High Sierra Artist “Playshops” are always a memorable part of the overall HSMF experience and have provided some incredible highlights through the years. Playshops provide opportunities for fans to see musicians in novel and often one-of-a-kind musical settings.

The 2015 Playshop schedule


11:00 – 11:45am ~ Little Bears Music | Mineral Building

Come shake and groove with music that makes you move with singer/guitarist Pamela Parker and drummer Chris McGrew from the rock soul funk band, Pamela Parker & The Kings. They will lead the group in rhythm exercises, call and response, improvisation and some fun songs you can sing along to with your kids. This workshop is fun for all and provides the little ones a music party of their own in the morning time.  Bring yourself and your Little Bears to start the day out right!

12:00 – 1:00pm ~ Blue Bear Bob Dylan Jam | Mineral Building

Come hop a freight train and begin your day with group songs, playing the music of Bob Dylan. Bring your instruments and your voice and we will conduct the rest.  Locomotive driven by Blue Bear instructors Ryan Hickey and Tom Finch, so just hop aboard and give us full steam ahead!

12:30 – 1:45pm ~ Harmony From the Ground Up with Patchy Sanders | High Sierra Music Hall

Want to sing?!  In harmony?!  Join the singers from Patchy Sanders (Ashland, OR) for a journey through the world of harmony. They’ll take one of their songs and explore the choices made in arranging the vocal harmonies allowing space to ask questions. They will also all be splitting the room up into sections, learning a song along with how to evolve from singing the melody to graceful harmony. This will be a playshop focused on singing and understanding the basics of harmony.  Come be part of the choir!

2:00 – 2:45pm ~ Tahoe Tweezer by Pianist Holly Bowling | Mineral Building

It wasn’t long ago or far from here that Phish hit a new improvisational high with a 35+ minute version of a classic Phish tune that immediately went viral.  Affectionately coined “Tahoe Tweezer” by fans, pianist Holly Bowling was so taken with the jam herself that she transcribed all four instruments and distilled it into a piano composition. The piece and other Bowling transcriptions have quickly caught on and are gaining national recognition. Come relive the spontaneous magic of that day and hear the music of Phish in a whole new way. Woo!

2:30 – 3:45pm ~ High Sierra Pick Extravaganza, Hosted by The Brothers Comatose | High Sierra Music Hall

The High Sierra Pick has become one of the annual staples of the festival and each year features many of the festival’s finest pickers.  This year’s pick will be hosted by The Brothers Comatose, a rockin high energy 5-piece string band from San Francisco whose star is on the rise! Come on down and get you some.

3:00 – 4:00pm ~ Beer Break | Mineral Building

Now that we’ve got your attention…As an avid homebrewer and general beer guru, Kyle Hollingsworth, keyboardist of The String Cheese Incident, has been involved with the craft beer and brewing scene for many years. Kyle will team up with longtime High Sierra partner, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., and Product Manager, Terence Sullivan, to bring music and craft beer lovers a connection to both worlds and passions. Join us for unique beer samplings, presentations and an in-depth journey into the merging worlds of music and beer.

4:30 – 5:45pm ~ Improvising with the Return of the Slipping Daylights w/ Special Guest Jennifer Hartswic  | High Sierra Music Hall

Back in 1999 two adventurous musical trios, The Slip and Living Daylights did an epic late night show that has become High Sierra lore. Though they don’t perform much in either configuration any more, both bands are here at HS25 and will explore the more open ended compositions that helped build them such beloved fan bases. Joined by special guest Jennifer Hartswick, this double trio exploration should be quite a treat for all.


11:00 – 11:45am ~ Little Bears Music | Mineral Building

See Friday for description.  

12:00 – 1:00pm ~ Blue Bear Seventies Jam | Mineral Building

Bring your instruments and your voice and explore the songs of 1971 with us. We’ll travel back in time and navigate our way through a year of lava lamps and polyester bell bottoms — and of course great music, too!! Kick back and eat some Scooby snacks as song-leaders Ryan Hickey and Tom Finch take you for a ride in the ol’ Mystery Machine.

12:00 – 1:15pm ~ Payday: Delta Blues Review | High Sierra Music Hall

Join Lebo (ALO), Bo Carper (New Monsoon), Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers) and others as they trace the history of Delta Blues (most notably Mississippi John Hurt and Robert Johnson) from obscurity to notoriety and the impact it made on rock’n roll.

1:00 – 1:45pm – Tahoe Tweezer by Pianist Holly Bowling | Mineral Building

See Friday for description.

2:00 – 3:10pm ~ Soul Sisters of High Sierra | High Sierra Music Hall

With so many great female singers gathering for the weekend we couldn’t resist putting together a playshop featuring all that talent and all that soul. With Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds leading the way, Soul Sisters of High Sierra (including Rachel Price and Bridget Kearney from Lake Street Dive, Nicki Bluhm, The T Sisters, and more) will take turns delivering some of their favorite soul classics. You gotta get up to get down!

3:45 – 5:00pm ~ Golden State Gramble | High Sierra Music Hall

The first Gramble (coined The Golden Gate Gramble) debuted at High Sierra in 2008 as a way to showcase the S.F. Music Scene’s phenomenal talent and interconnected relationships by having musicians from various Bay Area bands play in a variety of combinations. The Grambles have lived on at other venues and found a new home here at High Sierra — the perfect place for an amalgam of musicians to come together. This year we are dubbing it The Golden State Gramble, featuring songs about California, created by Californians. Come celebrate what it means to be in California with some of your favorite musicians from Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, ALO, Nathan Moore, The Slip, The California Honeydrops, The Brothers Comatose, The Sam Chase, T Sisters and many more.

5:30 – 6:30pm ~ Stanton Moore Trio | High Sierra Music Hall

When he’s not globetrotting around the world with his royal funk band Galactic drummer Stanton Moore has gotten deeper and deeper into exploring the jazzier side of music. He’s been performing and recording as a jazz trio with New Orleans veteran greats James Singleton (bass) and David Torkanowsky (keyboards) and we’re thrilled to be able to present them here at HS25 in this very special playshop.

6:45 – 7:15pm ~ Chad Galactic FoodRaps with Dave Brogan | Food Court

Chad Galactic never got the memo about not playing with one’s food as a kid.  As an adult, this cosmically charged jester rhymes about the savory & sweet atop classic hip hop grooves, creating a space where the Food Network meets Adidas track suits.  As a veteran roadie with Northern California luminaries ALO, Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers and The Mother Hips, Chad knows good music and has cooked up something truly unique with his trademark FoodRaps.  Aided & sparked by ALO’s Dave Brogan (aka “Vitamin D”), the High Sierra debut of this gustatory delight is not to be missed. Come n’ get it!


11:00 – 11:45am ~ Little Bears Music | Mineral Building

See Friday for description.

12:00 – 1:00 pm ~ Blue Bear Neil Young Jam | Mineral Building

Climb atop Sugar Mountain and come sing the songs of the legendary Neil Young (and perhaps a bit of C,S and N, as well).  Bring your instruments and voices and Ryan Hickey and Tom Finch will help you keep on rockin’ in the free world!

12:00 – 1:00pm ~ The Art of Guitar Playing | High Sierra Music Hall

Here we’ll see just how broad the art of guitar playing can be. In this chock-full of talent playshop we’ll feature five unique guitar players and get a closer look into how they approach their craft and see their individual styles on display. And then they’ll get into some fun, collaborative jamming! Join Charlie Hunter, Lebo, Scott Pemberton, Reed Mathis and Eric McFadden in what promises to be a memorable session of 5 amazing guitarists.

1:30 – 2:45pm ~ Vitamin B-3 Injection | High Sierra Music Hall

Fareed Haque has brought the groove of his organ trio to High Sierra this year featuring the great Tony Monaco on B-3. Tony was influenced and mentored by the late, great Jimmy Smith, one of the pioneers who bridged the soul of the sixties with free-swingin’ groove-oriented improv jazz. This playshop will explore those roots and more with special guests Marco Benevento, David Torkanowsky and more joining in.

3:15 – 4:30pm ~ For The Love Of The Game | High Sierra Music Hall

Baseball and music are two of the greatest exports this country has ever produced and when both are played properly the result can be quite poetic. Join Dan Bern and Steve Poltz with special guest and former 3rd base coach of the S.F. Giants Tim Flannery as they go toe to toe with songs and stories that involve America’s greatest pastime. Bern and Poltz, huge fans of the game of baseball are the Marichal and Koufax of songwriters and storytellers, keeping all hitters on their toes with an arsenal of musical pitches from the change-up to the curveball.

5:00 – 6:30pm ~ Guitarmageddon: Music From Summer Jam, 1973 Watkins Glen | High Sierra Music Hall

On this the 12th Guitarmageddon we bring you music from the July 28th, 1973 concert from Watkins Glen at Summer Jam. Tickets were $10, the show drew 600,000 people (at that time the largest crowd ever gathered for a music festival) and featured three bands—The Allman Brothers Band, The Grateful Dead and The Band. We couldn’t think of a more fitting tribute to close out the playshop stage at High Sierra than celebrating the music from these three historic and important bands. Be prepared for an all-star lineup!