The magic of the High Sierra Music Festival

Tank and The Bangas

The quaint picturesque town of Quincy hosts one of the area’s greatest music parties of the year. This sleepy town comes alive when it hosts the 27th annual High Sierra Music Festival. High Sierra has many veteran artists performing, but also has built a name for itself showcasing new artists. Marshall Lamm, spokesperson for the festival, says that he is excited about headliner Trey Anastasio Band performing at High Sierra for the first time.

Watch a sneak peak at the 2017 High Sierra Music Festival

June 29-July 2 | Quincy

“Bands like Soundtrack Sector 9, Ween and Hard Working Americans are mainstays at High Sierra,” says Lamm. “We look for a mix of bands, those that have played before, new artists and headliners that attract. We need to curate a lineup that our audience expects.”

Funk, Americana, electronic and some hard-hitting jam bands are on the lineup.

The female performers of High Sierra are a highlight this year. Two bands making their debut are led by incredible female artists who are winners of music contests. The first band to take the stage is Tank and The Bangas, who edged out thousands of other bands to be chosen by National Public Radio’s judges as this year’s 2017 NPR Tiny Desk Concert winner. The New Orleans born and bred Tank grew up writing poetry. When very young she was asked to memorize a poem for her grandmother’s birthday.

“I tried to memorize the poem and couldn’t remember a word,” says Tank.

Kisura Nyoto | Clare Foster

It was a pivotal moment but her grandmother saw her gift. She started writing her own poetry when she was 12. During her high school years, a teacher gave her a CD of poets. Soon after she entered her first poetry slam and it changed her life.

“In New Orleans there is a cadence to the way we speak and dance,” says Tank.

Her poetry team won the national poetry slam. However, Tank wanted to sing and eventually integrated music and poetry. The Bangas were the house band at the BlackStar Books and Cafe where Tank honed her craft. The band has been performing together for the last six years.

“I heard a powerful quote, ‘Be yourself because everyone else is taken.’ It’s incredibly important to be yourself. Be straight with yourself, be honest, vulnerable and naked with self,” says Tank.

Tank is a presence and a force to be reckoned with, a storyteller and poet following her heart and her soul’s purpose. Tank and the Bangas bring their unique sound of spoken word, hip-hop poetry, soul and R&B outrageous style to High Sierra.

High Sierra also held a music contest to promote emerging artists and received 215 entries. The winner performs on July 2: San Francisco Bay area band Midtown Social. The group of nine includes four female musicians. Lead singer Kisura Nyoto is a vocal powerhouse and one of the founding members of the band. Nyoto, who was born in Oakland and was raised by a single mother, moved around for most of her childhood. “I’m like a rolling stone,” says Nyoto. “My mother is my inspiration. She taught me to be a warrior, be self sufficient and own my own s**t.”

According to Nyoto, songwriting saved her life on a daily basis: “I write about everything I can’t really say in a normal conversation. In songwriting, I can be 100 percent myself and not judge myself. It’s a safe place for me.”

Her songwriting delves into issues of heartbreak and life experiences. It touches on the sadness and loneliness we all feel at different points in life. Make no mistake, this band brings it. Their music is funky, soulful and definitely upbeat.

“I’ve had an amazing life. The band represents to me the courage to say yes to everything that I wanted to do and be the person I want to be,” says Nyoto.

Both Tank and Nyoto are strong, independent and incredibly talented women. Their sets are not to be missed.

There is an impressive lineup of talented females taking the stage at High Sierra including Irish-American singer/songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, Texas blues artist Carolyn Wonderland, rock ‘n’ roll artist Kat Myers of Kat Myers & The Buzzards, Alexis Marceaux and Marion Tortorich of the New Orleans band Sweet Crude and Mimi Naja of Fruition. Many talented women artists will be shaking up the High Sierra Festival this year.

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