All Good Music Festival 2015
Festival Experience Archive
for The Lot Scene by Parker
Introduction - Travel - Security - Food and Beverage - Vending
All Good was back from hiatus and we decided to make the trip to the new location out in Summit Point, WV. Luckily for us, Berry Hill Farm is a mere stone’s throw from our Northern Virginia office so for once we didn’t have to make a lengthy drive to get to a set of festival grounds. We took relish in our good fortune. The drive itself is lovely, all the more so the closer you get to the Farm: rolling hills and pastoral farmlands stretching out under tree-lines of a host of greens and browns dotted by ancient homesteads and barns. It certainly makes for an enjoyable trek. Even the traffic getting in was negligible — we waited in a bit of stop and go, but the worst was at the gates getting in. Security was pretty slow by comparison to many other festivals and thorough making that part of the “dance” a bit cumbersome, but, after a long wait, we were checked, in, and to our campsite pretty quickly overall. I think it’s a fair assessment to say that that part of the process could be reimagined for next year to make things go much more quickly. Camping was “open field style” set up in grids around the various pastures of Berry Hill — pretty hilly in places so that is something to consider next year if you go. You know, in case you don’t want to wake up with all your blood in your head or feet, etc. Once we got settled, we took a nice foot trip around the grounds to familiarize ourselves with the new digs. We pretty much immediately found the main venue complex as well as the secondary vendors’ area since the grounds aren’t so huge as to be a pain in the feet. Food-wise, the offerings were varied and delicious with plenty of choices for the omnivore as well as the vegetarian and vegan. Cheddar jalapeño hush puppies (Holy guacamole! So good!!), gourmet veggie burgers, buffalo chicken mac’n’cheese, smoothies, cheesesteaks, and many other delightful delectables graced the menus of the food folks making it very easy and affordable to take a meal or two inside the venue or at the secondary vendors each day. As for beverages, cold beer, sodas, and water were the main choices with there also being a watering station provided inside the venue area. Hydration was key, however, as it was a rather humid weekend with temperatures hitting some sunny heats for sure…we were all grateful for the watering station. Here’s a hint for you: fill your water bottle with ice and finish whatever liquid is in it before the gate — they weren’t letting any water into the venue but would allow ice, hence, ice + watering station = cold water all show. So worth it! In addition to food vendors, All Good attracted many other excellent vendors purveying their various wares from psychedelic art to wrap jewelry to pins and all other assorted hippie accouterment that one could want to ogle and, perhaps purchase, at a festival. But, of course, there was also just a wee bit of music at All Good, too. Wanna hear about it? Well, c’mon then, let’s get to it, shall we?
Thursday Highlights: Twiddle - Cabinet - The Motet - moe. - Greensky Bluegrass
First and foremost, it must be said that the RFID wristband venue gate entrance system slowed things down pretty terribly at times forming big lines to get into the place. I would be a fan of the chip bracelets if they sped the entry process up, however, this wasn’t the case more often than not at All Good this year. However, it was a rebuilding year for the organization and a new festival venue to boot, so hiccups were to be understood and expected. However, this is an area that the festival might reexamine for the future in order to make things easier rather than more tedious. Just a friendly suggestion. But, I digress, we were going to talk about some music, right?
We strolled down the hill from the gate to the strains of Twiddle’s first number, having gained our access and first paid our homage to that well-known All Good symbol, the statue of the Smiling Buddha. What a fantastic idol to have watching over such joyous proceedings all weekend! Next, we headed towards the Dragon Stage just as Twiddle were getting into the second song of their set, the sound bouncing and up-beating towards us through the crowd. These all were the first notes of music to peal out over the pasture-turned-venue, these first few songs, Twiddle having the honor of christening the stage and venue with their music. As the flags waved in the back of the bowl and with the words “Welcome To All Good” in the traditional giant letters of bold colors bidding hospitality and laughter and joy to all that read them, all eyes were on the stage, all ears tuned to the speakers for more. This was, admittedly, my first time seeing Twiddle. In fact, I was to log several firsts this weekend. But, even though unfamiliar with songs or even their titles, I grew quickly familiarized with their sound and feeling. At times reggae-seeming, at other times funk and groove, and definitely a roots vibe, but all imbued with an infectious and enjoyably intense energy that kept their show moving and the crowd dancing. During their set, I found the guitar chops of lead man Mihali Savoulidis particularly impressive — man, can that cat shred! So fun was this band we even got a nice “Harry Hood” teaser in one of their songs, but, sadly they didn’t go fully into it. But, believe-you-me, I wasn’t too disappointed. The end of their set left me very happy, a bit exhausted from the dancing, and yearning for more. Twiddle definitely being another band I need to and will start following, no doubt. Hard to turn down that energy! And, speaking of energy, how about another band with seemingly limitless amounts of it?
We hustled over to the Crane Stage so we could get a good spot for Cabinet, who’d be up any minute. The lads took the stage as the setting sun bathed their faces in yellow light and immediately opened up with an explosive display of hard drivin’ fast pickin’ leading with a personal favorite, “Old Farmer’s Mill”, featuring a masterful solo from Mickey Coviello on guitar. A superb beginning to a superb set. Next up, they gave us a “Cut Down Tree” which had Pappy Biondo up to the mic — take a quick look and listen to get the full effects:
A sizzling instrumental followed filled to the brim with tight, skillful solos from every member, showcasing the major instrumental talents of this band. White hot slamgrass kaboom. Right into your brain. Amazing. “Won’t somebody roll a celebration?” was one of the calls from “Celebration” which came next. Won’t somebody, indeed? Then it was time to slow things down slightly with another favorite of mine, “Doors”, with J.P. Biondo on lead — just lovely. However, as per their wont, this band doesn’t spend much time in the slower end of the tempo section and so picked things back up with the quick-paced “Poor Man’s Blues”, featuring some tight harmonies from the boys. Afterwards, they gave us a very fine rendition of that old bluegrass standard “99 Years (And One Dark Day)” and ending things with another riveting instrumental guaranteeing we’d all be dancing until the end. One incredible amount of music packed into a mere 30 minute set!! Definitely had me looking very much forward to Friday’s afternoon set from them (Cabinet being the only band at All Good to have two sets). Bravo, boys!!
Later on down the line that evening we were back at the Crane Stage for Colorado’s own The Motet, a funk band like no other. These guys have been favorites of mine ever since I moved to Colorado six years ago and we were very pumped to hear their kind of sound here at All Good. Sadly, due to some misplaced gear, we were only able to make it for the second half of their set. But, with a band like The Motet, you happily take what you can get. And we got some of that great special kind of funk for which they are known. There was so much elated energy on stage, but also juxtaposed to some dark and dirty, sometimes bass-heavy jams. Then there were some choice moments like the “Jungle Boogie” tease that went into a groovy instrumental version of David Bowie’s “Fame”. Keeping with some tasty covers, they rocked into a great version of “Get Down Tonight” by K.C. and the Sunshine Band. Get down, get down tonight!! And get down we all definitely did thanks to the stylings of this Colorado band! But then, all of a sudden and before we knew it, it was time for moe. over on the Dragon Stage. Time for more hustle!
Gimme some moe.! Then gimme some moe.! (Then how about a wee bit moe.???) Hands down one of the better shows from them I have seen recently — one of those where everything just comes together, where everyone is on point and making wonderful music. By now the venue area was getting pretty packed for this Thursday night. Plenty of moe.rons in the crowd dancing and singing along to their favorite band from N.Y. The band certainly came ready to entertain and have a good time doing so, as if exemplified by Al’s sparkly jacket and big smile walking out on stage. Opening things up with the familiar notes of “Brent Black” the boys got things off to a bold and delightfully in-our-faces beginning to things, which featured a monstrous, dirty, excellent jam full of some rather ridiculous guitar work from Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey. This went directly into a swift and deadly “Not Coming Down” tearing straight into the much mellower “Wormwood” right after that contained a beautiful middle section with some lovely melody guitar from Chuck. The clear crowd favorite “Okay Alright” was up next, one that had everybody singing along:
Later on in the set, Vinny Amico and Jim Loughlin nailed down a rhythm section duet highlighting them both throughout in a thunderous display of percussion abilities. This went right back into a “Brent Black” instrumental reprise followed by one from their latest album. The Beatles-feeling “Silver Sun” (clocking in at a hefty 15:18 no less) began in its chill fashion as normal but, by the end of the song, faces were melted left and right. Suffice it to say this is a song with some great weight and substance! And the remainder of the set was chocked full of long selections for us, building the set higher and higher with each subsequent one. The ever strange and cheeky “Spine of a Dog” came next down the line, funky and fresh as always. Some more noteworthy percussion here backing that world-class “guitarmanship” for which this band is notorious in so many good ways. What an enjoyable thing it is to watch moe. in action, especially on a great night like tonight! Working things down to the close, they threw down a nice and lengthy “The Road” which followed that successful moe. blueprint of chill into frenzy. They fellas ended their two hours’ worth of entertaining the hell out of us with the quick-clipped, bouncy-attitude-laden “Akimbo” keeping us all dancing until the very last note. What a stellar set from moe.! Thank you for pulling out all the stops for us, friends — trust me, it was and is much appreciated!!
And there was Greensky. Those progressive bluegrass boys from Kalamazoo. While it was hard to follow moe.’s superb set, GSBG gave it their all and delivered a really solid show filled with selections from their recent album, old favorites, and some great covers. They opened with an on-point “Demons” featuring a really fine banjo solo from Mike Bont as well as some heady mando work from Paul Hoffman:
They followed that with “Kerosene” and the ever-popular “Ain’t No Bread in the Breadbox”, only the second time I’ve been graced with hearing that song from Greensky. It should be noted that the mellow, determined Mike Bont delivered another monster solo during this one — monster, indeed, just like the mandolin one Phoff followed with, dirty and gritty. Very much a crowd-pleaser, too, we were talking about it in our crew afterwards most assuredly. Then it was high time to “Burn Them” featuring that suave songster Phoff on lead vocals. Later we got some more Hoffman from the new album with “Windshield” and “The Four” both excellent and current standards in the GSBG repertoire. One of my favorite covers from them was up for us all next: “Money for Nothing” by Dire Straits. Dave Bruzza really tore things open on guitar during his solo during “Money” — damn, can that gent pick the six string! Into the final stretch we headed alongside the band as they threw down a crazy good, long, and energetic “Broke Mountain Breakdown” which they, in turn, took directly into “Atlantic City” and then back into a “Broke Mountain Breakdown Reprise” to close things out for their set. Rock solid from start to finish. Another amazing addition to the night’s music. And very much appreciated!
One final note from the evening…we decided to enjoy Sound Tribe’s set at the close of the night, taking some time off and getting into the All Good vibe. However, there was one moment that needs mentioning: the rain began falling lightly and playing in the lights above the stage as we all danced below, joyous and glistening in the night’s light, all of us having a fabulous time when the band began playing “Fire on the Mountain” and we all pretty much lost our collective minds. One of the very coolest and most poignant moments at All Good this year and one I had to share. What a great starting day with so much more to come. Fantastic.
Stay tuned for Friday!!!