THE LOST HIGHWAY FESTIVAL - REVIEW AND PHOTOS BY MICHAEL MULLENIX

I don't know why this kind of thing works... but it does.  On paper nothing should be further apart than Punk Rock and Country Music, but in live environments they find themselves rubbing elbows.  In fairness, with emphasis on embracing a culture past the music, I have often said of Country Music that it is Punk Rock for well-adjusted people, and for all the differences, the similarities are what makes music one of the best platforms for people to connect with each other.

And this thoughtful preamble brings me to this year's Lost Highway Festival, Country Music/Punk Rock and Motorcycles on display at the San Manuel Amphitheater in San Bernardino, Ca.  Social Distortion headlined the Festival stage while Toby Keith landed at the Amphitheater MainStage for the one of the first major festivals of summer.  Joining them throughout the day were Lucero, Reverend Horton Heat, Chris Jansen, Eli Young Band, Lindi Ortega, and the Brave Ones.  Aside from the music a Motorcycle showcase took place during the day featuring several custom bikes from around southern California and neighboring areas as well as tents featuring shops and suppliers.

The festival itself felt like the companion show to the Hootenanny; with familiar artists and similar vibe, California is fueled on music and gears.  A few artists I would like to make note of, the first being Lindi Ortega, who I last encountered at the Hootenanny 2013.  In the 2 years since I've last seen her set she has refined her sound to a perfect finish.  Naturally charismatic, her songs seem to carry a greater levity to them, and she's perfected that Alternative/punk bite that easily makes her stand out amongst other Country Artists.  The other artists to pay special note to is MainStage opener Chris Janson.  After spending the past decade as a song-writer to several Nashville heavy-weights (and Guns N Roses), Janson is finally getting elevated to the big-time with a charting single, Album on the way, and now touring with Toby Keith.  What made this upstart fun to watch was his natural showmanship.  Every song he did not have a guitar in hand he was making his way through the T stage out to the crow, with very expressive body language, and occasional breaking out into a harmonica solo.  Keep an eye on him, my gut says there will be plenty more out of him before the year is out.  

At the end of the evening, Toby Keith and Social Distortion rounded up their respective stages and brought the Lost Highway to a roaring conclusion.  Social Distortion drawing in their loyal fans with Mohawks and tattoos, and Toby Keith with Cowboy Hats.... and different tattoos?  Down below, allow me to share the sights and sounds of the day, I give you the LOST HIGHWAY FESTIVAL!


































































































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