Peach Music Festival Delivers on a Much Anticipated Weekend

The Peach Music Festival may have hit a few bumps in the road in the last week before the festival got under way, however it did not stop them from having one very successful event. When the news came out that Bob Weir and Ratdog would be cancelling the remainder of their touring schedule, including the Peach, there were some very unhappy fans who expressed their opinions all over social media. The Peach on the other hand took a deep breath and managed the situation like any good executive would and came through in a big way. They were able to fill Weir’s void with a second night of  Trey Anastasio Band. The festival also added a special set of Grateful Dead music by a super-group of very talented musicians.

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Thursday night brought the majority of the crowd to the mountains of Pennsylvania and the music started at 6PM with Citizens Band Radio followed by local northeast bluegrass standouts Cabinet. Cabinet was asked back with good reason, they were one of the most talked about groups from last year’s festival. George Clinton and Parliament Funk followed Cabinet and brought the funk. George Clinton and the P Funk have been playing for over 40 years and have been part of some big time stages; it was great seeing them at The Peach. Late night is always a great time when it comes to music festivals. Dopapod,who also returned to The Peach again this year, played an incredible set combined with great lighting and jams that lit up the sky. There were plenty of people talking about what a great show it had been closing out night one. This was only the beginning as Friday would bring some heavy hitters and with the newly added acts for Friday night, the anticipation was at an all time high.

Friday started off the day with, From Good Homes on the main stage and Trigger Hippy on the Mushroom Stage.  Blackberry Smoke got a lot of people moving at the Peach Stage and by the time JJ Grey and Mofro began their set the majority spent their time there. JJ Grey doesn’t travel much up north and being at the Peach this year was something I was excited for. JJ Grey’s voice and southern soul reminded me of Joe Cocker. Grey’s voice delivers as much as his music does with flashes of excitement on stage. He brought a lot of smiles and he was perfect in the placement of the festival. Playing several of his notable songs and bantering back and forth with the crowd, he was a shining spot in not just the Friday lineup but in the entire weekend. I hope that JJ Grey and Mofro can make some time to come up north more often, he is definitely more than welcome.

One thing about the Peach, you sure do get your exercise bouncing from stage to stage. As soon as JJ Grey was finishing up The Revivalists were getting going over on the Mushroom stage and by the time you made it over there, The Revivalists crowd was packed right up to the stage. Out of the middle of the crowd one could see David Shaw’s  head and noticeable hair bobbing to the beat, shaking everyone’s hands as he made his way to and from the stage. He loves every minute on and off the stage, smiling from ear to ear.  The Revivalists give the fan the ultimate experience every time they perform with great energy, music and showmanship.

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The Peach stage was just ramping up as soon as the dinner hour was looming with a Dead set featuring a cast of excellent musicians. The lineup was put together in the last week with the departure of Bob Weir and Ratdog from the festival lineup. The festival had brought a lot of the Grateful Dead crowd in past years and with the remaining fan base that didn’t bail with the Weir announcement, were treated to a great set by Joe Russo (drums), Jackie Greene (guitar), Jeff Chimenti (keys), Reed Mathis (bass), Scott Metzger (guitar), Tom Hamilton (guitar) and Joan Osbourne (vocals).Tedeschi Trucks band carried on after a great set and opened with Traffic’s ” Who Knows What Tomorrow Brings”. Playing their staples with “Midnight in Harlem” and “Bound for Glory”. TTB also played Willie Johnson’s ” Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burned”  which saw a seated Trucks with an acoustic guitar. Trucks normally can be seen playing his Gibson SG, so it was nice to see him donning a different look and playing some old Delta blues taking the listener back to a simpler time.  Trey Anastasio Band was headlining the evening and I couldn’t have been more excited, shamelessly I haven’t seen TAB yet and was looking forward to it; seeing Phish many times I had an appreciation for Trey’s guitar work interlaced with his normal band but it was the mix with horns and backup singers I was looking forward to checking out the most. Opening with the upbeat ” Sometimes after Sunset” and playing a set filled with songs like “Shine” Phish’s ” Sand” and closing out with “Push on Til the Day”. Trey’s guitar solos grab your attention and he loves to feed off the energy of the crowd producing a different solo on any given night.

Anastasio is truly a master with being able to take the crowds feelings and let it be broadcast with his solid guitar playing. The encore brought a familiar song to the masses with Led Zepplin’s ” Black Dog”. When it was first announced that TAB would be playing two nights, it was a bittersweet feeling, I felt that maybe another band would have been added but I was soon glad that TAB would be playing two nights because one set just wasn’t enough for me and I couldn’t wait come Saturday evening on the main stage.  Friday’s late night sets included Scranton’s own Cabinet on the Grove stage and Big Gigantic on the Mushroom stage. Big Gigantic has played countless festivals throughout the entire country and their Livetronica and lighting kept the late night crowd entertained into the night.

What started out as an overcast type day soon turned into a day filled with sunshine and music. Everyone  dusted themselves off  from the night before, got a breakfast burrito and a morning beverage and dove right back into the music filled Saturday. The Mushroom stage started the day off with The London Souls and Rich Robinson Band, while The Peach stage brought out The  Tribal Seeds and The Infamous Stringdusters. The Grove stage hosted Tom Graham and Jamestown’s Big Leg Emma. Big Leg Emma had a sizable crowd brewing, representing the western New York scene rather nicely. Gov’t Mule took the Peach Stage as they did many times before at this festival and the many festivals around the country. Warren Haynes, an extremely talented guitarist, with his crunchy guitar and southern twang, always seems to impress the crowd. Haynes is not only a great guitarist but he is one of the most humble and respected people throughout the industry, he is as real as someone gets in the spotlight and it shines through in his playing. One of the greatest things about Warren was his guitar technique. Brian Farmer, who by the time you’ll have read this  had unfortunately passed away; Farmer may have been one of the most well liked persons who seemed to have loved life every time you saw him. It’s with a heavy heart that I type this and know that this gentle giant will be missed by so many, Thank you Mr. Farmer for making sure that Warren’s guitars always sounded top-notch.

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Another bright spot for western New York State was Aqueous, who played the Grove stage and had the largest gathering of people on that stage, their constant touring throughout New York and Pennsylvania has really paid off, as well as the many followers coming from Buffalo, NY that made the trip. The band started off their set with “King for a Day”. Kicking it into high gear with a rousing segue series with “Skyway>Staring into the Sun>Heart Shaped Box> Warren in the Window”.  Closing the set with ” Strange Times”  and using every bit of their allotted time with one incredible set from start to finish. The set was perfectly placed at a time when the crowd was filtering into the main stage area for Trey Anastasio Band’s second night set. If there were any non believers watching Aqueous perform their set, I would bet that there wearing an Aqueous shirt today. As everyone shuffled off from Aqueous, the main stage filled in with many people for night two of Trey Anastasio Band. The talk around the campgrounds was on how everyone loved TAB the night before. Night two included three Phish songs to keep all the phans pretty content with “Alaska”, “Gotta Jibboo” and “First Tube”. Trey played to the crowd again on the second night and at one point dodging a few giant-sized balloons that found their way on stage, without missing a beat and smiling in true Trey form.

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As good as TAB was, the night belonged to The Allman Brothers Band. The amphitheater was packed to the gills both in the pavilion and on the lawn. There were not many people at the venue that weren’t down to hear the band. As the Allmans came on stage the crowd erupted, Butch Trucks came up to his elevated drum kit with fists clenched high and got the fired up crown even more excited. Ever since the Allmans announced this would be their final tour the anticipation for this show was at an all time high. The band was also going to play their 1972 album, Eat a Peach in its entirety. As soon as the group hit the first few notes of  “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More” they new this night was going to be something special. Following along to the album, the boys played “Les Brers in A Minor” and “Melissa”. “Mountain Jam” was incredible, with Oteil Burbridge’s thumping bass, Butch Trucks’  rolling drums matched with being on an actual mountain and at The Allman’s festival it was a once in a lifetime experience. Rolling right through with ” One Way Out”, ” Trouble No More”, “Stand Back”  and closing the set with a rousing ” Blue Sky”. The Allmans stepped off stage for what seemed like seconds, returning with just Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes who came out and played ” Little Matha” while images of the late Duane Allman with old footage of the Allman Brothers band were displayed on the screens. It was a great moment with two of the newest members of the band paying a tribute to the originals. Danny Louis once again joined the group onstage; Louis who plays in Govt Mule, played on the opening song and on “That’s What Love Will Make You Do”. Closing the night out with “Black Hearted Woman” the band finished up their first night and it was one of the best I have ever seen from them. The band was on point, and they showed it all night long. The Allmans are true pioneers in the music scene, if there wasn’t groups like this, we wouldn’t have a lot of the music we love to listen to from so many others. It was amazing to catch them before they decided to hang it up and if you weren’t able to make the festival you may want to make some plans to catch them with their Beacon Theatre run.

Setlist: *Ain’t Waistin’ Time No More, Les Brers in A Minor, Melissa, Mountain Jam, One Way Out, Trouble No More, Stand Back, Blue Sky Encore: Little Martha, That’s What Love Will Make You Do, Black Hearted Woman *Eat A Peach in its Entirety

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Late night featured two great bands with Lotus and The Ron Hollaway Band playing on opposite sides, NYS Music’s own Garrett Montgomery reflects on the latter which we both had the pleasure of attending. As a mass exodus of  fans headed to watch Lotus from the poolside Mushroom Stage, Ron Holloway started spraying melodic runs with his tenor saxophone at the smaller Grove Stage.  A highly revered veteran of the festival circuit, this was only the second ever show Holloway has played with his new project, The Ron Hollaway Band. After singers Amanda Lynne and Jenny Poppen pleaded “God make me funky!” and bassist Chris Brown’s quickly flicking fingers demonstrated he was blessed with that gift, the late night crowd was provided a special surprise. Warren Haynes, Derek Trucks and Danny Louis  joined The Ron Holloway Band on stage for unforgettable renditions of “The Weight” and “The Letter.”

“We were fortunate enough to slide into that midnight spot,” lead singer Jenny Poppen said. “It couldn’t have been a more perfect place. People were leaving the Allman Brothers, heard us, and had to stop.  We were hoping Warren and Derek would join us, but it was a last-minute surprise even for us!”

Solos flew like hotcakes for the star-studded The Band cover, while Rod Gross kept everyone in line on the drums.  The crowd sang the well-known lyrics in unison, and then the heavy hitters stepped up.  Holloway soloed first, laying out a template for the others to build on.  Warren retorted in soul-wrenching style.  Trucks, who seemed to be hiding near the back of the small stage, slid in and added his share to the monster jam.  Holloway’s guitarist Joe Poppen, however, would not be outdone during his set.  He shredded to pieces what the other rock stars built up, showcasing his own clout as a highly talented guitarist.

When “The Weight” wound down, The Allman Brothers‘ guitarists and Govt’ Mule keys player stuck around for a cover of “The Letter”.  According to Holloway, “They saw the song list and gravitated toward those two songs.  [Warren and Derek] liked the idea of playing both songs, which made it even more fun having them stay out for two.” Holloway, who has played with Root Boy Slim, Dizzy Gillespie, Little Feat, and many more musicians throughout his career, added, “It was an honor and a privilege being up with them, those are two of my very best friends.”

After the guests left the stage, the Ron Hollow Band continued to rock the crowd well past curfew, playing a mix of jazz, soul, funk, and blues. Amanda Lynne started a heartfelt cover of Neil Young’s “Down By The River” that Jenny Poppen added her “Black Betty” touch to. Holloway warned, “Careful ladies, there are a lot of horny guys out there,” as his band mates grooved and grinded on stage. While it was easy to be seduced by their shaking hips and pretty faces, their appeal was rooted even deeper in their soulful voices. With musical legends crowding the stage, no one could mistake Jenny running the show and Amanda Lynne’s voice was rousing.  Holloway, who discovered Lynne in 2013, realized she wasn’t being properly utilized in her previous band.  “I thought to myself, ‘I want to get her in a setting to really shine.’  So she was definitely going to be a part of the band.”

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The Peach set included a grooving version of “What Is Hip” and keys player Wes Lanich cranked it up during “Memphis Soul Stew.”  While the night was full of covers, Holloway portends, “We’re here for the duration. We’re thinking about getting into the studio and recording, that’s a definite. It’ll probably be a mixture of both [covers and originals], but definitely expect originals.” The next scheduled Ron Holloway Band show is at the 8×10 Club  in Baltimore. Though no dates are confirmed yet, Holloway and Jenny Poppen both hinted that it will not be long before the band returns for another show in the northeast.

Set list: Blackbird, God Make Me Funky, The Weight, The Letter, Baby I Love You, Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean, Make It Rain, Congo Square, Baby Love, If I’m In Luck (I Just Might Get Picked Up), Breaking Up Somebody’s Home, Down By The River, Kissing My Love, What Is Hip, Memphis Soul Stew, Rock Ready

Lineup: Ron Holloway (tenor saxophone), Jenny “Black Betty” Poppen (vocals), Amanda Lynne (vocals), Joe Poppen (guitar), Christopher Brown (bass), Wes Lanich (keys), Rodd Gross (drums)

Guests: Warren Haynes (guitar), Derek Trucks (guitar), Danny Louis (keys)

Sunday tends to be a more laid back day, with a crowd that had been going hard since thursday night, Sunday set up with a sense calmness to it. A good amount of people tend to also pack up and head out and get to the travel ahead of schedule and back to reality. For  the hardcore festival goers that like to use every minute of the weekend for the festival, they are treated to some great music. The day started out with Wake Up With Warren. A set with Warren Haynes and an acoustic guitar. Warren played several Govt Mule songs, Allman Brothers Band tunes, a Rolling Stones cover and closing with Pink Floyd’s ” Wish You Were Here”. Haynes is such a versatile guitar player that he can play just about anything and with the knowledge of music that he has learned, he makes it look easy.

Taj Mahal Trio, who is led by Grammy award-winning blues musician, Henry Saint Clair Fredricks has been playing music for 50 years. Taj Mahal, is what he uses for his stage name played with some of the greatest blues musicians in his time and was a refreshing sound of authentic raw blues on Sunday. The Soul Rebels, a band from New Orleans had a big sound and was working to get the crowd jumping for the Allman Brothers return to the stage. The eight piece band brought the funk, jazz and dance to the stage and was a nice surprise to the Sunday afternoon. Bridging The Rebels and the Allmans was Jimkata, which closed out the Grove stage with a solid set and very good appearance at The Peach.

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The Allman Brothers band closed out the festival, once again coming on stage to a standing ovation and the band got right into it opening with The Spencer Davis Group’s ” Don’t Want You No More”. Playing through their extensive catalog while playing popular songs such as ” Statesboro Blues” , “Midnight Rider”, ” Soulshine”, ” In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” and closing with ” Whipping Post”. The Peach fans definitely got a big slice of Allman Brothers for the weekend and it’s going to be tough to see this band hang it up with touring. I sure hope they rethink it and perhaps still attend the festival that they created only three short years earlier. If the Allmans decide to permanently put it on hold I sure hope they pass the torch to a great band that can take on the festival and continue to grow it the way the Allman Brothers Band had always planned.

Setlist: Dont Want You No More, It’s Not My Cross to Bear, Midnight Rider, Done Somebody Wrong, Hot’Lanta, Dusk Till Dawn, Leave My Blues At Home, Statesboro Blues, Soulshine, You Don’t Love Me, Good Morning, Little Schoolgirl, Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, JaBuMaOt >In Memory of Elizabeth Reed, No One To Run With

Encore: Whipping Post