The 2nd Annual Lockn’ Music Festival was a huge success, drawing approximately 30,000 fans to the massive Oak Ridge Farm in Arrington, VA over September 4-7. Founders Peter Shapiro and David Frey listened to fan complaints last year to make major changes to the festival grounds, including building new stages, roads, and entrances, as well as hiring better-trained staff to handle parking, security, vending, and logistics. Music started daily around 11 am and continued until 3-4 am each night (except Sunday).
The music kicked off promptly at 4 pm with the No BS! Brass Band from Richmond, who treated the first fans to horn-loaded renditions of popular favorites by Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin, including a fiery version of Led Zeppelin’s “The Ocean” with a “Black Dog” riff at the end, ending with a festive “Thriller”.
The Revivalists, from New Orleans, started on the Oak stage, hosting one of the first sit-ins of the weekend from Lettuce’s guitarist Eric Krasno. They covered the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” with rocking soul that amped up the sweaty crowd, as lead vocalist David Shaw jumped off the stage to sing in the crowd.
New York’s own Lettuce brought their extreme funk to Lockn’ with fast-paced tunes that set the groove for the night. One of the highlights was Alecia Chakour sitting in on vocals for “Do It Like You Do” from their latest album, Fly, with a swanky melody, smooth bass line, and sensual flair thanks to Chakour. She also dedicated “The Sun” to her friend, Brian Farmer, who was Warren Haynes’ guitar tech and recently passed this year. Lettuce broke out fierce classics like “Lettsanity” and “Last Suppit” along with one of their newer songs, “Phyllis”, and closed the set with “By Any Shmeeans Necessary”, joined by the No BS! Brass band.
Just as the sun began to set and cool off festivalgoers, back-to-back sets by Umphrey’s McGee and The String Cheese Incident heated things up. Umphrey’s McGee executed their first set with precision and purpose as the 6 piece band rocked the stage with triumphant sound. String Cheese immediately followed Umphrey’s on the adjacent stage with a set of crowd-pleasing originals like “So Far From Home” and “Can’t Stop Now”. Umphrey’s returned with a solid “Wappy Sprayberry”, and a fresh song off their newest album, Similar Skin, “Cut the Cable”. Flexing their jam-band prowess, Umphrey’s tore into a half-hour version of “Puppet String > Higgins”, and closed with a rousing rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Shine on You Crazy Diamond”.
SCI ended the night on the main stage with a tribute set to Kool and The Gang, joined by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and JT Taylor (a founding member of Kool and The Gang). There was no fighting the dancing bug when a trio of backup singers joined in, where everyone on stage showed off their dance moves. The old school disco funk had the crowd singing along to “Ladies Night” and “Get Down on it”, with a wild “Celebration” encore.
A new stage conveniently situated on the walk back to the campsites, the Relix Shakedown Stage, hosted late-night sets all weekend. Following the funk theme, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk packed the grassy amphitheater for an explosive dance party in a field framed by a colorful line of trees. Playing crowd favorites “Everybody Want Sum” and “Put It In the Dumpsta”, Dumpstaphunk was joined on stage by the Steel Town Horns for “I Know You Know” and “I Wish You Would”, closing the night with “Raise the House”.
Friday morning brought blue skies and a hot sun making most festivalgoers crawl out of their tent just in time for Keller Williams‘s Grateful Grass set on the Acoustic Triangle Stage at 11am. His 5-piece all string band included mandolinist Jeff Austin from Yonder Mountain String Band, fiddler Jason Carter from Del McCoury Band, Keith Moseley the bassist from The String Cheese Incident, Ray Starling, and the man himself, Keller Williams, who altogether drew a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. The foot-tapping, southern swing style set was greatly appreciated by the audience and musicians, as Williams continuously thanked everyone for the chance to perform some of his favorite Dead songs. Walking out of the shaded forest area to the top of the hill, guests had an amazing view of the festival grounds and colorful tents, backed by the majestic Blue Ridge Mountains.