Guitarfish: rocking out for a good cause

Orgone // Paul Piazza

By Paul Piazza

The fifth annual Guitarfish Festival, held at the Cisco Grove campground July 30 through August 2, was an amazing celebration of music, life and overwhelming kindness. The weather was perfect, the music fantastic and the hugs distributed generously at this cozy festival just 80 minutes east of Sacramento. 

What makes Guitarfish unique is its intimacy. It’s a small festival with a huge heart. There were almost 1,200 people in the camp, laughing, conversing and just hanging out and enjoying the music. Attendees, festival staff and artists cooperated and mingled as kids roamed safely. 

There was also an ocean-sized amount of musical talent during the four-day event.. This year’s lineup included international acts like Kinky, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and Dumpstaphunk. There were also many great local and regional acts like Oakland’s Monophonics, Reno’s Mojo Green and Sacramento’s twin towers of funk Joy and Madness and the Nibblers. National treasures like the amazing storyteller/songwriter Steve Poltz and phenomenal new discoveries like Houston’s soulful The Suffers were also in full effect—all in a picturesque, natural amphitheater with two stages.

Throughout its five year history, the underlying theme and mission of the festival has been to focus on raising awareness of overfishing and pollution of the ocean and to help preserve our fresh watersheds, rivers and streams. “Blue is the new green,” says festival director Brent Dana. The festival’s name comes from the children’s book Guitarfish Adventures, written by one of the festival’s performers and “blue director” Jimmy Leslie. The theme of the festival was represented everywhere, with educational workshops on the subject for both kids and adults.

Dana thinks the festival has a little more room for growth but wants it to retain it’s one-of-a-kind feel. “We are family-oriented and community-based, with fans, artists and staff all cooperating to make it a great event.”

Long may you swim, Guitarfish.

Joy and Madness // Paul Piazza

Mojo Green // Paul Piazza

Karl Denson // Paul Piazza

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