Once again The Werk Out music festival impressed me beyond belief. This is the second year I have attended this event at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio, and I can’t imagine missing this music festival. Legend Valley has always had a very special place in my heart. It is near Buckeye Lake, a venue the Grateful Dead frequented in their later years. It features two stages, one being a brand new permanent stage, camping in the concert bowl, a beautiful ridge of pine trees for hammock camping, and often brings in some of the most beautiful groups of people.
The Werk Out was held over the weekend of August 7, 8, and 9th this year. One of the special features that caught my eye when I arrived on Thursday was the original Further bus parked at the bottom of the hill and illuminated in the night. For those of you who don’t know, in 1964 Ken Kesey traveled around America in this brightly decorated bus, from show to show picking up and expanding the minds of all who were willing to come along on the journey. They are now back on tour celebrating 50 years. They made a special stop at the Werk Out and it was truly one of the great attractions, and a treat to be able to see. The bus is painted from end to end, with bright colors, scenes from the Wizard of Oz, and other psychedelic designs, even the hub caps are painted. I spent a good amount of time walking around the bus to truly appreciate the artistry and history this vehicle holds. Their next stops include The Ville and Phases of the Moon, so catch them while you can, and hop on for the journey if you’re daring enough!
Thursday night at The Werk Out was a special night. It featured one of the sets I was most excited to see, Dark Side of the Moon performed by a collaboration of artists from Dopapod, The Werks, and Papadosio. As I entered the media pit I could feel the energy streaming from the crowd. The feeling of excitement and anticipation as the bands prepared to play together for the first time was almost overwhelming and I was struck with awe from the amount of love and togetherness I could feel being directed towards the stage from the crowd of beautiful people. As the first notes of “Breath” were sent through the night air, the crowd roared with excitement and I felt energy like I have never before. I turned to take photos of the crowd and everyone’s arms flew into the air. I knew this was going to be a special set. This collaboration of some of the midwest’s great musicians played perfectly through the Dark Side of the Moon and truly did this great album justice. It is an hour of my life that I will never ever forget, not only because of the great musicianship, but also the love and energy of the crowd that night, it was so beautiful it brought me to tears.
Thursday night closed with some amazing bluegrass by Rumpke Mountain Boys, that took us late into the cool summer night. There was also a late-night tent that hosted DJs until 6 am. As the Rumpke Mountain boys played, I wandered up to a dome that was lit blue at the crest of the hill. It was a giant jellyfish equipped with several adult-sized swings. I spent the last hours of my night there swinging in the cool summer air and listening to the bluegrass below, reflecting on a beautiful night.
Friday morning broke with a beautiful pink sunrise and fog rolling out of the valley. Music didn’t start until 2 pm, so I took the time to walk around and see some of the vendors and food on Shakedown Street. My first stop was an amazing bacon and egg breakfast burrito, and then up to the vendors to appreciate some beautiful creations of clothing, jewelry, crystals, and glass. I noticed the lovely geometric string art hanging from the old pine trees on the crest of the hill and some of the amazing paintings that had been created the night before. The sun was up and the day was in full swing when the first band, the Main Squeeze from Bloomington, Indiana took the stage.
Friday featured some great artists from around the country like The Macpodz, Zach Deputy, Dopapod, Zoogma, and the second set of awesome bluegrass by the Rumpke Mountain Boys. Papadosio got the privilege of playing into the beautiful pink sunset, giving us a calm, reflective, and entrancing set that I watched from the hilltop. As the night grew darker, their LED screens began to light up the valley and the nighttime mood began to set in. Friday night featured another awesome set by the Werks, who took the stage to the Mission Impossible theme song that went right into “Disco Inferno.“ It was a power-packed set featuring some originals and covers that lead right into the anticipated Everyone Orchestra set. The Everyone Orchestra is directed by Matt Butler and tours the country putting together combinations of artists for a completely improved set. Many of these musicians have never played together, so each set is a completely unique and exciting show.
Saturday morning broke just as beautiful as the last. The sets started with a jazzy, funky, soulful set from Sassafraz, a group from Ohio, followed by an energetic set from Broccoli Samurai, a band that has been gaining steam around the Midwest. One of my favorite sets of the day was from Ultra Violet Hippopotamus, their second set of the festival. This band has great energy on stage and a rock, jam sound that sets them apart from other local bands.
Saturday night featured another great set from The Werks and a late-night jam by Zach Deputy that went into the late hours of the morning. I would compare Zach Deputy to someone like Keller Williams. He is a one-man-band, using loop pedals to create the sound of a full band. His soulful voice is what really sets him apart from the crowd. He plays originals and covers and it was a great set to end such a perfect festival to.
As the sun began to rise and the crowd began to thin, I went to bed with a smile on my face and the soulful sound of Zach Deputy in my ears. The Werk Out always turns out to be a perfect weekend, bringing some of the most amazing people and talent together. From the live art to the art installations across the valley, it becomes a unique experience from year to year. It is really a labor of love, and I hope to be able to return to this event year after year. Thank you to Legend Valley and all of the talented musicians who made this event happen!