In Focus: 10th Annual Peach Music Festival

The 10th anniversary of Peach Music Festival took place at Montage Mountain in Scranton, PA over July 4th weekend. The festival began in 2012 by the Allman Brothers and Live Nation. Throughout the years, the music of the Allman Brothers has remained a focus with the evolving cast of musicians. The Montage Mountain Ski resort transforms into a water park in the summer months, and the Pavilion hosts concerts. The water park is a unique aspect to a music festival that makes this festival appealing to a wide range of guests.

Day 1: Billy Strings Closes Out the Opening Day

While some people began arriving on Wednesday, most guests arrived on Thursday, June 30. It was a beautiful day to set up camp and get ready for the music to begin in the late afternoon. Billy Strings, Keller Williams, Samantha Fish, Midnight North, Yam-Yam, Consider the Source were among the acts kicking off the festival.

There was a noticeable air of excitement for Billy Strings, with a consistently long line at his merch tent. Keller Williams delivered a late afternoon set full of classics with the aid of an array of pedals, but mostly just his trusty acoustic. Samantha Fish was a delightful surprise. Beginning the day unaware of her music, her set filled with powerful vocals, rocking guitars, and a striking stage presence. I became a fan. The evening headliner, Billy Strings, played to a packed pavilion and lawn. A full day of anticipation exploded into a sea of fans swaying and singing along to his blend of Bluegrass and Jam. Speaking with fans over the course of the weekend, Billy’s set was constantly a fan favorite. Consider the Source, the New York City trio, closed out the Grove Stage for Thursday with their unique blend of Sci-Fi Fusion. Steeped in Middle Eastern influences, their cosmic sound set the perfect tone to bookend a truly great day of music.

Day 2: Weather Doesn’t Dampen Spirits

Friday, day two of the festival, included another full day of music and enjoying the venue. Before the music began, the fans enjoyed the art displays in the lodge and utilized the water park. A sober group of music fans also held their morning meeting at the lodge, making the Peach Festival at Montage Mountain a welcome place for all fans.

Music began mid-day with Eggy, The Jauntee, Marco Benevento, Eric Krasno, The Kitchen Dwellers, The Motet, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening, Andy Frasco & The U.N., Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. The late afternoon sets were affected by a severe weather event that had fans sheltering under the spacious pavilion. The house speakers kept fans happy while heavy rains descended on the grounds. The event staff were extremely helpful and efficient about keeping people safe.

Once the all clear was given, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening brought fans to their feet transporting the crowd to another time and place. The blend of voices and instruments was eerily close to the CDs on which I grew up.

Andy Frasco & The U.N. put on one of the most kinetic performances I’ve ever witnessed. Frasco’s shows are legendary for the band’s energy and crowd interaction. Entering the stage with a baby carriage that was home to an opossum, and raising it to the crowd like Raffiki did with Simba set the wheels in motion for his memorable set. Performing a mix of songs from his new album, Wash, Rinse, Repeat, the crowd was singing along with their favorites. One of several highlights from this set was when Andy had the entire crowd doing the Horah dance with the crew quickly adding extensions to his microphone wire as he waded to the center of the whirling crowd.

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong closed out the night with a late night set to a packed pavilion. The rollicking set was cut short with another severe weather event that caused the festival to cancel the rest of their set, out of an abundance of caution for everyone’s safety.

Day 3: Trey Anastasio and Goose

Day three of the festival began with some residual rain, which quickly gave way to a perfectly sunny sky. Karina Rykman, Daniel Donato’s Cosmic Country, Jaimoe & Friends, Pixie & The Partygrass Boys, Neighbor, Rayland Baxter, Celisse, The Revivalists, Cordovas, Trey Anastasio Band, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer & Friends, and Goose filled the day with music.

A new artist known to those that attended the festival last year was Celisse. She played the festival on the Grove Stage in 2021 and had Trey Anastasio sit in with her. This year she owned the Peach Stage, belting out songs filled with power and emotion. 

The Revivalists were up next on the main stage. David Shaw, the lead singer, brought his voice even closer to the crowd venturing off the stage to stand atop the large speakers. Singing directly to those lucky fans at the rail, Shaw sang crowd favorites with those in the pavilion singing along. As darkness descended on the festival grounds, light-up outfits, hula-hoops, and totems could be seen under the pavilion. The Trey Anastasio Band delivered a packed set which included several Phish covers including “Blaze On,” “Everything’s Right,” and “Gotta Jibboo.” One of the many highlights came towards the end when, in a twist of fortunes, Celisse sat in with Trey. Together they performed three songs: “The Moma Dance, “A Life Beyond The Dream,” and “Rise/Come Together.”

Brandon “Taz” Niederauer closed out the Mushroom Stage, while Cycles closed out the Grove Stage. Goose was the final act of the night with a special late night set. Anticipated all day by fans, Goose did not disappoint. With their ever upward trajectory, the band has amassed a following that is staggering when you consider their brief time together.

Day 4: Black Crowes Close Out Peach

Like all good things, even the Peach Music Festival must come to an end.  The fourth day represented the last day of the 10th Anniversary of Peach Music Festival at Montage Mountain. The day began with a sense of melancholy, until the music started. Then fans rejoiced in the waning hours together.

Duane Betts, Daniel Donato & Friends, Maggie Rose, Dogs in a Pile, The Wailers, G. Love & The Juice, TAUK, and The Black Crowes were among the acts rounding out the weekend. Daniel Donato Brought a little county to the festival with Allman roots. At the Mushroom Stage, Dogs in a Pile are with fans enjoying their energetic set of psychedelic fusion. G. Love & The Juice, a band put together by Philly-based G. Love, and, as he describes them, the most exceptional musicians he’s played with. The hip-hop and blues influenced music was perfect companion to the jam-centric sets, which got fans to their feet.

Long Island-based TAUK brought their instrumental, EDM influenced beats to the Mushroom Stage. Their unique sound filled in a void of electronic funk music. The wordless instrumental music gave fans an opportunity to shake the cobwebs off of the weekend and become lost in the beats. To fill in your own emotions and experiences to a song is a special trait of instrumental music.

The final act of the Peach Festival was The Black Crowes. The Rock band fronted by Chris Robinson has been at it for over 30 years. They have continued to be a true rock band that fans flock to. They were a fitting bookend to a truly great weekend of music.

A Grateful Finale

At a special place, like the Peach Festival on Montage Mountain, you can look around at the sea of gyrating bodies, moving together and appreciate the collective experience you’ve just gone through. Smile at the friends that ventured to the festival with you, or the new ones made over the weekend. Having the space to be grateful for the music, the comradery, for all that awaits once we pack up and head home is an incredibly precious gift. As life becomes more entangled and busy, a music festival is truly just what the doctor ordered.

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