Cass McCombs on Moving Around, His “Beauty Filter,” and Why He Doesn't Like Talking About the Past

The vagabond. The recluse. The wanderer. The elusive anti-media troubadour. Cass McCombs has been called a lot of things. But in every description of the mystery man, there is always high praise for his musicianship, lyricism, and prolificacy: seven records in 10 years, with his most recent two, Wit's End and Humor Risk, released just seven months apart in 2011.

Though he hails originally from the Bay Area, McCombs has become somewhat of a drifter in his adult years. Recording albums piecemeal as he travels around the country, McCombs' creates collections of songs that can be hit-or-miss, ungrounded in a way that mirrors his itinerant ways. But standouts like “County Line,” arguably one of his most popular songs — and one of his most poignant — evoke the idea of “home” with startling eloquence.

Cass McCombs returns to his somewhat-home this weekend for Sonoma's third annual Huichica Music Festival, the brainchild of Eric D. Johnson (Fruit Bats) and Gundlach Bundschu winery proprietor Jeff Bundschu. This year they've teamed up with (((folkYEAH!))) to curate a colorful list of performers, among them Blitzen Trapper, Fruit Bats, Jonathan Wilson, Damien Jurado, Jessica Pratt, and DJ Andy Cabic, plus beloved San Francisco food purveyors like Salumeria and Namu Gaji. We spoke with McCombs last year about his musical reputation, his dislike of doing interviews, and his “beauty filter.”

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