Mon, 08/24/2015 - 7:40 pm

There is a place filled with nothing but greatness, where virtuous vibes fly like the swallows of Capistrano, and magical music frees the spirit to glide up her own personal stairway to heaven. There is a place where heady humans come to swim together in a sea of awesomeness with kindness in their hearts and love in their souls. The Fam continues to proliferate, and this tribesman is just going to say it- 2015 will be the best Lockn’ experience to date, and this is an exciting time to be alive.  Those are two related statements, but their veracity holds independently as well. Just sayin’.

Bombarded by the surrounding lush, green fields of Oak Ridge Farm and the deeper blue sky of the still rural life in the rolling hills, you are ensconced in gorgeousness. Soon the songs of the Cicadas and the crickets will transform into the sounds of Lockn’ ‘15.  This festival will nearly triple the population of Nelson County. Last year’s opening traffic was handled like butter compared to the first Lockn’. I imagine they have only improved their methods in maintaining order through the madness that is 30,000 people getting up to get down.

If you’ve never been here, it truly is remarkable. To watch the Sun fade behind the last layer of the Blue Ridge and witness nightfall’s break is to remember the good vibes and wonderful memories of Lockn’s past. We are building a rocking community here in these hills, and just like Jefferson Airplane, we built this city on Rock & Roll! Together. Jefferson Airplane hits the stage Friday evening.

The sweet togetherness of community is the hallmark characteristics of Lockn’. This is the only festival that provides the forum for musicians to share the stage and their music. There will be hundreds of local businesses vending all over Shakedown Street. From Double H Farm’s roasted pork to Starr Hill Brewery’s Grateful Pale Ale, you will be sure to be able to quaff a tasty libation or fill your empty festival belly with some of Central Virginia’s finest. Barefoot Bucha, Castle Hill Cider, Bold Rock, Champion and Potters are all made locally from locally grown apples, grapes and grain. We are happy to support local farmers and the farm-to-table movement. Go hard. Go local! Do not eat factory farms GMOs.  Down with Monsanto! Needs to go the way of United Fruit! Cut up and chopped into pieces.

The Lockn’ Experience will start Thursday, September 10th. Mickey Hart and EOTO will be the headliners sharing the stage on Thursday night.  Yup! That will be a whole lot of womp womp all over your face, kid; or at least we hope so! Before the headliners Thursday will be the Doobie Incident (The Doobie Brothers and The String Cheese Incident), and that is, just like Jesus, more than just alright with me.

Jamming together Friday night in a Lockn’ Exclusive are Mad Dogs & Englishmen, celebrating Joe Cocker, with the TTB (Tedeschi Trucks Band) and Leon Russell, Dave Mason, Rita Coolidge, Chris Robinson, Eleven 1970 Alumni & more.  More awesomeness, and still more awesomeness ensues.

Friday night Phil Lesh & Friends play with Chris Robinson (Black Crows), Neal Casal, Adam Macdougall, Eric Krasno and Tony Leone.  Then Saturday, Phil & Friends play with Carols Santana, Warren Haynes, Barry Sless, Rob Baracco, and John Moro.  Wow! That’ll be awesome!

Led Zeppelin’s lead vocalist, Robert Plant , together with The Sensational Space Shifters will perform Saturday before Widespread and Jimmy, then they will be the grand finale on Sunday following the Widespread set.

Bob Weir, who was sorely missed last year, is back for Lockn’ ‘15.  Now, I do not know the dear reader’s opinion, but with the Core Four (Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann) back in town this lineup is locked, stocked, and smoking, baby. We want more Fare Thee Well at Lockn’! And the Fam wants it now!

Saturday night while Bob is rocking, right after Phil and Santana’s set, would be the perfect time for Phil, Bill and Mickey (even Santana) to get on stage. Bruce Hornsby is around. Maybe they’ll invite him.  It would be the perfect end to a perfect evening and the perfect “featured guest of the day.” It’s written on the Lineup.

Do not be fooled. This is complete speculation by one rider of the flow to another. We must hope and pray that Mr. Shapiro will give the Fam what we want.  Shapiro is Phil Lesh’s agent, after all, and the Lockn’ promoter. If he can afford to make an exception to the rule, then surely this is it! Let’s hope and pray. Check out the complete Lockn’ Lineup here.

It will be absolute Widespread (M*%&@A F$(&@N) Panic all over the fields of Oak Ridge for an earlier evening set Saturday and then again late Sunday evening! Jimmy Cliff will be rockn’ Lockn’ Saturday evening with Widespread Panic.  We can’t get enough of those sweet, soothing reggae vibrations to rock our souls. Slightly Stoopid takes the stage Sunday afternoon. Widespread plays again Sunday evening before Robert Plant & The Sensational Space Shifters, who will be performing as the final act of Lockn’ ’15.

There are two side stages at Lockn’. Melvin Seals and the JGB are at the Blue Ridge Bowl early Friday and Saturday. Keller Williams is at the Bowl early Sunday.  Galactic is after the main show Thursday at the Bowl. Then, Umphrey’s McGee is playing the Bowl late Friday. Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule will be playing late Saturday.  For those who can keep on rockn’ till the Sun comes up be sure to catch Mickey Hart at The Woods stage after the main show and the Bowl show Friday and Saturday. The party truly does not stop until you want it to or close to 4 o’clock in the morning; whichever comes first.

You don’t want to miss Little Feat, Hot Tuna, Anders Osborne, Deer Tick, the North Mississippi Allstars, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Gov’t Mule and so much more! So much to do and to hear it’s difficult to fit in these lines, much less to contain excitement so real it rivals going to gramma’s on Christmas Eve as a child.  Are we there yet?

We can only manifest that which we are able to imagine.  So, please, like Lennon said, “Imagine!” Imagine big. For the Burners out there, this is the perfect decompression the week after BRC closes. You will love the abundance of green, vibrant foliage and running water aplenty.  Come join us at Oak Ridge Farm, September 10th -13th, and make your dreams your reality. Maybe, as a ‘Box of Rain’ portends, this really is just a dream we dreamed one afternoon long ago.

If you make the effort to get here and look hard enough, you just might find what you’re looking for at Lockn’ ’15! I’ll be with a band of beautiful people, dressed up, smiling and laughing hand in hand. Everywhere you look and everywhere you go the beauty of life surrounds you.  Come join the family and keep it rockn’ at Lockn’!  Bring your happiness to the hills of VA. bring your self, your family and your friends to join the good vibes that will bless us all at Lockn’ ’15! Give thanks and praises and by all means keep on rockn’ in a free world!

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 5:46 pm

A microburst came through Arrington, VA Wednesday afternoon, leveling all the tents and structures at Oak Ridge Farm. Staff members were thrown through the air by walls of wind gusting over 70 miles an hour.  The pummeling of Oak Ridge lasted 10 minutes and delayed Lockn’s opening until today. A big heart-felt thank you and much respect goes out to all the staff that worked overtime to rebuild the festival grounds.

Check out this sunset that blessed us Thursday evening. They are loveliest in the calm after the storm. Let us give thanks for the storm hitting before the humans gathered and the festival began. Can you imagine the mayhem that would be 30,000 human beings in this field when tornado force gales touched down and sent golf carts and tents flying through the air? Most of the mud has been covered with straw, but there are some muddy pits, especially back stage.  All the tent structures are rebuilt and standing stiffly for those that will be here rockn’ at Lockn’.

Backstage checking out the scene at the Hang, I ran into Todd Lieman and Rob Pennock, who are here representing Airstream.  It’s a beautiful little Airstream forest for Lockn’ lovers. In the madness some people were injured.  Rob is wearing a cast. “Did you get hurt in the storm?” I ask. “Yup. You could say that. I hurt myself taking one for the team, but that’s not what’s important here,” he says, deflecting the conversation from himself. Then, with the humility of a samurai about to commit seppuku, he says, “The show must go on.” 

The vendors were hurt the worst. Beautiful merchandise was damaged or destroyed. The Woodstock Artist Collective reported that the glass covering their framed painting and pictures broke from the shear force of the wind gale.

Thursday at Lockn’ did not go as planned, but rest assured there were lots of awesome people doing awesome things in the fields of Oak Ridge.  Twisted Sister Tie Dye weathered the storm and had their spectacular tapestries flying high over the fields of Lockn, the land of the free and home of the Dead.

Some staff members got some guitars together and we all sang a bunch of Dead songs.

Now, it is Friday morning and finally it is starting to feel like a festival! Lockn’ has been built, blown down, and then rebuilt, and now the day we have been waiting for is here! Lockn’, Just like Virginia, is for lovers.

Tue, 09/15/2015 - 5:59 pm

I awoke Friday to the sounds of car horns honking at 6 o’clock sharp, as the initial Lockn’ Festival attendees were allowed entrance. We all understand the excitement and the urge to share it with the world, but stealing the rarest and most desirable of festival resources is just uncompassionate. A little rudeness will not keep me from “Feeling Alright.” Internal monologue starts, “And so Lockn’ begins. Get up@! Get up!” We’re fighting the desire to give in to the honkers and rise, but they are an incessant, constant reminder that the festival has commenced.

The search for the media tent was a big adventure I did not foresee. All the confusion and madness of a festival is a bear of a task. There is no doubt about it. The microburst did not help. I searched for an hour in the mess that was backstage to no avail. Disorganized would be a monumental understatement.

Needing to sit down and write, I located an abandoned tent that 97.5 3WV’s Highway John was operating out of on a fold up table. No chair. No water. I’m not sure how he was broadcasting from his phone, but he was. “Is this the media tent?” I query, confused, but kindly like.  “Media broadcasting,” he responds, bluntly and mildly annoyed. “Well, fine then, you half-dead…. “

“Think good thoughts,” the muse gently reminds.

I continued my search elsewhere. For over an hour I walked the premises with no luck. Nothing. I commence my trek back to the so-called “Broadcast Media” tent, and Highway is gone.  This is the perfect opportunity to seize the moment. The fold up table is gone, but a new wooden circular table is there in its stead.  No chair. I find a couple plastic chairs lying around and bring them for the others that will join me in our media haven. They are commandeered in haste, but that is inconsequential; just a minor detail of the struggle that was real. Eventually, we get a sign. But, I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Where were we? AH, yes! I pop a squat, pull out the laptop and commence writing. Within minutes I am approached by a very important person (whose name, unfortunately, escapes me, sorry) asking me for my wristband to be in the Hang @ Lockn. Somehow I did not have the credentials to be in the media tent I commandeered. I laugh inside.

Outside I say, “Miss, I have a job to do and nowhere to do it. May I, please do my job here or is there a media tent hiding elsewhere?” The selfsame lady goes out of her way to get your humble narrator a 40-day Hang pass, bless her heart, and all is good in the world. With a sigh and a slight sense of accomplishment, I sit down and give myself a selfie high-five! She just told me I could not be here. I told her I belonged in the tent that I claimed for media. She acquiesced, and old glory was standing stiffly, crimson, white and indigo a couple of hours later. Old Glory was our Media sign.

It was almost 11 o’clock on Friday at this time. The Lockn’ Day 1 piece comes to life in this cyber reality just as soundcheck begins. I relinquish my post at the self-proclaimed media tent, but the sign is there. The vultures cannot pick at the resurrected carcass that now our tent. The Doobie Incident does a quick ditty before the opening ceremony.

John Popper opened Lockn’ with the Star-Spangled Banner on his harmonica on September 11th, 2015. He saluted our fellow servicemen and women and let her rip.

Then, The Doobie Incident took the Oak stage and let it rip. Every single song was a banger.  I’m talking hit after hit after mother fucking hit! “Rocking Down the Highway,” “Taking it to the Streets,” “Sometimes a River,” “Black Water,” “Long Train Runnin,” “Jesus is Just Alright,” “China Grove,” and “Listen to the Music.”

Seth Stainback and Roosterfoot were next. Followed by Moonalice, who concluded with their customary act of handing out amaze-balls trippy Greek columned designed posters (thick poster-board, mind you).

Then, the North Mississippi Allstars took the stage. Well, I think they did. Luthe Dickinson was ripping some guitar licks that would make you wanna kiss your great gramma on her druel-dripping mouth, but no more so than in “Sitting on Top of the World” and “Rollin and Tumblin.” There was an African-American lady singing most of the lead

Anders Osborne jumped on the Ridge stage next and killed it with his New Orleans infused psychedelic swamp rock!  What an absolute rockstar! John Gros (keyboard) and Scott Metzger (guitarist). John Kadlecik, Dark Starr Orchestra founder and member of Furthur, jumped on stage to for a couple interlocking jams! It was a wonderful set. Then, Anders came backstage to take some photos with the people gathered at the Hang at Lockn'.

As a quick sidenote, we humbly propose Airstream Forest as the new name for this locale. Just throwing it out there.

Steve Earle & the Dukes got the early crowd going a bit bonkers with their fantastic southern swamp rock hit, “Copperhead Road.” They performed a fantastic cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe.”

The String Cheese Incident (Bill Nershi, Michail Kang, Michael Travis, Keith Mosely, Kyle Hollingsworth, Jason Hann) took the stage for a compelling set that included hits like  Come As You Are, Little Hands, Sweet Spot, Rosie, Close Your Eyes & Colorado Bluebird Sky

Phil Lesh & Friends stepped on the stage next with much less fanfare than anticipated. Granted expectations are high, as the humble narrator is a semi-seasoned head. Lesh was interlocked on the Ridge Stage with Chris Robinson (Black Crows), Neal Casal, Adam MacDougall (Mad Dog) , Eric Krasno, a.k.a. Kras, (Soulive) and Tony Leone (Chris Robinson Brotherhood).

Jefferson Airplane was rockin’ Lockin performing w/Rachel Rice, GE Smith, Larry Campbell, Teresa Williams, Jeff Pehrson, Justin Guip. Billy Kreutzmann joined Jorma and Jack for a couple songs, including “Feeling Alright,” which had most of the Lockneers feeling freaking fantastic!  I mean, I’m fairly certain “Feeling Alright” is in rock&roll DNA of the collective American psyche.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen celebrated the life of Joe Cocker with Tedeschi Trucks Band, Leon Russell, Dave Mason, Rita Coolidge, Chris Robinson, John Bell, and Claudia Lennear. Joe Cocker helped everybody feel a little higher with the help of our old friend and rocker! Mr. Cocker and I think I can speak for all the Lockneers; you sure are beautiful to us all! Thank you, soul brother.

They started with “Break in the Road,” a Betty Harris cover. “Do I looked Worried?” was next. Bob Weir joined the jam session for the Charles Segar cover, “Key to the Highway” and Walkin’ Blues, a Son House cover.  “Midnight in Harlem” and “I Pity the Fool,” a Bobby “Blue” Bland cover followed. They concluded the evening with “The Storm.”

Mickey Hart and EOTO (Travis and Hann from String Cheese) were unleashing some whomp whomp all over the Woods stage, but this writer missed it because Umphrey’s McGee were going absolutely bonkers at the Blue Ridge Bowl. By far this was the best light show of the evening.

McGee’s set was outrageous! Absolutely bananas! I could not move closer to the stage even though I had media credentials because it was too close to the light show to take in its magnificence.  So, I stood a couple hundred feet up snapping shots of the geometric psychedelic light show happening in front of my eyes. WOW!

They played “Lucid State,” “Plunger,” Similar Skin,” Wappy Sprayberry,” “40’s Theme,” “Bad Friday,” “Bridgeless,” “Glory,” Believe the Lie,” Remind Me,” and “Resolution.” Then, for the encore they played “JaJunk” and “When the World is Running Down, You Make the Best of What’s Still Around.”

The music was on a higher level than the lights. If you weren’t there, you should have been! There’s always next year. Umphrey’s jammed so long that by the time I made my way to the Woods at 3 o’clock in the a.m., it was over.

And as the opening night of Lockn’, walking from the Woods stage back to camp, near the main stages, I reflected on the day and the evening. The colors from the Umphrey’s McGee show were still flashing before my eyes, open and closed, and my body still vibrating from the rock & roll, I felt this deep sense of belonging and gratitude for the evening.

Sat, 09/19/2015 - 5:00 pm

The rain started early Saturday morning, just after the Umphrey‘s McGee set closed up shop. That dope encore was legit. The intermittent downpours left over 5 inches of rain in their wake on the fields of Oakridge. Personally, my tent was soaked. The air mattress was now officially a floatation device in the wonderfully glassy sea that previously was the tent floor.

I got up relatively dry and dashed straight for the still-severely-under-equipped media tent to secure my space at the outlet, the source-field for this device on which I pad inside the tent I helped commandeer backstage.  Arriving a muddy mess, I sit and proceed to bang out Friday’s piece. We write up, send in and take off to explore the grounds. Side note—that was the second to last time I would get a space at the source-field receptacle otherwise known as an outlet. Not bitter at all. REALLY. I am to blame for most of this actually. I was too busy running around enjoying the experience to share with the dear reader. There just was not enough time to be confined in a tent backstage.   “Ain’t nobody got time for that,” if you catch my drift?

I digress. So, Lockn’ grounds were an absolute mudfest. I had to walk around all day in my white cowboy boots, as they were the only suitable footwear that managed to make the 50-mile trek to Oakridge from Chillville. That was awesome in so many ways, but not in the ways it made my feet feel. Those puppies still hurt.

Staff did a great job spreading hay and making the fields navigable. A big heartfelt thank you to everyone who put in the extra work Saturday morning to keep the good vibes flowing as early comers greeted the manicured grounds with glee. As Lockneers prepared for one the of the best gathering of classic rockers to bless sentient beings this side of the galactic equator I could feel the fields humming with excitement. No doubt! Galactic and cosmic, for sure!

Melvin Seals and the JGB (Melvin Seals – Organ & Vocals, Pete Lavezzoli – Drums, John Kadlecik - Guitar & Vocals, John-Paul McLean – Bass, Jessica Lake - Vocals (Mystery Cats), Mary Lankford - Vocals (Mystery Cats), along with DSO founder Johnny Kadlecik opened up the day where Umphrey’s McGhee had just rocked the house till 3 o’clock in the morning the night before. Respect to all! They jammed out “Cats Under the Stars,” “Mission in the Rain,” “Midnight Moonlight,” among other bangers from the JGB ensemble.

Virginian band Lord Nelson (Kai Crowe-Getty on guitar and vocals, Henry Jones on Trombone and vocals with Bram Crowe-Getty on drums, Trevor Pietsch on bass and Robert Word on lead guitar) opened up Saturday. They absolutely rocked that first hour but managed to lose the set list. I will blame that on this meat-puppet being completely famished.

I made my way to the LOCAL tent. The LOCAL tent is fucking awesome. All sorts of local restaurants, vineyards, and breweries were representing some of Central Virginia’s finest foods and libations.

Virginia’s best 80’s cover band, Love Cannon, was up next and they were absolutely fabulous. They covered Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer, Dire Straight’s “Money for Nothing,” Kenny Loggin’s “Danger Zone,” Dead’s “Touch of Grey,” “and many others. It was a wonderful trip down memory lane during a decade that usually represents feelings of dread and embarrassment as far as music is concerned. Some Depeche Mode would have been nice, and a little more Dead.  Not complaining. Just throwing it out there.

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe rocked Lockn’s Oak stage with their amazingly, fantastically funky New Orleans’ style jazz. Denson played his flute, his trombone, and his trumpet; showing off the depth of his musical genius. The passion and love that he embodies while performing onstage were remarkable. Indelibly marked me, that’s for damn sure! They played When I Get Home,” “Tumbling Dice,” “Compared to What,” “Smart Boy,” and “My Baby Likes to Boogaloo.”

Hot Tuna (Jorma and Jack) came on the Ridge stage next. Some of the covers they played were “Hesitation Blues” by Billy Smythe, Scott Middleton, and Art Gillham, “Good Shepherd” by Jefferson Airplane, “I Am the Light of This World” by Reverend Gary Davis, and “I Know You Rider” by the Dead.

After the Jayhawks came TTB. Tedeschi Trucks Band rocked Lockn’ Oak stage.  Their set list was Break In The Road 
(Betty Harris cover), “Do I Looked Worried?,”  “Key to the Highway” (Charles Segar cover) and “Walkin' Blues”
(Son House cover) with Bob Weir, “Midnight in Harlem” , “I Pity the Fool” 
(Bobby “Blue” Bland cover), and “The Storm.” 

Led Zeppelin’s legendary rocker Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters came on next and absolutely shredded.  They covered Zeppelin’s “Trampled Under Foot,” “Black Dog,” “The Lemon Song,” “Dazed and Confused” and “Rock and Roll.”  Their original, “Rainbow,” is awesome!

“Sometimes you get shown the light in the strangest of places if you look at it right!”  Check out the sunset that blessed all Lockneers fortunate enough to look up and smell the light while Plant set in!

Widespread Panic came on next. They let us in the pit for a couple songs, but swiftly escorted us out an hour before Jimmy Cliff took the stage. They played for a couple hours, which was a nice change. Lockn’ sets are over just as the good vibes take over in order to make way for the talent on the Lineup. They set list prior to Cliff is “Chainsaw City” (Little Women cover), “Henry Parsons Died”, “Cease Fire,” ”Jamais Vu” (The World Has Changed), ”Tall Boy,” “You Got Yours,” “I'm Not Alone,” “Honky Red”
(Murray McLauchlan cover), “Street Dogs for Breakfast,” “Surprise Valley,” “Drums,” “And It Stoned Me” with the legend Chuck Leavell.

Jimmy Cliff with Widespread Motherfuckin’ Panic set list included “Sitting in Limbo” with Chuck Leavell, 
(Jimmy Cliff cover), “The Harder They Come,” “You Can Get It If You Really Want,” “Many Rivers to Cross” (all Jimmy Cliff covers) all played with the legendary Allman Brothers and Rolling Stones guitarman Chuck Leavell. They also played “The Guns of Brixton I Can See Clearly Now” 
(Johnny Nash cover) with Chuck Leavell.

Billy & The Kids (Tom Hamilton—American Babies, Reed Mathis—Tea Leaf Green, Aron Magner—Disco Biscuits) were joined by Dominic Lalli (saxophonist and Big Gigantic producer) and John Popper (Blues Travelers lead and harmonicist).

Bob Weir was interlocking on the Ridge stage with Billy & The Kids. Their set together included the hits “Greatest Story Ever Told,“ “Cassidy,” Peggy-O, “Let It Grow,” “Wharf Rat,” and “Throwing Stones.”

An absolutely spectacular rendition of “Peggy-O” was my favorite song in the set for sure. “One More Saturday Night” with Mickey Hart was amazing as well.  Mickey Hart stayed on for “Not Fade Away.”

So, here we feel compelled to make a special announcement. It so happens that I finagled a lifelong friend, who happens to be paraplegic, into the pit. It just so happens that security did not escort my friend and I out of the photo pit with the rest of the photographers. They let us enjoy the moment, and it was one of the most special experiences in this writer’s life! I personally want to give a big shout out to the security staff for letting my friend, and I stay in the pit for the entire set.

As “One More Saturday Night” was starting we headed from the Oak stage to the Ridge stage in an effort to escape the embarrassment that would be standing in the Pit in solitude when Phil came on stage. Then, as I was pushing my buddy, I happened to look up to see Phil Lesh jamming in the dark. We halted to take at the moment. The Core 4 definitely were playing together! All for one and one for all. They just did not let them perform on the same stage.

Now, I do not know how long Phil was playing in the dark, but he definitely joined the stage for the sets conclusion, “Not Fade Away.” It was sublime. When we noticed we pulled out the camera to take pictures to document the occasion. My camera was swiftly pulled down, and we were finally escorted out of the Pit without evidence. Trust me when I say the Core 4 jammed together. Everything was right in the world.  A sincere and grateful thank you goes out to Mr. Shapiro and Mr. Frey for giving the Fam what we want, even though they did it surreptitiously.  We are so grateful for the wonderful festival of sounds and light that you produced to help raise the vibration for all Lockneers.

The lights came on Phil & Friends, and Lockn’ went apeshit!  Warren HaynesBarry Sless, Rob Barraco, and John Molo were all on stage jamming as the closing act Saturday evening. The set list included “Not Fade Away’” “Scarlet Begonias," “Hard to Handle,” and “New Speedway Boogie” with Warren as lead vocalist. Phil took over the lead for “The Other One,” “Fire on the Mountain” with Rob Barraco on lead vocals. Warren Haynes sang “Death Don't Have No Mercy” cover.  Phil returned to sing “All Along the Watchtower.” The Saturday night set concluded with “Dark Star” at around 1:30 Sunday morning.

The set went late. By the time it was over, and I got my friend back to his camp it was too late for the humble narrator to make the mile trek to the Woods stage located in the nether regions of the Lockn’ grounds. Being covered in mud and absolutely exhausted from trekking around all day after getting nearly no rest the night before. I returned to camp having experienced the most wonderful day of music and good vibrations. Bless to all gatherers and rockers who gathered together to share in the awesomeness that is Lockn’! F$ck yeah! It was one of the “greatest” evenings of music collaboration ever witnessed. Jah bless and Amen!

Tune in tomorrow for the finale.

Until then, keep her grateful.

Sun, 09/20/2015 - 11:00 am

“Wake up. Time to go to church,” urges Bill to his partner Jody the Jedi, my next door neighbors at camp. “I missed the show last year, and it’s not happening again.”

The Bowl stage is smaller and closer to the ground, which is convenient when you are in the Pit with no stepladder. It is more intimate than the Oak and Ridge stages.

In most momentary communities there is a shine, an elegant arising from community that blesses, together with the spirit of the land, all the human beings gathered together to share in the awesomeness. At church Sunday morning, there was a distinct vibration of sweet togetherness. You could practically reach out and touch it as Keller gave his benediction before the gathered masses.

Lockn' 2015

“Dear 8lb 6oz baby jess,” Reverend Keller begins. “My brothers and sisters, may we bow our heads and pray together, and give thanks for this wonderful opportunity to gather together in these fine fields of Virginia. Please forgive us for any songs we sing that have already been sung here at this fine festival. Now, time to get down to business, dear baby Jesus. Guide us as we walk this path, shaking our asses all the way to the Promised Land.” I am paraphrasing here, but it set such a wonderful stage for Sunday’s service that it felt like Keller himself knew the way and was gonna take us home!

Keller Williams backed by a badass cast including John Kadlecik, E.J. Shaw on bass and Toby Fairchild on drums, among others, and the Grateful Gospel Choir. Their melodic harmonies in collaboration with Keller and crew really transported you to another time and another place, when things were simpler, and connection to Source was considered special—A time and place you knew your neighbors and they knew you. You could feel the spirit in the air as the Virginian took the congregation to the promised land of ass shaking and groovy vibrations! If you missed it this year, consider this your admonishing slap-on-the-wrist! And if you don’t do anything else next year, go to church Sunday to see Reverend Williams. Be there or be square!

The set list included: Eyes of the World, Franklin’s Tower,  My Sisters and Brothers, Wheel, Brokedown Palace, Mighty High, I’ll Be with Thee, St. Stephen,  The Stranger (Two Souls in Communion), Samson and Delilah, Bid You Goodnight (in the morning, mind you) and then closed with the fastest paced version of Ripple I ever heard. Let me tell you what! I was slapping my knees, stomping my feet, and throwing little funky chicken wings in there er’re now and then!

The story of how that set list ended up in his hands is another story for another day, but rest assured it is in good hands. This act and Umphrey’s Friday night are by far the two most surprisingly outstanding performa

nces of Lockn’ 2015. Since last I saw both these acts have shown remarkable growth and dedication to raising the vibration. Respect.

But there was no lying down to take a rest. Work to do. Work to do. The Southern Belles, a Richmond band, by way of winning a local talent contest earned a spot opening the Oak stage Sunday at noon:30.

The Southern Belles played for a quick half-hour set. They were followed by Fishbone, an LA band with a rock & Soul vibe with some funk laid on top. Members include Angelo Moore, John Norwood Fisher, Walter A. Kibby II, John Steward, Rocky George, Jay Armant and Paul Hampton.    

The OH Hellos took the Oak stage next.  The Texan siblings, Tyler and Maggie Heath, brought quite an ensemble on stage and rocked out a fun folky little jam sesh before the gathering numbers of Lockneers.

St. Paul & the Broken Bones electrified the audience by infusing their Muscle Shoals’ sound with some dance moves on the speakerboxx that you ain’t seen since John Travolta left the Grease set. And the only thing that beat his energy is the good vibes the band put off. The band is composed of Paul Janeway (vocals), Browan Lollar (guitar), Jesse Phillips (bass), Andrew Lee (drums), Al Gamble (keys), Ben Griner (trombone), and Allen Branstetter (trumpet).

They played a high intensity, high energy set that included their jams “Call Me,” “I’m Torn Up” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

After an extended intermission Slightly Stoopid, the OBcians, hailing from Ocean Beach, California, came on at 4:20, the quintessential and ubiquitous Stonerville time. Band members include Miles Doughty (guitar, bass, vocals), Kyle McDonald (guitar, bass, vocals), Ryan Moran (RyMo, drums), Oguer (OG) Ocon (congas, percussion, harp, vocals, juggalo), DeLa (saxophone), C-Money (trumpet), Paul Wolstencroft (keyboards), and Karl Denson (saxophone)

They played among other hits, jams like “Champion of the Charles,” “The Devil’s Door” and a couple other jams with Ian Neville, New Orleans’ finest. They covered McCartney and Wonder’s “Ebony and Ivory.” Rastaman vibrations all over the place. Heavenly.

We got backstage for this show and met Ben Jammin; the tyedie artist that supplied all the tapestries in the artists’ chow hall.

While running around we ran into the well-known Deadhead, Shaggy, and the tyedie extraordinaire, Grasshopper. Respect. Keep up the good work.

Karl Denson joined the set for most of the time swinging his hips and jazzing up the set with his dope New Orleans’ sound anding to the mellifluous vibrations of Slightly Stoopid.

Angelo Moore jumped on stage. He was singing and dancing, fully entertaining the Lockneers.  

Don Carlos hopped on the set and bounced around with those natty dreadlocks swaying to and fro in his white suit. He stole the scene with his stage presence.  Together they played Don Carlos’ hit, “Never Give You Up.”

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue jammed to Green Day’s cover “Brain Stew.” That was fucking awesome!

Next Gov’t Mule took the Oak stage. Warrren Haynes (guitar and vocals), Matt Abts (drummer), Danny Louis (keyboard), and Jorgen Carlsson (bass).

Their set list included “Blind Man in the Dark,” “Unring the Bell,”
”Endless Parade,” 

Stoop So Low” 
(Outro 2), “Captured,” 
”Stratus “ a Billy Cobham cover with Jimmy Herring, “Banks of the Deep End.” Next up was the Gov't Mule classic “Thorazine Shuffle with an Oye Como Va tease. The Allman Brothers classic “Soulshine” rocked the Lockneers gathered for the spectacle.  They concluded with the Van Morrison cover, “Tupelo Honey.”

Then, it was Widespread muthafuckin Panic all over the place as they took over the Ridge stage. Their setlist was “Sell Sell” 
(Alan Price cover),  “Pigeons,” 
”All Time Low,” 
”Shut Up and Drive,” 
and “Hatfield.”

Warren Haynes joined the set for “Ribs and Whiskey” and “Tail Dragger.” 
Warren left, and they continued with “Steven's Cat,” 
”Rebirtha,”  “Papa's Home,” “Drums and Bass,” “Drums 
(Papa's Home reprise) and “Disco.”  They finished with “Protein Drink” and “Sewing Machine.”

Lockn’s final act was Robert Plant and the Sensational Spaceshifters. They played some Zeppelin hits. It was great. They started with “The Wanton Song” 
(Led Zeppelin cover), “Tin Pan Valley,” and then repeated, “Black Dog” 
(Led Zeppelin song). Then, Mr. Plant started to prompt the crowd to sing along. When people did not respond how he expected, Plant promptly lambasted the Lockneers over the loud speakers. Exhausted after three long days of sunshine, great vibes, great times and intense experiences we did not respond to his calls to sing. Plant continued to stoke the crowd, but the crowd was not responding as he had hoped. There was a sense of embarrassment that was palpable, tangible. Awkward, but still, it was righteous, and I felt lucky to be there.

The set list is stellar. They absolutely crushed “Rainbow,” a repeat from the night before as well.  
Next was “Custard Pie” 
(Led Zeppelin song), “Spoonful “
(Willie Dixon cover). “Going to California” (Led Zeppelin song) was fucking awesome! But when the crowd did not respond to Plant’s prompts he got a little perturbed. Next was “The Enchanter,” “Babe, I'm Gonna Leave You 
(Joan Baez cover), “Little Maggie 
([traditional] cover), and “Fixin' to Die.” Encore was “Satan Your Kingdom Must Come Down / In My Time of Dying.”

All in all, Lockn’ 2015 was the most fucking bombdiggitydopaliciousness that these eyes and ears have ever witnessed. For many Lockneers Hunter's words never rang truer. “Time is a stripper doing it just for you.”

Lockn’, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…

“This is how I would die into the love I have for you: As pieces of cloud dissolve in sunlight.” ~Rumi

Thank you to all the rockers and staffers that made Lockn’ 2015 one of the most magical music festivals to grace this corner of the Universe.

A sincere and grateful thank you from the Fam to Mr. Peter Shapiro and Mr. David Frey for putting on the best show on Earth!  Thank you to Oak Ridge Estate for holding the space for the gathering, for creating a space for all of us to be a little closer to that which we hold closest to our hearts and that which we pursue with reckless abandon—Great music, groovy times, new experiences and mysterious connections. We came to the springs of love in the fields of Arrington, thirsty for those soothing vibrations. We leave with our cups overflowing.  Thanks, again. Cheers.

Until next time, keep her grateful!

“Fare you well, fare you well.

I love you more than words can tell

Listen to the river sing sweet songs

To rock my soul.”

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 5:19 pm

Rooster Walk will be the place to be this holiday weekend! Pop’s Farm, a sprawling 151-acre venue in the picturesque foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, will be alive with the sound of music and her people. Often described as “more than a festival”, Roosterwalk began as a celebration to commemorate the lives of Edwin "the Rooster" Penn and Walker Shank, two Virginians native to the area, who were taken from us too early. The event organizers have contributed more than $80,000 to date to charities involved in .

Rooster Walk 8 promises to be the biggest, baddest, jamming-est iteration of itself to date. This manifestation of love and melodious, mellifluous vibrations is undergoing a magnificent metamorphosis. It is now one of the largest music festivals in Virginia, filled with families and festival goers from all over, all gathered together as a community for the same reason. It is wonderful to go into nature and be surrounded by kindred spirits—good vibes jamming, local food munching, craft beer sipping rocking vibers! One and All.

There will be over 30 bands congregating at Pop’s Farm. There are five stages. Be sure to take a gander at the stage schedule here.  Headliners including: The People’s Blues of Richmond (aka: PBR, Thurday, 10:15 @ New Belgium Pine Grove stage), Sam Bush and Perpetual Groove (Main Stage, Friday @9-10:30 and midnight, respectively), Lettuce (Main Stage, Saturday @ 10:15), and Major and the Monbacks (Main Stage, Sunday @ 9:00).

There are a multitude of other acts to put on your must-see performances. Larry Keel Experience, After Jack, Sanctum Sully, Lizzy Ross, Junto, Left Hip Pocket, Jeff Austin Band, Acoustic Syndicate, Yarn, Town Mountain, Billy Strings, and Naughty Professor just to name a few.

Get your tickets here!

If you want to get away from the crowds or just relax with your family in the pristine serenity that is Appalachia, you have plenty of options. There is a kidzone, a 5K walk, a river float, and a healing arts area. Be sure to check out the array of energy workers. There will be reiki, massage, Chi Quong,  Reflexology and yoga available. Be sure to maintain your quiescence of being in the midst of the magical gathering by making your way to some of these healers.

The weather has been cool this spring. Hopefully it will hold for the festival.  Roosterwalkers are all excited to gather, dancing and laughing. We are all living the good life, but its about to get better, surrounded by good vibes and good people. With a motto like ”appreciate the present” you know you are in a high vibrational setting. Roosterwalk is the perfect festival to rock-away and celebrate the magic of America over Memorial Day weekend.

Thu, 06/02/2016 - 7:26 am

After taking the scenic route in the old CJ-7 through the Blue Ridge Parkway, driving through yet another torrential downpour from the Purple Rain, and a glorious lightning storm the likes of which we have yet to see this year, we arrived at Pop’s Farm. Rooster Walk 8 had just begun. We arrive slightly damp yet super amped to be back with the Farm in the woods, jamming to the bluegrass vibrations in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Let’s just say I have never seen so many banjo strummers and guitar pickers gathered in one location. Ever.  And I loved it! I knew I had a predilection for fast pickin’, but I never knew I loved the banjo like I do. Somebody needs to take the VA is for Lovers logo and draw a banjo with the “O”. In fact, Appalachia has a strong, super awesome musical heritage that is highly underrated. Rooster Walk is doing its part to raise the vibration.  

Cabinet started things off Thursday night, playing on the Pine Grove stage. They jammed super hard, and strummed the hell out of the banjo. If you can imagine an Americana Appalachian-style jam band, less psychedelic than Floyd with more roots mixed with rock & roll… then you’re getting close to Cabinet. What a serene serenade in the scenic foothills of the Appalachia mountains if we do say so ourselves.

People’s Blues of Richmond (PBR) took us into the late evening with a set on Pine Grove Stage. These pines stretch for the heavens like Redwoods in California, only they’re like the mini-me version. The way the lights lit up their canopy was astounding. I felt like I was tripping with the Lorax and Dr. Seuss, yet we were sober as a nun.

Friday May 27th, 2016

Went to Serenity Café, sponsors for last night’s VIP event.  We thought we’d go in and thank them, and power up the tools while jotting down some of the memories from the night before. We never found the media tent… so it was Serenity or HQ, and let’s just say HQ wasn’t set up for guests.

Slick Junior and The Reactors were jamming pretty well by themselves, then for the second half of the show there was this sweet red head lady with the voice of an angel singing the afternoon away.  Then, from behind the tall pines I heard the sweet tunes of another band. I had to find out who it was.

It was the Trongone Band. They were jamming hard! Southern Rock meets classic rock meets Appalachia swag! They are so dope. Check them out if they come to your neighborhood. They were playing the VIP Stage Friday afternoon.

We meandered back toward camp to see Roosevelt Dime, an Americana Rhythm and blues band from Brooklyn. They kicked off Rooster Walk’s Radial Stage. Near the end of their set they started playing a song written by Andrew Green, the manifesting banjo player, about moving to West Virginia and growing a beard… and that’s what he did. Well, he moved to Virginia instead, but that’s pretty close. A for effort, for sure. Building the dream one song at a time.

We met with Eben Pariser, lead singer and guitarist for Roosevelt Dime, after the show. These guys got my attention immediately after I heard the Greeen  killing his banjo in “Ophelia.” Any band that covers The Band rules in my book. Nice to see they pay respect to one of the king’s (in our humble opinion) of Southern Rock, Levon Helm.

Then, they played their title track, “Roosevelt Dime,” about how it ain’t easy to get by in these hard economic times, so they’ll give you their last Roosevelt dime. Maybe you can use it to call God… or somebody who can help.  They played, “Wishing well” next.

Then, they covered the Chili Peppers, “Funky Monks.” “There are no monks in my band. There are no saints in this land. I’ll be doing all I can if I die an honest man.” So good. Then, they covered Tom Petty’s, “American Girl.” Two songs I grew up listening to! Love the classic early 90s rock covers for sure! Nostalgic.  The classic music with an Appalachian twist takes us back to a time “that’s so close, yet still so far outta reach.” Except it’s not outta reach, because we’re still swimming in it right here right now.

So it went that after the show I meandered off to the VIP stage to listen to Trongone (pronounced: Tron-gone-EE). I caught them cover Tom Petty’s, “My Girl.” That was pretty awesome. Second Petty song I did not expect to hear.

Then, I wandered off. I heard L Shaped Lot, another hard banjo picking, guitar string breaking band strumming like they meant it! Again! They were performing a Dead cover happening and I was drawn to the vibration. I got back stage as they were jamming, “Franklin's Tower.” What a great cover. Then they covered Alabama’s “Mountain Music.” “Play me some mountain music like Grandma and Grandpa used to play. Then I’ll float on down the river to a Cajun hideaway.”

Then, as I was about to jump in the river to cool off from the late spring sun I heard another Dead cover playing from across the pond. I went back to catch Trongone Band playing “U.S. Blues."

As we were perambulating about the verdant hills, we caught Talisha Williams from Wild Ponies in blue boots, lead singer, bass player; Doug Williams, Wild Ponies, singer, guitarist, and husband; and Eben Pariser, lead singer from Roosevelt dime, in white shoes.

Then, I ran into an old friend, the VA drummer boy, Tucker Titus. Hadn’t seen him since Virginia’s funeral. She is a beautiful spirit and was a wonderful woman who shared her home with us as we came up from lil’ whippersnappers to indigogo adults! Tucker’s set was spent banging EDM on the electric drums with the Army of Darkness during the Silent Disco Saturday night after the Jon Stickley Trio. Everything was going great until somebody came and poured their beer all over his and his friend’s equipment. We all make bad decisions from time to time, but let’s try to refrain from vandalism. Tucker & friends refrained from releasing the Kraken on dude’s face, which is admirable.  Johnny Law got his hands on him and we don’t know what happened to him after that. But we digress…

Jarekus Singleton, who hails from Clinton, Mississippi, lit up the Pine Grove Stage early Friday evening. I was going back to camp to chill out and take a load off when we heard the sweet, sweet sounds of Jarekus Singleton. Wow! Absolutely amaze-balls! Never even saw it coming... Infused with electric vibrations, swaggy bass lines, classic, jammy rock & roll awesomeness! So much energy oozing off this stage, I could not pull myself away. Fantastic beginning to a spectacular evening filled with funky vibrations, strumming banjos and lights everywhere.

Acoustic Syndicate killed it on Bassett’s Lake Stage as the Sun was setting in the west. Wow! More banjo! Banjo everywhere. Love the southwest Virginia bluegrass vibe all over Rooster Walk. Banjo strumming and Rooster Walker’s strutting their stuff all over the foothills of the Blue Ridge.

These guys kicked so much ass, as did the fire spinners, that I almost missed Sam Bush. But we did not! Sam Bush took the Radial Stage Saturday night at 9 o’clock. Larry Keel joined him briefly for a couple bluegrass jams laced with the overtones of true Appalachian Americana bluegrass rock & roll music. The Sam Bush Band this night consists of Todd Parks on bass and harmony vocals, drummer from Abq, NM, Chris Brown, back up guitar and electric guitar, Steven Mojo Mojan, and 5 string banjo, Scott Festel. Loved the line in, “Gangstas in power and lawbreakers making the rules. When you gonna wake up?”

Perpetual Groove, from Athens, GA, headlined the Radial Stage on opening night. There in a genre all their own, which is why they have a following, not quit like Widespread, but maybe one of these days.  PGroove’s unique trance electronica mixed with psychedelic rock gives them a style all their own. And to top it off is an over the top mind-blowing light show these guys put on. The electric light show, the best one we’ve seen since Umphrey’s McGee, was mesmerizing! Absolutely out of this world dopeness! Check them out at a venue near you.

Saturday May 28th, 2016.

Erin and the Wildfire kicked off the festivities Saturday on the Bassett Lake Stage for their first Rooster Walk set ever. Erin has the voice of an angel. After starting slow and soft, she ended the set with a cover of Alicia’s Keys, “If I Ain’t Got You,” and the funky, bluesy jam, “You Can’t Blame the Rich.” Great set from the Charlottesville native rocker! “Big Wheels Keep on Turning. Rolling Down the River,” CCR, baby!

Larry Keel opened the main stage Saturday. Larry is one of the finest pickers I’ve ever seen. He closed the set off with a cover of Lynryd Skynryd,’s “Smell that Smell.”   Check out his new album, Larry Keel Experienced, featuring Jenny Keel, Keller Williams and Sam Beck.

After last night’s performances with Sam Bush and Larry Keel, The Acoustic Syndicate, Roosevelt Dime, and L Shaped Lot, I think I’ve seen some of the best guitar picking I’ve seen in a cotton-picking minute.

Yarn was the first band I saw the crowd actually singing along. They have been playing Rooster Walk since the beginning and have managed to form quite a following. Of course, there was another banjo playing go hard for all the Rooster Walkers.

We made our way to the VIP stage to check out Naughty Professor. They are a horn band from New Orleans. Check out this Selmer Super Balanced action baritone saxophone from 1950, from Joe Fairbanks. They held down the stage, jamming hard and representing the Big Easy in the heart of the Appalachia.

Lettuce, who I had not seen since they performed on a side stage at Floydfest ’14, absolutely rocked Rooster Walk. They brought the FUCK, and had the whole field filled with Rooster Walkers jamming to their good vibrations. I could not leave. Even with all the red and blue lights blaring in my face. We wish they would have had a light show more like PGroove’s… Not complaining. Just saying…

The Revivalists and TAUK rocked the Bassett Lake Stage Saturday night before and after Lettuce, respectively.

Then, the Purple Rain came back. After not seeing the Sun shine on the mid-Atlantic coast for a complete day for the entire month of May, we dubbed the storm, “The Purple Rain.” It blew in just after Prince transitioned, and did not let up until Friday. It was nice to have sun-shiny days for the first two days.

Sunday, May 29th, 2016.

The rain sounded amazing as it fell on the tent all night. Somehow I managed to stay mostly dry. Sunday morning the drizzle lingered.

We listened to Erin & The Wildfire open the Bassett Lake Stage Sunday at noon.

Billy Strings took the Radial Stage at 3. Their banjo player was amazing too.

Mission in the Rain was an amazing JGB/Grateful Dead cover band. Their sweet vibrations drew me in and I stayed for the entirety of the set. Awesome bluegrass JGB/Dead vibes are always welcome over here.

Yarn closed up the music with their set on the Bassett Lake Stage Sunday night.

I met Mark Anthony, an amazing female artist. She drew a kick ass pic of Sam Bush for Rooster Walk. Check it out.

So, that was my first Rooster Walk and we left it a better person than we were upon arrival. We met some wonderful human beings being awesome and spreading the loving kindness that is engendered in the festival atmosphere.

A big heart felt thank you filled with gratitude and lightning bugs to all the people involved in putting on Rooster Walk 8! This was the best bluegrass Appalachia Roots music festival I have ever attended! Amazing vibrations. Edwin “Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank are smiling down on us surface dwellers shining their light, happy to see their memory preserved on through posterity by good humans doing wonderful things. Hopefully we can remember to share our love with the ones closest to us while they remain on this plain. Get your full rooster strut on at Rooster Walk 9 next year. Until then, keep her copacetic. Rock on. Walk on. Rooster Walk on!

Check out more photos from Rooster Walk 8.

Wed, 08/17/2016 - 6:23 pm

One love, one heart!  The Rastafarian mantra and philosophy of the ‘I and I’ was on full display for all to feel, touch, embrace and to be embraced by.  For those who do not know, but would like to, I will explain. I and I is an expression of the singularity of being, the animating divinity of the soul as an expression of our Divine Creator. It is the concept of oneness. 'I and I' can be conceptualized as being the oneness of two persons, as well as our inherent unity with the Creative Source of all life, or Jah as the Ras Tafaris call it.  I am you. You are me. We are us. Jah shall provide the bread and bless us up unto infinity.

It is an expression that alludes to our eternal connection to the essential nature of all form through the formlessness. So God is within all of us, and we are one people in fact. Separation is an illusion. I and I mean that God is within all life: humans, trees, ants, rocks, mountains, rivers, oceans, wind, fire, our Sun.  this combines perfectly, like peanut butter and jelly, with the Native Americans notion of ‘Aho Mitakue Oyase.’

All my relations. I honor you in this circle of life with me today. I am grateful for this opportunity to acknowledge you in this prayer....

To the Creator, for the ultimate gift of life, I thank you.
To the mineral nation that has built and maintained my bones and all foundations of life experience, I thank you.
To the plant nation that sustains my organs and body and gives me healing herbs for sickness, I thank you.
To the animal nation that feeds me from your own flesh and offers your loyal companionship in this walk of life, I thank you.
To the human nation that shares my path as a soul upon the sacred wheel of Earthly life, I thank you.
To the Spirit nation that guides me invisibly through the ups and downs of life and for carrying the torch of light through the Ages, I thank you.
To the Four Winds of Change and Growth, I thank you.
You are all my relations, my relatives, without whom I would not live. We are in the circle of life together, co-existing, co-dependent, co-creating our destiny. One, not more important than the other. One nation is evolving from the other and yet each dependent upon the one above and the one below. All of us a part of the Great Mystery. Thank you for this Life.

“Jah Rastafari!,” “Aho,” and “Happy Reggae” were the three most commonly heard salutations along the Eel River in Humboldt County, CA last weekend. Reggae on the River, commonly referred to as “Reggae,” is the longest-running internationally renowned reggae and world music festival on the planet! The 32nd Annual Reggae was righteous and where you wanted to be last weekend, filled with people feeling all sorts of irie.  Rastaman vibrations, yeah! Positive Vibrations. The rasta woman were representing too as we all gathered with one love and one heart.

Chanting down the Babylon System with the sweet, sweet, positive vibrations of reggae, Native and world music one song at a time was magical. The righteous one love, one heart vibe was a special experience that words have a hard time conveying. We will share it the best we can with these words seeming so inadequate.  But, alas, we keep trodding on this word winepress to help the rebellion manifest with our thoughts, our voices, and our actions.

The Native American drums and flutes, the African music, as well as the daily morning prayers served to augment the sense of sacredness. Our indigenous brothers and sisters adeptly create these sacred spaces to nourish our soul and open our hearts.  Outside of Burning Man and the transcendental noble silence and unitive experiences in meditation, Reggae 32 was one of the most righteous experiences of I and I’s life.  If you opened your heart and your mind, the loving spirit of Jah was ever-present. You could touch and taste heaven on Earth if you focused your mind and divine eye on your conception of perfection. Our cup still flows over with thanks and gratitude. “Ooh, what a feeling,” as Collie Buddz would say.

Around 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 11,  Agnes Patak  came on stage with Good Shield Aguilar and the rest of the 7th Generation Rise to perform the opening ceremony and prayer.  The First Nation presence was felt from this moment onward.  Good Shield, when asked the meaning of 7th Generation Rise, responded resolutely. He said, “Our ancestors spoke of a time when the Earth is ravished, and the animals are dying there will be a new tribe of people born upon this Earth with many colors, creeds, and classes. With their actions and deeds, they shall make the Earth green once again, and they will be known as the Warriors of the Rainbow.’”

He went on to explain that he and ALL our brothers and sisters represent the fulfillment of the prophecies of their elders who, before they were slain by the white man, said that in seven generations time the people would come to fulfill the prophecy.  The Rainbow tribe must take power back from the thieves and murderers that have created the despair and pestilence of the Babylon System. We are the 7th Generation.  We are the Rainbow tribe we’ve been waiting for. Find more info about Good Shield here. Check out the video Buffalo Wild, words by John Trudell.

With that said, shall we get down to business? Well, of course, we shall. So, so much awesomeness happened that to share it all would be quiet an ominous task and would be to ask too much of your time. So, with that said we present to you our favorites at Reggae 32.

Top 3 Lionesses

Fatoumata Diawara – WOW! Just incredible. What a powerful, strong, independent goddess. A Rastafarian lioness in every sense of the word.  I didn’t understand much of her lyrics, but I could feel her spirit and see it shining in her eyes. WOW! I have not felt a presence like hers since Lauren Hill at Floydfest ’14! It was an honor to see her perform at ROTR. We are pumped to see her at Beloved this weekend. Yup, we are making the trip to Tidewater, OR. The stunning scenery only intensified the stream of consciousness. Pacific ocean and redwood forests are good for perambulations of the divine creative mind.

Sister Carol – The Grammy-nominated Black Cinderella absolutely crushed it at Reggae 32. In a genre dominated by males, she is a formidable force for the divine feminine in Reggae music today. She had been for three decades. Sister Carol is a lioness. Draped in all white, even her regal dreadlocks were held up by her white bejeweled crown. Her lyrics were full of spiritual consciousness. Her daughter came on stage and lit it up too. More on her later.

After releasing Black Cinderella in 1984, which made her a name in the reggae dancehall genre, she recorded Call Mi Sister Carol (1994) and Lyrically Potent (1996), and Live No Evil (2014), she has established herself as a legend of reggae. She is a Grammy nominee multiple times over. Powerful. Conscious. Strong lioness.

Jah9 – Her new album “9” drops on 9.9.9 (2+0+1+6=9). Check this lioness out and hear her roar! Her website says it far better than I and I ever could, “Deeply mystical, Jah9 has emerged from a chrysalis of poetry, dub and spirit to become a powerful feminine energy within a universal grassroots movement of consciousness. Inspired by the open spaces in the instrumental dub of 1970’s Jamaican roots music, Jah9 sings with a voice that belies the dimensions of her physical body, from a soul much older than its current vessel; “reminiscent of that darkly operatic wailer for truth & justice, Nina Simone.” Her philosophy–profoundly spiritual, and her style–Jazz on Dub.” YUP! Nailed it…  and it was spiritual, magical, inspirational, mystical and super-conscious.

Top 3 Lions

Anthony B – In an age besmeared with consumerism and the objectification of the female, Anthony B is a breath of fresh air. His righteous lyrics prove he is a Rastafarian Lion of the highest caliber.  Conscious music infused with the spirit of Jah shedding light upon the poor and oppressed souls held in captivity by the Babylon System.  Check him out.

Protoje and the Indiggnation – They absolutely killed it Friday night. I and I had some technical difficulties during his performance and was unable to attend in the media pit. Protoje is a leading lion in the exciting resurgence of conscious music. His powerful lyrics, intense reggae vibration, and philosophical thoughts are perfect medicines for the mind, body and soul! Check out his debut album, The Seven Year Itch (2011). His latest album, Ancient Future (2015), hit #1 on the Billboard Top Reggae albums chart in two weeks.

Sizzla Kalonji and the Firehouse Band–  Gotta give some Big Ups to the headliner of Reggae 32! Sizzla’s presence commands attention. His sleek, suave GQ rasta style, his gruff, raspy, deep voice, the mellifluous beats all combine to have quite a sizzling effect on his audience.  Sizzla has over 60 albums in his portfolio and over 1000 singles and EPs. Check out Overstanding (2006), The Scriptures (2011), and The Messiah (2013).  Sizzla’s deep raspy rapid-fire changing flow over his dancehall beats like butter! The Reggae 32 newsletter wrote, “He remains somewhat of an enigma to the public at large, rarely granting interviews and concert appearances. Reggae on the River is honored and thrilled to host Sizzla’s first U.S. appearance in years.”

Top 3 Performances

Anthony B – He killed it!  What a way to close out the 32nd Annual ROTR. Jah Rastafari.  After Sister Carol wore a wonderful all-white outfit, Anthony B came out in similar angelic garb. An oversized all white turban held his dreadlocks up while he donned an all-white suit, which seems to be the quotidian Rastafarian Sunday dress.

Fatoumata Diawara – Hear this lioness roar. Feel her presence. Find this Nigerian Queen Goddess and place yourself before beautiful divine feminine power! Please. We were so enthralled, enthused and astonished by this Lioness’s performance that we looked up her schedule. She will be at Beloved August  12-14th, and we are going to see her. As a side note, we just saw the Hanumen play at Floydfest (editorial coming soon, but first things first).

Rob Deal and the I-Deals – The closest thing Reggae on the River has to a house band, Rod Deal and the I-Deals prophetic lyrics are as relevant today as they were in the early 90’s.  Helicopters are prophetic and amazing. Police State is too. Marijuana Man was awesome.  They played all those as the opening act on Sunday, the best day of music in our opinion by far.

Rob Deal is from the Humboldt area. He took his tribe there in the 80s, I believe, and started spreading the Irie vibrations and growing the Ganga before it was cool. He made it cool. He kinda helped to start the whole emerald triangle movement, and evidently caught the attention of the dub’ament who evidently like to fly their ghetto-birds over their fields full of medicine for the people. It looks like they are not in favor of regulation and legalization of the cannabis industry. California started the movement, yet is the only state on the west coast that has not legalized the herb. There is a reason for this.  They do not want the Babylon System moving in on their community, their tribe, and their home. They have managed to escape the Matrix and don’t want evil corporations moving in and tearing up their community with their selfish motives. Finding a better way reflecting the values that brought these pioneers to Humboldt County.

Top 3 Surprises

Every event has an act or two that absolutely steals your face, blows your mind and leaves you begging for more. Reggae on the River had many, but the top three are:

Loco Por Juana -- This Miami based Grammy nominated Latin fusion jam bad combines cumbia, reggae, ragamuffin, hip-hop, funk and Afro-Columbian rhythms with a sweet vibration that guitarist Mark Condrat calls “that island swing.”  Lead singer Itawe Correa, drummer Javier Delgado, trombonist Lasim Richards and percussionist Carlos Palmet make up the rest of the rad band. The Miami New Times described their Grammy-nominated album La Verdad as, “the truth of a new multicultural, cosmopolitan generation, played out in the music that represents their cross-cultural connections. Condrat riffs it up like a champ. Check out their new album entitled Caribe and is a tribute to the Caribbean.   The first track released is called “Mueve Mueve.” There is also a track with Collie Buddz from Bermuda and Talib Kwali. Album drops October 7th.  Check it out

Addis Pablo – Amazing roots rock reggae. He is the son of Augustus Pablo and is carrying on the torch with righteousness, creativity, and loyalty to his pride of lions and lionesses. He plays the melodic. Like his father, he is excelling at playing this piano-ish wind instrument.  In 2014, Addis Pablo released his first full-length Album, “In My Father’s House.” Check it out.  Great vibes!

Nakeeba Amaniyea – The daughter of Sister Carol took the stage by storm adding a young, fresh, and raw dynamic to her mother’s performance. Her bio reads, “Musically, she has collaborated with her mother and numerous artists while entertaining audiences throughout the United States and internationally in France, Spain, and Thailand. Nakeeba Amaniyea’s multi-genre musical expression speaks to her various influences from Studio One Jamaica, Sister, Carol, Peter Tosh, Bob Marley, Whitney Houston, Stevie Wonder, Harry Belafonte, Mariam Makeba, Nina Simone, Public Enemy, The Roots, and Lauryn Hill to name a few. She infuses roots reggae, R & B, and hip-hop into an eclectic blend for every listener.”

Top 3 Wish You Were Here

Femi Kuti – We heard more Femi Kuti covers than we could track. We just saw him play at Floydfest in the good ol’ Commonwealth of Virginia. He is freaking brought the African vibrations to the Blue Ridge with an intensity only equaled by the great Miss Lauren Hill in 2014, but she did not have three prolific dancers shaking their booties by her side! Let’s get Femi Kuti to Reggae!

Marley Tribe – Damian, Ziggy, Wailers. Somebody represents the original rastas and the biggest festival and brightest stage in the land.  Miss Lauren Hill counts as part of the tribe too, in I and I’s mind’s eye anyway. In this age of the divine feminine awakening, we must have one of the strongest lionesses of all representing the power of the I am Presence.  Jah Rastafari.

Alcyon Massive – Alcyon is an Oregon native who has blessed up the reggae scene with some righteous vibrations.  Check out his albums Dreaming the World Awake and Dreadication. Absolutely some of the most Spirit-filled, next-level consciousness inspired lyrical delivery and mystical adventure in reggae/hip-hop that may ever take. Absolutely will love to see him at Reggae 33.

Honorable Mentions:

Jah Sun – Homegrown Humboldt native blessed us with a powerful performance. Check out his 2006 debut album, Height of Light. He gained acclaim in the reggae community with his 2012 album, Battle of the Dragon. He has a new album slated to come out this year.  Jah Sun did a wonderful thing. He brought a group of children on stage and sang to them, telling them that they are wonderful, powerful, loving beings. He then proceeded to tell the adult audience that it is up to us to show them, love, while guiding them toward unity consciousness.  One love. One heart. Unite.

Noah: He drew this magnificent rasta lion. We have not able to locate his last name or website, but check it out! If anyone knows, please feel free to leave a comment so we can link him up.

Samba Da Alegria –  Representing as Humboldt County’s Community Bateria, a drum group playing mostly Brazilian rhythms. Their drum parade Saturday night was the largest spontaneous assembly of people following the beat I and I have ever seen.  Drums, drums, and more drums.

Top 3 Live Painters

Derek Heinemann: WOW!

Derek Leitch: Brings the spirit of the wood to life. Awesome stuff.

Logan Walden: Spacey. Emotional. Colorful. So far out!

Top 3 Artists

Mark Henson: Visionary psychedelic art.

Forever Stoked: Chris Peterson, Peter Pierce, and Charlie Clingman! Awesome flow art!

Top 3 Faces in the Crowd

Agnes Patak – We give thanks to Agnes Patak, MC at Reggae and host of KMUD’s World Beast Show and longtime Mateel supporter. Agnes spent most of her time on stage, but we had the serendipitous pleasure of running into back stage. She graciously granted me a few minutes of her time to share some stories with I and I. Thanks for sharing John Trudell’s story and some of his ashes with all of our Sunday morning. We give thanks for the daily prayers you blessed all of us with every morning. Thank you for being a shining example for all of us to give thanks for all our blessings with every breath of our being every moment of our lives.  Aho!

Sunshine and the whole KMUD crew – DJ at KMUD in Garbersville, CA. Thank you for helping to arrange interviews with the artists and to organize the most exceptional media tent I have had the pleasure to call home base. Well done. Thank you for representing Humboldt County and keep fighting the good fight.  Burning down Babylon one song at a time. Keep up the wonderful work.

In response to your question to the Ideals, we think that the farmers must form a union, community, to protect the people and the common good from the selfish and iniquitous interests of corporations, their greedy motives and disrespectful treatment of our Mother Earth. Legalize it and come together as the original leaders in the movement to proliferate righteous medicine for the people. California started this whole thing. Let’s legalize it and spread the love, the wealth and the medicine with the world.

Captain Bubbles and The Singing Bowl Guy  -- Both Erik McFarland and Captain Bubbles were playing singing bowls and keeping the high vibrations humming along. The Singing Bowl Guy works with and sells Tibetan singing bowls. Erik will ring your whole body with sensational vibrational healing frequencies. He rang my bell and sent me sailing away with the soothing vibrations from his shiny singing bowls.

When Captain Bubbles was not busy working his magic with bubbles, he was making magic happen with three massive crystal singing bowls that could throw your consciousness afloat in the void of noble silence. We did it a couple times, once sober and again not so sober—no alcohol though. The 10-kilogram crystal bowls resonated with all of the I and I; the illusion of separation completely annihilated.

Derek Leitch – Amazing artist. Amazing drummer. Fantastic creator of good times and wonderful wood art. Magical spirit and wonderful energy. Look forward to seeing you at Beloved, my good brother.

The I and I definitely sensed Jah’s love and peace protecting all of those gathered together in the name of the Highest! Jah Rastafari. Ensconced in good vibrations and surrounded by shiny, happy, beautiful people really filled us with respect and love for humanity. It truly was an honor to be there.

We are grateful for the Walaki tribe for lending us their land. We give thanks to the Karuk, Urak and all the Humboldt County nations representing the righteous vibes at Reggae on the River.  Big ups to the non-profit Mateel Community Center for putting on a great event. Big ups to all the employees and volunteers at Reggae for their time and energy.  And we would feel remorse if we failed to mention the wonderful media tent organized by KMUD, Redwood Community Radio. Thank you so much for organizing the artist interviews and providing the best media tent we’ve seen to date. Keep up the good work.

We give thanks and praises to Jah for blessing us up with all the righteous artists and their magnetic performances.  Much love, respect, and gratitude for the love and blessings shared among all those gathered at Reggae ‘16. We give thanks and praises to Jah, the Most High and all the prophets; past, present, and future. Jah Rastafari, Aho Mitakue Oyase, and Amen.

Check out more photos from Reggae on the River 2016.

Sat, 09/10/2016 - 11:13 am

A big heart felt thank you to Peter Shapiro and Dave Frey, and all the staff and volunteers who helped to make Lockn’ Festival 2016 the best one yet! The music brings the love out of us all and flowing into the open air like the chem-trails! It's not as easy to see, but it sure is easy to feel and fun to capture. Thank you, Nelson County for opening your community to our community for this fantastic experience.

Shapiro and Frey have established Lockn' as one of the premier music festivals in the world. Bringing awesome vibes and awesome people to the amazing Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, VA for four years now, Lock’n has provided us with fantastic experiences and exceptional artist collaborations.

Trey Anastasio played with Further in the inaugural Lockn', which to this date may be the penultimate performance to rock Lockn'. The largest collaboration, and pinnacle production, perhaps, was the tribute to Joe Cocker, who was planning to play on the stage at Oak Ridge before he left us behind to go ‘Up where He Belongs.’ The ensemble included Susan Tedeschi, Derrick Trucks, Leon Russell (guitar and keyboards), Rita Coolidge (vocals), Bobby Jones (vocals), Claudia Lennear (vocals – 20 Feet From Stardom), Warren Haynes (vocals and guitar) Chris Stainton (keyboards – Eric Clapton, The Who), Chuck Blackwell (percussion – Everly Brothers), Bobby Torres (percussion), Pamela Polland (vocals – Ry Cooder, Bonnie Raitt), Matthew Moore (vocals), Daniel Moore (vocals). Other special guests on stage that night included: Chris Robinson, Dave Mason, Doyle Bramhall II, Anders Osborne, Alecia Chakour, and Shannon McNally. Check out the setlist here.  Then, in 2014 Widespread Panic and Steve Winwood shared a special stage. Phil, Bobby, and Santana in 2015. Jimmy Cliff and WSP.  Chris Robinson and Susan Tedeschi. The Doobie Incident.

The unforgettable musical moments happening at Oak Ridge are stunningly extraordinary. Lockn' is quickly establishing itself as a musical Mecca filled with a high-vibration community of tens of thousands of faithful followers filling the fields of Arrington, VA. It truly is so special, so heavenly.  Pure magic. If we could put it in a bottle and share it with the world, we would! For free! Medicine for the People.

Hot and humid were the days, where we call searched for a respite from the searing sun. The RVs seemed like chariots of air-conditioned paradise, but alas, we were not so lucky. The nights were long. The field of dreams filled with fam gallivanting caught bemused with music and in song.

Ween? Never considered a fan, but by the time they played “Baby Bitch,” they had our attention. After “Poopship Destroyer” at the end of their Thursday set they were firmly established in our hearts and minds as a jammy punk band who felt at home on stage at Oak Ridge.   Never had we saw Gene and Dean Ween on stage together, so that was truly a treat, who by the way, met in their middle school typing class. Remember keyboard class? Haha.

EOTO was the lone EDM performance at Lock’n this year. They played on the Woods stage late Friday under a whole bunch of blue lights. Some dude jumped on stage to get up close and personal with the String Cheese duo. He was promptly escorted off the stage, and probably kicked off the premises completely, but that is purely speculative.

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD) lit up the Blue Ridge Bowl that night. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is Scott Metzger, Tommy Hamilton, Dave Dreiwitz (Ween bassist too), Marco Benevento & Joe Russo. They played till almost 4 o’clock in the morning, and we were there for the whole set. Favorites included, “Truckin,” “St. Stephen’s” and “Dark Star.”

Friday, with the gravity of his character and powerful voice, Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires brought us out of the shade and into the hot Virginia sun. What a wonderful presence and righteous performance.

Ween took the stage again Friday night. Dean Ween mentioned this bill that night at Lockn’ as being the first time they shared the stage with Phish in their long, illustrious career. It was a proud moment for him and all the Lockn' family.  They played some of their more well-known tracks on Saturday, including “Roses Are Free,” Bananas and Blow,” and “Voodoo Lady.”

There was an hour intermission between Ween and Phish.  We are not sure why exactly, but it was the first prolonged silence since JRAD quit playing just before sun up that morning and the beginning of Moogatu’s set. During this time we were studying the back of our eyelids with the hope that sleep soon would come. Those hopes crashed and burned. C’est le vie.

The Nashville band Moon Taxi kicked ass Saturday early. They crushed that set and got the good vibrations flowing. The sun was beating down on us relentlessly, but Moon Taxi helped us revel in the beat down.

Phil Lesh & Friends, though tardy due to travel delays, took the stage before a raucous, enthusiastic and happy Lock’n family. It was quite a group of musicians. Phish’s Jon Fishman and Page McConnell joined a smiling Phil, along with Anders Osborne, Joe Russo, and the Infamous Stringdusters, who are right at home here in Appalachia.

They opened with Scarlet Begonias. Dire Wolf followed.  “DON’T MURDER ME. I BEG YOU DON’T MURDER ME. PLEEEASE DON'T MURDER ME.” Uncle John’s Band was next. Susan Tedeschi joined Phil for “Mr. Charlie.” “Sugaree” with Derek Trucks followed.  Then, they played two songs, so many Lock’n family members had been waiting for; Shakedown Street with Anders on lead vocals and Terrapin Station.

After Tedeschi Trucks Band came My Morning Jacket. Wow! Besides the obvious Phish and Phil and Friends, MMJ just might have been the single most impressive set of the entire festival. Forget stealing the show; they could have stolen Lockn'! Umphrey's? Awesome as usual! Rocked it! And their light show is by far the most outstanding spectral spectacle we have ever witnessed! And we've been to some shows under these many moons with many different cats under the stars.  Good to see Umph on the main stage for the first time this year! Huge! Pretty sure they are a write-in for 2017. Phil played with lots of energy and enthusiasm, but he was looking every bit of three-quarters of a century. Maybe time for him to hang it up here soon and enjoy the rest of his days here with family and friends outside of the limelight.

MMJ, in their triumphant inaugural Lockn', unequivocally and surprisingly stole the show Saturday night! Some buddies of mine and I were frying our faces off already, rolling around the rolling foothills of Appalachia, when we heard the mellifluous melodies of My Morning Jacket. They stole our face! Melted our face into the fields. Rocked the house. Rocked the whole place. It was wonderful psychedelic riffs tangled up in some heroin rock with a serious rock star in Jim James, whose voice is capable of sending you off soaring through the stars and the cosmos to the place where it all began. All there is left to do is feel the Lovelight from whence we came. Magical! LSD has a way of doing that on its own, but with MMJ, it went cosmic on us! The stars aligned, the universe opened up its hallowed gates, transcending Father Time. We were ensconced in the rhythms, the glorious vibrations. It was the perfect moment of the weekend for us. This all happened during the cover of “What the World Needs Now is Love.”

Wow! We could not stop listening and watching with wonderfully wide-open ears, enraptured in the wanderlust, soaring through the immense space filled with lights and wonderful rock & roll. It was a moment of cosmic surrender. They are Shapiro's act, but they had never before rocked LOCKN'. My Morning Jacket was taking it up a notch or two! Like a whole bunch of notches and a whole other level! During the most remarkable performance of the entire weekend, we and many we saw, started climbing a whole new stairway to a whole new heaven, but we didn’t have to leave the space. Seriously. Freaking rock stars! Check out a video of one of Lockn' 2016's best sets here.

Saturday was the hottest, longest day of Lockn' 2016. It was a hundred degrees in the shade with 100% humidity. Some of the merry pranksters in our crew had to leave Sunday morning, unable to collect the energy and the wherewithal to manage another blazing summer day on the Oak Ridge Estate without the luxury of sleep. We kept her truckin’, of course. No matter how fried we get, we still manage to find the capacity to sleep. It might be one of our special super powers, one of the lesser super powers, but comes in handy at music festivals for sure.

Now there is a tradition at Lockn' that we have attended every single year, except for the inaugural year, and we only missed that one because we did not know Reverend Keller was holding church at the Blue Ridge Bowl.  It gets Sunday going in a righteous, grateful way and is the only way to start Sunday at Lockn'.  It was another magical performance with the Grateful Gospel stage right and John Kadlecik to Keller’s right. EJ Shaw, the bassist at church, is so cool. And Sugah Davis lit up the stage with her angelic face and wonderful tie-dye attire... Keller played in his quotidian Sunday attire; a suit, a tie, and bare feet! Sunday’s best all around.  Besides the unique “Ripple” cover, double-timed and funky, the Aaron Neville cover via the Dead was sublime. “Lay down my dear brother, lay down and take your rest, Won't you lay your head upon your savior's chest, I love you all, but Jesus loves you the best.” Righteous vibrations.

The Wailers took the stage Sunday.  We’re not sure if it was the Irie vibes left over from Reggae on the River or Beloved, but when those sweet, sweet rastaman vibrations took the stage Sunday, we were compelled to the stage like a moth to the flame. The set was short but glorious. They started with “Natural Mystic,” continued the righteousness with “Buffalo Soldier,” “Get Up, Stand Up,” and “One Love.” “Could You Be Loved” made its way into the mix near the end of the set.! “Exodus” caressed our ears and consciousness before the Chris Robinson Brotherhood  (CRB) took the stage.

CRB played, and it was good. It is always a treat to hear Chris play. The initial Lockn' had the Black Crows fully suited on stage, which was an amazing display of classic rock & roll! This year was a whole lot of the same. Some jams on the setlist include “New Cannonball Rag,” “Aint It Hard But Fair,” a cover of Dylan’s “Its All Over Now, Baby Blue,” and “Vibration & Light Suite.”

CRB stayed on as Phil & Friends returned Sunday for their second set at Lockn'.  On stage was Phil Lesh, Chris Robinson, Neal Casal, Adam MacDougall and Tony Leone. Gary Clark Jr. sat in for “Good Morning, School Girl,” and “Wang Dang Doodle.” Other bangers “The Wheel,” which is always a treat to see live. It almost sent us soaring through the atmosphere again, but we managed to stay present. They played “Samson and Delilah” and “St. Stephen,” which Keller had played at church, but you its hard to be overly righteous on Sunday at Lock’n. We, for one, were happy to hear them again.

After another hour in radio silence, Phish came on as the closing act for Lockn' 2016. Never do you want to voluntarily miss Phish on Sunday. For those that had to leave the farm for whatever reason, we for those that had the endurance and the ability to stay, what a wonderful two set grand finale. It was much better than Robert Plant’s performance last year! They even played the Zeppelin cover, “No Quarter” in the second set. “Carini” was a treat. “Possum” was awesome at the end of the first set. Completely ecstatic and inevitable ecstasy happened about two-thirds of the way through this jam. Magical.

The remainder of Sunday night and early Monday morning was spent at the end of the yellow brick road, through the threshold, and into the happy hollow of Garcia’s Forest. Is there a way to stop time so that the magic will never end was the thought caressing the minds of everyone in Garcia’s Forest as the collective reverence for Jerry’s lullabies led us all through the halls of wonder and seas of ecstasy. The music played till about 5 o’clock in the morning. The culmination, “I bid you good night. Good night. Good night.” We were up to greet the sun as it came over the Virginia Piedmont, thankful for the glowing and growing magic of Lockn'. Until next year, keep her grateful.

Wed, 09/14/2016 - 7:05 pm

One day, the deep and noble abyss, with whom Blue has spent decades cultivating a relationship, started staring back at her. She kept seeing flashes of a white buffalo on the hills, but did not understand. Speaking to Bleu with a kind compassion the abyss offered, “Follow your faith, for this is the mother womb from which all life grew, grows and flows. Follow your bliss thread and take a chance on Beloved.”  She came in like the wind, and like the blessed noble nothingness, disappeared. “Everything is nothing with a twist. In this world of trouble, this is a solution,” she whispered as she went.

Blue had no clue. Though other tasks were begging for attention, he decided to take the journey. With the fortitude of a rainbow warrior resolute, he opened his heart. “Nothing is more important than building the rainbow bridge,” the noble abyss, which he affectionately referred to as  ‘the Mothers’ said to him gently. “Spread the magic of the unity consciousness movement and bring in the new dawn. Beloved is more than a music festival. More so, it is a conscious space for the bringers of the new dawn to imagine and create a new and better reality.” So, Blue decided to stay true to his spirit guidance, followed the threaded clues to Tidewater, Oregon to help build the dream, manifest more truth. Blue called for Beloved and the Beloved called for Blue. He set his intentions, and away on his magic carpet he flew.

Tucked away nicely in a magical mountain wonderland full of wild blackberries ripe for the picking and yellow brick roads leading wherever your imagination was brave enough to go. Immediately Blue felt surrounded by wonderful soul family, a community of people stepping into their full power and fully embracing their spirit calling is so special, supportive and peaceful. The power of Beloved was palpable.

Meteors flying overhead could be seen after dusk as the clear moonless, cloudless Cascadia night sky presented herself to the gatherers. Blue felt closer to the immense infinity, the home of the Mothers, after arriving at Beloved. Though the terrain was foreign she felt at home, ensconced in the loving arms of Pachamama, or Gaia, our blessed mother Earth, who prays for her people daily, rejoicing in this their remembrance. The huge cedars, captivating Blue’s imagination. She felt uniquely familiar with this tree medicine that had been absent from her life for so long. “Hello, old friends,” she said in remembrance of something just out of reach of her conscious mind. She embraced the behemoth trees, giving thanks and praises.  They loved her too.

Blue landed at Beloved Thursday with the ball in the sky still high. She set up camp along Sufi Path near the base of the main festival ground. The main stage was located between the Far mosque, atop the top of the hill, and the Near Mosque on the other side of the ridge. It is a circle on a mountainside with the stage near 6 o’clock, if the reader is looking at this like Black Rock City, but without any playa dust or desert sprawl.

After setting up camp, Blue went to peruse her new heavenly habitat. Getting familiar with the lay of the land, she ran into Karl Baba, a sage man she had befriended in cyberspace, but had never had the honor of meeting in 3-D. Blue looked up to Baba, grateful for the opportunity to meet him in 3-D reality.

That evening Blue went to the Purple Star Temple, just behind the main stage. There he saw Jaya Lakshmi and Ananda chanting mantras and singing kirtan. And there she remained until the end of the performance, entranced and entrained upon the holy names of God. They performed some other transcendental tunes, helping to build the bridge a bit stronger and longer.

There was a water prayer ceremony held at The Secret Lake. Calling her essence with candlelight and the soft percussion of the djembe, Blue moved to the lake behind the Purple Star Temple. The congregation sang prayers of thanksgiving to the water, blessing it with their love and consecrating the fluid that would keep these bodies hydrated during the festival. 

This is a world of wonder, Blue thought, where the many worlds within each of us merge with the spirit of Pachamama, the spirit of the community and the Spirit of the Divine Mother Creator. These all converge in a perfect Trinity at Beloved. It is occasions like this, Blue thought, that is helping to manifest the dream of movement into peaceful coexistence within and all along this pristine pale blue dot in the infinity of the Great Abyss. She had not managed to make any solid connections with humans, so she strolled through the hills with spirit by her side, in her divine mind and all around.

After the lighting of the sacred fire that burned throughout the entirety of the gathering, Blue trekked to the Temple of Awe. Along the way she sat down to rest. As she lay back to inhale a huge meteor shot low across the midnight sky. Then, another star left a tracer, then another and another. Blue unplanned by her, but planned by the Mothers, witnessed the magic of the Perseid meteor shower.  She counted 11 shooting stars while there she lay. “Magic is in the air today,” she thought to herself.

“There is a movement happening, a shifting.  This is helping us wake the dream into reality,” thought this lady Bleu. “This is an awesome awakening of consciousness,” she told herself. “A golden age is blooming right before our very fluid reality.” Blue knew it was true.  The sensitivity to and affects of subtle energies on the minds and in the hearts, and within the souls of humanity is unfolding before her beautifully eager eyes.  “We must remain steadfast on our search for truth,” she thought.

This nascent numinous age of Aquarius is opening our collective body, heart, mind and soul to the divine nature inherent in all. It can be likened to Plato’s, “The Cave.” If you do not recall, the human is looking at their shadow cast on the cave wall. This person mistakes their shadow for its pure and highest self. Well, now we are realizing our shadow is just that, a mere shadow of our true divine self. Remember. You are an infinite being of light; divine, eternal and bright. It is your destiny to be the grandest version of the highest vision you ever had of who you are.

Friday started late as Blue did not sleep much in the previous 48 hours. Naturally. Naturally meaning her sensitivity to the energy and its complimentary natural high kept her up. It was not a cocktails of chemicals that perturbed the senses, but kirtan. Prayers in the name of ‘the Mothers’ kept her vibing out of control, and the feeling of being so provided for. She soon saw that Beloved has no alcohol for sale. It has so much to share in ways of natural highs, alcohol, or anything else, seemed wasteful and unnecessary. Etched in the bamboo bowls, the ubiquitous reusable eating-ware, were the knowing words, “In this food I clearly see the presence of the universe supporting my existence.” Quotes from Rumi, Alan Watts, Krishnamurti and other super-conscious thinkers were hung in the porta-potties with care..

After she awoke Blue ran to and perambulated through the cornucopia of crystal gardens delicately designed for the activation of all sensitive souls. She was contemplating their creation in the primordial days of Pachamama, the pressure and heat necessary to form such beautifully conscious points and clusters, when suddenly the Mothers told her to go to the Purple Star Temple. Michael Meade was speaking. His speech, entitled “Golden Repair of the World” was riveting.

The center fractured in Blue’s life long ago. Living on the edge has been her home for so long, she forgot what the center felt or even looked like, but she knew all broken roads lead you home eventually, so long as the will remains in full, and the dream retains its pull.  Blue knew you have to go to the edge to find the thread of your soul, the thread of your imagination, and the thread of your destiny to weave this wayward world back together.

Being so focused on healing her fractured self for so long and having not watched Tell-lie-vision (TV) for well over a decade, the worries of the Matrix world drifted away. She did not have time to waste. She decided long ago to be true to herself above all. Only responsible for Bleu’s own thread, she started dream-weaving. Even though it is all woven together in a beautiful living tapestry, and all the paths lead to the same end, it is integral we each find our thread and follow it with faith and without fear. Blue knew it is all about the path and the perception held through the journey, embracing her divine mind, while climbing the mountain of life as the ascension of consciousness. This is an important epoch in the history of humanity. WE cannot wait for anyone to take the lead. Beloved and festivals like it are the leaders in this powerful movement of destiny. 

“What a blessed journey. We are seeded and aimed at a unique destiny,” she thought.  Hopeful to succeed in doing what she came here to do, Blue knew deep in her heart Beloved was a sacred stop on her trek. “We don't have to worry about fixing the world,” his divine mind now heeding the chorus of voices in his head.  “Heal yourself,” it beckoned.  “Rewire yourself, then you can, through your example, rewire the world! And stay OUT OF THE WAY. You are merely a vessel for the truth. Give thanks and praises always. As quickly as you are called so can you be abandoned. If you act like a cub, spirit will treat you like a cub, and you will have to fend for yourself for a time. Do not be wild and reckless. It is no way to play as a seeker.”

Blue then strolled over to the Global Song Workshop with Leah and Chloe, the fabulous sister duo better known as Rising Appalachia. Rising Appalachia is talking the talk, walking the walk, and teaching and empowering the rest to do the same. To witness, partake and help everyone wake is just a small piece of their magic. This was freeing, liberating and creativity in action. Some people surrendered to the moment, overcome by the freeing release of pent up emotion.  It was there while singing and dancing with the soul family that Blue had an epiphany. The spiritual apartheid on this pristine planet is coming to an end. Rising Appalachia is playing a leading role in the ending this spiritual apartheid.

Enraptured by the thrill of the spirit of the moment, Bleu stayed still. He did not move his body or his mind. The spirit spoke again, saying, “There is an epic metamorphosis happening right now that is holy and righteous. The duality paradigm is falling, like the house of cards that it is. It is being overtaken. With the arrival of the new paradigm of unity consciousness comes many changes. The Powers That Were (the Matrix), with their implements of propaganda, did their best to convince us that we can be contained in our caterpillar skins by cubicles, fiat currencies, and social security numbers. We cannot be confined. We must not be confined by the bars of complacency or restrained by the handcuffs of fear. Now the crysallis is being broken open by the wings of the Beloved. Arise and listen to the soothing sounds of Saratone.”

Saratone prayed to the four directions, the sacred mountains of the four directions and dropped some serious Cascadia Aloha vibes on Bleu and all at the Temple of Awe. Bleu could feel the loving vibrations of her voice and the truth in her words. Again he could not move, Bleu was glued to his seat in the grass. Saratone then shared the stage with her sister Amber Lily. Then, she shared the stage with her partner Tubby Love and before you knew it we were all building up zion together. NO more chanting down Babylon, we must focus our attention on the answer. The problem is clear and present. The remedy we must seek with a genuine heart meek of self.

Friday was over and Bleu went to watch the eternal fire burn. There is something about watching the fire burn with your eyes that can help her feel the fire within  burn inside. Porangui, whose presence at Beloved was so valuable, important , and appreciated, was singing and beating his djembe by the fire. Blue was feeling as though something was missing. She felt almost home. She was close to home, but missing something. She felt lost in the multitudes of a strange soul family she was only just remembering and meeting… again.

Blue went straight to the main stage Saturday to watch the Hanumen sing and chant. She knew John, Praha, and Vish from Floydfest. and was eager to introduce himself to Benji and Goro, the lead vocalist of the kirtan chanting, dulcimer playing enlightened band of Hindi seekers. Rising Appalachia played next under the Pachamama stage. Magical again. It was the third time she had been in their presence in less than 12 hours.

Charles Eisenstein came on the main stage next and absolutely touched her heart. She could see his words touching others as her eyes wandered through the crowd.  He delivered a message of truth, compassion and love about power, privilege, white privilege to be exact, and justice. He delicately explained how it is the responsibility of the powerful and privileged to share with all those less fortunate as a path toward equality without privilege for anyone, because privilege for some results in hardship for the many. He spoke of justice, respect, and love, and being the ones to overcome this cultural and global blemish that stains our threaded and divine tapestry.

Blue was videotaping the speech, when a colossal African man named Abbazero approached. “Do not stop that video,” he commanded, “and when it is over come with me. We have much work to do. This is only the beginning.”  He opened his heart and his mind and obeyed the wishes of this regal man, dressed in all the fashions of an African prince. The Star of David displayed on a few pendants dangling from an array of large stone necklaces, hanging around his neck down to the middle of his chest, and some went all the way down to his waist.

Abbazero, Charles and Blue sat down back stage together and chatted. Well, mostly Abbazero pontificated on white colonialism, the language of privilege inherent in the limited white male perspective, and how to bring more mindful awareness to it in the language of white people.  Be color blind with your language to undo much of the damage that has been inflicted by the racism inherent in the language of the white man’s world.

One fantastic example of this in modern society, Blue thought, can be seen when comparing the words of Donald Trump and Colin Kaepernick. Donald says, “Make America great again,” and gets to run for President. Colin refuses to stand for the Anthem and he is suddenly a pariah from the ninth circle of hell, an evil spawn of Satan himself. By using credentials we validate the credentials and the brainwashing that goes along with them. Drop the initials. Open your heart and explore the spirit of togetherness. Deprogram and reprogram.  Don’t be blinded by privilege. Do not just talk about it. Be about it. Be the change. These next level messages here, there, floating in the water and sprinkled in the air were on display everywhere with thoughtfulness and intent at Beloved. So touching. So tender. So much love.

Blue met Trevor Hall, saw him perform and was totally blown away by his presence. “What a treat to share and create space with these humble humans on a mission,” she thought to herself.  Trevor cut his dreads off a while back and moved away from Hawaii, but his music carries that Aloha flavor mixed in with soft guitar licks laid over lyrics that remind us of our divine sacred nature. It was sublime to drift away in ‘Unity,’ “to that table where we all dine together and pluck me from the crowd and return me to my sender… Whatever path you follow love all, serve all and create no sorrow...If you got love and longing you shall reach the station. Where there’s no more you and me, they or we. Just Unity.”

DakhaBrakha, the Ukranian singers and djembe players absolutely stunned Blue. He didn’t know what hit him. Their outfits were outstanding.  He watched Fatoumata Diawara’s performance. Blue was so struck he went backstage to meet her. She is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside. Tipper’s trippy screen graphics were awesome, but he just did not seem to fit the bill. Blue thought Nahko and Medicine for the People or Xavier Rudd seemed more complimentary to the Beloved vibes, but she was happy to hear Tipper. The Mothers softly tugged on her spirit, pulling her to the sounds of Spirit Musique. Riveting. Now that she was recognizing the voice of the Mothers for what it was rather than just some crazy voices in her head, she felt more compelled to listen attentively. Ott & The All Seeing I was fantastic. Blue had never seen EDM with a live rock band before. That was something special. So was AtYyA, which must be a mix of his name, lower case, and his plant medicine in upper case.

Most of the Hanume, Jens Jarvie and Paul Mitchell sang kirtan all Saturday night, keeping the vibe high and righteous. Bleu was hypnotized by their mellifluous chanting and the summoning of the divine by calling It by name. Bleu stayed till sleep nearly overcame him.

It was the end of the second day, and although she made some friends, listened to some enlightened speakers and some righteous world-class music Bleu was still feeling an absence. He did not know why he felt this way, but he did and he was with it fully and completely, happily unattached, yet acutely aware. He felt a bit saddened by the situation, but he kept his faith.  He knew to be patient and grateful for the flow.  Bleu went to the fire to pray, to be fanned by its flames and satisfy that archaic yearning. The Burner in him and in his soul needed to commune with the flame. He returned to his camp on the Sufi path just on the other side of the brush and down a small hill from the kirtan chanting at the Temple of Awe. They chanted the names of God all night long. It was serene, divine, heaven.

Sunday Bleu met the morning as he would usually. He made his quotidian prayer and sat quietly, contemplating the divine self and divine mind inhabiting his body.  He saw Youssoupha play his Africn harp, which was fantastic. His speech at the end was just as impressive and heartwarming.

Ott jammed in the middle of the dance floor with all his Beloved friends surrounding him, dancing and jamming to those eclectic electric sounds that seem to be able to activate a merging of consciousness through vibration. It was magical.

Mike Love did his part and so much more to propagate the Cascadia Aloha vibe. His performance was freaking outstanding, Blue thought to herself, as she considered going on a “permanent holiday” herself. Then, remembering she is living the dream, and that is at least part of the definition of a permanent holiday, she sang along smiling. She gave thanks and praises to the resurgent return of the Divine Mother Goddess on full display in the Tidewater hills for her and all those fortunate enough to have created the time and space for Beloved.

Chris Berry, who Bleu had witnessed banging on the djembe at the Temple of Awe on Friday, played with the Bana Kuma Orchestra on the Pachamama stage, facing the main stage. Chris Berry is the magical musical mastermind behind the entire ensemble. Fantastic. Riveting. Scintillating. Absolutely soul shaking! The rest of the orchestra consisted that evening of Tubby Love, Amber Lilly, Reed Grimm, Dave Hoover, and many others, who played their hearts out. All the while Chris Berry’s daughters lead a group of female dancers adorned in all white, except for the Elemental mamas, who wore masks and outfits resembling their force of nature. It was absolutely magical.

Saratone came on stage and prayed to the four sacred mountains of the four directions. She called to Mt. Fuji, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Shasta. Four of the ladies dancing embodied the four sacred elements, while the rest, dressed in all-white, cut up the rug (foam pads, really) confidently to beautifully choreographed dance routines.

Blue danced with the Shakti mamas. She was one of them. She knew it, but was just beginning to realize and remember her true divine self.  Blue was just freeing herself from the chrysalis of Babylon. She was spreading her wings in the loving community environment Beloved provided. It was helping her remember.

Then, after exiting the stage a curious male manifested at Blue’s side. She could feel the power of both presences. “One feels like a white wolf or white lioness. The one is a white buffalo. The other one may be as well, but a less realized one, like a wolf. Which one will you feed?” Blue thought. She introduced herself to the white buffalo.

“Hi. Thanks for dancing with us,” said White Buffalo. They embraced.

Blue exclaimed, “Wow.” Then she asked, while still embracing this familiar stranger, “What is that?” There was no hesitation, just authentic, genuine curious expression.

“That’s us connecting,” replied White Buffalo. “You feeling me and me feeling you.”  She was pleasantly surprised by his openness, and happy to bear witness. “The connection she felt coming all along is right here before your very eyes,” he thought.

Blue is a Shakti mama waking up to her Shakti essence, and Buffalo can feel it. White Buffalo is a Shiva waking up his Parvati essence, the divine female guidance.  Blue can see it in his eyes and feel it in his spirit.

To step into the presence of a woman breaking out of her chrysalis, spreading her wings, and starting to fly is to be in the presence of an angel. Blue did not know what was happening. She did not know where this thread would lead. Happy their threads could weave together, even if just for a beautiful moment she would be. Blue hoped their threads would never part permanently, and White Buffalo knew it.  And White Buffalo knew that she knew that he knew she wanted the same. A wonderful weaving of the comical cosmic tapestry is such a beautiful mystery to see and behold, my Beloved.

Together, in blissful beloved beauty, Blue and White Buffalo watched the closing act. The ‘Everybody Band’ was amazing. It was absolutely a perfect finale for a perfect festival. Some of the artists who had stayed at the festival throughout its entirety jumped on stage and jammed together. The music was directed from one stage to the other by a most magnificent director in a resplendent conductor attire most had ever seen, from the Everybody Band on the main stage to the Bana Kuma orchestra with Saratone still in the Pachamama stage, and then back again. They went back and forth in a sort of free style jam session that felt like 15 minutes. It was a huge monster finale that felt like it was never going to end, like it should never end. It was as if the performers and audience had created this space and wanted to keep filling it with the good vibrations, to push into perpetuity. Blue did not want the moment to end, and in that moment she knew that it didn’t have to.  She knew that even though she could not make people see the heaven being created in this earthly space she could help them to see it; to imagine it. Blue knew that conventions of society only limit your reality if you let it do so. These conventions are boundaries we intend to and must transcend. Before anything can be transcended you must be able to conceive what it looks like, what it feels like, and why it is your birthright. These are the times to remember. We are the ones we have been waiting for. Believe and receive. In the pocket inside the deepest pocket in your heart have faith in the good things happening. Believe and we will achieve, my Beloved.

Where will the threads lead? Always be open to your path and your journey. Be patient while the process unfolds, and always keep your faith close and your imagination creating. We are building this dream and manifesting it into 3-D now. So mind your thoughts. They create. Choose the good ones. Choose loving and kind words.  Choose to serve. Choose to forgive. Choose to be Beloved. Until next time, keep her grateful!

Check out more photos from Beloved Festival 2016.

Fri, 10/07/2016 - 8:04 am

The felt moment of immediate experience has been lost. Perhaps we have given it away by not accessing it. Perhaps it was robbed by this mainstream media/cereal box religion/consumer culture. Music festivals help us drop out of the noisy centralized confines of the Matrix and fall into the magic of experience; to revel in the full richness of the moment. It is a domain of feeling, and at best it is a vector of love, light, good vibrations and community.

Attending the inaugural festival is always an interesting opportunity filled with curiosity and wonderment—a brand new frontier promising new experience and exploration. We find it utterly captivating. Deep Roots Mountain Revival was filled with all these heightened sensations and more, as this is the land of some family ancestors.

We would like to start by publicly thanking Martin for allowing thousands of tribesmen and tribeswomen to gather on his mountaintop, which has been in the family since 1960.  Our hearts and minds were opened wide as we danced and hugged and loved, enveloped in the ambiance and high frequency vibration of deeply rooted bluegrass, rock & roll and Americana music.

Marvin’s Mountaintop at sunset is a spectacle to behold. After arriving, we rushed off to hear the music and stand in the moonshine, and imbibe some of it as well. Melvin Seals and the JGB was the only band we saw that night. Melvin made his organ sing Jerry’s sweet, sweet songs to rock our souls. His enthusiasm is riveting, invigorating and contagious. We all felt like we were approaching hyper-spatial overdrive, or maybe it was just us.

The next day we approached the media tent to find Tawny Hayes sitting there smiling and content. We could feel her happiness floating in the air and see it exuding from her body.  She is a radio DJ for a favorite classic rock station in central Virginia. She’s the newbie of the station’s crew, but must have drawn the longest straw. 

Arriving at the main festival grounds we heard Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band on the Main stage. Then, The Rumpke Mountain Boys, a bluegrass band from Lexington, KY got things going on the smaller Main Stage. They seemed to be strangers to the stage during the day. They did their job. The crowds gathered to listen to vibrant rhythms. WE all felt better as the power of the good vibes lifted our spirits high. They killed it on the hill with their late night set in the wee hours of Sunday Morning.

Shooter Jennings, the son of Waylon Jennings, rocked that same stage an hour later with his band, Waymore’s Outlaws. Raw old school deep roots country music runs in his veins with a little rock and roll as well. This music belongs in the West Virginia hills. They played some hits from his most recent album Countach, which was released this past February. He even played some of his music from Black Ribbon. Listen to this album to catch the fire of some depth and truth from a rebel soldier on the front line far from his home. Woody Guthrie said, “’This land is your land, this land is my land,’ but now its their land.” Feel the realness. No processed bubble gum poppy bullshit allowed. Check Shooter out here.

Next, a country legend took the main stage. Marty Stuart, who used to play with Shooter Jennings' daddy, was playing with His Fabulous Superlatives. The old school bluegrass rockers were dressed to impress with a swagger that the new school managed to lose somehow somewhere along the way. The roots run deep here again. They played some good old classic country music knee slapping tunes with a touch of gospel’s prayerfulness. Marty and Shooter’s Poppa, Waylon, grew up in the same neighborhood. Marty describes his music thus. “It was kind of a reflection of how Mississippi is—the birthplace of America’s music. The church house is the common denominator, and every form of music has a touch of the blues. So I come from that perspective. Traditional country touched me the deepest, but all of these other styles were relevant to me.”

Fruition was up next on the docket, but first we run up the hills to the Roots Stage to see Melvin Seals play with the Zack Nugent’s Dead Set. After drifting away to some of Jerry’s sweet, magical lullabies for the soul we walked back down the hill.  Traveling to Marvin’s we drove around the winding dirt roads of wild, wonderful West Virginia behind the Fruition Airstream, we were not going to miss this performance. Colorfully describing their journey on this rising-tide it has been said, “Eight years after that impromptu busking session, the Portland, Oregon-based quintet has grown from a rootsy, string-centric outfit to a full-fledged rock band with an easy but powerful grasp of soul, blues, and British Invasion era pop. On their new album Labor of Love, Fruition shows the complete force of their newly expanded and electrified sound, matching their more daring musicality with sophisticated, melody-minded songcraft. With Anderson, Asebroek, and Naja trading vocal duties and offering up their own singular brand of gutsy yet graceful songwriting, Fruition infuse each track on Labor of Love with timeless urgency and three-part harmonies that never fail to enthrall.”


he strings were on full display and high regalia for the next two bands. Cabinet’s performance was riveting. Sublime. This music is home in Appalachia on the legendary Mountaintop venue. Their lovely, mellifluous tunes caress the soul of Appalachian mountain mommas and men, like Cabinet members caress their strings. Members include: Pappy Biondo (banjo, vocals), J.P. Biondo (mandolin, vocals), Mickey Coviello (acoustic guitar, vocals), Dylan Skursky (electric bass, double bass), Todd Kopec (fiddle, vocals), and Jami Novak (drums, percussion). They all live and love music, and aren’t afraid to show it.

Greensky Bluegrass came on the Main Stage and set Marvin’s Mountaintop on fire. Greensky’s roots music lives on the edge. It is progressive, punky, jammy pickin’ at its finest! They are representing the genre for the next generation with an acoustic bluegrass sound all their own. They played a number of hits from their newest album, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted. The spaced out trippy bluegrass of Jaywalking really was an amazing acoustic string display.  One of the highlights was their jamgrass rendition of Pink Floyds, “Time.” Fucking awesome!

BIG Something, a funk, hip hop improv band from Ashville, NC closed down the Roots Stage Friday night. The band features Nick MacDaniels (guitars, vocals), Doug Marshall (bass), Josh Kagel (keys, synth, trumpet), Casey Cranford (sax, EWI), Jesse Hensley (lead guitar), and Ben Vinograd (drums). After seeing a part of their performance at Floydfest earlier this summer, we made sure to catch their sets at Deep Roots. Marvin attended this show. After a nice introduction, we ended up dancing with his progeny into the early morning hours. Before they closed down the main stage Saturday night we ran into them chilling in the media tent and took the opportunity to snap a backstage picture... No doubt in our mind, they will be playing the main stage at countless venues in the years to come.

Saturday afternoon Ricky Skaggs masterfully played his mandolin and serenaded the audience with Kentucky Thunder.  Ricky struck his first chords on a mandolin over 50 years ago, and this 14-time Grammy Award winner continues to do his part to lead the recent roots revival in music. With 12 consecutive Grammy-nominated we all danced in awe of and appreciation for his masterful music.

The deep roots vibe delved a little deeper with The David Grisman Sixtet. An acoustic pioneer and innovator, David forged a unique personal artistic path, skillfully combining elements of the great American music/art forms of jazz and bluegrass with many international flavors and sensibilities to create his own distinctive idiom of “Dawg” music (the nickname given him by Jerry Garcia). Ricky Skaggs joined him as they jammed on their mandolins in a moving performance of precision and perfection.

Rising Appalachia took the smaller main stage next in their most captivating and salacious performance that we have ever seen. We have seen them four times this year and beautiful set was a crowd favorite. They danced together. They payed their respects to their southern heritage. They were home at Marvin’s legendary Mountaintop. It was tangible, palpable, authentic tribute to the deep roots movement happening now. They sang Filthy Dirty South, their activist song about mountain top removal. They sang Caminando. They were hotter than a fox in a forest fire on that stage. Oooh weeeee! Happened to miss the great Larry Keel to watch them, but ran into him and Jenny backstage. Good to know Virginia is representing the deep roots picking scene at Marvin’s, and sad that we missed it.

Leftover Salmon formed in Boulder at the end of 1989, the Colorado slamgrass pioneers took their form of aggressive bluegrass to rock and roll bars at a time when it wasn’t so common. Since, Salmon is a pillar of the jam band scene and unwitting architects of the jamgrass genre. Today, Leftover Salmon is: Vince Herman (vocals, acoustic guitar, washboard); Drew Emmitt (vocals, acoustic and electric mandolin, electric guitar, fiddle); Andy Thorn (vocals, acoustic and electric banjo); Greg Garrison (vocals, acoustic and electric bass); Alwyn Robinson (drums).

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong closed down the night on the Roots Stage.  Funk, Rock, Electronic high energy and freedom can describe their sound. These four Pigeons bring it every night. Based out of Baltimore, MD, we’ve seen them on the scene for years. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong has an undeniably unique and versatile live sound that ascends peaks of musical ecstasy. Their evolving arrangement of original compositions, psychedelic improvisational jams, and contagious smiles have ‘The Flock’ growing and coming back for more. With no end in sight, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong is here to bring the party with their danceable electro-funk grooves and infectious ability to bring positive energy to any environment.

Like Bilbo Baggins said, “The greatest adventure lies ahead.” Word is bond. All that lies before us and after the yawning grave is speculative; at least from where we stand now. By stepping into the transcendental all encompassing presence of the NOW you can experience the fullness of life. The body is a temple and music helps. By allowing yourself to be consumed by the joy, the love and the journey that is the felt experience of presence through music festivals you allow yourself to be ensconced in its magic. The inaugural Deep Roots Mountain Revival was pure music festival magic. Get some! Thanks for reading. Take her easy, but take her. Until next time, keep her grateful!

Check out more photos from Deep Woods Mountain Revival.