BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Nestled away deep in the hills of Mt. Tamalpais State Park with a spectacular view of the bay, the fourth annual Sound Summit music festival rocked a sun splashed crowd Saturday afternoon.
Dedicated to raise funds for the conservation and protection of the natural resources of Mt. Tam and surrounding areas, the venue lies within a natural stone amphitheater 15 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.
The venue has a rich history, having hosted performers the likes of The Doors, Jefferson Airplane and The Byrds during the Summer of Love back in 1967 and Wilco, Dr. John and Los Lobos more recently.
While this years line-up was headlined by the 14-time Grammy winning jazz legend Herbie Hancock, many in the crowd came to see sets by Grace Potter and former Grateful Dead founding member and guitarist Bob Weir. None of the three would disappoint.
A typically inspired set by the always energetic Potter highlighted the afternoon for many, even as a significant part of the crowd had never seen her perform live before and were unaware of the level of intensity she brings to all of her appearances.
Returning to the stage recently following the birth of her first child in January, the 35 year old native of Vermont brings a frenetic level to all that she touches, whether it be her impassioned vocals, guitar or keyboard playing, or assisting with percussion as she traditionally does near the end of her sets.
Potter’s setlist was bookended by tracks from 2010’s breakthrough “Grace Potter & The Nocturnals” album, opening with “Medicine” and closing with “Paris (Ooh La La).” In between, her 75 minute set featured an unforgettable duet with Weir on The Dead’s “Friend of the Devil” along with the hits “Stars” and “The Lion The Beast The Beat” from the last Nocturnals release in 2012. Older fan favorites such as “Ah Mary,” and “Nothing but the Water” also complimented “Empty Heart” and a pair of other songs from “Midnight,” her 2015 solo debut.
Hancock’s headlining set featured a number of improvisational jams. None are likely to be remembered longer than the unique pairing that saw Weir join him for a ten minute collaboration on “Chameleon” from Hancock’s 1973 “Head Hunters” album.
Weir, 70, also played a 45 minute set of his own, following Nikki Lane and Con Brio to the stage with a with a performance that opened he with Bob Dylan’s “When I Paint My Masterpiece” and concluded with a raucous version of Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away,” later further popularized by The Dead and The Rolling Stones among others.