A raucous high desert dance party whose psychedelic grooves are parent-approved and sanctioned? Say it isn’t so! Except for the predictable essences of ganja in the desert air and the occasional crackle and sizzle of cold beer being popped open, the weekend jam fest promises a virtually vice-free, family-friendly vibe with music of greater substance than Radio Disney’s treacly gigs could ever only remotely aspire to achieve. Joshua Tree, home of alt country legend Victoria Williams and indie rock darling Gram Rabbit, serves as breeding ground for a different kind of Americana, one versed in conscience instead of excess. Searing, sweaty crowds won’t be packed like sardines across the desert floor as with Coachella, and the electricity bouncing amid the twisted forms made famous by Bono and company make for a perfect venue of blues, folk rock and funk.
This weekend’s festival features a slate of acts from around the country. Local bands include Joshua Tree’s own MojoW & the Vibration Army, the Latin reggae inspired B-side Players and hard-hitting hip hop beats of On the One, both of San Diego, and the sexy, intoxicating blend of classic country, gypsy, and jazz from LA’s Amy Lavere. Naw’lins native son (as well as Aaron’s) Ivan Neville and his band Dumpstaphunk create waves on Saturday with what Bonnie Raitt calls the funkiest human gumbo on the planet while Jethro Jeremiah channels Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye with his soulful melodies. Finally on Sunday, gypsy meets punk rock in Luminescent Orchestril while New Orleans’ Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue shine with their big band sounding fusion of rock and funk. (Nancy Powell)
Joshua Tree Music Festival, at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground, 2601 Sundair Road, Joshua Tree, (877) 327-6265, www.joshuatreemusicfestival.com. Adult 3-day pass, $95 ($125 at the gate); 2-DAY PASS, $80 ($100 at the gate); Children 10 and under free; Camping, $10 extra