Day 3

The third day of Lockn’ was another beautiful day with warm summer sunshine peeking out occasionally through welcome waves of high clouds. Day three of the festival featured more bands than Friday, with only Widespread Panic and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead playing extended jam sessions. The day started early out in the forest with a 10 a.m. wake-up set by keyboard player Holly Bowling at the Terrapin Station stage.

By the time the music finished up at the Relix stage in the late afternoon, a large crowd had already gathered for the final set by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The Baltimore jam band took advantage of an extended set to play some covers like ‘Psycho Killer’ by Talking Heads. The extra time came from the only no show band at the festival this year, the Suffers. The unfortunate Houston based group lived up to their band name stuck in the devastation of Hurricane Harvey.

Many concert goers had already made it to the main stage to set up all manner of chairs umbrellas and beach blankets long before Keller Williams opened there at 4 p.m. The main stage played the entire day’s set from the Relix stage live on the giant LED video monitors and played the sound through the PA so many fans could lounge watching the action without having to move across to the smaller cramped stage. The feed was broadcast live on the web with a link to a charity for those injured in the Charlottesville demonstrations. Williams has become a mainstay of Lockn’, but this was his first year as a Main Stage act. The one-man band turned in a brilliant ninety-minute set. Williams creates live loops of multiple instruments through the performance, drawing from a whole host of musical genres. But he made each song his own with his unique vocals and quirky lyrics.

The music switched to authentic bluegrass with the next band to play who were Greensky Bluegrass. The group strummed their way into the hearts of an ever growing audience, with extraordinary picking skills on multiple jams. By the time the bad ended the set with a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Atlantic City’, the whole crowd seemed to be dancing or at least clapping.

The Main Stage took a more hard edged rock turn next when Australian jam rockers, the John Butler Trio took the stage. The raw energy of this band kept the crowd alive as the sun set brilliantly into the passing clouds.

As evening fell, one of the most highly anticipated moments came when John Fogerty took the stage to lead his brilliant band in an extended set full of Creedence Clearwater classics. The 72-year-old rock icon played and sang perfectly, like a man half his age. The set included sing along classics like ‘Who’ll Stop the Rain?’, ‘Looking Out My Back Door’, and ‘The Midnight Special’. By the time wrapped up his twenty songs set with ‘Fortunate Son’, the crowd were in ecstasy screaming for more. Fogerty obliged with one of the only encores of the night, playing two more Creedence classics ‘Bad Moon Rising’ and ‘Proud Mary’. Perhaps the only let down was that he did not return to jam with anyone else at the festival.

Fogerty shouted out to Widespread Panic, the final band of the night on the main stage anda group that he has collaborated with in the past. Widespread turned in a classic two-hour jam set. The band pleased the crowd with the mostly older material. But it was too bad that Fogerty did not sit in with the band like he had done at Lockn’ 4 years prior.

Just when it looked like it would be a day without collaborations along came the late night set for the second night in a row by Jim Russo’s Almost Dead on the Relix stage. By the third song, Bob Weir was on stage jamming with the band, with which he is so closely associated. The set included ‘Black Throated Wind’, ‘Good Lovin’, and ‘ Jack Straw’. What a way to end the early morning!

Day 4

Clouds rolled into the final day of Lockn cooling the summer sun and creating a pleasant last day for the festival. Collaborations abounded on the last day much to the delight of music fans who stuck it out for the nearly non-stop four-day musical jam. It was hard to describe this year’s Lockn’ audience other than as exuberant, cheerful and respectful. The multi-generational crowd seemed almost like a giant extended family on a huge holiday picnic. Costumes and clothes included classic 60’s psychedelia all the way up to modern EDM inspired outfits, more closely associated with dance raves. The nearly perfect weather and easy access to food drinks and facilities also kept the road in high spirits. But it was the unique musical experience of Lockn’ that was the real cause for celebration.

The Remix stage began early with a traditional Gospel inspired set by Keller Williams. It was a decidedly different set than that of his previous Main Stage set and was a testament to his diverse musical prowess. He was followed by local Virginia band Anthony Rosano and The Conqueroos. The bluesy band features, Rosano on vocals, guitar and mandolin, Jeremy 'JB' Bustillos on harmonica and sax, Paul Warren on bass and Scott Smith on drums. The band got the crowd in a rocking mood early on.

The magic of Lockn staple player Eric Krasno of Lettuce and Soulive fame was on display next. The master guitarist has played at Lockn# and across the world in countless impromptu jam bands. This year at Lockn’ he showcased the talents of his new band, with songs from his latest solo album, ‘Blood from a Stone’. He also played a killer cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic, ‘Manic Depression’.

The music took another turn when the New Orleans veteran jazz group, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band took the stage. Their funky horn driven sound inspired a dance party in front of the stage. It was too bad that none of the main stage artists plugged into their incredible energy and utilized them in collaboration, but the played a great set none the less.

The Relix stage closed out in mid afternoon with classic California rockers Moonalice, with legendary bassist Jorma Kaukonen joining them for some incredible jamming. Last year Kaukonen was on hand at Lockn’ to play two sets. He played one acoustic set with his long time band mate Jack Casady. Later he led a jam along with Casady of Jefferson Airplane classics. This year with Moonalice he played some classic covers including a resounding version of ‘Eight Miles High’

The Record Company opened the main stage in late afternoon with an explosive rock-laden set. Much like the John Butler Trio who played the day before, the mighty Los Angles trio got the crowd swaying and dancing right from the start of their set. Chris Vos, Alex Stiff, and Mark Cazorla blasted through a set of original material and a hair-raising cover of the Beastie Boys’ ‘Sabotage’. The music switched to southern swamp rock with the appearance of the next band, Florida’s JJ Grey and Mofro. Fronted by the multi-instrumentalist and singer songwriter Grey, the band played a funky set of material from their long playlist.

The music took an entirely different turn with the appearance next of Margo Price and her band. The singer led the group through a set of traditional Nashville country tunes, making for a pleasant afternoon show. New Orleans rockers the Revivalists appeared for an exciting sunset show next. Fronted by animated singer David Shaw, the band played one of the most energetic sets of the festival. The band played much of their 2015 album ‘Men Against Mountains’. They ended their set fittingly with a cover of the Beatles’ ‘With a Little Help from My Friends, with Shaw singing the vocals much like the gravel voice legend, Joe Cocker.

The Godfather of Lockn Phil Lesh made an appearance on the main stage next with jam band moe. Lesh and the band played a set list including moe songs and Grateful Dead classics. The performance included a steady list of special guest including, Lesh’s son Grahame Lesh, members of the Revivalists, and finally Bob Weir and Nicki Bluhm. The set took on a very personal note when the musicians revealed that moe bassist was not at the festival because he was in treatment for cancer. All the special guests wished the bassist well. Ending with several Grateful Dead classics, including ‘Sugar Magnolia’, the set was a real crowd pleaser.

The final round of the festival featured the Avett Brothers with their take on traditional North Carolina Bluegrass rock music. The band played fiercely for the first hour of their set before inviting Bob Weir to join them for six songs including a two song encore. Weir took a while to acclimate on stage becoming visably disturbed by a malfunctioning monitor. After getting little help from the roadies, he ended up in shoving it around out of his acoustic sight. But the distraction was soon forgotten, and the iconic guitarist then played flawlessly for the six song finale.

Photos by L. Paul Mann.

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