Another Fantastic snoe.down with moe., Strangefolk, Eastbound Jesus, Tauk and more, March 21st-24th, Rutland, VT

Upstate New York favorite ‘local’ band, moe., hosted their 5th annual snoe.down Music Festival over March 21st-24th in Rutland, Vermont at both Killington Resort and Spartan Arena. The weekend was full of moe., who gave an outdoor performance at Bear Mountain on Saturday to fans and winter sports enthusiasts, while performing Friday and Saturday evening in Rutland, as well as a special acoustic Sunday show for the VIP crowd at the Wobbly Barn at Killington. Throughout the weekend, guests had a wide array of musical acts to enjoy such as Marco Benevento, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk and Strangefolk.

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There was no better way to kick off the first weekend of Spring and the start of festival season than with a weekend dedicated to winter sports and talented musicians. The weekend started for me on Friday at the K1 lodge at Killington. The lodge was packed with tons of skiers and boarders, loading up on food and checking out the first act of the day, Tauk. The electronic rockin’ sound soon filled up the room and brought in plenty of people off the slopes. Matt Jalbert was on fire with funky guitar riffs and Charlie Dolan was unstoppable providing steady, groovy bass lines. Alric “A.C.” Carter went wild on his keys during “I Want You (She’s so Heavy)”, causing the audience to cheer while Isaac Teel kept the pop and jazzy rhythm going strong on drums. Throughout the entire set, the four-piece band was smiling and grooving just as much as the crowd was. My favorite part was how each song escalated into the next song, with great transitions. When asked about the show and weekend, Charlie Dolan reported, “We thought the set went very well! It was our first time playing a show since we finished up our CD, always refreshing to play in front of a good crowd. It was definitely our first time playing in a ski lodge, hopefully not the last. The rest of the weekend was great! Obviously, since we got to see moe. play.”

Before their music even started, I was excited to see what would come out of The Primate Fiasco, just from the array of instruments they had. The band took the stage with a banjo, clarinet, sousaphone, saxophone and the classic drum set, all of which I have never seen together at one time on one stage. Best described as a psychedelic Dixieland jam band, The Primate Fiasco quickly drew a dance crowd just with their soundcheck alone. Their vast musical arrangements flowed from original works to covers such as Ween’s “Roses are Free”, John Williams’ great score from Star Wars and various genres of tunes that anyone can enjoy dancing to. The energy was at a constant high with each band member being a driving force of talent and sound. The lodge was turned into a Mardi Gras party from the bellowing of the brass section, the fast finger pickings of the banjo and jazzy beats. It was my favorite act of the entire snoe.down weekend.

The scenic drive from Killington to Rutland wove around the mountain side and river’s edge, leading to the main drag in Rutland where there was plenty of food options as well as hotels, all a quick walk to the Spartan Arena. Inside the venue were multiple stands set up that you could find at any parking lot scene, offering shirts, stickers and various other merchandise. The ice-hockey-rink-turned-concert-hall provided great sound throughout the venue. Dumpstaphunk hit the stage and unleashed the groove as everybody started to get down. The New Orleans band plays with the great soul of classic funk and mixes it with modern twist. Ivan Neville, the master of the keys, wears a permanent smile while he pours his heart all over the organ. The wide range of vocals that the musicians sing propelled all to shout out in unison. The newest member of Dumpstaphunk, Nikki Glaspie, is a no joke and a true female drumming machine. I couldn’t get enough of the bass bombs being dropped by Nick Daniels and Tony Hall and the intense guitar jamming from Ian Neville

Following the funk filled set, moe. started their set with “Captain America” creating an explosive response from the fans. The Upstate New York band eased into a flawless “Recreational Chemistry” and shared the stage with Ivan Neville for “Happy Hour Hero” and a cover of The Meters’ “Cissy Strut”. Said Al, “I can’t stop smiling. It’s fantastic” sharing his feelings during Al.nouncements at the conclusion of the set. The night ended with “St. Augustine”, a groovy, light-hearted song that left the crowd in anticipation for the rest of the weekend.

moe. setlist:

Set 1: Captain America > Recreational Chemistry, Bring It Back Home, Happy Hour Hero*, Cissy Strut*, Bullet >Kyle’s Song  (* w/ Ivan Neville on keys)

Set 2: Billy Goat > Tailspin, Opium, Faker > Tubing The River Styx > The Pit > Wind It Up

Encore: Augustine

Friday evening gallery – photos by Sue Rice

Saturday’s festival goers were greeted with sunshine and snow showers as they geared up for the outdoor shows at Bear Mountain in Killington. The stage was set up at the bottom of the slopes and right next to the lodge, whose massive outdoor deck was full of people lined up to watch the show.  The wooden deck was surrounded by snowboards and skis of all sizes and colors. Fans also had the option of standing in the beer tent area, located closer to the right of the stage. Bear Mountain was ablaze with all the brightly colored jackets, not to mention all the hats, scarfs, helmets and sunglasses. It was true sensory overload at its best.

I was most excited to see Eastbound Jesus, one of my favorite local bands from Albany. Despite the chill in the air, EBJ easily heated up the crowd with their high energy, bluegrass rock songs that echoed off the ski slopes. Loaded with steady drum beats and fast guitar, as well as banjo strumming all fed the foot stomping fans, which made the entire mountain shake. It was so much fun to dance in the snow and sing along with everyone to “Here’s to You” and “Holy Smokes.” Eastbound Jesus was happy to play requests from the audience, who couldn’t get enough of the fast buildups that erupted into a pure hillbilly bash. Carl Anderson the drummer had this to say, “It was cool to play outside, especially with the snow coming down. The heaters worked well on the stage though and we’re pretty used to playing while cold. It was cool to open for moe.; it was a fun weekend.”

moe. took the stage and wasted no time getting the party going by starting with “Stranger Than Fiction” straight into “Spaz Medicine.” The snow started to fall, and when mixed with the music, it created a whirlwind of sound that got stuck on my coat and melted into my beer.  “Waiting For The Punchline” provided serious drum banging with relentless guitar riffs.  As the snow fell harder and harder, the band joked at how ironic it was to have indoor shows cancelled from weather like this, yet we are all outside having a good time.  They ended the set with one of my favorite moe. songs, “Spine Of A Dog” known for its absurd lyrics and light hearted jamming.

Setlist: Stranger Than Fiction >Spaz Medicine, Blue Jeans Pizza > Waiting For The Punchline, Jazz Wank > Akimbo, Okayalright

Encore: Spine Of A Dog

Saturday afternoon gallery – photos by Sue Rice

After fans drove back from the mountain, got some rest and food in them, the music continued at Spartan Arena with Strangefolk, formed in Burlington in the early 1990s and reunited as their original lineup only last year. Having only played 10 shows since last March, the quartet sounded like they had never stopped performing, moving through a set of classic tunes and rarities. Opening with “Elixer”, off Weightless in Water, the vibe became one that swayed hips and moved lips as fans sang along to the catchy tune, a common occurrence when you listen to Strangefolk’s combination of dual guitars and well written lyrics. “Dance” started out quiet and subdued, but slowly built up into a frenzy, compelling the crowd with lyrics such as “When you’re dancin’, dancin’, move your feet and lose your mind”, to which the arena obliged. A heavier “Chasing Away” had an edge to it, plus sandwiched inside of the song the rare “Pooh Bear’s Mistress”. Crowd favorite “Reuben’s Place” was supposed to close the set, but a misreading of time led Reid to conclude there were 25, then 10, minutes left in their set, leading to an onstage encore of “Stout Hearted Man”. Once again, Strangefolk were given a rousing ovation by a Vermont crowd, something the quartet were quite familiar with throughout the 1990s.

moe.s sets this evening led to a great deal of potential, because aside from the acoustic VIP set on Sunday, this was going to be the last set most would see until the band’s next shows in May. Opening with a scorching  “32 things”, Chuck shredde guitar sections with Al, who was sporting one of the finest beards in the state (there are a lot of beards in Vermont). “Haze”, a relatively new song for moe. was a huge highlight of the night, with Al and Rob giving intense emotion to the refrain “Hey, Let’s go. I don’t care as long as you are there; Hey, Let’s go, Doesn’t really matter when or where”. Jon Trafton and Reid Genauer from Strangefolk joined the band for two extensive versions of The Band’s “Up on Cripple Creek” and moe.’s “Mexico”; Jon stood near Chuck smiling ear to ear as they tore up the song while Reid stood centerstage, grinning and playing intensely on his acoustic. After the setbreak, moe. opeend with crowd favorite “Buster” and segued quickly into “Runaway Overlude”. After a 16 minute “Puebla”, the band moved into an extended sandwich: Brent Black > Mar-DeMa > Brent Black > Meat > Brent Black, an incredible combination of song after song that wrapped up more than the last 30 minutes of their set. “That Country Tune” and “Godzilla” wrapped up the encore and a huge Saturday of music.

This weekend in Vermont with moe. and company was an incredible experience. Add in the skiing, beautiful scenery, late night revelry and sore muscles from dancing all weekend, and you know its the start of music festival season in the Northeast!

moe. Setlist:

Set 1: 32 Things, Shoot First, Haze, Y.O.Y., Up On Cripple Creek*^, Mexico* (* with Reid Genauer and Jon Trafton on guitar, ^Reid and Jon on vocals)

Set 2: Buster > Runaway Overlude, Where Does The Time Go?, Puebla > Brent Black > Mar-DeMa > Brent Black > meat > Brent Black

Encore: That Country Tune, Godzilla^ (^ Immigrant Song (Led Zeppelin) teases)

Saturday evening gallery – photos by Pete Mason