All photos by Mike aka swanny0586
We’re featuring another guest post from the latest Live Music Blog recruit, Mike S., who also spent this past weekend up Masontown, WV at the All Good Music Festival. Mike not only offered up some of his thoughts and highlights from the weekend, but he also snapped some seriously solid photos of the weekend’s activities. Check it…
“Wild and Wonderful and All Good”
Masontown, WV hosted the 12th annual All Good Festival this past weekend. As I’m originally from Pittsburgh, All Good has always been a close gem tucked in the mountains. But now, I have to travel up Rt. 33 from Charlottesville, one of the most scenic drives I have experienced on the east coast (as you can see from the photo above).
This weekend marked my third time on Marvin’s Mountaintop, and the third time I have been completely blown away. The lineup was especially exciting for me because, being a guitarist, it featured all of my favorites: Derek Trucks, John Scofield, Jimmy Herring, and Warren Haynes. And man, did they deliver. Here’s a quick recap of some of my favorite sets from All Good. If you dig the photos, be sure to check out the complete set from the weekend…
I arrived Thursday night about 15 minutes into Perpetual Groove’s set. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. Although I have fallen out of the loop a little bit with this group over the past year, I have followed them strongly for about five years now. So I was very interested to see how they would perform with new keyboardist, John Hruby. I definitely noticed where they still need time to work out some kinks, as former keyboardist Matt McDonald left some big shoes to fill. But overall, they put on a great set, and laid down a fat “Teakwood Betz.” This is the first PGroove song I heard off of the must-have Sweet Oblivious Antidote, which instantly had me hooked to their sound. Without a doubt, there is some great potential with the addition of Hruby. I would stick to these guys.
The late night set, named the Join — Shields and Shearer of the New Deal and the Benevento/Russo Duo–was a little disappointing. A few people I talked to said they really enjoyed it, but for some reason it never picked up for me. I love these two duos on their own and I’m not sure if I was just too tired to get into it. But for some reason having two drums and two keyboardists just produced a clustered sound. They were obviously improvising, but I felt like their communication wasn’t all that great and some of the tunes were a bit monotonous in terms of the dance beats.
My Friday started off with RAQ, who locked into some good jams. Guitarist Chris Michetti shredded like a machete, often using finger-tapping and a pitch-bender effect that expanded some of the interesting prog-rock digressions of their set.
I was not too familiar with the Avett Brothers before, but I was impressed with their wide-ranging sound. It marked the first official bluegrass-infused foot stompin’ of the weekend (though it was not to be the best). To my surprise, they had a large following and most of the crowd in attendance sang along to their lyrics. I did recognize one song, “Shame.” Their stage presence was lively and animated, and they were very fun to shoot.
One of the biggest surprises to come out of this weekend was the raw power of Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. I was not even going to shoot this group because I was getting hungry, but once I saw them step on stage, I knew I had to check them out. This big damn band is only comprised of three members, Reverend Peyton on Resonator Guitar, his wife “Washboard” Breezy on, you guessed it, washboard, and his brother Jayme on drums. Together they put on one heck of a down n’ dirty afternoon set. At one point they got the whole crowd soaring and singing to a rhythmically crazed rendition of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” It was the loudest and most forceful delta blues I have ever hear. They definitely won the foot stompin’ award for Friday. Just check out some more of the shots, man were they mean. Take a look at Reverend Peyton and tell me if you think he can high-kick a crash symbol. He sure can!
I have seen Medeski, Martin, and Wood numerous times. But I often get disappointed because although I love their albums–and I love when bands get crazy live–sometimes MMW just gets way too out there to the point where it becomes unbearable for me. However, after I heard their album Out Louder with John Scofield, I knew he would be able to corral this madness into a more coherent live sound, and I have been patiently waiting for over a year now. They played most of Out Louder, including my favorites “Hanuman” and “Little Walter Rides Again.” They also surprisingly pulled off their somber and beautiful “Julia” cover.
Lettuce’s performance was by far the funkiest of the weekend. I have respected Eric Krasno (of Soulive) for a long time now, but the additional members of Lettuce, especially drummer Adam Deitch (of the John Scofield Band), bring that neck-jerkin’ hard funk to a whole new level. Talk about party time!
My favorite performance of the weekend was without a doubt Phil Lesh & Friends. I have seen Phil a few times before and I always come away with the feeling that I only go because I love the Grateful Dead and have to pay my respect. But it is obvious Phil & Friends have gotten serious about their music as of late. The members that have been added since my last show made for one unforgettable experience. Nowhere else can you hear bass like that, especially coming from that beast of an instrument that Phil now sports, with its eccentric gothic curves and LED-lit fret board.
The first set was pretty normal Phil, but still better than what I have heard before. The second set, on the other hand, was a whole different story. Jackie Greene tore up the evening with his remarkable voice, picking, and overall energy. And never in my life did I think I would hear Phil get down on a trance tune, but he did, and he absolutely killed it. After a stacked second set run of Viola Lee Blues>New Potato Caboose>Revolution, Phil did the unexpected, transferring into Particle’s “Elevator.” The drumbeat turned techno, the bass and guitar turned demented, and Particle’s Steve Molitz blew everyone’s lid off with some of the most punctual synth buildups I have ever heard. The set ended with a soothing “Brokedown Palace” with Jackie Greene vocally capturing a piece of that pure emotion that Jerry Garcia first laid down on American Beauty. My favorite part of this set was being able to watch Phil from a close distance as he smiled the whole time, clearly having as much of a blast as everyone in the crowd.
The night ended perfectly with Gov’t Mule. Warren Haynes is truly one of the most passionate performers out there. The highlights for me were Wild Horses>Creep (Radiohead), and returning to my tent to be lulled to sleep with his staple “Soulshine.”
Saturday afternoon was hot and humid, but worth the pain. Tea Leaf Green pulled off an amazing set that included some of my favorite TLG tunes, as well as a raunchy “Five to One” Doors cover. Josh Clark seemed to summon Morrison’s spirit and sound through his vocals. Tea Leaf has never disappointed me. They have a truly unique and pure sound, and who can deny Trevor Garrod’s incredible vocal ability? I have trouble comparing him to any other singer.
Mike Gordon played a decent set that included songs off of his new album Green Sparrow. What made his set for me, though, was his inclusion of a super funky “Meat”, as well as a great “She Said, She Said” Beatles cover (Whit and I clearly see eye to eye on this one).
Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi started off with a groovin’ “Don’t Do It”, and performed a well-rounded set, elevated by Trucks’ signature tone, and Susan Tedeschi’s soulful voice.
Once again Jimmy Herring’s guitar wizardry had my jaw in the dropped position for most of Widespread Panic’s set. His finger-work just boggles my mind every time. I was really tired from a full day in the sun, but I held out on the hill for a great two sets of Panic. Highlights included guest appearances by Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi on “Angel on High” and just Trucks on “Ribs and Whiskey.” As it began to rain, I needed to keep my camera dry. By the time I got back to my tent, the rain was substantial enough that I couldn’t help but pass out hard.
I wasn’t upset about missing Dark Star late night because I have seen them a bunch in the past, but I hear that I missed Mike Gordon come out with the Bridge–whoops. The Bridge is one of my top bands right now; they are on fire. They played earlier in the day, so I thought I would be okay missing them late night. But with Gordo, damn! I had a long drive ahead of me so I wasn’t able to stick around for any music on Sunday. I would have liked to have seen Railroad Earth, but it looked as if it was going to thunderstorm all day so I felt it was best to get on the road.
Thank you All Good for another amazing weekend of music in the beautiful mountains of West Virginia. It was Wild, it was Wonderful, and it was certainly All Good.