Words by Eddie Jorgensen
Photos by Paul Piazza
Hangtown Halloween Ball returned to the El Dorado County Fairgrounds in Placerville last weekend much to the delight of thousands of return customers. The three-day festival, which featured a bevy of bluegrass, jam and boogie woogie bands, completely sold out on Saturday.
Now in its fifth year, the event has showcased some of the best regional and national acts around, and it has created an environment that feels much like a Grateful Dead parking lot—except in an elaborately decorated fairground setting. Show-goers were mostly dressed in Halloween costumes. There were even two different guys dressed like deviled eggs.
The food fare was also a delight, from pizza to pastries, gourmet coffee to authentic Ghanaian cuisine. Attendees had little reason to leave the fairgrounds.
While there was a huge downpour of rain from the first night, that simply meant all Saturday’s scheduled Main Stage performers before 5 p.m. were relegated into the smaller, standing room only, indoor concert hall. That, of course, didn’t keep acts like North Lake Tahoe’s Dead Winter Carpenters from filling the room to capacity with high energy sets.
Saturday night’s show also featured Colorado’s Leftover Salmon, a raucous bluegrass band who seemingly always skips the Sacramento Valley on its own tours. The crowd favorite, who had everyone on their feet and dancing at the Main Stage, threw down a ferocious set—even joined by local favorite Joe Craven on violin.
One of the most enjoyable sets, and certainly the highlight of the day, came from San Francisco’s Brothers Comatose. This finely-honed string group delivered wonderful bluegrass fare replete with gorgeous harmonies, courtesy of bandleaders and brothers Ben and Alex Morrison. Although not booked on the Main Stage, their appearance on the much smaller Gallows Stage was packed to the rafters.
The annual event always features Stillwater, New Jersey’s Railroad Earth among many others, And it looks like it’s bound for yet another year. Start packing now and plan ahead. Halloween 2015 is just around the corner. If this year was any indication, you’re gonna want to join the party.
Lynn Michael Palmer of The Nibblers.
Lebo of ALO.
Jeff Austin, formerly of the Yonder Mountain String Band.
George Porter of The Meter Men.
Al Schnier of Moe.
Josh Brough of Poor Man’s Whiskey.