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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 - Thursday

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

All Good Music Festival 2015

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Thursday

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?

Twiddle

Twiddle

    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!!

Cabinet

Cabinet

    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!!

moe.

moe.

    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!

Greensky Bluegrass

Greensky Bluegrass

    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!!!

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