Taking place on a small winery in Sonoma, with only two stages and a carefully curated list of talent and local food, Huichica Music Festival is the festival for people who hate music festivals. Founded in 2010 by Jeff Bundschu, owner of Gundlach Bundschu (California's oldest family-owned winery), and Eric D. Johnson of Fruit Bats, Huichica eliminates the chaos and crowds of the typical festival experience. Instead, there are clean bathrooms, a low band-to-audience ratio, and culinary offerings that meet wine country standards. Modest in size and unpretentious in atmosphere, it includes a Friday night concert and a Saturday of sunshine, bands, and the classy kind of day drinking.
This year Huichica celebrates its fifth birthday with a lineup that includes Vetiver, Mt. Eerie, and David Longstreth of Dirty Projectors, plus exclusive Gun Bun wine tasting and food offerings from Bay Area spots like Craftsman & Wolves and Salumeria. We caught up with Andy Cabic, leader of local outfitVetiver and a veteran of Huichica Music Festival to discuss Vetiver's upcoming album, his recent gig at Carnegie Hall, and the benefits of an intimate music festival. Vetiver performs this Friday, June 13, at Huichica.
What are you currently working on? Tell us about the upcoming album. Any special appearances?
I've been down in L.A., working with Thom Monahan on the next Vetiver album. I'm still finishing writing a few of the songs and working out arrangements. It's been a gradual process, finding time to travel to L.A. and push these demos and ideas around until they take shape. It's only been during this past week that I feel like I have a sense of where it's all heading and how it will tie together. I'm working with various musicians in L.A. who are all "special," so I feel like everyone involved with the record is making a "special appearance" and I'm grateful to have them involved.
Tell us about Huichica Music Festival.
I played at the first one and have been to all of them. The scale of the festival really sets it apart from other music festivals. It's human-scaled, not bloated or so enormous that simply navigating its dimensions becomes a hassle. You don't have the scheduling conflicts of multiple stages or trash everywhere or trouble finding a bathroom. It's a very simple and lovely way to spend a weekend in wine country, hanging out in a beautiful winery with a wonderfully curated schedule of music, including many artists that don't often perform in Sonoma.
Who are you excited to see play this year?
I've never seen Mt Eerie perform, so I'm looking forward to that. Same for Blank Tapes and Houndstooth, who I've heard great things about. A lot of friends are performing this year, so just getting to wander around the vineyard on a nice day with everyone sounds like a fine idea.
Vetiver hasn't toured in a couple years, but you do play a lot of great one-off shows. What are a few recent highlights?
Fortunately, being in the Bay Area and having done a lot of events with (((FolkYeah!))) over the years, I have been invited to participate in a few of the unique gatherings Britt organizes. Events like the HipNic and Mollusk Jamboree in Big Sur stand out. Performing at the Robyn Hitchcock tribute at the Fillmore last year was a highlight. Sharing the stage with Peter Buck was a dream-come-true kind of moment. I did a short duo tour with Devendra Banhart in Japan a couple years ago, traveling by train, each of us backing the other on his songs. That was an amazing way to travel and we met so many kind and gracious people on our trip.
You recently played at Carnegie Hall. Tell us about that show.
That was an unforeseen honor. I was a guest of Isobel Campbell who was invited to participate in a benefit concert for music education programs in NYC that City Winery does each year at Carnegie Hall. This year it was a tribute to the music of Paul Simon. We duetted on "Born At The Right Time" with Antibalas as the house band. They sounded amazing! It was an eclectic group of performers, everyone from Gibby Haynes to Judy Collins, Allen Toussaint to Richard Marx. I met Sam Moore of Sam and Dave fame. He told me he loved our song and that I had a "stanky voice." I turned several shades of red hearing that one.
You moved to a new record label. What's the story there?
My deal with Sub Pop was up, and I spoke with Stephen Brower at Vanguard, who had a vision for a new imprint and was interested in working with Vetiver. The label is called Easy Sound and has a roster of amazing talents, all musicians I've known for a long time. Papercuts, Eric D Johnson (of Huichica and Fruit Bats fame), Howlin' Rain, The Donkeys, Rodrigo Amarante, and Isobel Campbell. It's just getting going but every release so far has been amazing and I appreciate their aesthetic and approach to crafting a label that cares about the music and artists with whom they work.
You're opening for the Zombies later this summer. Tell us about that!
Another unforeseen honor. We'll be joining the Zombies to close out this season of concerts at Stern Grove. I am such a huge fan, not just of the Zombies but of Colin Blunstone's solo work and Argent. Stern Grove is the longest-running free public concert series in the country, so being invited to perform is a thrill and I couldn't hope for a better band to be invited to perform alongside.
When you're not playing live, you DJ. Tell us about that.
I used to have a regular night for a few years at El Rio, though that was quite some time ago. DJing ties together a love of vinyl and digging in record stores and being able to share these discoveries with friends and strangers. I had a nice little run for the past few months at the Battery, and might be starting a monthly night at Amnesia soon.
Where can we find you when you're not DJing or playing shows?
I'm usually out in the avenues, with my head in a book or a bowl of pho. Possibly wandering around the Presidio, listening to the birds of El Polín Spring.