Rolling in like a snail on a binge, we finally made it through the seducing mountains to our newest home, Masontown, West Virginia. This has been the location of All Good’s festival since 2003. Arriving just in time to set up camp and make our way down the treacherous path towards the main entrance, we began to hear melodies of motivation from Beats Antique. Being blown away by the immaculate scenery, I became gitty for the weekend. Thursday night had sold out and John Butler Trio and STS9 were still to come.
Just releasing a brand new “Live from Red Rocks” album on July 19th, 2011, John Butler Trio took the crowd by storm, quickly grounding everyone and encouraging a great sense of community with our newest family. Playing familiar songs like “Better Than, Zebra, Close to You,” and maybe the best rendition of “Oceans” that I have ever heard, JBT tore it up. The energy behind “Oceans” truly moved me to a great place for the weekend. JBT definitely set the standard for the week to come, but there was still one more show to come, STS9.
With dinosaurs, jellyfish, parrots, shark rage sticks, and dragons bouncing through the sea of people, STS9 had begun. Opening with “Circus,” and only to be followed with “When the Dust Settles” the crowd easily found their groove and glow sticks began to fly. With beautiful greens, yellows and blues flowing through the crowd, STS9’s light Designer, Saxton Waller, put on one of the most colorful light shows of the festival. STS9 was spot on with their transitions and took many of us to the stars. About to lose my head during “Arigato,” the set was coming to an end. STS9 was a great choice to kick off the late night shows. Looking around at all the cheezing smiles, I knew this was going to be an incredible adventure. Thanks All Good
Day two began firing away with Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, a reggae afro-beat band out of New York. GPGDS brought the funk with their own reggae jazz twist, allowing me to stretch out the legs with a lackadaisical swagger. My legs felt like new moving into the Infamous Stringdusters, as I let the mystical melodies of bluegrass take hold of my lower extremities and let that dirty banjo groove that Billy is playing, do its work.
From That One Guy to Galactic, Everyone Orchestra to Keller… there were plenty of intoxicating grooves to fall into throughout the day. Next came Dana Fuchs, the bluesy rocker out of New York. Digging down and singing from her soul, Dana brought a new intensity to the festival. Singing in remembrance of her late sister, you could feel the love pouring out behind that immaculate voice. Looking around and seeing the warmth that had been bestowed throughout the crowd’s hearts, Dana put on one hell of a show. Succeeding Dana came the main event, FURTHER!!!
Opening up with Jack Straw, Further started their four hour adventure. I began to feel pure bliss as this roller coaster took its natural path and pulled different emotions from the depths of my consciousness. Feeling good is easy to do when you are jammin’ with such incredible artists. The first set included such songs as: “Bertha,’ Ramble on Rose,’ Cold Rain and Snow,” and “Turn on Your Lovelight.” That down-home bluegrass and heavy lyrics soon took me on a ride that I could never expect as the first set came to a close.
After a fifteen minute break and just enough time to catch my head from floating away, the second set began. Opening with “Truckin” the excitement from the first set was unrelenting. Moving through “Corrina, ‘China Cat Sunflower,’ Terrapin Station Suite,” and covering “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” written by Paul McCartney and originally performed by The Beatles on Abbey Road, Further rocked this party. Watching the lanterns taking flight, I felt lifted too, as a sense of comfort came over the crowd. As the final song “And We Bid You Goodnight” played over the hills of Mountaintop West Virginia, I knew I had experienced something special. As the fireworks erupted over the stage, I felt extraordinary.
As Further took their final look over the crowd and exited the stage, the BASS hit. The infamous Colorado duo, Big Gigantic, instantly lit up the lawn with glow. Opening with LimeLight and slipping right into that dirty-ass version of Black and Yellow, the crowd blew up like an army of wacky waving inflatable arm flailing tube men. Seeing Big G a few times this past year, I have not been disappointed in any performance. They always bring the PHreshes sounds, samples, beats, and energy to the stage. Certainly, set the stage for late show, Umphreys McGee.
If anyone out there has still not yet seen Umphreys, then you must have a void in your music life. See them! Do it! The experience is incredible, beyond the experimentation with jams and sounds, to the one-of-a-kind light show that expresses so much emotion through vibrant colors. Umphreys has every component to go down as one of greats someday. Covering such songs as “Tom Sawyer” by Rush and “Don’t Stop Til you Get Enough” by the King of Pop, Umphreys tore the house down. Only half way through the weekend, Umphreys left the crowd hungry like a man with a fever for more cowbell.
Saturday began to feel a little like Groundhog’s Day as I woke to begin the journey through the rolling path towards the stage. Entering the gates to see Marco Benevento taking the stage, the sunshine was quite vivid. Crushing the keys with style and grace, Marco’s piano began to roar with flowing jazzy rock melodies.
From JJ Grey covering Otis Redding, to the Rex Jam who raises money for the Rex Community, All Good had something for all walks of life. The Rex Foundation began in 1983 as a non-profit charitable organization by members of the Grateful Dead. The Rex Foundation has vowed to support creative endeavors in the arts, sciences, and education. The first benefit concerts for the Rex Foundation were held in the spring of 1984. Since then, the Rex Foundation has raised $8.6 million to over 1,000 recipients. Check out rexfoundation.org to see how you can help.
As the jam began, Zach Deputy and Jennifer Hartswick began belting their huge voices back and forth; I was instantaneously blown away at the magnificent pipes that they had brought to the mix.
Following the Rex Jam, came one of my favorite shows of the weekend, Yonder Mountain String Band. That was by far, the largest Hoe-down that I have ever been a part of. Dosi-Doeing round and round, you could see my heart beating through my chest. These guys are always fun and they definitely know how to party. They certainly got everyone all jacked up and provided a perfect gateway into the night shows. Next, Oregone kept the crowd dancing with their intoxicating 70’s style Funk. Looking over the crowd to see a modern day Soul Train show, everyone was showing their true soul through their funky dancing shoes. From Bluegrass to Funk to jam band, Moe began.
Moe has been together since 89′ and seems to only be getting better with age. Seeing Moe is like being in a spider web, Moe will weave you in and out of a maze of music with stellar improvision. The transitions are done so smoothly that you cannot even remember how the band got to such a groove. And before you know it, they’re done! With the sun down and crops of Hippies flourishing on the Mountain top, Papadosio took over the party for an epic set.
Playing since 2007, this may have been Papadosio’s biggest show. Feeling the love from the crowd, PapaD went off! They exuberate many qualities of the future of music, Progressive Electronica. Opening with “Method of Control,” and playing fan favorites “All I Knew” and “Night Colors,” PapaD brought peace and glow together. This band will only get better and will not be afraid to experiment and test their musical boundaries. We love the sound and the exploration; keep on doing your thing and keep up that radical sound. Incredible Show! Up next was a moment I had waited for all weekend, Primus!
With a deranged introduction of distorted faces appearing on giant inflatable astronauts, and a wacky clown song from “PeeWee’s Big Adventure” playing, Claypool led Primus to the stage. Starting off with “Groundhog’s Day,” Primus brought there ever heavy funk that will make you want to stomp around like an aboriginal. First off, the skill that Primus possesses is flawlessly ridiculous. Watching it happen on videos and seeing it first hand is two different beasts. King Kong ain’t got shit on Primus. Also, Claypool’s antics, quirky lyrics, and stage presence is past ridiculous, its ricockulous. Claypool proceeded to put on a monkey mask and began beating a one string base like a primate playing “Whamola.” Everyone around was cheesing at the brilliant performance. This was undoubtedly one of my favorite shows of the weekend. Next, to start the late night came a band whose name is I have heard so many times and been told to see all summer; Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.
From being a former band member of Lenny Kravitz, to playing with great Miles Davis, Karl Denson made dreams happen. Hearing all of the buzz about how soulful and funky Denson’s band is, I had high hopes for this show. This six piece band was fantastically impressive, including: Denson crushing the saxophone and flute, Ron Johnson bringing that funk on bass, Chris Littlefield screemin’ on the trumpet, Brian Jordan destroying the guitar, David Veith blasting the keyboards, and John Staten bringing the beats on drums. Not only are they incredibly fun and easy to get down to, but they have a complexity behind their music and really showed how versatile they are. At fifty-five, Karl still can bring the heat with his delicious jazz influence. Flowing through the night and completely entranced by the seamlessly never ending music, the last show of the night was here, Pretty Lights.
Well, what is there to say about Pretty Lights that music junkies don’t already know? Derek Smith (PL) is the man, playing many late night sets and co-closing many festivals, PL has become a force in the music world. He has released almost 10 free E.P’s via the web. It really says something about an artist when they simply want to get their music out there and do it for the love of their own creation and not the money. Taking us through so many different genres of high energy dance music and mashing in the illest samples, PL has so much diversity behind him that there is no reason anyone should not enjoy what he brings to the table. Also, the light show will melt anyone’s face completely off. His set up is insane with towers of LED lights with PL sitting atop a seemingly mountain of lights. Sampling songs anywhere from John Denver to Kanye West, PL brought it all out for this show. There was no better way to end the night shows than this party.
All Good’s 15 and Moving? (Day 4)
Arriving just in time to see Toots Hibbert’s daughter, Leba, opening the set singing three very inspirational songs about love and forgiveness; she exuberated many qualities of her Rastafarian roots. Leba is incredible, and anyone can see the passion in her eyes as she belts from her soul. The apple does not fall far from her family tree and soon enough, she introduced her Pops, Toots. Growing up in Jamaica and singing gospel in the church choir as a young boy, Toots has always been around music. He is a 65 year’s young and has seen it all; from being a teenager in the 60’s and becoming one of most popular groups in Jamaica, all the way to 2004, winning a Grammy for best reggae album of the year. Taking the stage wearing all black leather, Toots began to rock. This guy can get down! Even though he has aged, he has not lost any of his funk, soul, or dance moves. He loves what he does and takes pride in getting his message out. Whether Festie goers realized it or not, Toots was a real treat. Next up came “The Bridge”
The Bridge is a jam band based out of Baltimore Maryland. They bring many different types of music together resulting in a funky, bluesy, folky bluegrass that has more energy than the cosmos. These guys just celebrated their 10 year anniversary this Thanksgiving, while playing their last show at All Good 2011. After ten years and thousands of miles, The Bridge is moving on from their music to other things in life. We are sorry to see these guys go and thankful for the dedication and impact that they have left on fans. To conclude the incredible weekend, the final show had come, Dark Star Orchestra.
Ahh yes, a Dead show to end the incredible weekend. The crowd could not ask for more. As they took the stage, peering over the exhausted jubilant faces, the energy of the crowd soared. Just when I thought I was on empty, the final set began with “Here Comes Sunshine.” DSO has provided something amazing throughout the years that many bands could never do. They give us a chance to experience a Dead show like many other generations. I always felt like I had missed out on something huge by never getting to see The Dead, However, after seeing DSO and Further, I feel the majority of that void has been filled. Yet, Jerry is still irreplaceable.
I could rave on endlessly about this festival, but it is definitely an adventure that can only be experienced. From the always incredible lineup and the incredible community, to the conscience awareness, All Good has all the elements to an unforgettable escape. Great times and great memories. Thanks All Good
By the way, if anyone doesn’t know by now, All Good has moved this year to Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio and will be the new home of the Legendary festival, which will take place July 19-22, 2012.
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