May 30, 2011
It all began on Friday at Carbone's. Sleepy Sun, who made its Monterey debut, could make walls bleed with its tasty explosion of psych-rock. The 5-piece opened with "White Dove" from its first LP, Embrace, before tearing through several new tunes including the tentatively-named "Deep War."
As always, frontman Bret Constantino fueled the fire with his potent voice and infectious stage presence. Even without the cuteness and talent of former bandmember Rachel Williams, the Sun keeps getting better. Constantino said after the show that he's "pretty burnt out" and looks forward to going home for some relaxation after touring for almost a month straight.
Saturday night's show at the Henry Miller Library, featuring Howlin' Rain and the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, was canceled due to heavy downpour. That made Sunday a fairly busy day for the slender hairball hippie, who ended up playing a 3pm show, as scheduled, plus a make-up concert at 8pm. Literature-loving Howlin' Rain, played a set of all new tunes from its forthcoming, Rick Rubin-produced album. The songs are heavy, guitar-centric and smothered in a rich understanding of classic rock. Frontman Ethan Miller (pictured above sporting his new Chris Robinson-inspired face fuzz) navigated the onslaught of epic jams with his crunchy and undeniable rock and roll voice.
There was something satisfying and refreshing about seeing Chris Robinson help set up equipment for his band, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood. But it was even more refreshing to hear how tight of a band he put together in such a short amount of time. I mean, every one of these musicians has the ability to lead their own band: Neal Casal (Ryan Adams) on guitar, Adam MacDougall (Black Crowes) on keys, George Sluppick (Robert Walter’s 20th Congress, JJ Grey and Mofro) on drums and Mark “Muddy” Dutton (Burning Tree) on bass. The 2-hour set was highlighted by spacey instrumentals, improvisation, American roots, a smidgen of gospel sing-a-long, and a killer cover of Noah Lewis' "New Minglewood Blues," which was also regularly covered by the Grateful Dead. The capacity crowd twirled in grass-stained sundresses and towheaded children danced their little fannies off as the afternoon sun cut through the canopy of redwoods. What rain?