Other festival highlights included:
Flamin’ Groovies, a San Francisco garage-rock band that formed in the ‘60s, gained traction in the ‘70s and sounded better in 2023.
Sammy Kershaw, a 40-year country star who brought back memories of George Jones (who he opened for at age 14) by singing Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” Kershaw recalled how rock music didn’t go over well in honky-tonks in 1972, so he’d listen to it on his car radio. He then played Eric Clapton’s “Lay Down Sally” and Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Gimme Three Steps” to an audience that now loves ’70s rock.
Keb Mo, a neo-bluesman in the 1990s who now seems like an authentic old blues guy at age 71. I’m just sorry he didn’t sing “Dangerous Mood,” the minor hit he wrote with Palm Springs songwriter Candy Parton.
Nikki Lane, a 2015 and 2017 festival returnee whose most recent album, “Denim & Diamonds,” was produced by Palm Desert native Josh Homme with his Queens of the Stone Age band members. She mixed plenty of sass into her engaging set, but I would have loved to have seen Homme sit in on the album’s title track for her finale.
Embla and the Karidotters, a band from Bergen, Norway, that played the tiny Horseshoe Stage in the Nikki Lane Stage Stop Marketplace. Embla, a hilariously cornball singer-guitarist, wore a baseball cap from a Landers (Missouri) merchant that said “Cowboy Hat.”
Mary Chapin Carpenter, one of the most acclaimed vocalists of the 1990s, who sang several sublime ’90s hits, starting with her 1993 rendition of Lucinda Williams’ “Passionate Kisses.”
Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives, featuring banjo legend Earl Scruggs’ grandson, Chris Scruggs, on bass. This amazingly proficient band covered material by Woody Guthrie, Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, and the fiddlers’ national anthem “Orange Blossom Special,” featuring Stuart on mandolin. Stuart, once Johnny Cash’s lead guitarist, even led a Dick Dale-styled surf instrumental. He also sang compelling material inspired by this desert, including the finale, “Time Don’t Wait,” which is now my theme song.
I cannot wait for the May 19 release of Stuart’s next cosmic desert Americana album, “Altitude.” It could be a soundtrack for climbing boulders in Joshua Tree National Park.