Deadheads gathered under the sacred oaks of Harmony Park Music Garden on May 26-27, with a pre-party on May 25 featuring Leftover Salmon. The legendary bassist, Phil Lesh, was warmly welcomed by his fans and the accompanying 90-degree weather at Revival Music Festival 2018. The weather, however, didn’t deter the crowds from pouring into Harmony Park for an early camping festival option on Thursday, May 24.
During their headlining set, Kitchen Dwellers performed a cover of The Grateful Dead’s “Deal.” Following the performances scheduled on the main stage, the night wrapped up with an acoustic jam session with Grass Fed Mule. Scattered showers did not disperse the crowd from singing along under the roof at Lucky’s Pub. Shoes and raincoats were optional; many choosing to abandon these for the simple pleasure of dancing in the cool rain instead.
Friday continued to bring out the heat and music, as Revival kicked off for its 5th annual music festival hosted by MJG Productions. With umbrellas, temperatures, and good vibes soaring at Revival, Armchair Boogie took the stage. Additional performances that day included sets from Black River Revue, White Iron Band, and Cory Wong and Antwaun Stanley on the Harmonium Stage.
Performances by Samantha Fish, and renowned Jon Cleary were delayed by rain and lightning during the pre-party on Friday. Musicians and fans alike were relieved by the thunderstorm’s passing and the cooler temperature that evening. The crowd was electrified when the scheduled music resumed.
Leftover Salmon headlined Friday evening bringing the crowd to their feet after many fans had earlier spent the hottest hours of the day socializing in the shade beneath the canopy of the oaks. Tye-dye and hand-held fans were plentiful at Revival Music Festival this weekend. After the headlining performance, Vince Herman from Leftover Salmon played at the Shred Shack with a late-night cover of “Black River” by Amos Lee. The jam session drew a crowd that continued to feel the excitement reminiscent of the original Grateful Dead days until the sun began to rise.
On Saturday, the crowd didn’t let the heat get them down - armed with water guns, sprinklers, and umbrellas, Deadheads enjoyed the music and warm weather. Later that afternoon, Phil Lesh arrived on scene to Revival Music Festival during a typical Minnesotan summer thunderstorm. Miraculously, though, perhaps by good vibes alone put forth by Deadheads excitedly awaiting to see Phil Lesh, the storm seemed to pass as quickly as it came. Phil Lesh and his wife were observed enjoying the storm while waiting for it to dissipate, as their son Grahame Lesh rehearsed with Midnight North. Midnight North and Twiddle opened for Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band on Saturday, May 26.
Phil Lesh and the Terrapin Family Band gave to Harmony Park a full 4-hour performance of back to back sets. During their performance Saturday night, The Terrapin Family Band played songs that featured themes of looking back at the past and lyrics mentioning the weather. “Bertha” appropriately started the first set with the tune ending with lyrics that gave a nod to the previous rain. As an additional song, the Terrapin Family Band performed “Box of Rain” with fans generously singing along to the lyrics, while there were - at gratefully - no rain clouds in the sky.
The second set included songs such as: “Unbroken Chain,” “Franklin’s Tower,” “The Wheel,” and “Help on the Way / “Slipknot.” Phil Lesh, and his son Grahame Lesh (acoustic guitar and vocals), as well as, Ross James (electric guitar and vocals), and (drummer and backup vocals) Alex Koford inspired the Harmony Park crowd to reminisce past times while enjoying the moment.
The Terrapin Family Band had one particular long-time Dead Head and fan of Phil Lesh who was particularly moved. After pridefully boasting he had seen Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead more than 50 times in his life. This Deadhead described the four-hour performance at Harmony Park by The Terrapin Family Band as being, “The closest to the original Grateful Dead performance since the Dead days, with the cohesiveness of the lighting and sound design, the unity of band members on stage, and the fun.”
Harmony Park has a special history of fans and musicians calling the site “home.” Too many musicians, the site feels like their playing in their backyard. During the VIP performance on in the VIP lounge early Friday afternoon, New Orleans-based musician, Samantha Fish, commented in between songs that she, “feels like I’m playing in my living room - my living room also has a disco ball!” The beautiful oak trees were home for those who camped over Memorial Day Weekend.
Famed Keller Williams had to say about the good vibes of felt performing at Harmony Park: “Harmony Park is a very special, special place. I have been coming here for many years. I feel very, very grateful to be a part of this festival, this site - whether, it be this name or a different name - it is something very, very special to me. There are these big trees and beautiful hippies that I only see here. It’s a calming sensation that I love ever so much. Hopefully, I can continue to come back. I hope to come back; maybe every year, maybe every other year, maybe every three years. I have no back-up plans. I hope to come back as many times as they let me, like I’m getting away with something.”
The festival closed on Sunday, May 27, with a laid-back acoustic performance from Pat Ferguson. Amy Helm gave a soulful set as the afternoon unfolded beneath the oaks. Other performances included: The Last Revel, Dead Larry, Useful Jenkins performing their album “Festival Express,” Coral Creek, and Frogleg. Keller Williams gave back to back sets. The first was a solo set with Keller Williams. The second set, Keller and The Keels, including Williams, Larry Keel (acoustic guitar and vocals) and his wife Jenny Keel (bass and backup vocals).
VIP lounge performances on Sunday included acoustic sets with Feeding Leroy, Amy Helm, Frogleg, Greeg “Cheech” Hall, and Miles Over Mountains. VIP Harmony Park goers were able to enjoy intimate sets with artists performing that day, while being wined-and-dined with offered meal and beer, including Beaver Island Brewing Co.’s newest IPA-feature, “Revival.”
The Big Wu closed off the festival that weekend. The band has a long history of hosting Memorial Day Weekend at Harmony Park. They were joined by Keller Williams for the Big Wu song “Rhode Island Red,” and many festival-goers were moved by the performance.
“Amazing adventure...golden...and unforgettable” Lor Fleckner, a long-time Big Wu follower, commented about her time spent at Revival.
Memorial Day Weekend spent under the oaks at Harmony Park was certainly filled with plentiful songs that uplifted the crowd, even more than the increasingly rising temperature that permeated the weekend. The excitement of being in the presence of legendary musicians, such as The Grateful Dead’s original bassist, Phil Lesh, was overwhelmingly evident through rain or shine. Each person leaving Revival Music Festival 2018 will have felt inspired to look back at the good ‘ole “Dead Days,” as well as, create new memories by taking time to play, rest, and celebrate the music in the oaks.