Words by Senor Martin, Photos by Nick Irving

Veteran jamband moe. hosted its annual three day music festival dubbed moe.down over the weekend of August 10th through 12th, with this year’s fest scheduled earlier in the summer than in previous years and returning to its long-time home at the Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, NY after a two year experiment at the Gelston Castle concert venue. By all accounts, this year’s return to Snow Ridge was a wild success and was perhaps the best in the moe.down’s thirteen year history.

moe.down’s formula for success is simple – three days of moe. joined by talented musicians whom they admire and regularly interact with on the jamband circuit. This year featured moe. playing two full sets each day, as well as other major acts on the Main Stage such as Galactic, Umphrey’s McGee, Luther and Cody Dickinson, Marco Benevento, Kyle Hollingsworth, and a number of up-and-coming acts playing the Second Stage.

The holidays started early as the hard core fans gathered at the venue on Thursday evening to get in line for choice RV parking or tent camping sites. There was a palpable feeling of joy and anticipation in the line of those waiting to find choice spots to pitch camp. Festival organizers had also created new areas for “family camping” and “sober camping” for those attendees craving some quiet time during the festival, while also providing for traditional camping in “Turkwookistan” for those that like to keep the party going after the on-stage music ends each night.

Early arrivals could also hear moe.’s sound check late Thursday night from the line (this year the band sound checked Tailspin, McBain, Wind It Up, and several different versions of Letter Home), and many of the early arrivals also awoke early to participate in Friday’s moe.down Charity Golf Outing at the Turin Highlands Golf Course. This year’s event was coordinated by long-time moe.ron Jeff Holl with heavy band involvement and help from the band’s tour manager Ken “Skip” Richman. The event raised over $2,000 for the local South Lewis High School chapter of Future Farmers of America.

Day 1, Friday, August 10, 2012

As you would expect at an outdoor music festival in upstate New York, the crowd was prepared for inclement weather and took the occasional Friday night storm showers in stride. If there is an equivalent to the Olympic Opening Ceremonies on the jamband circuit, it was provided that night by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, who kicked off the Main Stage with a high energy set that captivated the crowd and evidenced Grace’s stature as a true cross-genre entertainer. Performers on the Second Stage, included California-based Infantree, the Kyle Hollingsworth Band (delighting the crowd with two sets) and the latest iteration of The Everyone Orchestra (who provided a late night set featuring Steve Kimock, Jamie Masefield, Jans Ingber, Andy Hess, Jeff Sipe and Marco Benevento).

Not surprisingly, the crowd’s full attention was focused on moe.’s two Friday evening sets. The band is, by all measures, the headliner of the festival and the reason most of the concert goers have traveled from afar (such as Atsuhiro Matsumoto who flew from Tokyo just to attend the festival with his fellow moe.rons).

moe.’s first set was an energetic display, showcasing the return of drummer Vinnie Amico (recovered from a summertime bout of mono) and kept the crowd fully engaged despite passing the rain showers. Grace Potter’s sit-in with moe. for a cover of the Rolling Stones’ Gimme Shelter was a festival highlight and the perfect accompaniment to the driving rain.

Fortunately, the rain subsided for the second set and the band performed an excellently crafted list of crowd favorites, including an psychedelic version of Tailspin>Head, as well as a Happy Hour Hero that benefited from Kyle Hollingsworth’s keyboard sit-in, and a monstrous McBain>Skrunk>Brent Black. Friday night’s second set was definitely not to be missed.

Day 2, Saturday, August 11, 2012

Overnight the weather vastly improved and by Saturday morning brighter skies allowed the festival goers to enjoy plentiful outdoor parties and get togethers. Groups gathered to share food and drink, kids played in the band-sponsored “Kids Tent” (a long time moe.down tradition) and many participants hiked (or took the ski lift) up to the top of the mountain to take in some great views of the festival site.

moe.down is – at its core – a family gathering, albeit a large, extended family. Throughout the weekend you will see and talk to band members, their families and other tour friends. The festival may be moe.’s way of saying “thank you” to its loyal fans, with the fans returning the favor and expressing how much they have appreciated the band’s twenty-two year long career.

Main Stage acts on Saturday included SOJA, The Wood Brothers (Chris and Oliver) and veterans Galactic (with Corey Glover). On the Second Stage, the crowd was treated to several sets from Aqueous, an energetic set from the band Leroy Justice (featuring a two song sit-in by moe. guitarist Al Schnier), the funky JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound, and a late night set by The Bright Light Social Hour (including a bluesy Chuck Garvey guitar sit-in).

moe.’s two Saturday evening sets continued the energy from the night before, benefiting from the extraordinary sound quality and lighting rig provided at the outdoor Main Stage which enabled the audience to fully appreciate the guitar interplay between Garvey, Schnier and moe. bassist Rob Derhak, as well as the nuanced percussion added by Jim Loughlin and Amico’s freight train beat.

Saturday night highlights included extended versions of Faker>Moth, a Paper Dragon>Dr. Graffenberg, a joint moe./Galactic band switch, as well as moe. classics George and Recreational Chemistry.

Read on for highlights from Sunday and the full photo gallery…