Sun, water, music, fun Festival has it all

American River Music Festival has it covered
By: Liz Kellar Gold Country News Service
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School has started, but it sure doesn’t feel like fall yet. With temperatures spiking up into the 90s for the next few weeks, area residents can be forgiven for feeling like they want to enjoy the last gasp of summer – and at the American River Music Festival in Coloma, set for Sept. 19-21, you can enjoy the perfect confluence of sun, water and music. A lot of festivals are on the river, but don’t provide that much access; this shindig has it all, including a one-day whitewater rafting trip complete with a lunchtime concert. If you have never gone whitewater rafting, this is the perfect place to try it. A half-day trip down the South Fork from Chili Bar to Troublemaker had my foot-dragging husband grinning from ear to ear and wanting to get right back on the river and do it again. The American River Music Festival takes place on the banks of the south fork of the American River, at the Henningsen-Lotus Park in Lotus. The main stage music performances are scheduled from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for Saturday and Sunday. According to festival organizer Matt Semonsen, the lineup includes musicians performing music from high-octane Americana to folk to some very cool blues. “Twelve terrific bands from throughout North America will give over 26 performances and workshops,” Semonsen said. “The festival is about creating a community of joyful folks by mixing the beauty of the South Fork of the American River with three days of music and activities.” Saturday, the lineup includes the “aggressive Canadian folk” of the Buccaneers, acoustic trio the Refugees, blues prodigy David Jacobs-Strain and local favorite Joe Craven. Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams headlines at 4:30 p.m. The six-piece psychedelia-tinged roots act has been hailed critically and is well-known for its refusal to forsake its independent status. On Sunday, Richard March, a Sacramento-based singer-songwriter, kicks it off. Ray Bonneville follows with his New Orleans-influenced blues. Keith Greeninger and Dayak Kai are up next; Greeninger has won several well-known songwriter competitions, including Kerrville and Telluride. The old-timey sound of Stepping In It and the all-female quartet Blame Sally wrap up the day. At the campgrounds, there will also be several musical events. At 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, there will be a show at each of the three sites. There will be “Jammin’ 101” workshops at various times Saturday and Sunday, as well. There will be plenty of free parking within easy walking distance, freshly prepared food, wines and brews, a store for getting hats, shirts and CDs, art vendors and a kids entertainment area. Camping will be available at three riverfront campgrounds – American River Resort in Coloma, and Earthtrek and Camp Lotus in Lotus – with free continuous bus shuttles to and from the main stage. Each campground will host their own music performances and jam workshop reserved for campers only. There are limited cabins, cottages, tent cabins, yurts and RV sites available in the campgrounds. Those who want to take advantage of the beautiful setting have some extra-curricular options. Campers can participate in an optional Friday afternoon naturalist guided riverfront hike in Cronin Ranch, a gentle three-hour hike with live music by Jonny Mojo and The Dulcimer Girls at the turning point. There also will be a river trip Friday on the South Fork of the American River. The run is a class-3 whitewater experience guided by professional outfitters – All Outdoors, Earthtrek or Whitewater Connection. On the river trip, rafters will be treated to a special live music performance by Joe Craven during the lunch break. Tickets range from a one-day Saturday or Sunday main stage entry to a three day camping/shuttles/all music pass to a three-day rafting/camping/shuttles/all music pass. Tickets purchased at the gate are one-day $40, two-day $65, and camping $99. For more information, go online at www.americanriver or call (530) 622-6044.