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Strings & Sol Festival 2016 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Sunday

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Strings & Sol Festival 2016 - Puerto Morelos, Mexico - Sunday

Strings & Sol Bluegrass Festival 2016

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Sunday Feature - Greensky Bluegrass Poolside Set

    One of the more unique and certainly special aspects of this year’s Strings & Sol had to be Greensky Bluegrass’s poolside set on Sunday afternoon.  The band had gathered in the cupolaed gazebo in the middle of the pool with countless inflatable rafts of varying types and themes bobbing around them holding up fans gathered to hear some incredible string band music, cocktails in hand.  The setting was perfect with the sun high above overhead, warming us all but not too hot.  The pool itself was blue and sparkling and refreshing and it was packed full of S&S Family ready for some Greensky.  The band opened things up with an excellent cover for them, “American Band” by Grand Funk Railroad.  There was a surprisingly good sound emanating from the speakers and drifting out over the pool and towards the sea as Paul Hoffman crooned and beckoned us all in with his singular voice.  They rocked this one pretty hard, throwing down some seriously fine solo work throughout.  Paul nailed down some excellent mando a couple of minutes in which was, in turn, answered by Anders Beck on dobro.  What a complementary duo are those two!  All of this was underscored by the ever-present notes of Mike Bont’s bold banjo stylings, a sound I listen for in all their numbers.  What an opener for such a unique set as this!  It was hard to get past just how decadent this all seemed.  The amazing staff of the Now Sapphire coming around with drink after drink, GSBG throwing down some awesome newgrass, a gorgeous day in a tropical paradise?  We were all pinching ourselves for fear of dreaming this all up.  A very nice “Top Gun Theme” teaser opened up the next song, “Dustbowl Overtures”, a lovely and balanced number really showing the ensemble sound of Greensky in fine fashion.  While they do some mighty wonderful soloing, they also make one helluva combined sound and texture, throwing down some collective jams that will have your jaw dropping and your feet dancing.  Mike Bont did have a particularly nice solo in this one, however, stepping briefly out of the ensemble sound and right back into it so deftly.  The next two songs were a combination right-left hook that hit us all square in the happy.  They first played “No Idea” which they then took directly into the Beatles’ “Help!” simply killing both songs summarily.  But, as fate would have it, you can see and hear for yourself!!  Please enjoy!! 

See what I meant about the perfect setting?  Definitely not your normal bluegrass ambiance, right?  Yet one more reason that S&S is so very special to so many people.  A bit down the set they gave us a phenomenal cover of the James Gang’s “Walk Away” Phoff just destroying the vocals under that warm Mexican sun.  The central jam of this one was pretty amazing, with Dave Bruzza showing some serious chops on guitar, no doubting that man is a monster on his instrument.  Mike Devol, laying down the facts and just the facts on his baller ass bass also served as chief harmonizer to Hoffman, helping create a delightful vocal texture between the two of them.  The ending jam was nothing to shake a stick at, either.  On and on and on it went, Beck’s dobro singing out to the joy of all listening, Bont’s banjo omnipresent and awesome.  Are they just the best bluegrass band for covers or what?  I would argue a very hearty “yes”.  Especially after that one.  One fun trivia note:  they got their lighting designer, Andrew Lincoln, to come do vocals on “Feelin’ Alright”…and he was fantastic.  Go Lincoln!  Talk about a crowd pleaser!  Finally, they closed everything down with Paul Simon’s “Gumboots”.  Damn, what a show!  What a special treat for all at hand.  And, judging by the amount of fun everyone had, to include the band, I would say the experiment was a grand success!  Bravi to the fine fellows from Kalamazoo, MI!!  Bravi, indeed!!

Greensky Bluegrass's Poolside Set

Greensky Bluegrass's Poolside Set

Sunday Highlights

Leftover Salmon - Keller & the Keels - Railroad Earth

    Sunday Funday had arrived in fine form, the third day of the festival where we all hit our respective strides and really began to settle into the pace of the fest and the vibe of the Now Sapphire.  It was Discograss Day at S&S, too, as fate would have it and some people embraced the theme from the very beginning of the day, afro wigs and disco ball necklaces could be seen everywhere all day long, increasingly so as Sunday drew on towards sunset and Leftover Salmon’s main stage show.  I arrived a couple of songs in, food having taken immediate precedence lest I fall down dancing.  You know how it is.  Hard to line everything up just right all the time…but we still try.  The band had sounded pretty damn amazing from where I sat stuffing my face, so I knew to be ready for an incredible show in progress.  Well, I knew to be ready for that anyways.  I mean, we’re talking about Salmon here!  I walked up to the band steaming along to “Gold Hill Line” with Drew Emmitt on lead vocals.  A quintessential Salmon song, “Gold Hill” rocks as much as it string bands.  With Vince Herman on back-up vocals and tearing things up on his guitar, Drew sounded amazing as ever, his voice so suited to this style of music.  Certainly an excellent selection to make my entry to.  They followed this up with “Liza” a crowd favorite to be sure.  So many folks dancing in the sand to the setting sun singing along in full voice, enjoying life to the extreme.  It was a rather magical sight to behold.  Vince was up on the mic for vocals on this one, backed by one of the best bands in the business.  Erik Deutsch and his fantastic keyboard skills punctuated the entire song with a few solos and riffs here and there adding his distinctive spice to the madcap musical gumbo that is Leftover Salmon.  Andy Thorn laid down quite the solo himself on his trusty electric banjo, really showing off his great skills on the instrument.  Great, great version of this song…really tropical and apropos for this setting next to the sea.  A bit down the set they gave the crowd a great Little Feat cover in the form of “Gimme A Stone” of which we snagged a recording just for you, my friends!!  Please enjoy!! 

Jeremy Garrett (The Infamous Stringdusters) joined the band for the next tune, “Bolin Creek” which was pretty damn hot I must say.  A sizzling fast instrumental, everyone had their chance at soloing and doing it well.  So much music packed into such a relatively short amount of time.  Vince destroyed things on guitar summarily handing things off to Garrett whose fiddle was on fire that afternoon.  Erik took the reigns on keys and shredded for a hot minute until trading off to Andy who needed to melt a few faces, apparently.  What a rush!  What a ride!  Seriously fine musicianship all around, to a man.  And that jam in the middle??  My goodness!  So many thanks as a result, to be sure.  Cheers to Jeremy Garrett for joining in the fun!  Further down the set a ways we were treated to the rock fusion thrill ride that is “Better” as they brought things to a close.  Syncopated and rolling along like a freight train, this song hurtled into the evening sky and rained down upon the crowd like a silver light of music and joy.  Erik Deutsch laid down some nasty, nasty stuff on those keys of his dominating the melodic scene for a stretch.  Damn, can that man play some keyboards!  Alwyn Robinson was killing it on the skins, throwing down beat after beat like a multi-armed beast specially-designed by a secret project to be a true master of the drums.  The man is a machine, it’s true.  Greg Garrison’s bass came shining through the texture a few times rooting the song back down lest it fly off the tracks.  Love watching him play — always enjoying himself so much.  And how couldn’t he be?  The song came cruising to a halt to the instant applause of everyone gathered in front of that special stage on the Mexican beach.  As usual, Salmon had put together one baller ass show for us, perfect for the tropics and the festival itself.  And they really threw down, too, bringing their A game to the Now Sapphire and to that very stage.  So much praise to heap upon these gentlemen…for the unique style of music they bring to the world and for the joy they spread daily.  Bravi, fellows, for a fine, fine show!  Cheers and thanks!

Leftover Salmon

Leftover Salmon

    After the traditional two hour break, music resumed after dark with Keller Williams and the Keels on the main stage.  Always a fun show as well, I was glad that they were all three hereat Strings & Sol, you know, to give it that extra edge.  The opened up with Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”, an old favorite amongst fans of this trio.  Talk about a powerhouse of musicians, too!  Keller?  Larry Keel?  And Jenny Keel?  Suffice it to say you get a whole lot of music for your money with these guys.  Keller was on his mandola for this set, allowing for Larry to take full control of the guitar lines for the night.  And, with Jenny on her stalwart bass laying it down one amazing note at a time, we couldn’t lose!  “Crater in the Backyard” came next, that tongue-in-cheek song about a huge hole in Keller’s back yard and what it might become.  Familiar territory once again for Keller fans.  They all sounded phenomenal from where I was in the sand, dancing with my wife and friends.  So many notes from Larry, I mean just so many.  That man’s guitar really gets a workout every show, right?  And Keller, goofing around with the vocal lines, as per his wont.  The man surely has a sense of humor.  A bit down the set, we recorded the S&S version of “Rebels” for you here, hope you enjoy!!! 

What a night for music, huh?  It really was lovely, the rains of the previous night having abated.  They followed “Rebels” with a personal favorite of mine:  “Breathe”, taking things at a quick clip, Keller picking away on his mandola.  It was a fast version to be sure.  Larry kept up in fine fashion, adding his own bevy of notes to the mix.  Jenny, like a sentinel, was there keeping things grounded and providing some lovely harmonic vocals.  What a jam in the middle of this one, too!  Get down, you three crazy music folk!!  Seriously, fantastic.  A little Eagles cover was in the works that evening as well…“Seven Bridges Road” was a nice surprise in the set.  True to form, they sped this one along, nailing the three part harmonies, Larry’s signature gravely voice counterpointing those of the others.  The Eagles certainly never did it like this!  Further down the set we got a great version of The Dead’s “Loser” — what a treat in a sea of musical gifts that weekend.  “Last fair deal in the country,” indeed!  It was interesting and fun and really nice to look around to see so many people singing along, this song so familiar to so much of the S&S Family.  Moments like that are ones that make me love our community all the more.  Finally, they finished things off by taking things directly in to Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” catering to this author’s every whim apparently.  It was, and I quote my voice notes, “badass”.  And it was, believe you me.  I really do love that version of an old staunch favorite of mine.  Pink Floyd and I go way back so, for Keller and the Keels to take me there as a send off from their phenomenal set?  Crazy good!  Thanks to Jenny and Larry Keel and Keller Williams for a delightful set of gritty, funny, amazing music!  Always look forward to seeing them again…always will.  iiGracias, amigos!!

Keller & the Keels

Keller & the Keels

    Rounding out the evening on the main stage was a show with Railroad Earth.  Walking into a sea of sequined jumpsuits, afro wigs, bellbottoms, and other Discograss related accouterment, I began that evening a few songs in with The Band’s “Acadian Driftwood” a favorite song of mine for a long time.  And I do dig RRE’s version of it, this one especially.  It just fit with the setting so well and jived with the experience in so many great ways.  Todd Sheaffer was on lead vocals for most of the song, relating the sad tale, trading off with Tim Carbone from time to time.  Great harmonies during the choruses as well — really fine singing work there.   No doubting the extent of the talents of this band.  Andrew Altman led things in for the next song on his bass, giving us some funky stylings to counterpoint John Skehan and Andy Goessling’s mandolin playing.  “Walk Beside Me” sure started out with a groovy intro, the fellas kicking it a little on the edgy side of things themselves.  Todd rocked the vocals in very fine voice all the while shored up by this mighty ensemble.  And there was no mistaking the sound of the double mandolins.  Made for quite the musical texture.  Down the set a ways came a huge drum intro from Carey Harmon, the living metronome.  It set the tone well for “Butterfly and the Tree” which the band launched into, adding their instruments to the drums and creating a really lovely musical landscape.  A lively tune for sure, this one had us all dancing in that magical sand, grooving along with Railroad.  Up next, they played us a great version of “The Hunting Song” with Goessling on penny whistle and banjo, Altman on electric bass, Carbone on some light percussion, and an octave mandolin in Skehan’s grip.  The whistle in Andy’s adept hands added a very haunting quality to this mellow, yet intense song.  What a fantastic sound this one had tonight!  Then, they took this directly into “Spring-Heeled Jack” for a double-barrel of fun kind of of night.  It was pure excellence.  A bit later on in the show, they sped things up again with a rollicking rendition of “Bread and Water” inspiring yet more dancing out of our exhausted feet and legs.  Todd nailed the lyrics down like a champ while the rest of the band summarily killed it all around him.  Quite a great bit of fun — I love it when this band steps it up like this!  The amazing banjo solo from Goessling about a minute in would have had you falling in love with that instrument all over again.  Carbone was white hot on the fiddle, doing what he does best for all of us there present.  And we were very thankful for it!  They finally ended up closing everything down with “Every Grain of Sand” choosing a mellower way to finish the night.  Such an energetic show!  So many great songs on the setlist.  The weather had been perfect as had the surroundings.  What more could we have asked for?  As we all began to clear out and head to late night with Danny Barnes, the tones of Railroad’s delightful show rang through our heads, making us all smile with the remembrance of it all.  An ovation for Railroad Earth, if you please!  Mighty fine, gentleman, mighty fine, indeed!  A supreme round of thanks to all of RRE and their staff and crew for another incredible night of music in Mexico!  And there was still one more day to go!!

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

Monday’s action coming at you soon, friends!!

 

 

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DelFest 9 - Festival Experience Archive - Sunday

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DelFest 9 - Festival Experience Archive - Sunday

DelFest 9

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Sunday Highlights

Grand Ole’ Ditch

    It’s a good thing that Sunday is truly Funday, isn’t it?  I mean, by that point in a festival even the hardiest of us is beginning to feel the effects.  But, with the prospect of incredible music to motivate us, we pulled ourselves up, slugged some liquid caffeine, grabbed our gear and happily got right back to it!  Our first music of the day was at the Potomac Stage with Cumberland’s own and our buddies, Grand Ole’ Ditch.  So far it was a nice, mild day and great festival weather, the clouds providing a bit of reprieve from the warm sun.  The perfect climate for dancing to some awesome string band tunes.  “Allegheny Sun” was Ditch’s opener for the morning, the band choosing to launch into a sprightly song to kick things into gear for us and to help shake the cobwebs out of the old brain bucket.  The monster instrumental in the center of this one was a fun ride through some masterful music-making.  Craig Miller on banjo, “Fiddlin’ Ray” Bruckman on fiddle, both throwing down some nasty licks filling out this jam to the brim.  And then you hear Jacob Mathews’s bass coming through like a semi-truck of sound, popping out of the texture in a fantastic way only to be reabsorbed back into the mix, ever the foundation of the band’s harmonic fabric.  Jody Mosser accredited himself very well on the lead vocals in “Allegheny”, just one of the gents in the band who is featured as a singer.  That’s a great reason to love Ditch:  that special “many bands in one” quality that some bands manage to accomplish through having many “lead singers” belting out all different kinds of songs.  It can really add to a band’s breadth and depth.  Craig stepped up to the mic for the next number, “Take Me Back” from their Big Red Ball album, sounding fantastic on this Sunday morning.  He surely sounded better than I did at the time.  Haha.  There was some excellent fiddle work from Ray in this version of “Take Me Back” pretty early on which was, in turn, complemented by Miller’s banjo stylings a bit further into things.  I was loving the vocal harmonies in this one, too.  There’s quite a few members of Grand Ole’ Ditch and, as such, you get the opportunity for some pretty big vocal texture which is supremely satisfying to the musical palate.  Their next tune they dedicated to Craig’s son, which is always nice thing to see.  Family, right?  Precisely.  Lots of great Jody dobro going on throughout in this instrumental.  My goodness do I love the timbre of that instrument — the sound is just so entrancing.  Especially in the hands of an expert player like Mosser.  Pappy Biondo, Joe Dep, and Brittany Haas then joined the Ditch boys on stage for a rollicking good time in the form of “Mama Don’t Allow No Music”, a rowdy Jody-led piece.  And, it just so happens we have a nice, big clip of the whole thing to show you right here: 

Now wasn’t that just a kick in the pants?  Super fun times with super great musicians.  That’s pretty much DelFest in a nutshell.  Then it was time for some music from their new album, Unwind:  “Copper Coal Kettle” is a gritty, dirty, but oh-so-good trip through some western Maryland newgrass.  Craig was back on the vocals for this one leading the band through the wide and varied musical landscape to include the super Pink Floyd-feeling mellow middle breakdown that picks up into a more of a party tempo at a moment’s notice thanks to the deft drumming of Todd Hocherl.  Later on down the set we were treated to more of the new album with the title track, “Unwind”, a speedy and catchy ditty to be sure.  One that will find its way into your mind often.  It certainly whipped the crowd into a joyous frenzy well enough:  lots of dancing.  Lots.  The gents all sounded fantastic on their respective instruments, too, trading solo parts back and forth so adeptly.  They took “Unwind” directly into a personal favorite of mine, “Pigeon Eatin’ Catfish”, another fast-paced, energetic romp and stomp of bluegrass enjoyment led by Miller on the vocals.  This one gave the boys each an opportunity to rock it out on their chosen instruments, like Lucas Mathews’s phatty solo on mandolin counterpointing all of Jody’s crazy amazing dobro goodness.  Another incredibly fun ride at the hands of Grand Ole’ Ditch.  What a Sunday morning show!!  Wowsers.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ray and his fiddle in this one as well — so very good.  There is no doubt that man earned his nickname very honestly.  Jody’s dobro provided the sweet lead in for the next number to which Ryan Hohing’s guitar answered, firing up this instrumental as each member came in one by one.  I hadn’t heard this one before and didn’t catch its name, sadly, because I was really into its mellow groove.  Some tunes are just super pleasant, right?  More lovely mando work from Luke stood out for me here, only to be answered by Craig’s banjo and Ray’s fiddle.  Really dug that little tune.  Finally, a bit later on, they closed down their set with a speedy version of Jerry Garcia’s “Shady Grove” which turned into a giant dance-fest out in the crowd.  We were eating it up, too…like a pigeon eatin’ catfish.  A supremely fine way to finish up another DelFest show for these hometown heroes.  An encore opportunity saw the band play “Blue Light” which was pure bluegrass right up to the last note.  And it was yet one more fast dancin’ song, too!  Kicking up our heels until the very end, not a bad way to start a Sunday.  So many thanks to Grand Ole’ Ditch for all the smiles and magnificent music.  Sure would love to get these fellas out to Colorado…hmmmm.  Might just have to see about that.  Cheers, boys!!

Grand Ole' Ditch and Friends

Grand Ole' Ditch and Friends

Cabinet

    Main stage time with Pennsylvania’s Cabinet.  How lucky was that?  From the first time I saw these gentlemen (at DelFest, no less), I was hooked on their particular style of string band badassery.  High energy?  Damn straight.  Great songwriting?  Damn skippy.  Olympic-level musicianship?  Damn right.  There are so many reasons to love this band, I could write the entire remainder of the review on just that.  But, I bet you’d like to read a bit about their music now, wouldn’t you?  So would I!  Let’s do that!  They took a groovy, mellow approach to the intro of their first song, beguiling all of us and bringing us further in before letting loose with “Hit It on the Head” in full force, guitars blazing and fiddle wailing away, banjo on the merry bandwagon, too.  Boom!  And we were all hit on the head with some Cabinet.  Todd Kopec’s familiar fiddling was ever-present throughout, sewing this song together like a musical needle and thread, shred and thread.  So much of that tasty good up energy that you can expect so very much of from this band.  They took this directly into “Celebration” with Pappy Biondo at the helm for the lead vocals.  His cousin, J.P. Biondo was dominating the mando as usual, working that wee fretboard like the pro that he is.  Pappy threw down some of his unique banjosity for us, too, rounding out that comprehensive ensemble sound that is Cabinet.  Great message to this song, as well…we really do need to love one another.  Like sisters and brothers.  Music like this never lies.  A little later in the set, the band introduced Josh Karis, their new drummer, to the crowd during the soft and intense building intro to “Caroline”.  Of course, we all applauded and cheered and made the newest member of the Cabinet family feel welcome.  And then “Caroline” built and built and built based on the singing of the band and the crowd (as encouraged) as well as the energy of the percussion section, Karis and Jami Novak.  They traded the mellower feeling for a bounce back up to the rafters once more with “Shined Like the Sun” which they went directly into through a big, bold jam.  What a roller coaster ride!!  So much good music coming out of those speakers at us.  Pappy was back up to the mic for “Shined”, crooning to us in that signature voice of his.  Really dug Dylan Skursky’s bass line in this one — it stuck out for me in a positive way, driving the song forward and dovetailing into the drums doing the same.  Not always easy to get all the bass you might want in a big band…no complaints though.  Nothing like the musical texture of a band like Cabinet.  Todd also nailed down a serious fiddle solo about hallway through only to hand things off to Mickey Coviello on electric guitar for a mighty fine solo of his own then only to give the reigns back to Kopec and then back to Mickey once more.  Damn.  Incredible work gents.  Super fun musical moments.  Later still in their set, J.P. stepped up to the mic to take lead vocals on “Bottom of the Sea” which we have for you now, good people: 

Pretty wonderful music, right friends?  I mean, you can see this band’s huge appeal, right?  Just wait until you see them live if you haven’t already.  Further on down the line came the rip-roaring thrill-a-minute known as “Susquehanna Breakdown”, an instrumental of enjoyably monstrous proportions.  Lots and lots of wicked good soloing on all instruments, from mando to banjo to guitar to fiddle and back again and again.  Holy schneikies!  So very good!  And, just like, that…BANG!! The song was over and we were all reeling from the shockwave of awesome.  The boys in the band invited their friend Sierra Hull out to play with them on the next song, “99 Years (And One Dark Day)”, Cabinet’s premier prison song.  That was something I felt was even more in abundance this year at DelFest:  guesting in.   There just seemed to be that much more it going on which was wonderful.  Mickey had a supremely good guitar solo in “99 Years”, in addition to Sierra’s amazing work, herself.  That lady is such a superb player and such a great guest to have sit in.  Brava!  “Cut Down Tree” served as the closer for this huge main stage set from Cabinet.  Pappy was back at the mic for another solo and took us deftly to the end of the show.  All the gents took their chance at another soloing go round pretty much all song long, instruments shining as their notes rang out in unison or harmonies with their fellows.  And when things kicked double time for the breakdown?  Forget about it.  Just ridiculous.  And a favorite of the crowd unless my eyes deceived me…some seriously crazy dancing going on out there in front of the stage.  Huge ending had us all cheering for more.  What a show from these boys from Pennsylvania!  A big time thanks to them and all their people for making it to DelFest this year and adding their own brand of everything amazing to the mix.  Cheers, fellas!!  

Cabinet

Cabinet

The Del McCoury Band

    Sunday evening and so it was that we all got another go round with Del McCoury and his magnificent band.  Gathered in front of the DF main stage, we all readied ourselves for another exquisite set of classic bluegrass and audience favorites.  And, of course, to hear our dear Pappy Del sing to us once more.  As the gents took the stage in their best dress, we wondered at what precisely might be in store for us this eve.  They certainly didn’t waste any time getting things going with “Loneliness and Desperation”, Rob McCoury leading everything off with his almighty banjo.  Jason Carter’s fiddle shone throughout the song as well, providing a fitting complement to Del’s quintessential bluegrass voice.  Not to be outdone by his brother or Jason, Ronnie McCoury delivered a might mandolin solo to the delight of the crowd…almost as much delight as when Del hit those hight notes.  Talk about a way to make a Del audience smile ear to ear and give a hoot and holler, too.  High notes.  Yes, please.  “She’s Left Me Again” was their second song of the evening, a sad tale meted out in very incredible three-part harmony between Del, Jason, and Ronnie.  Just fabulous through and through.  One of the many, many reasons I love bluegrass music so much is that very thing:  incredible harmonies.  And Del rooting things down on guitar alongside Alan Bartram on bass, classic bluegrass style.  Boy does their music certainly evoke strong feelings in a person, transporting her/him to far off places and back again.  Truly delightful.  Ronnie was up to the mic to lead things in the direction of “Thanks A Lot”, a personal favorite of mine and of much of the audience, apparently.  Great minds think alike, right?  Some supremely fine fiddle coming down from Carter’s neck of the stage during this song answered by Ronnie’s own getting down on mando.  Quite seriously, these have to be some of the very best musicians in the genre.  Hell, in many genres for that matter.  Good times and very happy with the show thus far!  A little later down the set, Del took the lead again for “Same Kind of Crazy”, a song about finding just that perfect mirrored freak in your intended counterpart.  Love at first madness, maybe?  Or maybe just shared madness.  Del certainly had his own feelings on the issue to be sure.  Great back and forth between everyone in the band during the breakdowns between the verses — really exceptional music.  Next up was a wicked fast fiddle tune led by Jason but featuring every single man’s fingers flying over fretboard of his chosen instrument.  I missed the name of the tune but I didn’t miss a note of that freight train barreling towards us all at a ludicrous speed (any Spaceballs fans out there?) colliding with our consciousness and inspiring smile after smile after smile.  So freakin’ fast they play.  So fast!  Superheroes dwell among us my friends…know them by the musical demigod aura they most assuredly emanate.  And Del and band might have just as well been the musical Avengers.  Alan Bartram was up the microphone for lead vocals on the next song, a slower number called the “Kentucky Waltz”.  And, it just so happens that we recorded the entire thing just for you, friend!!  How lucky, right? 

My gosh does that bass playin’ man have some seriously awesome vocal cords!  I do so love it when he sings us one.  Then came one of those crowd pleasers I was talking about:  “Henry Walker”.  Del at the helm, he sang us through this dark tale with grace and style, his band of merry music makers in full support.  A little further down the set, Woody Guthrie’s grandson came out to play dobro with them for the next number, Guthrie’s own “Californy Gold”.  Carter was on point with his fiddle providing some lovely color to the song, notes floating over and around the lyrics sung by Del.  Nothing like getting to hear a little dobro alongside Del Band, right?  Maybe they’ll hire a full-time dobro player…a boy can dream, can’t he?  Speaking of dobro, Woody’s grandson certainly knew his way around the instrument, laying down a mean solo for us a few minutes in.  Further on into the set, Ronnie’s son, Evan, joined in on guitar for some of the fun as well as Conner Broome on the keys.  Del crooned out the lyrics to this one for us, teaching us all about coming to terms with life’s sad state of affairs when it comes to love.  Or lack thereof.  “Learnin’ the Blues” is a, ahem, blueprint for doing just such a thing.  Loved the interplay between Jason and Rob on this one, fiddle and banjo shining out respectively.  Conner nailed his keyboard solo to the ground, it certainly must be said.  That young man has a very bright musical future, indeed.  A bit later still “Black Jack County Chains” was on the docket for us, Del at the mic to give us more of what we all wanted, what we all came for.  “Feel it in your bones” bluegrass.  Ah, so nice.  And such a robust set chock full of it, too.  You always get so much from a Del Band show, quality, quantity, you name it.  Close on “Black Jack’s” heels came the bullet train experience that is “All Aboard”, Evan McCoury still on stage playing guitar alongside these greats and more than holding his own.  Always and forever the crowd pleaser, this one didn’t disappoint that night in Cumberland, you can count on that.  The band’s instruments rang out measure after measure constantly building and rebuilding the texture as the song hurtled along at Del speed.  (Which is a mightily speedy speed at that!)  I have distinct and pleasant memories of Ronnie’s mandolin that keep coming back to me when I think about this song.  What a way to close out a show!!  Then, after a short time offstage, the band returned and Vassar McCoury, Rob’s young son, joined in for the first encore alongside his cousin, Evan…and which song?  Why “Cold Rain and Snow”, of course.  There were quite the number of voices singing along with Del to this one.  I can’t imagine why.  Jason showed us all how it’s done a number of times taking up the melody line on his fiddle and killing it.  And I’ll always love hearing Del play guitar, hearing him lead those chords, picking away.  And, boy, does that gentleman sure look stately when holding that six-string.  After “Cold Rain and Snow” they launched into a big, fun version of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” which was followed by the “Whitehouse Blues”.  So it was to be hard drivin’, fast pickin’ until the very end, huh?  Well, alrighty then, if we must, we must.  And we did.  Lightning quick work all around from every man, Rob and Ronnie hot on their instruments, Jason and Alan working the same and then Del, of course, rhythm guitar to the core.  One helluva big encore ender for a big, big show.  And the screams from the crowd — deafening in such an awesome way.  Del and his band had done it once again.  They had performed the magic spells and created that cosmic awesomeness once more that is their fabulous music.  And I was so grateful to have heard it all.  So grateful.  A massive thanks to Mr. McCoury, the members of his band, and to all those hard-working folks in Del and DelFest’s employ for such an incredible time and festival.  Cheers to one and all for making things so very special this year!!

The Del McCoury Band

The Del McCoury Band

Greensky Bluegrass

    And bringing up the closing spot on the main stage for DelFest 9, you say?  Why it just so happens that it was Greensky Bluegrass, those wild and wonderful fellows from Kalamazoo, MI.  And they helped bring the outdoor portion of DF to an end in a mighty fine fashion, playing hits and covers and all the good stuff.  Truly this band gets better and better each time I see them, a trend that has continued for many years now and doesn't seem to show any signs of slacking anytime soon.  Our boys got things going with a rousing “Jaywalking” after Joe Craven’s simply stellar introduction of the band.  It seemed a perfect beginning in the cooling night air, the stars peeking out over Cumberland.  Here is some video footage of that very song and including Joe’s intro (which you’ll dig).  Please enjoy!! 

And now you’re off to the races with us!  Not too shabby a start, no?  Let’s keep going!  A quick-paced “Burn Them” followed “Jaywalking”, Paul Hoffman back at the microphone for the lead.  Some adept work from Dave Bruzza on guitar served to color the landscape of the song as did that mando of Paul’s.  Let us not forget Anders Beck’s dobro, either.  Ever present as a part of the musical fabric or standing out to solo, that sound is unmistakable and always welcome.  “What if sorrows swim?”  Not the most attractive prospect.  Guess we’ll need to burn them, right?  A little later in the setprovided us with a lengthy and super fun “Broke Mountain Breakdown”, an instrumental of monumental proportions.  Simply astounding work all around from each member of the band.  Bruzza’s guitar singing out into the night air, Hoffman’s mando taking care of the high end of things with aplomb, Beck and his dobro.  That lovely, lovely dobro.  Made for a great combined moment when all the band stopped for a big “Del Yeah!” right in the middle of the tune.  Michael Bont’s solo a couple of minutes into the piece was nothing short of inspired.  And that’s the way things continued throughout “Broke Mountain”, with the solo passing back and forth like a jar of shine, from member to member and back again.  What a breakdown it was, too!  So much good music for 10 plus minutes.  Talk about your value, right?  That and so much more.  Hoffman even threw in some tiny “I Feel Like Bustin’ Loose” teases for good measure.  Love it!  Further still down the set we got this big version of “Demons” that went directly into Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”.  “Demons” sounded fantastic, augmented in all the right ways by Paul’s baller mandolin solo not to mention his spot-on vocals.  No doubts that gentleman can sing and sing very well.  Big, meaty guitar solo from Dave in this one, too.  Really made for a robust version of the song, especially with Anders answering on so deftly on dobro.  “Dancing in the Dark” saw Hoffman channel his inner Boss while laying down some of that all-American music Springsteen is so well-known for.  It certainly was a nice treat for the crowd, lots of whom took the opportunity to sing along with Phoffman.  Good times to be sure.  Next up was the heartfelt and mellow but intense “In Control”.  Such a lovely song and so well executed at DF that night.  So much tasty, tasty dobro from Mr. Beck throughout the song…makes for such an enjoyable musical journey.  Gorgeous ensemble work here, too, giving license for the boys to do some rather pretty things over the top, like Mike’s banjo solo soaring over the remaining instrumental framework like a bird on the wing.  They took this directly into “Letter to Seymour” which followed, Dave Bruzza at the mic for lead vocals.  Hard drivin’, fast pickin’ was the name of this game, their fingers so many blurs as they screamed over the smoking fretboards assembled on stage.  Now that’s what we call good music!  Later on down the set the fellas gave us a nice long version of “Leap Year” which we ate up with glee.  Nothing like getting a long, righteous jam from these insanely skilled individuals.  Which meant lots of magnificent soloing, of course!  And thank all the music gods for that!  Bruzza was a beast on that guitar of his, moving things forward with a buoyant energy which he handed off to Hoffman, who took things and ran with them on his mando.  All this incredible only led us to some mellow stylings from your man, Mr. Beck, on that legendary dobro of his…and to a super chill central jam in the middle, Bruzza back around to dominate again.  You just get so much song when you plug into that GSBG energy.  And this continued for a lovely, lengthy 13:42.  Like I said, so much song.  Classic Phoffman at the ending part of the jam and song with some big “I Feel Like Bustin’ Loose” teases…I think we’ve all come to rely on those over the past little while with these gents.  And you never really know what the Phoff is going to do once under those colorful lights.  More classic GSBG with their chosen closer, “Atlantic City”.  Certainly one of the favorite covers songs of Greensky fans, this crowd seemed super happy to be getting this one as made apparent by their cheers and singing along.  It made for a very fitting ending to this final main stage set at DelFest 9.  The hoots and screams at the close of the song were mighty, indeed.  It was an intense and special moment.  The boys really sounded polished and professional all night long, doling out a strong setlist of super great music, great choices abounding for this DF crowd.  A giant round of applause to every member of this fantastic band!  Thank you all, as always, for what you do for you do it so very well.  Thank you for sharing your music with us!  See you in Telluride!!

Greensky Bluegrass

Greensky Bluegrass

Late Night - The Travelin’ McCoury’s featuring Keller Williams

    Keller.  The McCourys.  Together.  Live.  I almost don’t really need to write any more than that.  But I will because you need to hear at least a bit about how awesome this was.  Besides, this was the final music of DelFest 9, the last notes would be played in the Music Hall that night.  Plus, I mean:  Keller.  The McCourys!  I mean, come on.  Let’s do this, shall we?  They kicked things off with a nice, long “Port-a-potty Line” (the song, not the line), building things from a super quiet intro through more and more intensity, the tempo increasing until they all launched into the lyrics.  Funny, weird, and wonderful as always, that’s Keller’s music.  And, in the hands of the McCourys, something special, indeed.  Some really fine banjo from Mr. Rob McCoury at the behest of Keller Williams was surely welcome.  Then some of the same from Rob McCoury on mandolin.  Great energy to get all this going…lots of dancing feet, still up and running after days of the same.  I was proud of my community.  A little bit further into the set, we got a double-barreled whammy in the form of “I Am Elvis” directly into “Hot Stuff”.  Another super mellow and spacey intro began this one, like on the album but a bit grittier, minutes stretching out into note after note, the quiet intensity changing ever so slowly into more and more until the familiar strains of the song proper take hold and the lyrics begin to spin out their craziness.  Suffice it to say, this one takes you places.  And it took us that night right smack into some of Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff”.  I’ve seen them do this song before and it’s really grown on me.  Nothing like watching a bunch of bluegrassers channel their inner disco soul diva.  These two songs did make for quite the pairing for a “to the very end” late night dance fest.  And they were just sounding so very good playing together.  I seriously urge you to see this act if it ever comes your way…you will not be disappointed.  Like we weren’t disappointed remotely with Jason Carter’s fiddle playing in this one.  Talk about your hot stuff!  They played some numbers from the Pick album they all recorded together a few years ago, too, which sure was a treat.  Like Alan Bartram up to the mic for the lead vocals on “Messed Up Just Right” a favorite song around The Lot Scene offices.  Who doesn’t love clever word play?  And really good bluegrass music.  Add those together, and you’ve got yourself a stew goin’!  Bartram knocked the lyrics out of the park, of course.  It is no secret that man sings like a champ.  Some nice moments from Ronnie and Jason, too.  An all-around excellent version of this song.  Bravi!  Then it was time to take a little walk with the Dead, “Candyman” style.  Keller was our lead man on this one, singing to a crowd who was singing along with him, the words so familiar to so many.  This is just a great song to begin with…then you add the gents on stage and some DelFest to the mix?  You had best stand back!  What a pleasantly volatile cocktail that was!!  They followed this with another great cover, Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky Babe”, with a little bit of a vocal percussion intro from Keller.  Fantastic arrangement of this song…really stayed true to the original but grassed it up in so many new ways at the same time.  Besides, what crowd doesn’t like a little Tom Petty?  Or a little Cody Kilby on guitar while they’re at it?  Just how incredible is he?  No, really.  My hat is ever off to Mr. Kilby — such skills that pay the bills!!  Further down the set we were gifted with a lengthy “Broken Convertible” with some awesome breakdowns in it.  Lots of great jams in this set so far!  Keller hammed it up something wonderful on the vocals for this one, the gents in harmonic support sounding superb themselves.  A lovely round-robin of solo work from all the members of the band in this one, too.  Rob, Ronnie, Jason, everyone sounded amazing, nice long jams giving them the opportunity to really shine.  Cody and Alan had their own moments, of course.  This was a big song with all sorts of music coming at us.  It was magnificent.  This was followed by more Dead with “I Know You Rider” which whipped that late night crowd into a hopping frenzy of fun loving and music mischief.  “I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train!” rang the lyrics from the mouths of every person in the building, as we all screamed our happiness together.  Sizzling hot fiddle from Jason in this one…so very good.  Perfect.  And then there was that smokin’ banjo solo from the Five-String Flamethrower right at the end which capped things off in excellent fashion.  Bam!  Just like that!  Finally, later on a bit it was time to bring this marvelous set of music to a fitting end and what could have been more fitting than “Bumper Sticker”?  I mean, the song calls out so many folks at DF this year by name, included Del, himself.  It’s like a roster of great music within more music.  How great is that?  Despite it being late, we even got a cameo from Lisa McCoury, Rob’s wife, who came out and danced a bit for us.  It was fantastic.  This is a fast picker for sure, too, and the boys all just nailed down tight ensemble sound in quick time.  And then, wham!  It was over and we were all cheering like maniacs for an encore.  Which, luckily, we got…gratefully.  And some Foster the People, too.  Have you heard Keller and the McCourys’ version of “Pumped Up Kicks”?  It’s pretty sweet, I must admit.  And, what’s that?  More incredible vocal harmonies overlaying wicked hot instrumentals?  Oh, please no.  Anything but that!  Rob was on fire on his banjo, fingers making it smoke from head to foot.  Colby?  Guitar god again as usual?  You bet your boots, friends.  Ronnie?  Pure domination on mandolin?  And with some “Hot Stuff” teases, too?  Oh, Ronnie.  Good stuff.  And that central breakdown.  Whew!  What a thrill ride!  Jason Carter laid down some deadly seriously fiddle as the band jammed around him with reckless abandon.  Suffice it to say, this monster encore brought the house down at the end just like you’d have expected…faster and faster and faster until the very last vocals heralding the end of DelFest 9.  A few thank yous and lots and lots of cheering and then, it was all over.  So quickly, seeming, and yet, we’d been at this for days.  But, what a way to end it all!  What a DelFest!  What a weekend!  Many thanks to The Travelin’ McCourys and to Keller Williams for ushering us all to the other side with music unparalleled and enough energy to see us all back to our homes safely the following day.  

The Travelin' McCourys featuring Keller Williams

The Travelin' McCourys featuring Keller Williams

    And, while I’m on the subject of giving thanks, I merely want to say another round of thank yous to Del McCoury, his family, his band, and his people for all the magic they instill in DelFest, for all the warm welcoming they do all weekend long, and for simply being wonderful folks.  Thanks to all the bands for the stellar music offerings throughout our days in Cumberland — your music clearly helped to make this the best DelFest yet.  Bravi to one and all!!  And a huge thanks to my community, my bluegrass family, my fellow Deltopians…you always make it so easy to do this thing that we do, and a helluva lot of fun to boot.  I really can hardly wait for next year’s 10th Anniversary DelFest.  Talk about your shenanigannery!!  Guess we’ll just all have to wait a spell and see…

The McCoury Family

The McCoury Family

CLICK ON THE BANNER BELOW FOR OUR COMPLETE PHOTO GALLERIES FROM Sunday @ DELFEST!

 

Thanks for reading everyone!!  Next up?  Telluride!!

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Jam Cruise 14 - MSC Divina - Sunday

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Jam Cruise 14 - MSC Divina - Sunday

Jam Cruise 14

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Sunday Highlights

Twiddle - Positive Legacy Celebration with Everyone Orchestra - Roosevelt Collier’s Super Jam - Keller Williams - Fearless by Electron:  A Pink Floyd Tribute

    Well here it was.  Sunday.  We all made it.  The Final Countdown.  And the manifold and delicious music offerings were still ripe for the picking!  Got a chance to catch a couple of Twiddle’s selections before we headed to an interview.  Great guitar work as expected from this band with plenty of happy energy which they freely shared with the crowd.  Their last number was a mellower, soulful ballad they dedicated to The Werks.  I’d wager there were a lot of new Twiddle fans in the audience after that set.  And who couldn’t love great guitar-band music under the fresh air of the open sea, the sun raining golden light down upon your grinning face?  Wish we could have caught the whole thing…next Jam Cruise, right?  

    After sitting down with Keller Williams for a lovely time of an interview (INTERVIEW HERE) we made our way down to the Pantheon Theater for the always-special time with Matt Butler’s bouncing and bodacious baby, the Everyone Orchestra.  Entering a bit late (gee, thanks, Keller…heh heh) we snagged some balcony seats and began to let the wave of assembled sound wash over us from the stage.  With a lineup of the usual suspects of world-class musicians for this Positive Legacy Celebration, Matt was easily able to pull incredible number after number from the eager fingers and voices of the gathered minstrels.  In song after song, Matt worked his magic with each musician truly forming an orchestral construct out of a group of rockers, jammers, funkers, and grassers.  In truth, I’d love to have his job if/when he retires.  Who wouldn’t?  We came in about halfway into a Ron Holloway-led piece that was, in a word, terrific.  Reed Mathis on bass?  Terrific.  Jans Ingber on vocals?  Terrific.  Pappy Biondo on banjo?  Terrific.  Marco Benevento on keys?  Terrific.  Sensing a theme here?  Let me share a bit of magic from the Pantheon that day with you if I may…a bit of video for your viewing enjoyment, perhaps? 

See what I mean?  See how Matt helps create something so special out of perceptibly disparate parts?  And see how the musicians react to the direction?  Really powerful stuff. Vernon Reid led a nice and funky little jam on guitar after that last number.  It’s always so interesting to see what evolves from the first line laid down by the lead musician each and every time.  You know, how the others in the band run with that line and morph it and take it someplace new, all under Mr. Bulter’s watchful care.  Marco Benevento was up later to start another creation putting down an organ track that really inspired some wonderful collaborative work from his fellow musicians.  About a minute-and-a-half into it the whole band opened up and let loose with a solid, solid jam for many more minutes to come.  A fun time with Everyone Orchestra?  You had best believe it…and then some!  Certainly one of my favorite musical entities out there at the moment to be sure — I love the concept and I love the reality.  Matt Butler, sir, my hat is off to you in thanks for a wonderful time on Jam Cruise 14!!

Matt Butler's Everyone Orchestra

Matt Butler's Everyone Orchestra

    We scored another awesome interview on board the Boat this year:  Pappy Biondo of Cabinet.  We sat with him in his stateroom and had an extremely interesting time together discussing several differing topics.  Please, take a read, won’t you?  (INTERVIEW HERE)  Just another incredible aspect of being on the Boat.  So thankful for these Sunday interviews.  But we were a tad late for Roosevelt Collier’s Super Jam up on the pool deck — time to fly!  We got there in time to see Dumpstaphunk and Cris Jacobs up in support of the good Dr. Collier.  And it was furious fast funk flying from the stage.  Pretty damn face-melty stuff.  Hard to get that much talent on stage and have it sounds terrible, right?  And this was the furthest thing from terrible.  Roosevelt was tearing it up on slide as usual, almost drawing in some other-worldly ability making rocking out as hard as he does look so damn easy.  Snarky Puppy were some more friends to come and join Collier on the stage, this selection being expectedly more horn-heavy.  Beautiful trumpet soloing in this one.  Roosevelt certainly seemed to be enjoying being backed by a big horn section.  Andy Hall (The Infamous Stringdusters) even came out at one point to throw down some slide duet action with Roosevelt.  All-in-all it was as named:  a Super Jam.  I have nothing but respect for these pinnacle musicians, like Roosevelt Collier, who attract so much other talent and skill to their banner for special sets like this.  Collaboration is such a rewarding part of fests like Jam Cruise where so many of the chosen musical community are gathered together in such numbers.  And the end result is nothing short of divine.  Divinity like Roosevelt Collier’s Super Jam.

Roosevelt Collier and Dumpstaphunk

Roosevelt Collier and Dumpstaphunk

    Keller.  Williams.  Atrium…GO!  So it was time for Mr. Williams’ “solo” set and we were all pretty jazzed to see what he’d get up to.  “A Day at the Office” on piano was our first tidbit of the set — definitely need to pay attention to the lyrics on this one.  Because they’re pretty funny.  Keller?  Funny?  Never!  Plus it’s always a treat to see this man show off his instrumental versatility.  So much to respect about this musician and his craft.  And how can he sound album perfect at the drop of a hat?  Like with this song?  My hat was off already and we were only one song in!  A little later in the set he gave us all a nice sing-a-long with “That’s Just How She Rolls” and the crowd took up the challenge.  Three floors of balconies packed with smiling faces singing down to the crowded Atrium floor and stage.  Anders Beck and Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass joined him on stage for a little “Phish Grass” run…the same one he had threatened in his interview with us but said he was doubtful that it would happen.  Well, happen it did beginning with “My Sweet One”.  Pretty freaking sweet.  And the fun continued into a hell of an acoustic “Birds of a Feather”.  Funky funky.  As you might expect from these three gents.  And so many thanks to Anders for the dobro excellence in this crowd pleaser.  Felt good to singalong to that one.  Nicki Bluhm came out later on to lend her voice to a little Dead with Keller.  And, boy, did she sound amazing on the vocals for “Deal”.  Nice Grateful Grass feeling all over the Atrium that night.  A personal fave, “Doobie in my Pocket”, was a nice solo acoustic offering from Mr. Williams — a cautionary tale that should be take to heart.  Especially by those on the Boat, eh?  Now, I’m not accusing anyone of anything…I just want people to be smart.  Nothing wrong with that, right?  And if you listen to Keller you won’t end up with a doobie in your pocket.  Embarrassing!!  Am I right?  Staying in a similar theme, Tom Petty’s “You Don’t Know How It Feels” was next up with Zach Deputy guesting in.  Another one that got that eager crowd going.  Reed Mathis joined him for “Women Are Smarter” giving us a bit more of that Grateful Grass feeling.  And all of it so very good so far.  Keller:  another one of those pinnacle musicians with the ability to draw so much talent to a set like this.  Mike Dillon was up on xylophone at one point even during “Women”.  Incredible!  All of the Stringdusters minus Andy Hall were his next talented guests for “Thirsty in the Rain”.  Jeremy Garrett’s fiddle was a clarion call emanating up from the floor.  Seriously great sound on this one and that should come as no surprise given the musicians involved.  Lovely banjo solo from Chris Pandolfi, too.  Just lovely.  The Dusters stuck around for some Keller/McCoury’s action with “Broken Convertible”, another favorite song of this reviewer.  And it sounded marvelous.  Harmonies and everything!  It was hard to believe it wasn’t the McCoury’s down there with him it sounded so album perfect.  Bravi to you, boys!  What fun.  Keller closed things down with More Than a Little doing “My Sisters and Brothers (Promised Land)” some great justice for us all.  So much soul and soulful singing and great keys to boot.  Suffice it to say that Keller really brought the house down with his “solo” set from Sunday night.  One of my favorite sets from the Boat to be sure.  Which led me to my absolute favorite set of Jam Cruise 14…

Keller Williams

Keller Williams

    …Fearless by Electron:  A Pink Floyd Tribute.  Alas and alack we arrived just a bit late to this wonderful party, but we made up for lost time, believe-you-me.  Entering the fantastic fray on “Fearless” my heart was soaring already.  I feel it only right to admit my very, very deep bias for Pink Floyd and their music, however.  My love for Floyd goes back to early childhood so my standards for when others play them are, naturally, pretty high.  Well, I had no reservations after hearing Electron (with Marco Benevento) just nail this favorite song of mine from Meddle.  If this was any indication of the justice that would be done to Pink Floyd this evening, then I was in for a purely incredible treat.  And I was, my friends.  They took this directly into another favorite (What am I saying?  Floyd is comprised of all favorites to me…) of mine from the Animals album, “Dogs”.  Gritty and intense, just like on the album, this one was freaking amazing as well.  Plenty of “true-to-form” adherence to the original work with just enough Electron-brand attitude to make it their own — a really successful interface with some rather serious music.  And why not a little Pink Floyd sing-a-long while we’re at it?  “Wish You Were Here” had us all belting out the chorus in full voice, happy as clams to be so doing.  “We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fish bowl, year after year.”  So true sometimes, no?  I was more than contented to be swimming in this fish bowl of very fine Floyd coverage.  Then it was time for some Wall action as they took “In the Flesh” directly into “Run Like Hell” both of which evoked the feeling of the album and echoes of the stage show.  I mean, just hearing live Pink Floyd done well — what a mitzvah!!  It’s hard for me not to just start completely gushing over this show.  “Mother” proved the intense, introspective exploration of modern relationship that it always has been.  Hits a little close to home in a few areas.  Weighty.  Very weighty.  Afterwards came a tidy little Dark Side of the Moon collection starting with a near album-perfect “Breathe”.  I must’ve sung every word to every song they played.  Unabashedly so.  It was just all so very good.  Ron Holloway joined them with his mighty saxophone so that he could come and spank the solos for “Money” and “Us & Them”.  Holy schneikies was that incredible!!  Mesmerizing in every sense of the word.  Such a musical journey with this band tonight!  “Any Colour You Like” into “Brain Damage” into “Eclipse” came cascading down through the crowd next, at moments so hard to distinguish whether or not it was Floyd or Electron on stage.  More singing from us in the crowd helped herald the end of this phenomenal Dark Side run.  Bravi!  Damn!  Wow…  And then it was back to The Wall to shut the whole thing down with “Another Brick in the Wall” and “Comfortably Numb”.  Holy goodness, boys!!  No notes!!  Not a single critique nor criticism nor anything of the sort.  High praise and heaps of it.  Again, I state my lofty standards when it comes to the music of Pink Floyd.  And Electron most certainly met those standards and exceeded them at points.  Just marvelous…what a gift.  Thanks so much for the fabulously fun fling with Floyd!!

Electron

Electron

    And that’s the last of it, really, from my time on Jam Cruise 14.  We did some obligatory late night creeping that night, however, that was mostly for fun and personal enjoyment.  It was a mighty, mighty good time this year, Jam Cruise.  The Boat was rockin’ and we all took turns knockin’ back and forth all over that ship in search of the myriad great times to be had.  From noon until sunup for five straight days, the hundreds upon hundreds of us had partied, communed, laughed, danced, and truly lived in the finest of fashions.  So many new memories…so many stories to share.  Pictures to go through and bags to unpack.  Bleary eyes but radiant smiles.  All the trimmings and trappings of this mad, mad voyage known as Jam Cruise.  A huge thanks to all the musicians; Jam Cruise, Cloud 9 and Positive Legacy staff; MSC Divina personnel; and everyone else who helped make this cruise possible!!  Your efforts are so appreciated.  And a big thanks to all of you for reading my coverage of Jam Cruise 14.  Looks like it’s time for the next big adventure…see you soon, friends!!

Everyone Orchestra

Everyone Orchestra

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All Good Music Festival 2015 - Summit Point, WV -  Saturday

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All Good Music Festival 2015 - Summit Point, WV - Saturday

All Good Music Festival 2015

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Saturday

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong - Elephant Revival - BoomBox - Keller Williams - Dark Star Orchestra

    Saturn’s Day was nigh and that meant the third day of All Good was awake, alive, energized, and going strongly.  Definitely the hottest of the three, we made sure to find the shelter of shade when we could throughout the day.  Rising temps weren’t going to daunt the largest crowds to gather for this All Good, though.  Ready and raring to go, we all filtered down past the Buddha and the soundboards (And how about a huge hand to all the fine sound, lighting, and tech folks helping make All Good so amazing while we’re at it?) to the Dragon Stage to hear us a little Pigeons Playing Ping Pong.

    Although I had heard a lot of hype about Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, I hadn’t yet the privilege of hearing them play.  And it was apparent pretty instantly why the hype rings true:  this band is possessed of a playful spirit and boundless bright energy all mixed together with some seriously excellent musical skills.  Their sound is immediately catchy, a mix of many genres and styles…and makes for a very, very entertaining show.  As if frontman Greg Ormont’s fantastic facial expressions weren’t enough entertainment.  Much like Grand Ole’ Ditch’s Jody Mosser, Greg wears his utter enjoyment for his job all over his face, all show long.  Just him sharing that emotion with all of us seems to make the set just that much more incredible, more organic, more real, and more delightful.  They opened things all up with the high-spirited and joyful feeling “Walk Outside” and I began to introduce myself to their sound, to the music of Greg’s vocals and the sizzling guitar work of Jeremy Schon.  Next up was the slightly mellower but funky “Melting Lights” which we have right here for your enjoyment: 

Pretty ridiculous right?  Damn right.  They took “Melting” directly into their next one, “Live It Up” featuring some monster drum work from Alex Petropulos.  Absolutely fantastic playing here.  Later on down the set we got a real treat:  the island-like “Julia” with a seriously awesome and phatty “Under the Sea” smashed right in the middle.  And not just a tease, either.  The whole damn song!!  Believe-you-me, we were all getting our Disney on together with this hilariously fun and crazy ass band from Baltimore.  In fact, we at The Lot Scene were both pretty sure that was our collective first live “Under the Sea” — so we’ve got that goin’ for us, which is nice.  Next up, Mario D’Ambrosio joined in on sax and Danny Davis joined on trumpet for “The Liquid”, their horns adding yet one more marvelous dimension to this already incredible band.  Their last three numbers were all elided together and so that roller coaster just took us all right through “Spacejam” into “The Hope” and then into “F.U.” for the big closer, bringing the hammer down on a quality, quality one hour All Good set.   Very much looking forward to my next time seeing these guys, no doubts there.  But, as is with All Good, the closing of one band’s show meant the beginning of another:   this time Elephant Revival over on the Crane Stage.  Thanks for all the fun, Pigeons!  Catch you around soon!!

Greg Ormont - Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Greg Ormont - Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

    From neighboring Nederland, CO, Elephant Revival have been a favored band of mine since I moved back to Colorado over six years ago.  Embodying so much of what that unique and wacky and wonderful little mountain town is all about, both musically and energetically, Elephant has been wowing and wooing audiences with their singular sound for many years now, with aplomb and skill and humility and attitude.  After Cabinet and Greensky and Ditch I was really ready for more grass and the familiarity of Elephant Revival’s take on the string band.  Kicking things off with “Sing to the Mountain”, the band sounded just lovely from the get-go: 

Ah, how nice, right?  They followed next with the reassuring but also doubtful lyrics of “Hey Alright”, the repetitive chorus and ghostly harmonies hammering home the song’s lesson.  I’ve only heard that song twice now in concert and I really just love it.  There is something special about it…makes me really grateful to have heard it here at All Good.  So far, so great, guys.  The pensive and lovely “Birds and Stars” came after, followed by a sincerely beautiful instrumental featuring each member of the band on their respective instruments.  Oh, and just for those in the crowd who are unfamiliar with Elephant’s lineup, here you go:  Bonnie Paine (washboard, djembe, musical saw, stompbox); Bridget Law (fiddle, octave fiddle); Charlie Rose (banjo, pedal steel, guitar, horns, cello, double bass); Dango Rose (double bass, mandolin, banjo); and Daniel Rodriguez (guitar, banjo, double bass).  Did you get all that?  I know it’s a bunch of info, but really helpful when seeing or taking a listen to this band.  Bonnie took lead vocals on the subsequent “Remembering a Beginning”, a gorgeous slightly swung number — of course, any chance to hear her sing being a privilege and an honor.  And how about some washboard sass and sizzle in your life?  Later down the set we got a lovely bunch of that and so much more with the raucous and moving “Rogue River”.  Nothing like some phat a cappella plus various hand percussion all being steered by musical captains such as these, no?  Finally, sadly, it was time for Elephant to close things down with Bonnie playing the musical saw for us. Unique to the very end, right?  Wow.  What a damn good All Good set!!  Thank you ladies and gents so very much — t’was a pleasure as always!!

Elephant Revival

Elephant Revival

    BoomBox.  Poor guys.  And I mean that so sincerely.  The sun was just hammering down on the stage as they came on and began immediately frying their computers and electronics.  This, of course, being a big problem for a jamtronica duo.  Some stage hands helped them shade things and get back up and running, however, I feel they may have lost the already small crowd for their afternoon set.  That was another problem:  this band should have been scheduled for after dark.  The first real case of bad scheduling that day.  Anyways, they did throw down some really fun dance tracks once they got going.  Here is one we managed to snag for you: 

    Keller played a nice solo looper show that evening for us on the Crane Stage.  He brought a really mellow vibe to the whole venue area, choosing some lower energy songs and numbers that grooved but definitely slowed things down a bit.  The John Denver’s “Country Roads” opener was wild and wacky and really well-suited to our way of thinking at the time.  It was no surprise that Keller was happy All Good had returned to West Virginia as well.  Why not take a quick look and listen for yourself? 

We got a really nice “She Rolls” as things rolled along as well a super-looped up and funky “Celebrate Your Youth”.  Up next he threw down a recent favorite of mine, a commentary on the open carry issue in our nation:  “Over the Should Rocket Launcher”.  Funny and slightly political, this is one whose lyrics you’ll want to listen to.  Then it was time to dance again with a Keller-ed up “Best Feeling” — dancing and singing, too, this is always a crowd pleaser and certainly pleased this All Good crowd.  In my opinion, the very best part of his show was up next — a little Joe Walsh cover (of my fave Walsh songs, no less), “Life’s Been Good”.  And what a version of it, too!!  Following that we got another cover, weird and weirder still:  “Mountains of the Moon”.  All told it was a good Keller show and a good addition to the line-up for the evening.  In the end, I just wish he had picked more upbeat, more danceable repertoire.  C’est la vie, eh?

    Ah, the Dark Star Orchestra.  Just the kind of band, just the kind of music that I was needing that Saturday evening.  I’m not sure which show they covered, but whatever one it was, it was just the perfect set.  “China Cat Sunflower” was an early and awesome addition to the mix…man, that song always gets me happy or happier as the case may be.  More Dead hits came along down the pike with “I Know You Rider” followed by a really tight “St. Stephen”.  The middle portion of this one contained a severely and delightfully intense and spaced-out jam, one of those that loses you completely and you forget what song it is.  Incredible!  Got us all dancing and grooving and loving life on our feet under the West Virginia stars — not to mention singing along with the band at the tops of our collective lungs.  Hells to the yeah!  More dancing was around the corner with “Turn on Your Lovelight” which sounded well-nigh perfect.  Finally, they finished this really stellar set off with the double-barreled whammy of “  “ taken directly into Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”.  One pill makes you larger, eh?  Un-freakin’-believable!!  An all-around rock solid, top-notch show.  Bravi, Dark Star!!  Thanks for the journey!!

All Good Memories

All Good Memories

Afterword

    So, I would be remiss if I didn’t address one final issue in parting.  Sadly it feels like saving the worst for last, but it cannot be skipped for the sake of joy and laughter.  This issue was the heavy-handed and overbearing police presence at All Good this year.  From the moment you got close to the venue, perhaps about 15-20 miles away or so, you began to see examples of this intensive presence at every turn, with dozens and dozens of cops stationed along the roads leading to Berry Hill Farm.  The very thorough and very slow moving security at the gate helped to further this feeling but, really, it was the omnipresence of law enforcement officials inside the festival grounds that really made for a grayer ethos and overall feeling to the place.  Seeing fire teams of three officers in jumpsuits with firearms strapped all over them constantly roving the campsites, vendors’ area, and major pathways on ATVs was disheartening to say the least.  And that’s not even mentioning the horde of remaining uniformed officers ever watching from behind their sunglasses as we attempted to enjoy ourselves despite.  I have read several other articles citing festival organizers hiring all these thugs and quoting various amounts paid for such a presence, but I don’t have that data and don’t want to speculate.  I have also read about all the busts that occurred as a result with cash being seized, etc.  Can’t speak directly to that, either.  All I know is that it made for a lesser festival experience overall and I would caution folks in the future to consider how this might affect your own All Good experience.  I, for one, most likely won’t be going back until they sort this nonsense out.  Festivals are places to unwind and enjoy yourself, not ones where you should be fearing local law enforcement Gestapo crap.  Let us hope they get this all figured out in the positive for next year.

   The Lot Scene’s Co-Founder and photographer, Will, had this to say about the entire situation:  “I encourage Tim Walther or someone on the All Good team to address these concerns head on rather than letting the resentment stew and the worst be assumed in the eyes of All Good's paying customers. Was this militaristic police presence a hardline stipulation for holding the festival in Summit Point or on Berry Hill Farm? Maybe the local politicians strong-armed him last minute, and it was either play by their rules or cancel the festival. Maybe they had credible intel which led them to believe All Good Festival was a prime target for a terrorist strike. If they were pulling over cars randomly and going through every bag in our vehicles in order to find anthrax or perhaps weapons grade plutonium, I think that's understandable. But, if this was somehow the vision that Walther has for All Good now and in the future, I will not be returning.”

All Good Memories

All Good Memories

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