Quincy’s High Sierra Music Festival features 50 bands

The Grandstand Stage is seen before the sun sets at a previous High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California.

The Grandstand Stage is seen before the sun sets at a previous High Sierra Music Festival in Quincy, California.

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One of the longest-standing music festivals of its kind returns for its 32nd year when High Sierra Music Festival takes place July 4 to 7 in Quincy, California. The festival features more than 50 bands playing many genres across a few stages at the Plumas County Fairgrounds.

The family-friendly festival has camping, food trucks, merchandise vendors and more. There’s many ways to experience the festival from enjoying big stages with a full production and light show, to taking in smaller, more intimate performances in a small room where people are quietly listening to the artist. Or you can hang out at camp and catch up with old friends or make new ones. There’s also yoga classes, late-night fire shows, parades and activities for kids.

“The universal truth about it is, wherever you find yourself, you’re probably going to like what you see,” said festival co-founder David Margulies.

Headliners on the main stage this year include Ziggy Marley, Primus, Jerry Harrison & Adrian Belew Remain In Light, Greensky Bluegrass with Holly Bowling. The lineup features The Allman Betts Band, Larkin Poe, The California Honeydrops, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Cimaunk, The Floozies, and The Polish Ambassador.


Margulies said the biggest draw for the festival is having an eclectic lineup and unique features such as the Artists Playshops. The playshops are a tradition the festival has continued for many years.

“They are one-of-a-kind performances that are collaborations or themed sets, or they have special spotlights on certain artists or albums or creative collaborations,” he said. “This year we’ve got some incredible playshops lined up.”

The artists for these shows have their regularly scheduled sets on the larger stages, and then they do these special performances indoors in the High Sierra Music Hall during the day. This year they’ll have a tribute to Paul Simon: There Goes Rhyming Simon. The California Honeydrops are putting on Grazin’ the Grass: A tribute to South African music. The Meters’ music will come to life when Cris Jacobs Band does Funkify Your Life. Steve Poltz will be performing “I Sing Dead People” where he gives a tribute to famous artists no longer with us.

“He’s a festival favorite,” Margulies said. “He always brings people out and he’s an amazing performer. He’s a force of nature.”

Some playshops return annually, such as Lebo’s 50 Years in the Rearview. Dan Lebowitz (of ALO) puts together a playlist of songs from 50 years ago and performs them with other artists. The last playshop of the weekend is always Guitarmaggedon, where this year will celebrate the music of The Cars and rename it Carmageddon.

Find a complete list and more information about each one, visit here: www.highsierramusic.com/artist-playshops

‘Beautiful location’

The festival scenery is surrounded by trees and mountains set in the small town of Quincy, California.

“The Feather River Canyon area is a beautiful location for festival,” Margulies said.

He mentioned all of the nearby beauty with swimming holes, hiking, biking and nature. And the festival grounds are comfortable, spacious and inviting.

“It’s a great backdrop for the festival. We’ve got some great trees as you’re looking at the main grandstand, and in the Shady Grove campground area there are quite a bit of beautiful trees in there,” Margulies said. “It’s a great getaway and disconnect from the urban settings that most people spend their time in.”

The fairgrounds are also flat, and walking distances between stages are not too far. There’s grassy and shady areas to hang out and relax.


The festival is known for the welcoming atmosphere that fans bring with them.

“High Sierra patrons are incredibly welcoming, incredibly friendly, and bring their best to each and every festival, and that is the High Sierra way,” Margulies said. “So be prepared for incredible kindness, openness and love.”

Margulies said his and the other founders’ children have grown up at High Sierra and they know the importance of wanting to bring their kids and keeping the festival family friendly.

They do several things to make the festival more inviting for families. There is the Kids Zone, open daily with activities and arts and crafts. They’ve had entertainment that includes musical acts and puppet shows and Quincy’s volunteer circus, Quirkus, is there to entertain. There are parades daily with giant puppets that people are encouraged to participate in. Sometimes the children’s arts and crafts go along with the parade theme to get the kids excited. And when the kids get tired out, the festival has a family camping zone as well with quiet hours.

Another unique service the festival offers is the Rockin’ Nannies program. This is a professional daycare service that parents can leave their children with so they can enjoy some alone time during the day or at night.

“They basically watch over the children and have an area they provide games and movies and entertainment for kids while mom and dad get to enjoy themselves without the responsibility of looking after their children,” Margulies said.


The festival announced on May 1 that it was struggling regarding ticket sales and the cost of operating. According to the news release:

“As we navigate the post-COVID world, we find ourselves facing a new economic reality that threatens the future of High Sierra Music Festival. While we are committed to presenting this year’s festival in its familiar form, there will likely be significant changes in 2025. To continue our celebration of community, music, and family we need your support more than ever. If you cherish High Sierra, please consider joining us this year to ensure its survival and evolution. We can’t predict the exact changes that are coming, but the High Sierra you know today must change if it’s going to endure.”

Margulies compared the value you get for your ticket is well worth it compared to going to a regular show, when it comes out to about $7 a band.

“It is one of the longest standing music and camping festivals and a lot have gone by the wayside,” he said. “We really need our fan support this year. This is a very critical year.”


Anna Moss first came to High Sierra Music Festival in 2022 as part of Lebo and Friends. She returned in 2023 with her band Handmade Moments.

“It’s just a beautiful festival in such a beautiful place and it’s such a lovely time,” Moss said. “I love playing in the mornings there. There’s something almost spiritual about it.”

Now in 2024 she’s coming back with Handmade Moments, and her New Orleans band Anna Moss & the Nightshades is making their debut at the festival, and they just released their debut album “Amnesty” from Empire Records. Moss said she is excited to be playing in both bands in the same weekend at the same festival, which is a first for her. She has performances scheduled every day.

“I wear a lot of hats, but I’ve never worn all the different hats within the same weekend,” she said.

She said the Artist Playshops are one of the coolest parts about High Sierra.

“I love the playshops because it’s truly a unique collaborative experience, and there’s not many festivals that do that,” she said. “It’s so cool because it gives the artist a directed opportunity to do something cool together. And you can see the real nerds come out about who gets really excited about what.”

Last year she put together a tribute dedicated to the music of Randy Newman with other musicians at the festival.

“It was actually one of the greatest moments of my life,” she said. “It was such a joy and so fun putting it together with people, watching it come to life and watching my friends play Randy Newman songs. I love Randy Newman.”

Sharing that moment with friends was special for Moss, and she mentioned that she loves getting the chance to see her friends in this type of environment, where they can relax and play music together.

“Festivals like High Sierra give the opportunity for artists to collaborate with each other in a space that’s meant for that,” Moss said. “Because you miss your friends on the road. When we can all meet up and play music together in the same spot, it’s really special, and I think the people in the audience know that too.”


WHAT: High Sierra Music Festival

WHEN: Thursday, July 4 to Sunday, July 7

WHERE: Plumas County Fairgrounds in Quincy, California

TICKETS, MORE INFO: For full lineup, schedule, tickets and more information, visit www.highsierramusic.com


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