Saturday and Sunday at The Peach Music Festival in Scranton, PA was more of the same weather wise with scorching heat, humidity and powerful storms that would delay several sets in the evening. Despite the elements, festivalgoers all across Montage Mountain appeared to be in better spirits for the later half, perhaps due to an acceptance and understanding of these factors, but more likely due to the outstanding music delivered to their eyes and ears. Headliners like Trey Anastasio Band and Umphrey’s McGee delivered top notch sets on Friday and Gov’t Mule and new supergroup “RB&B” brought the festival to a truly satisfying close on Sunday.
New York’s own Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds swooped onto the main stage early in the afternoon. Arleigh Kincheloe and brother Jackson, along with the rest of the birds energized the mountain with their soulful yet funky performance fans have come to love.
The afternoon also welcomed back Tom Hamilton to the Grove Stage with his band American Babies. Hamilton is a talented songwriter and although his presence in Thursday night’s Pink Floyd Electron set was nothing short of jaw dropping, the change of pace with the lively Americana feel to his afternoon set is exhilarating as well. Also during this time, metal rockers Brown Sabbath slayed over on the Mushroom Stage. Their frontman is as comical as he is talented, addressing the crowd as “motherfuckers” in between sets. As the name suggests, the Austin based band covers the catalog of Black Sabbath, but they do so with horns and Latin-style percussion for a unique experience both metal heads and hippies can appreciate.
The darlings of the festival scene, Twiddle, brought a massive crowd to the Mushroom Stage mid-afternoon on Saturday. This would likely have been a massive pool party like that of Pigeons Playing Ping Pong the day before, but the wave pool was closed. No matter though as fans packed the area to witness the rising stars welcome Russ Lawton on drums and Ray Paczkowski on keys, both from Soule Monde and TAB, join the band for “White Light.” Bassist Zdenek Gubb proved himself to be MVP of the set with powerful and funky bass playing that could be felt at the very top of Montage Mountain.
The highlight of Friday afternoon was Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. Because the Grateful Dead means so much to so many people in the community, it’s no wonder their set drew such a massive crowd to the main stage. Joe Russo and friends bring a thrilling and welcomed update to the classics so many of us have come to cherish. Their set included greats like “Eyes of the World,” “The Wheel” and a full and powerful “Terrapin Station.”
As was the trend each evening at Peach, Mother Nature made her presence known with continuous flashes of lightening that would come with strong winds, rain and thunderstorms forcing The Lennon Claypool Delirium to prematurely end their predictably spacey yet original set. Fans took cover under the Pavilion as the first part of the storm passed overhead flooding the floors under their feet. Once passed it was finally time for the great Trey Anastasio Band to hit the stage. The pavilion, now packed with fans, housed tunes like “Cayman Review,” “Magilla,” “Gotta Jibboo” and “Money Love and Change.” As soon as “Sand” started to pick up, Anastasio was forced to tell fans to once again seek cover due to more severe weather. Once given the all clear, TAB returned to the stage to pick up “Sand” where they left off. Later in the set, Trey shared the story of how former TAB trombonist Jeff Cressman left the band to play with Santana. When Trey asked him who might replace him, Cressman suggested his daughter Natalie. Jeff was then welcomed to the stage and the father-daughter team thrilled the crowd together during “Push on Til’ the Day” to close one of the best sets of the entire Peach weekend.
Umphrey’s McGee gave the best musical nightcap of the weekend with their latenight set on the main stage Saturday night. The lightshow in the Pavilion was spectacular and the music was on point. The progressive rockers from Chicago played older songs from their catalog such as “Wappy Sprayberry” as well as a cover of Prince’s “Controversy,” a song they first covered in Minneapolis the day after the legendary singer’s death. “Puppet String” included Hall and Oates’ “I Can’t Go for That” and Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall” teases. Fans beat on the back of the seats within the Pavilion; the sound dragging the band out for a thrilling encore of “In the Kitchen” into “Glory” and ending with a reprise of “Puppet String.”
Sunday was the return to struggle city for many campers packing up their belongings to hike off the mountain and return home. Lines seemed to move faster and despite it being the fourth day of the festival, people were in good spirits.
Sunday began with a special ‘Wake up With Warren Haynes’ acoustic set that featured Gov’t Mule numbers “Beautifully Broken,” “Raven Black Night,” and “In My Life.” The set would not have been complete without the delivery of some Allman Brothers Band tunes to commemorate the festival’s beginning. Haynes played “Old Friend” and “End of the Line,” two ABB songs he contributed to. Warren returned for a two-song encore beginning with Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” and Gov’t Mule favorite “Soulshine” to the delight of thousands.
Not more than a year since the Black Crowes called it quits, founding member Rich Robinson is taking his solo career to new heights. The Rich Robinson Band performed Sunday at The Peach. In addition, Robinson was welcomed to the stage to join Blackberry Smoke and later on with Gov’t Mule.
Blackberry Smoke is a southern rock group with bluesy guitar riffs and country music undertones not unlike that of the Allman Brothers Band. The set featured originals as well as a down home version of Led Zeppelin’s “Your Time is Gonna Come.” Robinson joined the quintet for The Black Crowes’ “Wiser Time,” in which he delivered a thrilling guitar solo.
With Gregg Allman canceling a week prior to The Peach due to illness, a supergroup was formed to fill in the time slot he was scheduled for Sunday afternoon. The group consisted of Joe Russo, Marco Benevento and Oteil Burbridge. The trio delivered a unique set that was largely a jazz-fusion jam in which the talents played off one another with ease, a nice segue to the headlining guest packed performance by Gov’t Mule. After a few Gov’t Mule tunes including “Mule” and “Game Face” with a “Mountain Jam” tease, Rich Robinson was once again welcomed back to the stage for a Crowe’s signature song “Sometimes Salvation.” The encore included “Come and Go Blues” with Charlie Starr, Brit Turner and Brandon Still of Blackberry Smoke before Oteil Burbridge joined the stage once more to aid in Allman Brothers’ classic “Dreams,” before ending the festival with a triumphant “Whipping Post.”
The fifth annual Peach Music Festival was legendary in its own right with world class musical acts, a stunning yet difficult venue, and memories fans would take with them for the rest of their lives. The spirit of the Allman Brothers Band was alive and well and we are happy to hear Gregg Allman is on the mend.