One tends to get a little suspicious of anything billed as a "new annual tradition," but the First Annual Mother Hips Family Hipnic, taking place at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur, CA this Fourth of July weekend, looks like it'd be a welcome alternative to the traditional barrage of patriotic festivities one tends to confront every year. The two-day festival is jointly curated by (((folkYEAH!))) Presents and "California Soul" band The Mother Hips; the former has been creating unique and compelling shows around Northern California for years, while the latter is one of the Bay's most popular live bands. As a result, the lineup features a ton of great local and touring bands, mixing the former's adventurous sensibilities with the latter's California rock pedigree.
Both the July 3rd and July 4th dates feature compelling bills headlined by The Mother Hips. The show on the Fourth offers a full ten hours of music with plenty of potential highlights, including Little Wings, the folk-rock band led by musician and artist Kyle Field. Field grew up in San Luis Obispo, and collaborated with Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and others before heading north. His raw, lower-fi music bears the experimental imprint of the Pacific Northwest scene. Little Wings also draws from classic West Coast pop; he has released albums on Northwestern mainstays K Records and Marriage Records.
There are also some talented Los Angeles folks heading up for the show, including The Parson Red Heads, an Oregon-to-LA band that can deliver equally strong Byrdsian harmonies and electric guitar work. Everest is also making the trek to Big Sur for the Fourth, only they'll be coming from a performance at the High Sierra Music Festival earlier in the weekend. The band released their debut album Ghost Notes on Neil Young's Vapor Records, and they've toured extensively with Young, Wilco and My Morning Jacket. It's easy to see what caught Neil's attention; the group's melodic, classic rock-inspired sound feels drawn from their label head's ability to mix groove and vulnerability.
Headliners The Mother Hips are rumored to be performing new songs this weekend, in anticipation of releasing a new record this fall. The quartet began in Chico almost two decades ago, and has experienced a number of ups and downs during their lengthy career, including a three album stint on Rick Rubin's now-defunct American Recordings and a hiatus earlier this decade. With a varied psych-touched American rock-pop sound, The Mother Hips' music seems to be something of an inkblot test for critics, with references ranging from The Bee Gees to The Band and plenty of variations in between.
Regardless of the sound, the group has acquired a devoted fan base through winning live performances -- how many bands have a fan site dedicated to 24/7 streaming of their old live sets? -- and they're in good company this weekend. Equally important, it's commendable that the band is involved in helping to introduce their audience to some of the Bay's great young bands, and there are plenty of them on board for the Hipnic.
Festival hours are 3pm-11pm on Friday, and 1pm-11pm on Saturday. Tickets are $25 per day or $45 for a two day pass (plus venue fees). Kids under age 11 get in for free. For tickets and more information, head to HenryMiller.org.