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08 May 2018

Desert Rock Chronicles: Two May Festivals in the High Desert Will Attract Music-Lovers From Around the World

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Brant Bjork at least year's Stoned and Dusted. Brant Bjork at least year's Stoned and Dusted.

Two fantastic High Desert festivals—Stoned and Dusted 2018, and the Joshua Tree Music Festival—make May an exciting time for stoner rockers and world music fans.

The desert has exploded into a music mecca—and that includes the High Desert, which is now home to some of the most awesome festivals in the world, attracting imaginative, cutting-edge music artists and some of the biggest names in rock today.

The High Desert is booming with visitors and an ever-growing population—many of whom are part of the latest wave of immigrants from L.A. The area has grown into an eclectic home to a multitude of artists, and the economy is booming: Strolling through old town Yucca Valley or the village of Joshua Tree, I feel like a tourist, because there are so many new shops to visit and so many new artists to meet.

On May 17-20, thousands of music enthusiasts will pour into town from as far away as Africa and Netherlands to take part in the Joshua Tree Music Festival. It’s a global live music experience dripping with culture and music that defies the senses. I have seen some of the best artists in my life at Barnett English’s two annual music festivals. Friday night’s headliner: Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, hailing from Brooklyn, N.Y.; he’s a Hammond B3 master and three-time Grammy winner.

Saturday night’s headliner is Bay Area-based Con Brio, who draws from pop and takes it somewhere crazy.

Attendees will be excited to see the wealth of world music that English seeks out for each festival at the Joshua Tree Lake Campground.

A week later—Saturday and Sunday, May 26 and 27—comes Stoned and Dusted 2018, at a secret High Desert location.

The desert’s brand of heavy psychedelic music that shaped the face of rock forever was born in the wild desert’s canyons, boulder outcroppings and empty swimming pools—not inside the nightclubs or record studios. Back in the ’80s and ’90s, Sky Valley, North Indio and other secluded landscapes were our venues. There, Mario Lalli, Dave Travis, Brant Bjork and others brought generators for power and cardboard boxes for stages—and the shows were pure magic.

Desert rock dried up for a decade or so after Kyuss broke up, but by 2010, it began filtering back in—and now many of those desert music acts are right back here at home, where they belong. 

Stoned and Dusted pays homage to those early desert shows, offering a world-class lineup of bands that typically draw thousands of fans to shows—but this is not that kind of festival. It’s a two-day camping event where a couple hundred fortunate guests will be shuttled to a private desert location, guaranteed to be lush with desert boulders, teaming with wildlife—and exploding with live performances from Brant Bjork, The Obsessed, Nebula, Yawning Man, Sean Wheeler and the Reluctant Messengers, Big Business, Golden Void, Beast Master, Ecstatic Vision, Sasquatch, Alpine Fuzz Society and others.

“To me, it’s a celebration of life and friends—and that’s what I am hoping everyone else will experience before they are zapped out of this reality they are experiencing,” said organizer Sean Wheeler. “It’s a hard reality, but there’s a lot of love and light in it. That’s the goal of what we are doing with Stoned and Dusted.”

Read more at rminjtree.blogspot.com.

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