The 31st Annual The Gathering at Chaffee’s: A Mud Stomping Good Time

What is it that mother nature has against music this year? Between the floods at All Good and Summer Camp, multiple Statewide Festivals, and even Phish having major issues with rain, you’d think that old lady has a severe case of PMS. (In this case, being Prevent Music Syndrome). That being said, even six inches of mud and dozens of stuck cars could not extinguish the musical fire and heated good times that encapsulated the 31st annual Gathering at Chaffee‘s. Held just west of Erie Pennsylvania, this for-charity festival is held on the grounds of the Chaffee family. The family has a huge land, filled with wooded and clear areas giving everyone their ideal shot at a nice place to pop a tent. The weather started out nice enough on Friday, with a stellar crowd that left many old timers murmuring that it was the biggest year ever. Given the promotional team of Ryan Bartosek and Tracy Evans from Erie’s premier music venue the crooked i and the perfect mid-sized festival lineup, this reporter was not surprised at the turnout. Friday featured headliners Aqueous and Funktapuss, who both fail to disappoint pretty much every time they take the stage. Many local and out of state bands preceded them, including Michigan’s Dragon Wagon, whose self-described “Bluegrass Folk Rock with a shot of Irish whiskey” music started a virtual hootenanny throughout their well-attended mid afternoon set.

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And then the rains came. Saturday started off foreboding with weather forecasts indicating their might be as much as 24 hours of straight downpours. This did not dissuade the weekend citizens though, as many walked by shouting things like “It wouldn’t be Chaffee’s without rain!” Luckily the forecasters were off a bit and the rain cleared up in the afternoon just as the sound of Phish’s “The Lizards” as covered by Eric Brewer and Friends permeated the air.  Ohio’s Stagecoach Robbery then performed a simply shredtastic set with a sound somewhere in between high octane Umphrey’s and filthy blues. This band will be missed as this was unfortunately one of their last performances.

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Upstate’s Conehead Buddha and Florida’s Cope filled out the the Saturday headlining spots. Conehead, now in their 20th year, had the mud flying as people stomped and hollered through a set filled with a myriad of influences and spot on improvisational moments. Continuing the trend, Cope, yet another hard to define genre mystifying band, played a frenzied set filled with high points, including  a bluegrass version of everybody’s hard rock favorite Tool’s “Sober” which its doubtful many humans would imagine could ever work. It worked spectacularly. Don’t miss the fun next year, as the gathering will be back. Bring your boots and hoots!