All Good Music Festival 2015
Festival Experience Archive
for The Lot Scene by Parker
Cabinet - Turkuaz - Grand Ole’ Ditch - Railroad Earth - The Word - Joe Russo’s Almost Dead - Lettuce
A mighty, mighty day of music t’was Friday at All Good this year. So many fantastic bands, so much fantastic music — it’s going to take us a little while to stroll through it all. I guess we had better get started, hadn’t we? It was definitely warmer day out as we made our way back into the venue, however, a sky full of billowy white clouds helped to cool our heads throughout the afternoon. Luckily the weather never got unbearably hot during the course of the weekend, although it certainly stayed warm until the end. After hitting up the watering station as per usual we descended back down into the bowl in time for Cabinet to throw down some more fast pickin’ on the Crane Stage at noon.
Things got going with “The Dove” with all of us grooving to the funky backbeat as J.P. Biondo lamented the sad tale of losing one’s love never to get her back. A strong start which slammed delightfully right into the aural arcane enigma that is Cabinet’s “Mysterio” — but why take my meager word for it when you can see for yourself?
And the hits just kept coming. “Heavy Rain”, with its loud, lovely rigorously good harmonies was up next which most definitely had us all singing along and dancing to the fine fiddle stylings of Todd Kopec. This band commands so much talent and skill, especially in the songwriting arena — so much of their music is just loads of fun or extremely poignant or full of feeling that it makes one of their shows a marvelous roller coaster ride through a thoroughly enjoyable musical landscape. What a treat it was to get a second set from them this year! The boys followed next with a little “Nashville Blues” action - “Because people here, Lord, they treat me fine. First they give me beer, Lord, they give me moonshine!” What a line! Even if shine isn’t your cup of, well, shine, you have to concede the poetry there. Well, I suppose you don’t have to — not in the business of giving orders here at The Scene. But you smell what I’m stepping in, right? Right. Then they slowed things down a little and moved us onto a nice crowd favorite with “Caroline”, the oh-so familiar melody drifting out over the sea of faces under a hot West Virginia sun. This was a rather stellar version that contained a huge and exceptional jam at the end with some incredible fiddle work from Todd and some great interplay between Pappy’s banjo lines and J.P.’s mando — mad good music from every angle. Later on down the set came the song that made me a Cabinet fan and, as such, I was thrilled for its inclusion: “Mr. Spaceman” which was, as always, a light-hearted tale of alien abduction punctuated by superb instrumentals. Thanks for that little gift, fellas!! Even Andy Goessling of Railroad Earth stopped by to lend some saxophone chops to the mix by set’s end!! Another incredible show from Cabinet — these boys gave us both barrels over the course of two days and left us all still wanting more! That’s one of the hallmarks of a great band, my friends!! And that, is most certainly what Cabinet is. And more. See you lads on Jam Cruise this year — hell yeah!!
Turkuaz. Dragon Stage. Friday afternoon. This nine-person dance music dynamo from Brooklyn walked out and took over the stage immediately as if they owned the place. And, after their first few songs it was apparent that they did, in fact, own All Good for that set. And they owned it so well!! Pretty impressive swagger for their first time here — and with good reason. Their opener set the tone for this maddeningly fun fox trot with frivolity:
And now you have to listen to me some more. Kind of sad, right, when compared to that delight, right? I promise to try and not bore you. But, no promises, OK? OK. Moving on. They continued with the brassy and sassy “Future 86” hanging on that powerful and pretty damn amazing vocal duo, Sammi Garett and Shira Elias. Man, can those ladies wail!! Wowsers! As if Turkuaz could please the crowd any further at this point they whipped out a super tight and gratifying “Bubba Slide” — nothing like watching Chris Brouwers play trumpet and keys simultaneously…that is some serious skill to be sure. And rather entertaining no doubt. I need to take a quick moment to tell you just how good this band sounds in person, how their wave of sweet sonority washes over you, coats your being in goodness, and brings a smile to the lips and jig to the midsection: it is pretty special and most definitely worth checking out. Find some dates and see these folks soon — well, only if you like good music, that is. But that’s between you and the mirror, no? “Lookin' Tough, Feelin' Good” was next in line for our musical delight, with its driving energy and feeling reminiscent a bit of The Talking Heads (with a major horn section — who tore things apart all set long I feel need to mention). Their version of Traffic’s iconic “Feelin’ Alright” was a very nice and well-executed surprise with yet more excellent horn work from Chris, Greg Sanderson, and Josh Schwartz. This was my first time seeing Turkuaz and I know that I couldn’t possibly be my last after how much freakin’ fun those guys were!! Any group that can transport you on a magic carpet of musicianship away from the heat and humidity and into a place of pure musical enjoyment is a band worth anyone’s time, everyone’s time. This, my friends, is such a band. In spades. Go. See. Turkuaz!
After Turkuaz wrapped, we hightailed it over to the Believe in Music Stage to get in on some Grand Ole’ Ditch action, All Good-style. Playing their first All Good as well, the boys from Cumberland, MD, pulled out all the stops and gave one hell of a great show that Friday afternoon. The band opened with “Open Road” (fitting, no?) setting the tone immediately for their set, Jody Mosser’s masterful dobro and lead vocals starting us all into the next 45 minutes of powerhouse pickin’, done the Ditch way. It sure is a treat to watch Jody play, him being one of those musicians who wears his joy and fulfillment at his job written all over his face for all to see. Once again, though, why just read when you can experience, too? VIDEO
They followed next with the bouncing and driving “Unwind” taking that right into “Whippoorwill”. After that we got a reggae-ed up treat of an old Dillards song, “Man at the Mill”, which grooved and funked to the backbeat all punctuated by the sounds of dobro and mandolin. A really cool tune to be sure — grateful to have gotten that one. Then it was time for some hard drivin’ fast pickin’ in the form of the instrumental “Chester’s Breakdown” featuring some truly fine fiddle fronting from 'Fiddlin' Ray Bruckman. Craig Miller jumped up and sang us the next song, “Take Me Back”, all the while doling out some right dandy banjo. I really enjoyed this one, featuring some really cool multi-vocal lines and tight harmonies. Looking forward to hearing it again sometime soon. Sitting under the azure blue skies with a slight breeze blowing cooling the head the thought occurred to me at just how incredible this all was and how thankful I was to be there hearing such lovely music in such a lovely setting. And surrounded by lovely people, of course! Which made the whirlwind instrumental ride that came up next so fantastic — “Dragon’s Breath” was populated by massive amounts of great music and skill, each member trading the solo back and forth with ease and precision, especially Ryan Hohing shredding things to pieces on guitar. Also of note, Todd Hocherl’s drumming really anchors the intensity of this band, providing so much of the driving force and feeling that, in my opinion, helps make Ditch the superlative band that they are. Then we were treated to a selection from their new album called “Cabins in the Laurel” featuring Lucas Matthews on lead vocals — how lucky to get yet another “Colorado” song in the grass and jam world repertoire and a great one at that!! Being from Boulder I am very prejudiced (how could I not be?) when it comes to songs about my state and, I must admit, I just love the ever-growing body of them. And “Cabins” is most definitely a welcome addition to the mix! Thanks for that little gift, boys! And thanks for that sweet, sweet guitar solo, Jody! Later down the set we got some Del McCoury action in with a little “I’ve Endured” finally closing things down with “Bluelight” the smiles on each face up there a perfect display of the joy we all felt at the Believe in Music Stage that afternoon. Way to simply burn down your first All Good showing, my friends! Absolutely one of the best sets I saw all festival. Excellent job, Ditch, and thank you!! Catch you round the bend really soon, I hope!
Later that day we found our way once again to the Crane Stage, this time for those Stillwater, NJ, fellows, Railroad Earth. I was very happy to see them included in the lineup for this year and I was looking forward to having a nice change of pace. Todd Sheaffer kicked things off for us and the band with the opening strains and lines of “When the Sun Gets in Your Blood”, the whole ensemble instantly sounding texture-tight and ever-harmonious from the very beginning. An auspicious start to a lovely set from RRE!! As if pandering to me here in WV, the boys fired up a rock solid, lengthy, and jam-laden “Colorado” next, with so much of that iconic fiddle by Tim Carbone. So much and so wonderful. As well as some very fine playing, of course, from all the other gents, especially John Skehan on mandolin. Ah, Colorado…summertime. Thanks for that one, you guys!! The pensive and introspective “Been Down This Road” came afterwards followed by the powerful and funky “Mighty River” which flowed like a round-robin from musician to musician, each one showcasing their immense talent and then receding flawlessly back into the ensemble sound, the entirety spanned by Todd’s unmistakably recognizable voice and vocals. Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood) joined in on electric guitar with Railroad on the stage for a long and mellow “Grandfather Mountain” (11:37), another display of world-class musicianship from each member of the band. It really could not be stressed enough just how incredibly excellent each of these gents is at his chosen instrument(s) — it is as if a collection of highly acclaimed professors and doctors of music decided to form a stupendous string band and go on the road hitting places like All Good. Simply put, a Railroad Earth performance is like few others in terms of the amount of musical acumen and ability all in one group. Later in the set came that prime instrumental-heavy powerhouse, “Warhead Boogie”, which took us all on its well-known but wonderful musical journey eliding right into “Tuba Mirum” which, in turn, went directly into “Chasin’ a Rainbow”, Carbone’s familiar fiddle riffs anchoring us into the song like an old friend. Ending jam? You bet…and a really sweet one, too. The back and forth between Andy and John and Tim was just stellar and completely on-point. Then, tying a ribbon on the whole affair, the boys decided to finish things up with some pickin’ and grinnin’ for us with a very fine “Bringin’ My Baby Home”:
Back over on the Dragon it was time. “What time?” you ask. “Time for The Word,” I answer. “Time for The Word.” And time for The Word it was, indeed. Power. Intensity. Electricity. Dirty good music. The Word. They came out swinging with the robust “Come By Here” from their recent album Soul Food. Really incredible sound live to be sure. The term “wall of sound” comes to mind. But what sound!! That Sacred Steel plus a hard edge of rock plus gospel plus funk plus soul plus so much more, it really has a unique a intensive sound when experienced up close and personal. In case you are unfamiliar with the roster, The Word are: Robert Randolph (pedal steel guitar), John Medeski (keyboards), Luther Dickinson (electric guitar), Cody Dickinson (drums, washboard), and Chris Chew (bass guitar). Virtuosos each in their own right on their own instrument, as an ensemble they are well-nigh unstoppable. The overall sound they end up creating is a moving happenstance, one that changes the listener. It is impossible to be in the presence of such powerfully good music without coming away a bit better than before. Instrumental after marvelous instrumental flew past and I lamented at my ignorance of their catalogue, it being my first time seeing them and all. However, I also know this won’t be the last time I see them nor will I refrain from grabbing their album as soon as possible. One particularly trippy moment came in the form of some electric washboard weirdness care of Cody Dickinson. Never heard an electric washboard before — it was fascinating. Later on down the riveting set we got a really nice keys-heavy “Glory Glory” which also featured some searing hot slide thanks to Mr. Robert Randolph. So much attitude, so much in-your-face. And so appreciated! It must also be said just how spacey and out there this band gets at times as well — an extremely well-rounded group of gents musically. Wonderful set, wonderful times! Really looking very much forward to my next Word show. Let’s hope it’s not too far in the future! However, as The Word was wrapping things we were already booking it back over to the Crane for some JRAD all up in our business…
I couldn't possibly have anything more wonderful to say about the band that came next on the Crane Stage -- their unmatchable energy and loyal dedication to performing the music of The Grateful Dead and perform it extremely well is almost immeasurable. All of this led by that human octopus on the drums, Mr. Joe Russo himself, the man whose intricate and complex rhythms seem to accomplish in one person what the Dead did in two. His leadership and guidance hurtles the band time and again wonderfully down the halls of musical nostalgia, all reimagined and given new, vibrant life. The band, of course, is Joe Russo's Almost Dead and has quickly become my favorite Dead band on the beat -- this show not being one to let me down! They opened their set with a near picture-perfect "Reuben and Cherise", Tom Hamilton’s lead guitar and vocals so very reminiscent of Jerry. There was also a really decent and mellow jam at the end of "Reuben" that really got the jam juices flowing for the remainder of their show taking things directly into "Feel Like a Stranger" from there. "Stranger", in turn, went straight into a very spacey and kinda trippy "King Solomon's Marbles". But it just so happens we have some footage of that very jam for your viewing pleasure!!
After that epic, happily heavily instrumental and jam-laden three song run, things took a quick pause and then continued with "Alligator" featuring some sweet jazzy, honky tonk piano stylings from Marco Benevento. Nothing like a good keys solo! And nothing like a really, really good keys solo, either!! Man were these boys hot tonight! Which made the next song, "Franklin's Tower", a particularly welcome addition to the setlist that evening. And they just spanked this crowd favorite, and spanked it well and good. If you are looking to experience the music of the Dead in a fresh and fun and fantastic manner, then get thee to a JRAD show as soon as humanly possible. Each new time I see them I am always left with wanting more of their renditions of my faves. Like their final song of the night: "Sugar Magnolia". Sunshine daydream. Going where the wind blows. Man, what a great way to end a supremely excellent set. It most certainly had all of us singing and swaying and smoothly enjoying this wonderful song. Lost in the heady delight with a mind full of being Grateful for 1.25 hours it was time to motivate ourselves to get ready for the evening’s remaining music. What a day of music so far and what a night to go…not to mention Saturday on the horizon.
Let’s leave you with this parting shot from Lettuce’s fire hot set, shall we? Just a little something good and extra from our Friday at All Good:
Saturday on the way, folks! Stay tuned!!