Lockn’ Music Festival – Arrington, VA Sunday Recap

There is nothing quite like waking up on a Sunday morning at a music festival, only to realize you don’t have to leave, but instead get to spend it once again relishing performances from another solid line-up of artists. The late Duane Allman perhaps put it best when he said, “Music is my religion and it ain’t never hurt nobody.”

Once again local bluegrass opened things up, as the early crowd made their way to the Ridge stage for Charlottesville’s own Hackensaw Boys. Taking their name from the actions performed on a mandolin (hack) and a fiddle (saw), they strummed and stomped through a rousing set of their punk-inspired bluegrass. This set things up for Col. Bruce Hampton and his friends to take the reins, and they certainly seemed to be having a good time with each other on stage. The set started with members of Hampton’s own band, including bassist Kevin Smith and guitarist Rick Lawler, as well as Soulive/Lettuce guitarist Eric Krasno, who would find himself onstage with all kinds of folks throughout the day.

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Drummer Jeff Sipe and bassist Oteil Burbridge came out a few songs later, increasing excitement and anticipation about a possible Aquarium Rescue Unit reunion. ARU included Sipe, Burbridge, Hampton, and Widespread Panic guitarist Jimmy Herring, and are often held in high regard as favorites and influences among fans and performers alike. They have not played together since August 2011, and the buzz about the group getting together again was high all weekend. Herring never made an appearance, however, but that didn’t mean that the set wasn’t on point. Hampton sat in the center of the stage, surrounded by his friends, telling stories and blasting through tunes like his own “Basically Frightened” and a cover of Bukka White’s “Fixin’ to Die.”

The Tedeschi Trucks Band were up next, and they fully embraced the Lockn’ spirit of collaboration with a number of guests throughout their performance. “Made Up Mind,” the title track from their most recent album release, opened things up, followed by slow-burner “Do I Look Worried.” Favorites “Midnight in Harlem” and “Bound for Glory” peppered the set and Tedeschi’s gritty soulful voice simply soared through each track, while husband Derek Trucks laid down his signature licks. Krasno returned to the stage for a cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery,” complete with a “Sugaree” tease, perhaps foreshadowing things to come as Tedeschi would take the stage with Further later in the evening. More friends came to join the party to close out the set, as Chris Robinson and Jackie Green from The Black Crowes, and Further’s Bob Weir, lended a hand on vocals and tambourines for Sly and the Family Stone’s “Sing a Simple Song>I Want To Take You Higher.” The energy from that collaboration was palpable, and the crowd certainly got into the mood for the next three acts set to close things out.

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The Black Crowes would take over the Ridge stage for their second performance of the weekend, opening up with “Seeing Things” and “My Morning Song.” The set also included solid renditions of the sweet “She Gives Good Sunflower” and favorite “Another Roadside Tragedy,” but a highlight was the soulful version of The Velvet Underground’s “Oh Sweet Nuthin’,” a tune frequently covered by The Crowes, but always welcome nonetheless. Lead guitarist Rich Robinson takes over vocals duties from his brother, and since he rarely sings lead, it’s a treat to hear him emote such a deep song so thoughtfully.  The real excitement came, once again, at the close of the set when The Tedeschi Trucks Band arrived for a sing along version of “Let’s Go Get Stoned” by Ray Charles. Tedeschi stayed around, and was joined by Weir for “Turn On Your Lovelight,” an appropriate closer as it was also the birthday of late Grateful Dead founder Ron “Pigpen” McKernan, whose vocals no doubt made that tune a signature one for the band.

Widespread Panic was up next for their second performance of the weekend as well, and they got things kicked off just right with a ripping “Conrad the Caterpillar.” Panic gave a nod to an absent Neil Young with a blazing version of “Mr. Soul,” an often covered tune that they have down to a science, and the crowd really got grooving on Herring’s licks and the thumping bass of Dave Schools. Original instrumentals “Disco” and “Party at Your Mama’s House” had everyone bouncing which  gave way to a swampy dirty cover of “Stop Breakin’ Down,” the first of two Robert Johnson tributes the band would offer. Panic staple and crowd favorite “All Time Low” slid seamlessly into a nice jam, followed by JJ Cale’s “Ride Me High” which gave Panic keys master John “JoJo” Hermann a minute in the spotlight.

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Guitarist Derek Trucks appeared soon after, and its always such a treat to watch him play side by side with Herring, as they clearly feed off each other’s talent and variation in style. Staple “Chilly Water” was up first, followed by an almost evil version of “Me and the Devil Blues,” also by Robert Johnson, that had  John Bell giving up his best howls and gritty growls, amongst the shred-off between Trucks and Herring.  A ripping “North” closed things out, and had fans shouting the words and pumping their fists.

Although the last show of a festival can sometimes be bittersweet and reminiscent of an end to something amazing, Further did not intend to let the crowd leave the estate without one last epic show to remember. Opening up with The Grateful Dead’s epic opus “Terrapin Station,” the lights and smokey haze swirled through the crowd and suddenly fans were almost transported to a different time and place. Then the guests began arriving, and things really got kicked into high gear. Tedeschi joined for a high energy “Samson and Delilah,” and then Herring came to lend some sound for the classics “Brown-Eyed Women” and “Box of Rain.” Sometimes overlooked, but well-loved and revered by many Deadheads, “Weather Report Suite” was pretty much perfect, and Weir’s vocals were completely on point. Then, Tedeschi returned once again for a rendition of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” into fan favorite “Playin’ in the Band,” followed by “Standing on the Moon.” The set closed just as it began, with “Terrapin Flyer” bringing the suite full circle and competing the set puzzle.

After Phil Lesh’s standard organ donor rap, something he has done at the end of shows since receiving a liver transplant in 1998, the band gave the crowd just one more with the beautiful often tear-jerking “Brokedown Palace” from the Dead’s seminal album, American Beauty. The crowd sang along with Weir and Lesh, relishing their last moments of music, and loving the fitting send-off.

The inaugural Lockn’ festival was not without its issues, just like any first year run. However, the calibre of music, the talent of the artists, and the once in a lifetime collaborative moments that were witnessed by those lucky enough to attend are what Lockn’ will ultimately be remembered for in the future.

 

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