Day 1

The fifth annual Lockn' music festival Thursday, August 24th got underway under partly cloudy skies after a “cold front” moved through the area the night before. The resulting forecast for the four-day nearly non-stop festival is for high temperatures in the low 80’s and lows at night near 60F, a rain free forecast perfect for festival goers. Many festival goers arrived early on Wednesday to set up campsites and were greeted with a much more organized festival than past years. Traffic has been rerouted to back country roads, which resulted in a major improvement in check in efficiency and much shorter wait times to get into the festival grounds. Inside the festival groups there have also been significant changes. The main stage was moved to the far side of the field, next to the Blue Ridge Bowl, (Now the Relix stage). The proximity of the two stages makes it much easier to catch the late night sets on the Relix stage after the main stage closes down. The late night venue out deep in the woods remains but is now called the Terrapin Porch Tent stage in honour of the 40th anniversary of the Grateful Dead’s ‘Terrapin Station’ album. The stage in Jerry Garcia’s Forest has been transformed into a life size Terrapin Station.

Before bands got underway at 7 pm on the Main Stage, there was a special afternoon showing of the Grateful Dead documentary ‘The Long Strange Trip’. Early festival goers lounged in the empty field while many others enjoyed their campsites in the woods. Some festival goers even took advantage of WaterLOCKN, which included a bus ride to the Tye River for an old-fashioned southern summer swimming experience.

The festival then opened right at sunset with a heartfelt ceremony led by Lockn founders Peter Shapiro and Dave Frey. In what became a theme of the festival, the promoters and musicians throughout the four-day event paid homage to those in nearby Charlottesville who were affected by the terrible events there. Everyone at the festival called for unity and inclusion, denouncing the hate-filled message of the far right. The promoters invited an array of police, fire and medical workers onto the stage in front of a giant flag for a stirring rendition of the national anthem. The Mount Zion First African Baptist Choir from Charlottesville led the crowd in an inspiring sing-a-long. The music then began with a short set by a young local jam band, Kendal Street Company. The band from the nearby University of Virginia got the crowd into a festive mood almost immediately.

The consummate jam band, Umphrey’s McGee, then played their first of two sets on the main stage. By the time the band reached a jam on ‘Mantis’ halfway through the set, they had the crowd in front of the stage head banging like fans at an Ozzy concert. The band offers up some of the most diverse sounds of any jam band from multiple genres of American music. The original Lockn concept then kicked in perfectly with a rotating stage revealing String Cheese Incident playing their first note right as Umphrey’s ended their set. The Colorado band also played the first of two sets. The band was in high spirits as guitarist Bill Nershi returned to the group after recently missing his first show with the band in twenty-four years, after a brief illness.

Umphrey’s then began the second part of the evening with their second set. The band played some of their fans’ favourite songs including ‘Wrong Guy’, ‘Miss Tinkle’s Overture’ and Remind Me. String Cheese Incident then opened their set with an emotional speech to the audience. With the band standing arms locked in unison, Nershi dressed the crowd. “We want to say to those of us that don’t feel the same hatred toward each other; we need to be united.” The band then inspired the crowd with an explosive second set. The first collaboration of many to come at the festival then took place when Umphrey’s keyboard player Joel Cummins and percussionist Andy Farag joined in on a cover of the Allman Brothers tune ‘Jessica’.

The late night action then shifted to the nearby Relix stage for an after midnight set by the Disco Biscuits. The band known for their lengthy jam infused concerts played well into the early morning hours. A large crowd danced about the stage, transfixed until the band played their last notes, as the evening cooled to a pleasant sleeping temperature. It was a nearly perfect opening day.

Day 2

It was another beautiful day at the Lockn' music festival. The music began early on this second day of the festival. Most of the 20,000 people attending the festival had arrived by the time the main stage sprang to life just after 4 p.m.

Southern rockers Blackberry Smoke opened with a strong set of tunes that had the crowd dancing early in the warm late summer sun. The band played songs from their new album including one that featured Greg Allman in one of his last recordings. It was a fitting tribute to the original Southern rockers the Allman Brothers who played earlier Lockn festivals.

Jim James appeared next in an emotional acoustic set expressing solidarity with Charlottesville and quoting Nelson Mandela. In keeping with the spirit of unity, James played a series of covers including Frank Sinatra’s ‘Young at Heart’, Woody Guthrie’s ‘Changing World’ and Bill Withers’ ‘Lean On Me’. James then went into some of his solo material as well as some My Morning Jacket classics. At the end of his set, he was joined by country rocker Brandi Carlile for a cover of the Dylan classic ‘Blowin in the Wind’. Then the two were joined by a jovial Jim Russo playing a large drum. The trio led the crowd in a resounding sing-a-long version of ‘Give Peace a Chance’.

Carlile played a rock-oriented set next, apologizing for canceling her Lockn appearance the year before due to illness. The beaming performer played a new song ‘The Mothe’r, in honour of her new child and a rousing cover of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Going to California’. James came back to sit in with Carlile as well.

By then multiple generations of Deadheads, literally from small children to grandparents had gathered en masse for a set by the Godfather of Lockn Phil Less and the Terrapin Family Band. The band played a two-hour crowd inspiring set that filled the field in front of the main stage with euphoric fans singing, dancing, or just sitting and smiling in tempo with the music. The set included a guest appearance by Govt. Mule’s Warren Haynes for guitar drenched versions of ‘St. Stephen’ and ‘New Minglewood Blue’s. The energy notched up further in the crowd when Bob Weir made a surprise appearance to join Lesh and the band for the final two songs, ‘Jack Straw’ and ‘Uncle John’s Band’.

Warren Haynes returned with his hard rock jam band Govt. Mule to rock the next set. The band played a solid two hour set with tunes stretching from early albums to their latest material on ‘Revolution Come Revolution Go’. Anne Wilson of Heart fame then joined the band for an intense mini-set including covers of the Led Zeppelin classics, ‘Immigrant Song’ and ‘Black Dog’. The band along with Wilson on lead vocals then morphed into a jam of the Zeppelin cover of ‘You Shook Me’ with the original by Muddy Waters. That was followed by a Janis Joplin classic ‘Cry Baby’. Wilson ended her appearance with the band singing the Heart mega-hit ‘Magic Man#.

The showcase set of the night came next with Phil Lesh and Bob Weir joining the Terrapin Family Band for a performance of the album that gave them their namesake, ‘Terrapin Station’. The 40th-anniversary concert also featured Nicki Bluhm nailing the original vocals by Donna Godchaux. The short set was a perfect ending to the main stage.

But the evening wasn’t over as most of the large crowd at the main stage shifted to the smaller stage for a late night set by Jim Russo and Almost Dead. The five-piece jam band wowed the crowd before being joined by some surprise guests. Nicole Atkins joined the group for bluesy versions of ‘Little Red Rooster’ and ‘Cassidy’. Jim James then brought the exhausted crowd to life joining the band for Jane’s Addiction’s ‘Been Caught Stealing’, and the Grateful Dead’s ‘Brown Eyed Women’. It was nearly 3 am when Atkins returned to the stage to join James and the band for a beautiful version of ‘Brokedown Palace’. Friday Lockn' featured more music in a single day than many entire three day festivals. How could it get any better? Only the next two days of the festival would answer that question.

Photos by L. Paul Mann.
www.lpaulmann.com

















Related Links:

http://www.locknfestival.com/
https://twitter.com/locknfestival
https://www.facebook.com/LOCKNFestival/


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