Soulful Sunday Closes out LOCKN’ 2017

People seemed to lazily roll out of their tents on the final day of LOCKN’, but Keller Williams returned to the stage on Sunday in full force, this time with his Grateful Gospel project. It was specifically conceived as a Sunday morning installation for LOCKN’. Playing some of their favorite Grateful Dead tunes with a black gospel spice, it filled the dusty air with a fitting soundtrack for the snoozy attitude shared by many.

Virginia-based Anthony Rosano and the Conqueroos stayed with the funky blues theme, Rosano’s sturdy bellowing voice married soulfully with a sweetly played saxophone. “Devils Hand” was among their setlist, as was a tease of Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” Mid-set he addressed the crowd, “Make some noise so I know you’re still breathing out there!” Glancing around at the listeners, some with nose and mouth draped in a bandana to block out the red dust billowing up, there was no doubt everyone’s lungs were a little worse for wear after four days of inhaling the dirt-speckled air. A quick nostril excavation would surely reveal the treasure trove of crusty reddish-black gems harbored by festival goers all weekend.

Keepin it classy, Eric Krasno Band‘s jazzy flair featured an old school organ with those quintessential revolving speakers that have fallen out of popularity but are always a nostalgic site. The female vocalist sharing the stage complimented Krasno’s vocals beautifully, making for some soulful harmonies.

Over at the main stage, The Record Company emerged with their rough and rowdy rock n roll to which lead vocalist Chris Vos assured, “It’s rock n roll, it ain’t gotta be pretty. At least not the way we do it I suppose.” After a short but intense set, the band thought their time was up but were cued to keep playing, to which Vos announced, “And now we will play the entire Rush 2112 album,” followed by cheering in the audience. Vos quickly responded, “Just kidding, we couldn’t play that if we tried! But glad you’d let us get away with it.” His humble humor made his set stand out even more after bonding with the crowd over a good laugh.

JJ Grey and Mofro followed, dressed to the nines with lead vocalist JJ Grey donning a black sport coat and red satin tie. Bouncy keys and two horn players, who swayed in choreographed unison, brought a more upbeat and dance-worthy feel. Grey sang several songs inspired by his grandmother, a woman who heavily influenced his life. He exclaimed, “If she taught me one thing, it’s that you can’t fight darkness, you have to be the light.”

The atmosphere mellowed out during Margo Price’s set which transitioned to a slightly more country folk style. Her soft vocals almost felt a bit lost as they floated through the crowd, her music seeming muted after the two lively sets before. Her song “Desperate and Depressed” spoke of the woes of trying to make it as a musician, but things must be looking up, getting a slot at LOCKN’.

The Revivalists opened their set with “Bulletproof” and also played their popular radio hit “Wish I Knew You.” They played mostly to the books, without too much experimentation outside of their established  song structures. The band concluded with a classic, “With a Little Help from My Friends.” 

Phil Lesh and friends accompanied by moe. was an eagerly anticipated collaboration given that it will be one of the last times moe. plays for a while as Rob Derhak tackles a recent cancer diagnosis. Their lighthearted sound brought a warmth felt throughout the crowd. After their set, the crowd thinned out a bit, leaving more room for fans excited to watch The Avett Brothers close out the festival. They opened with “Satan Pulls the Strings,” and also played “Down with the Shine,” during which their vocals could have been raised, a sentiment echoed by several in the crowd.

The laid-back comfort between the band members gave the feeling that  they could just as easily be playing together in a cozy living room instead of on display in front of thousands of fans. Cellist Joe Kwon didn’t even utilize his cello stand, preferring to hold the instrument up and walk around with it, which was both amusing and impressive. Violinist Tania Elizabeth and Scott Avett shared a fun chemistry, as they both enjoyed breaking it down, at one point standing face-to-face before bending down on their knees at the front of the stage to the delight of the audience.

The Avett Brothers also played “Headful of Doubt/Road Full of Promise,” “Laundry Room,” “Morning Song,” “Vanity,” “Kick Drum Heart” and “Murder in the City” before Bob Weir joined them onstage. Weir’s sweet guitar added a richness to their set, a perfect marriage of sound they continued to carry out for the rest of their performance. The Avett Brothers made a fitting cap to the four day festival, with their honest storytelling illustrating scenes many in the crowd can relate to. As their set played out, listeners seized the last opportunity to genuinely connect to the music and with the LOCKN’ family of music fans they forged over the long weekend.

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