jewelry and pottery to photography, baskets and wood work.
The following is a start-to-finish lineup of the weekend’s performers:
FRIDAY, SEPT. 21
6:30 p.m. – String Theory – Bishop, Calif.’s eclectic, acoustic trio – Greg Smith, Dan Connor and Charlie Broten – will be bringing a hometown blend that can be described in the fewest words as “Eastside Soul,” and by the band itself as “many styles of music in a clean, acoustic style … English and Americana folk, rock, country, Celtic, classical, bluegrass, jazz, swing, South American, ’50s, ’60s, ’70s.”
7:35 p.m. – Jo Henley – No stranger to the Eastern Sierra, this Boston-based band is bringing back their popular mix of rock, folk, country and bluegrass that fans affectionately call “new roots” music. Inspired by everyone from Hank Williams to The Rolling Stones to Phish, the band combines traditional roots music with modern rock to create a sound all their own.
9:10 p.m. – The Pine Leaf Boys – The sounds of the bayou will be coming to Bishop courtesy this four-time Grammy-nominated, Louisiana-based outfit. The Pine Leaf Boys have made a name for themselves and gained a global following by injecting youthful exuberance into the spicy traditions of Cajun music.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 22
1 p.m. – Sweetwater String Band – For a couple of years now Sweetwater String Band, hailing from Mammoth Lakes, has been performing its self-proclaimed style of “hard drivin’, boot stompin’ … original and traditional music,” and the local group will be making its first appearance at Millpond this weekend. In true bluegrass music fashion, the band performs for friends and fans around the Sierra Nevada.
2:10 p.m. – Mamajowali – Teaming up to form Mamajowali, famed performers Walter Strauss, Mamadou Sidibe and Millpond favorite Joe Craven will be offering a unique ensemble that will combine the elements of an African dance party with that of a string orchestra, and the back-porch soul of American roots music.
3:30 p.m. – Huun Huur Tu – Hailing from Tuva, a Russian Federation republic situated on the Mongolian border, Huun Huur Tu showcases the fascinating art that is throat-singing.
5 p.m. – Tom Russell – Not just an acclaimed singer and songwriter, Tom Russell has also been called a lyrical storyteller in the tradition of Bob Dylan.
7 p.m. – Laura Love Band – The media and even her own record label have struggled to define Laura Love’s colorful style, which embraces bits of the blues, bluegrass, jazz, folk, gospel, reggae and country. Love has sometimes called her music “Folk-Funk,” “Afro-Celtic,” or “Hip-Alachian.” Regardless of how she is described, Love has a knack for enthralling audiences from all walks of life, from octogenarians who line up to hear straight-ahead bluegrass to the pierced-and-tattooed set to middle-aged parents.
9 p.m. – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – Since their arrival on the music scene in 1993 in a legendary residency at Los Angeles’ Brown Derby nightclub, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s irresistible live shows and aggressive, musically perceptive approach have earned them a veteran status that to this day adds new fans by the roomful every time they play. The seven-man group specializes in a fusion of classic American sounds from jazz, swing, Dixieland and big-band music.
SUNDAY, SEPT. 23
11 a.m. – Littlest Birds – With a sound as sweet and charming as their name, old-time folk cello and banjo duo Dave Hubner and Sharon Martinson prove there’s power in the art of understatement.
12:05 p.m. – Dead Winter Carpenters – Hailing from North Lake Tahoe, Dead Winter Carpenters represents the American west stands for with an unbridled spirit, and an authentic approach to the art of songwriting. The five-piece roots-rock band aims to capture the freedom of the road with a unique kind of energy.
1:20 p.m. – Ronny Cox – If Ronny Cox looks familiar, that’s perhaps owed to his multi-decade acting career in movies and on television (“RoboCop,” “Total Recall,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Stargate SG-1”). But to a growing, loyal fanbase, he’s known and admired for his contributions to the music world with his easygoing, Southwestern folk stylings.
2:35 p.m. – Los Cenzotles – Nahuatl for “The Mockingbirds,” Los Cenzotles are considered pioneers in the revival of Mexican roots music, mixing electric bass and drums with traditional Mexican instruments.
4 p.m. – Samantha Robichaud – It’s said this Canadian singer/songwriter could give Charlie Daniels a run for his money on the fiddle – not to mention give the devil plenty of incentive to stay out of the Great White North.
5:45 p.m. – Dave Alvin and The Guilty Ones – Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter and guitarist Dave Alvin is making his first appearance at Millpond with his band, Dave Alvin and the Guilty Ones. Alvin’s career dates back to the late 1970s, when he and his brother, Phil, launched The Blasters. It’s been said that Alvin’s songwriting pioneered the marriage of punk attitude with blues, California country and rockabilly. The brothers called it “American music,” and would eventually be labeled by other artists as “roots rock.”
For more information, call the Inyo Council for the Arts at (760) 873-8014, stop by 137 S. Main St., Bishop, or visit www.inyo.org.