This is the first review for from famed live music photographer Phrazz. Check out his full gallery on his Flickr page and enjoy a full recap of Lockn’ Festival.
Peter Shapiro and Dave Frey hit a home run with their inaugural Lockn’ Festival, which was held September 5-8 at the laconic Oak Ridge Estate, a sprawling 4,800 acre tract of fields and forests in Arrington, VA. Furthur, Jimmy Cliff, Widespread Panic, The String Cheese Incident, The Black Crowes and Gov’t Mule brought their best performances to the estimated crowd of 25,000. Although the musical fare was jam-rock heavy, there also plenty of bluegrass, folk, funk and jazz mixed in.
Furthur played four powerful sets over three star-studded nights, with sit-ins by Trey Anastasio and Susan Tedeschi. Anastasio joined Furthur during their re-enactment of the entire Workingman’s Dead album while Phil Less delivered thunderous bass in a ground-rumbling duel with Joe Russo’s drums, while John Kadlecik’s deftly-delivered Jerry-esque leads, and Bob Weir’s impeccable rhythm and vocals were woven into a psychedelic sonic tapestry. On Saturday night, John Fogarty of Creedence Clearwater Revival sat in with Widespread Panic on “Born on the Bayou”, “Bad Moon Rising”, “Suzy Q”, and other CCR classics, ending with a powerful “Fortunate Son”.
In a welcome departure from most festivals this summer, Lockn’ had no DJs, instead featuring the best rock, bluegrass and jambands making great music. The two main stages were set up next to each other at a slight angle, with little or no performance overlap, so fans could see every bit of music. In spite of an extremely long entry line, the festival was a huge success. Frey, who worked for the legendary Bill Graham, also booked bands at Shapiro’s club, The Wetlands Preserve (the progenitor to the Brooklyn Bowl). Frey and Shapiro decided to create a festival with “bands they’d like to see”, and little downtime associated with other large festivals. The only significant waits were the line to park and camp (6-10 hours), and the round-trip to the mysterious late-night “Triangle Stage” deep in the woods (40 min walk), whose schedule was only announced by word-of-mouth.
Keller Williams and Larry and Jenny Keel – Keller & The Keels – kicked off Lockn’ on Thursday with originals “Breathe”, “Take Me To The Tundra”, and “Freeker by the Speaker”, along with a rapid-fire delivery of jamgrass-laced covers, such as “Born To Be Wild”, “Another Brick in the Wall”, and an astounding “Pepper” (The Butthole Surfers), which had the crowd singing along raucously, “You never know just how you look through other people’s eyes”, as the afternoon sun blazed on the slowly-amassing crowd.
Warren Haynes fired up the crowd with his soulful blues-rock guitar riffs and vocals on originals “River’s Gonna Rise”, “Hattiesburg Hustle” and “Tear Me Down”, with tasty covers sprinkled in, such as Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic” and Steely Dan’s “Pretzel Logic”. Warren Haynes Band had Alecia Chakour on vocals, and Nigel Hall on keys & vocals, along with Ron Johnson holding down the bass, and the legendary Ron Holloway on tenor sax. The String Cheese Incident followed Warren’s blues-rock with their super-funky flavor of discograss, a rousing set that included “Desert Dawn”, “Far From Home” and “Mauna Bowa” > “Colliding” and got the crowd jumping with ecstasy. Keller Williams added his funky acoustic strumming and clear vocals on the bluesy reggae tune, “Best Feeling”, as he “sat up in the branches and felt like a bird / it was the best feeling in the world”, with tasteful solos by Bill Nershi on acoustic guitar, and Michael Kang on electric mandolin, with a funky key jam-out at the end by Kyle Hollingsworth. They ended their flawless set on Friday night with their perennial party favorite, “Texas”.
The music quickly switched to the Ridge Stage, where Gov’t Mule fired right up. Warren Haynes, on lead guitar and vocals, was joined by Jorgen Carlsson on bass, Nigel Hall on keys & vocals, Alecia Chakour on vocals, and Danny Louis on organ, guitar, vocals & trumpet, with Matt Abts keeping the rhythm flowing. A night chill breezed through the crowd as Warren broke into a slow, heavy “Dear Prudence”, where Grace Potter joined them to major applause. Grace lent her soulful Joplin-esque vocals to a soothing “Gold Dust Woman”, and then performed a first timer, “Whisper in Your Soul”. In an apparent homage to Neil Young (who attended, but didn’t play), Gov’t Mule played CS&N’s “Find the Cost of Freedom”, then a scorching “Southern Man”, where Grace briefly hopped on the organ during a crushing Warren guitar solo, and then returned with her impassioned lead vocals.
Friday started out nice and breezy, with an acoustic duet by The Founding Farmers (Andy Falco and Chris Pandolfi of The Infamous Stringdusters, whose annual Festy Experience is hosted nearby), which included ‘Dusters tunes “Fork in the Road”, and covers of “Sitting on Top of the World” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Falco played a modified electric banjo guitar.