NYS Music continues its review of the history of moe.down, one of the most established and successful summer festivals the state has to offer. We looked at the first 5 moe.downs last week, and here’s a look back at some of the more memorable moments in years 6 through 10, as moe.down set roots down in Turin, NY and became a Labor Day Weekend tradition.
After five increasingly successful years in Turin, moe.down had established itself as one of the premier summer festivals in the Northeast. It was now not only a “must go” destination for moe.rons but for music fans alike thanks to increasingly diverse lineups that featured more and more nationally prominent acts. The sixth rendition featured Keller Williams, who was everywhere at that time, The Violent Femmes, Matisyahu and Medeski, Martin & Wood as the lineups continued to be made with a blend of popular acts and those that were favorites of the band.
Night one of the festival only calls for one moe. set, and while this year would be no different, it was definitely cover heavy with versions of “Stairway to Heaven,” “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and “All Along the Watchtower,” the latter of which featured Keller Williams sitting in. Setlists courtesy of Phantasy Tour.
9/2/05 Snow Ridge Ski Area, Turin, NY
^ with Keller Williams
The following day’s opening sat saw guitarist Al Schnier’s children get involved and ended appropriately enough with a rousing rendition of “Kids.” Other highlights included a “Timmy Tucker” that was stretched across two sets and a full on instrument switch with Japanese band Big Frog. The band switch continued a recent tradition of sorts as the same thing had been done in years past with other headliners like The Disco Biscuits and Galactic, showing just how gracious the festival hosts are in sharing the spotlight at their festival.
9/3/05 • Snow Ridge Ski Area, Turin, NY
moe.down VI was closed out in style with a show that featured the band’s first ever take on The Grateful Dead classic “Terrapin Station” before steering back into a “Rebubula” that was left unfinished from the day before. As if that weren’t enough, the encore ended with a superb version of “Meat” that gave way to a brilliant fireworks display that left everyone gazing at the sky as the band completed another stellar chapter in the book of moe.down.
9/4/2005 Snow Ridge Ski Area, Turin, NY
Set 1: The Ghost Of Ralph’s Mom, She Sends Me, Tailspin> Californ IA> Bullet> Big World
Set 2: Y.O.Y.> Down Boy, McBain, Four> Dr. Graffenberg> Terrapin Station*> Rebubula^
Encore: Tijuana Donkey Show, Meat&
* first time played
^ completed from friday night
& with fireworks
Here’s a clip of the aforementioned “Meat” which closed things out.
The seventh rendition of moe.down had a Phish-y vibe to it with three of the four members appearing on the bill. Bassist Mike Gordon played with his side project Ramble Dove while Page McConnell and Jon Fishman also lent their talents on keys and drums, respectively, to the festivities. Naturally, rumors of guitarist Trey Anastasio appearing as well swirled about as 2006 was right in the middle of the band’s near five year hiatus – an event that undoubtedly fostered some of the festival and band’s growth. This year also featured a band skyrocketing in national popularity in Umphrey’s McGee, an up and coming act in Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Ziggy Marley and Yolk, a legendary NY band with roots in Binghamton.
moe. opened up their portion of the weekend with a ripping cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla” and later brought out McConnell to assist on two of the band’s more classic numbers in “Buster” and “Mexico” as well as “Blue Jeans Pizza,” a fairly new one at the time.
The hosts enlisted some more help the following day with two separate Umphrey’s McGee sit ins. First, Jake Cinninger (guitar) and Kris Meyers (drums) came out and assisted on “Faker” which cooled things down after a monster 2nd set “George” that was accentuated by some brilliant disco ball lighting effects. Later in the set, guitarist Brendan Bayliss came out for the staple “Rebubula,” just as he had done a few summers earlier at the first Bonnaroo during moe.’s epic late night set – an event that, arguably, entrenched both of these bands on the national stage.
9/2/06 Snow Ridge Ski Area, Turin, NY
Sunday saw two more moe. classics get the special guest treatment as pedal steel guitar virtuoso Gordon Stone joined in for “New York City” and “Waiting for the Punchline” in a first set that was a highlighted by a “Moth” that nearly bookended the whole thing.
The Rolling Stones classic “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” served as a more than tasty treat in the 2nd set and the weekend was capped off with a rip roaring “Recreational Chemistry” that closed the book on the 7th moe.down.
Check out this 2006 promo for moe.down. It gives a great view as to the surroundings and communal vibe that this festival cultivates so well. And if that’s not enough, it also contains a baby faced Al Schnier and a tasty outro jam from a live version of “The Road.”
By 2007, the festival had become a well oiled machine and was not only producing a string of memorable Labor Day Weekends one after the other, but also showing the ability to adapt on the fly. Ryan Adams was scheduled to be one of the headliners at moe.down 8 but had to cancel. Instead of replacing him with a local or unknown artist, the festival was able to score Perry Farrell of Jane’s Addiction fame and his side project Satellite Party. This continued the precedent set last year when Stephen Perkins, drummer for Jane’s Addiction, appeared with his band Banyan in addition to sitting in with moe. on a take of “Lazarus.”
This year showcased a really impressive array of musical selections. There was the classic hip-hop/R&B stylings of The Roots, 90s jam band Strangefolk, alternative legends The Meat Puppets, a young electronica influenced band called Lotus and Medeski Martin Scofield & Wood all on the same bill. As moe.down continued to grow in popularity, it seemed to produce festival lineups with more and more depth each year.
Saturday’s sets at moe.down 8 exemplified everything the festival had become, beginning with a “Buster” opener that saw a parade of kids marching on and around the stage. Just as it had grown in popularity and musical talent, each year there seemed to be more designated areas and activities scheduled for children, showing that the festival could also cater to families as well. And in keeping with other moe.down traditions, Saturday also had a full band switch with the Meat Puppets in the middle of “Big World” and a captivating sit in from Perry Farrell on a cover of the Jane’s Addiction tune “Ocean Size.”
9/1/07 Snow Ridge Ski Area, Turin, NY
Closing out the festival this year featured more of the same with a beautiful ending to the opening set with a cover of “The Weight” that saw various members of Uncle Earl and The Brakes give this classic number an acoustic feel. Later in the evening, another band member switch of sorts took place as moe.’s crew members each took over an instrument on a cover of “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” before yet another spectacular fireworks display set from atop the hill sent everybody home.
9/2/07 Snow Ridge Ski Area, Turin, NY
Set 1: Crab Eyes, Hi and Lo> Kids, The Pit> Meat, The Weight*
Set 2: Blue Jeans Pizza> Recreational Chemistry^, Not Coming Down> Wormwood> St. Augustine> Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere%$> Rebubula
With moe.down now firmly entrenched as a summer festival staple, the 2008 version offered a lineup chock full of easy listening with acts like The Levon Helm Band that, naturally, did a bunch of popular The Band covers, The Sparrow Quartet featuring Abigail Washburn (back from last year) and Bela Fleck, Cornmeal and Yonder Mountain String Band. For the non-acoustic fans, groups like U-Melt, American Babies and The Benevento Russo Duo offered their various takes on improvisational rock. And Presidents of the United States of America seemed to fit the early 90s/alternative band slot this year and wowed the crowd with a fun Sunday afternoon set under a blazing hot sun.
The guest appearances this weekend fell right in line with the country feel to this year’s bill with Bela Fleck lending his talents to “Shoot First” and Jeff Austin from YMSB fitting in perfectly on “Bring You Down.” One of the weekend’s other memorable sets was delivered by Cornmeal who played an engaging set of bluegrass and uptempo folk tunes with Allie Kral, now of YMSB, on fiddle.
8/30/08 Snow Ridge Ski Area, Turin, NY
Set 1: Bring It Back Home, Bearsong, All Roads Lead to Home*, Captain America^> Waiting For The Punchline, Brent Black#
For the hardcore moe. fans, there were bust outs galore at moe.down 9. Songs like “Funky Reuben” and “Defrost” that hadn’t been played since the 90s made appearances. It seemed as if the entire moe.playbook was an option this weekend. While plenty of songs from the recently released Sticks and Stones album also got some play, standout versions of old school hits like “Sensory Deprivation Bank,” “Recreational Chemistry” and a rollicking third set opener of “Buster” from Saturday night really made their mark this year.
Sunday was not lacking in special moe.ments either as Cornmeal made another appearance and helped close out the first set set with their version of ‘jamgrass’ on a blistering “32 Things” that closed out the first set. And the second set saw Shannon and Terry Lynch of Conehead Buddha lend some brass support on “Happy Hour Hero.” Not to be outdone by the previous days’ offerings of bustouts, the second set also contained a “Roll >Armageddon Jig>Strychnine Waltz” sequence that hadn’t been seen in more than 7 years. But, by far, the most unexpected performance of the weekend may have been the last one as the entire band played around one mic and sent moe.down 9 attendees away for another year with their heads up thanks to the Monty Python sing-a-long classic, “Always Look on the Bright of Life,” replete with responsive whistling from another year’s worth of tired yet satiated fans.
As a testament to the tireless work put in by moe.’s management team and the bond created with Snow Ridge over the years, 2009 marked the 10th year of the festival, all at the same location. And perhaps no previous lineup offered such a diverse selection of musical artists. Not too many other festivals could promote a bill that had acts like Ani DiFranco alongside ones like Method Man and Redman. And in a rare treat for any East Coast show, the festival was able to lure out California-based rock outfit CAKE who delighted the Saturday night crowd with a set of classic hits. Fledgling bands at the time like The Heavy Pets and The New Mastersounds both increased their exposure thanks to sets at the smaller stage on site. And like any other moe.down, the hosts were everywhere and playing with everyone.
moe. brought out something of a new trick this year as well. Each day, their performances began with one member on stage beginning a song before slowly being joined by everyone else one by one. Vinnie Amico got things started on night one with an opening drum solo before being joined by the rest of the band in a set that delivered such staples as “New York City,” “Hi and Lo” and “Four.”
MVP honors for the weekend could have easily been given to Sam Bush who not only played an afternoon set with his band, but lent his violin prowess and infectious energy on sit ins with moe. on songs like “Tambourine” and a rocking “Meat” that closed out Saturday’s second set. Perhaps no song befits moe.down’s rapid ascension into the top tier of the summer music festival hierarchy better than “Where Does the Time Go?” from the final set of night two.
As the sun set on yet another year of magic in Turin, NY, expectations were that the festival would continue to motor along on its current pace and continue the tradition it had firmly established at Snow Ridge Ski Resort. As we’ll see in the upcoming part 3 of NYS Music’s moe.down review, this would not necessarily be the case. However, even though the venue may change, it’s clear that the spirit and the elements that make this festival special never will.