Day three at the Lockn’ festival on the sprawling Oak Ridge Estate started out just as beautifully as the previous ones. Clear skies and sunshine, with a steady breeze set the backdrop for the day that some festival goers had truly been waiting for.
The afternoon started off with a set from Love Canon, a local Charlottesville-based group of conservatory trained musicians, who share a love of bluegrass and all things 80’s. They treated early festival grounds attendees to grassed-up versions of mega-hits like “She Blinded Me with Science” by Thomas Dolby, Dire Straits’ “Money for Nothing”, and “Sledgehammer” by Peter Gabriel: a fun, comical way to get things going. Next up was the duo The London Souls, a Black Keys-esque pair out of New York City that pounds out dirty, gut-busting blues rock with a fervor. If you were still hazy and sleepy from the previous night’s activities, it didn’t last long after hearing the noise from these two. Recently completing a tour with The Black Crowes and The Tedeschi Trucks Band in the opening slot, they were a welcome addition to all those mandolins, banjos, and fiddles.
Speaking of the strings, the Punch Brothers were up next with their brand of progressive bluegrass, and that calmed things down for just a bit before the Black Crowes set the afternoon on fire, with the help of the blazing sun. Crowds didn’t mind the heat and packed the left-side Oak stage to see brothers Chris and Rich Robinson do what they do best: soulful, blues tinged rock and roll. “Soul Singing” opened things up, and couldn’t have been more apropos. Standards like “Jealous Again”, “Thorn in my Pride,” and “Wiser Time” were solid offerings and gave guitarist Jackie Greene a chance to show his stuff, and cover choices such as Traffic’s “Medicated Goo” and timeless Rolling Stones tune “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” were certainly crowd pleasing. They closed things out with their version of Otis Redding’s “Hard to Handle” segueing into Billy Joe Royal’s “Hush,” a combination they’ve been doing often on their most recent tour that is simply seamless in its transition. It will be interesting and exciting to see what The Crowes have in store for Sunday.
Attention turned to the right-side Ridge stage for last-minute Neil Young replacement Trey Anastasio Band, delighting not only to the Phish diehards but for every one who was ready to dance and get on down. “Cayman Review” was a perfect opener choice, followed by Phish original “Ocelot”, and a few newer tunes from Anastasio’s most recent solo release, Traveler, including “Valentine” and “Frost.” A choice cover of the Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood” had the crowd singing along with the pitch perfect pipes of songstress and horn player Jennifer Hartswick, often a scene stealer at TAB shows. Phish regulars “Sand” and “First Tube” delighted the masses and the encore of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” featuring Hartswick once again on lead vocal duties brought the house down and created the energy and fervor needed for what was about to happen next on the left stage.
Arguably the most anticipated “interlocking” collaboration of the weekend was next up on the Oak Stage. The boys from Georgia, better known as Widespread Panic, were set to take the stage with one of their self-proclaimed personal heroes, John Fogerty, best known as the former frontman of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Many, if not most, in the crowd were no doubt raised on Creedence, whether it came from their personal collections, parents’ stereo, classic rock car radio, or even scenes in movies. First, Panic treated the now swelling crowd to a solid Saturday night appropriate “Henry Parsons Died” into staples “Pigeons” and “Pilgrims.” Stomper “Ribs and Whiskey” was certainly a welcome energy booster, and a down and dirty version of Howlin’ Wolf’s “Taildragger” had the fist pumps and air guitar increasing by the minute. Two signature Panic tunes “Blue Indian” and “Ain’t Life Grand” closed out the solo portion of their set, just as the chickens started getting restless waiting for the first sign of Fogerty.
He joined the band soon after, practically running onto the stage full of energy, showing that at 68, he still has plenty of pep in his steps. Frontman John Bell introduced him as “one of the first voices we ever heard” and after Fogerty thanked “the Panics” for letting him play along, the first chords of CCR’s “Born on the Bayou” sent the already worked up crowd into a rowdy frenzy. Looks ranging from disbelief, to pure bliss covered the music lovin’ faces, lit by the stage lights, surrounded by waving freak flags and bouncing spirit sticks of many different colors. “Bad Moon Rising” was a rollicking sing along, and “Mystic Highway” from Fogerty’s most recent release Wrote a Song for Everyone, was enjoyable and welcome. More CCR goodness came with “Suzy Q” and classic “Old Man Down the Road.” The highlight of the set, however, might have been the rendition of “Keep on Chooglin’,” an underrated and often overlooked tune that is a definitive depiction of CCR and all their chugging swamp rock badness. Each of the members of Panic had looks on their faces that were simply priceless, open mouthed grins and smiles all around, basking in the light of sharing the stage with one of their favorite musical influences.
There was still more to come, though, as Further took the Ridge stage once again and played their signature 1970 release, Workingman’s Dead, in its entirety from start to finish. Some tunes, such as “Uncle John’s Band,” “New Speedway Boogie,” and “Cumberland Blues” appear fairly regularly in Further sets, but other tracks like “Black Peter” and the tripped out country western freight train that is “Easy Wind” are less frequent, and were real treats. The album closer “Casey Jones” got some help when Bob Weir introduced “our friend Trey” and Trey Anastasio joined the band, getting everyone on their feet singing along with each note. Seeming slightly reserved at first, it didn’t take long for Anastasio to find his groove, covering lead vocals duty for “Bertha” and a jammed out “Truckin'”. Up next was a deep dark rumbling “The Other One” that seemed to go on and on, always circling back to the pounding chorus. Trey again reappeared to set things off with a killer version of “Viola Lee Blues,” and stayed around to close things out with lovely sprawling versions of classic well-loved combo “Scarlet Begonias>Fire on the Mountain.”
Fans exited the concert area dazed and amazed, fully satisfied with what they were lucky enough to have just witnessed. Sunday is shaping up for more of the same, with appearances by Widespread Panic, The Black Crowes, and Further once again. Col. Bruce Hampton and friends, and The Tedeschi Trucks Band join the party as well.