In the wake of what some will say was the best, others the worst, first-run music festival the Midwest has seen since Rothbury ’08, there is definitely a lot to discuss about the inaugural Phases of the Moon Music and Arts Festival.
As a writer I strive to provide the most honest, and when it comes to music festivals there will always be the lovers, the haters and the in-betweeners. Phases Fest was set to be a dream festival – the be-all, end-all in jam and funk music – and the perfect way to end summer. After two years in the making, founders Barry & Sam Shear took beating after beating, yet came out the other end smiling, looking to the rising sun with thoughts about how next year will be better.
To recap on the festival: it was set to take place at the Kennekuk County Park, a 3,000 acre park which includes historic buildings, lakes for fishing and plenty of wooded, as well as field, camping. The line up was stacked: two nights of The String Cheese Incident and Widespread Panic and single sets from Govt. Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Galactic, just to name a few.
The first unforeseen incident took that struck Phases happened before the festival even got underway when headliner Bob Weir and Ratdog canceled their tour. The open timeslot was filled by Grace Potter & The Nocturnals – and it was a wonderful performance – but a disappointment to miss Ratdog nonetheless. Despite the weekend’s chilly weather, the music was amazing and every single band delivered powerhouse sets.
Heavy Rain Delays Early Weekend Festivities
As we arrived Thursday morning we knew the festival was going to be tested, as torrential downpours halted Wednesday arrivals and pushed back the Thursday entry time by several hours. What attendees need to understand, and unfortunately the festival staff failed to inform the public about, was just exactly how bad the rain was.
Countless backup plans could not have prepared Phases for the inclement weather they received. The venue, as was discussed in a short Q&A with Barry & Sam, is designed to hold up to 25,000 cars, but over half the facility was flooded and thus impassable. If they had allowed cars to enter and park, attendees surely would have been even more angry with cars stuck in the mud, ruined camping equipment and a hefty tow bill (the base fee was $80). This is why festival-goers waited in line for upwards of nine hours to get into the festival. This is why there were low flyovers from a helicopter trying to dry the grounds. This is why campers had to be relocated to the nearby fairgrounds and another park.
With alternate camping and parking plans in place and everybody safely inside the venue, stars finally aligned for Phases fest. The park is beautifully laid out with camp-next-to-your-car access and a short walk to the stage entrance. Once inside, there were a large number of food and art vendors, a farmers market selling local veggies and baked goods, lots of porta-potties and plenty of bars to purchase alcohol (at an astoundingly high $7-$8 per 12oz beverage).
The stages were close enough that walking between them was very easy, bur just far enough that there was no noise pollution from adjacent stages. The visual art present was awesome, Alex and Allison Grey were in attendance providing fans with endless eye candy. There was non-stop performance art in-between big acts, as well as live painting throughout the festival. Lastly was The Sanctuary, a beautifully constructed area that was isolated from the rest of the festival where they held educational classes on art, meditation and yoga.
Overall there was one thing that put a very uncomfortable and unnecessary vibe on the festival weekend, and that was the policing of outside beverages. We can all agree and understand that festivals must turn a profit, and alcohol sales are a big part of that. But when a festival allowed, what appeared to be private security meets club bouncer, to harass festival patrons all weekend. These people were demanding to look inside backpacks and purses AFTER patrons had entered the festival and passed the general security check point. Disregarding how illegal this is as we as Americans maintain our basic American rights, it was the only part of the festival that felt tainted.
On the whole, Phases of the Moon Music and Arts festival was amazing. The music could not have been better, the food vendors were top notch, they served beer that was not limited to domestic pours, and the overall crowd was very enjoyable to be around. Yes, there were some major flaws, but as my editor likes to remind me – what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger, and we can only hope that for the future these issues will be addressed in advance. I definitely plan to return next year, and I hope the same for everybody that went. Sometimes we have to find it in our nature to accept that some things are out of our control and find it in our hearts to give it a second chance. I am fully confident that this festival will be one to remember… both now and in the future.
As summer draws to a close, residents of the Midwest prepare to settle in for what is sure to be another lengthy winter. Trips to the state fair, mass quantities of sweet corn and late night bonfires are things every Hoosier gets their fix on before the cold hits. But for a select few that ritual also includes one last hoorah, one last big festival to go out with a bang. This year the Midwest welcomes the brand-spanking-new Phases Of The Moon Music and Art music Festival, set to take place in Danville, IL September 11-14.
Phases Of The Moon (POTM as I’ll refer to it from here on out), is a festival most of us have been anticipating with high regard due to the extensive line-up, the layout of the grounds and of course its proximity to home. Spanning four days, POTM is being held on the historic 3000 acre Kennekuk National Park in Danville, IL. According to their website, Kennekuk National Park hosts an array turn-of-the-century buildings, prairie lands, meandering streams, hiking trails and a 170 acre stocked fishing lake.
Sidebar: An Illinois fishing license is required to fish, so plan in advance if you want to make this part of your weekend experience.
The musical line-up is what has many of us giddy with excitement, as the festival offers “four days of 100% organic, guaranteed feel good music,
performed by nationally renowned musicians on four unique outdoor stages.” That’s right: there is not a single DJ, computer or ableton-wielding candy kid set to perform at POTM- a unique experience for a music festival in today’s age. Musical guests include Widespread Panic (two sets!), The String Cheese Incident, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Railroad Earth, Gov’t Mule, Leftover Salmon, Galactic, Tedeschi Trucks Band, JJ Gray & Mofro, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Dumpstaphunk, Toubab Krewe, and the Sam Bush Band just to name a few.
However, the POTM experience does not stop with the music. The whole festival is billed as a music and art festival, offering 14 different performing artists as well as 12 visual artists including the famed Alex and Allyson Grey. All of the artists will be onsite during the whole weekend enhancing the music with their rich visual talents.
The Sanctuary, another aspect of POTM, is set to be an oasis- a place to go to relax, rejuvenate and heal. A diverse line-up of renowned healers and instructors will be on site to provide education and practice in yoga, qi-gong, meditation, sound healing, massage and energy work.
In addition to music, art and healing, POTM will also feature a sober camp ground, the original Furthur bus celebrating its 50th anniversary, a disc golf course, a kids camping and play area for families and festival transportation by Festi Cab. There will also be a beer garden onsite and a wide array of farm-to-table food options, an organic farmers market and plenty of unique craft vendors.
Now that we have you hooked on what will probably be the most talked about festival of the summer, let’s see what we can do to get you there.
Tickets are still available for purchase for the whole weekend, set at $250 which does include your camping. Can’t make it for the whole weekend? They offer one- and two- day passes starting at $85. Please remember that these prices will go up the closer we get to the festival, so act fast.
Setting the stage for what may be the best festival of our region this summer, Phases Of The Moon Music and Arts Festival is sure to be the Midwest’s next hidden gem. Anybody who is a fan of live music owes it to themselves to come check out this amazing opportunity. Grab your ticket, round up some friends and pack the car; I’ll see ya out in the fields.
If you’re a Midwest local and looking for a festival to call home year and year again, check out Good People Good Times. This was the fourth year for the event, and after the turn out this year, I’m sure we will see it again and again.
This local event was held June 6th and 7th at Explore Brown County in Nashville, Indiana. This is a beautiful venue in the lovely hills of southern Indiana. This venue features a quaint historical cabin village at the front, a small stage area, and a beautiful lake in the back where festival-goers can rent canoes and swim. This is a perfect venue for an event this size, which was capped off at about 800 people and very family friendly.
This two day festival featured many local favorites- 24 bands for a gate ticket price of $50 and all of the Midwest family lovin’ you could ask for. There were plenty of vendors with all sorts of sparkly jewelry, clothing, and delicious food. The “Shake Down Street” was beautifully decorated and populated with local painters amongst bright tie dye stands and second hand thrift stores.
Friday night was a lovely summer night to spend outside. It was clear and cool, with that summer smell lingering in the air. I arrived just in time to see the brains of this operation play his solo set. Derick Howard is a local one-man-band with a sound and style comparable to Keller Williams. He uses a loop pedal and multiple instruments to create a sound that seems like it should be coming from a full band. Derick Howard is a local musician that plays with Howard, Lewis & Lovins, but his solo sets are really a unique experience. It set the tone for a great night of music that never overlaps and never stops.
Ekoostik Hookah headlined Friday night. This is a band twith roots in Ohio that has traveled throughout the Midwest since 1991. They have a very loyal fan base that has followed them throughout the years that can best be described as a dysfunctional family. Hookah has a gritty rock sound that gets everyone in the space moving to the rhythms and features strong, bluesy guitar rifts and soulful piano solos. The light show accented the music well thanks to everyone’s favorite producer of eye candy, Herm Productions. Not only was the lighting on stage impressive, but also in the forest surrounding the concert bowl. It was definitely one of the highlights of the festival.
Friday night closed with a good ole’ blue grass band, Blue Moon Soup. There’s something about dancing around in the summer nights to twangy blue grass that really makes one’s soul come alive. Blue Moon Soup has a special sound that mixes high powered blue grass with psychedelic break downs; it was a perfect addition to the selection of bands featured over the weekend. After a while I wondered back to the lake to watch the sun rise and enjoy the night with some of the amazing people at the Good People Good Times festival. It was a perfect ending to a wonderful day.
Day two featured some more amazing local artists such as Hyryder, a local Phish and Grateful Dead cover band that frequents The Mousetrap in Indy. They started the night nice and light, before The Mantras took the stage. The Mantras are from the East Coast and definitely brought a rock show. They played into the
sunset as the lights got brighter and the night time vibes set in. Kaleidoscope Jukebox followed The Mantras with a set of eclectic, tribal, electronic songs, as the crowed prepared for rain. The Rumpke Mountain Boys played into the rain and storm, not letting the weather break the strong blue grass beats. They played late into the night and beyond the rain storm and the crowd never seemed to dwindle. It was a night filled with energy.
Overall, this was a great weekend filled with great friends and great memories. If you are looking for a place where you can really feel the family energy and what it means to be part of the Midwest community, I suggest you look into Good People Good Times!
Thanks for tuning into this week’s breakdown of the “Midwesterner’s Guide to Music Festivals”. In this installment, we have a few festivals that coax us out of our Midwestern comfort zone. The region of discussion will be the East Coast, and how there’s much more to it than urban sprawl, the Atlantic Ocean, and thick Jersey accents. In fact, some of this year’s most promising festivals will be happening up down and all around our eastern neighbor’s backyards.
Some of these guys are seasoned vets, and some are newcomers. Some favor brain-shaking bass in their lineups, and others prefer gritty indie-rock melodies. Whatever’s your poison, there’s something strewn in this synopsis for you, you awesome music nerd, so strap in, its time for the “Midwesterner’s Guide to Music Festivals Pt. 3 : East Coast Styleeee”.
When: June 6-8
Where: Randall’s Island, New York City, NY
Cost: $230.00 GA 3-Day, $500.00 VIP 3-Day
Style: Indie Rock, Hip-Hop, EDM, Rock
They’ve got lawn games, art booths, food vendors, and all your standard festival-esque distractions. Plus its in the Big Apple itself, you should be able to figure out something awesome to explore, right?
Things to Know:
Randall’s Island isn’t simply a catchy name, people, this festival is on an actual island. For real. It sits along the East River between Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. Keeping this in mind, one must be prepared to walk, bike, bus, train, or ferry over to the festival. It seems like driving is an option, but c’mon, it’s NYC, and who the heck wants to drive there? Be sure to book a hotel for lodging, and as with most festivals, outside food and beverage is prohibited.
Why would anyone walk to Governor’s Ball, when there’s a freakin’ ferry to float you there? Hopefully, they wouldn’t. Not only does Governor’s Ball have the most unique transportation of any festival, but it also can claim one of the most diverse lineups this summer, too. Ranging from EDM icons to Indie-Rock godfathers, this festival should please everyone from bassheads to hipsters.
Last year’s Governor’s Ball fell on the second wettest day in NYC’s history. Ever. Tropical Storm Andrea had no problem transforming the Island into a giant mud pit. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that this year festival goers won’t have to trudge through stinky, mud fields. With that in mind, bring on the excitement for 2014’s stellar lineup, and the potential for new memories!
TV on the Radio
Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley
Tyler, the Creator
The Bloody Beet Roots
When: July 11-13
Where: Saurgerties, NY
Cost: $200.00 GA 3-Day (no campground access), $230.00 GA 3-Day (campground access)
Style: EDM, Hip-Hop, Electronic, Indie-Rock
Workshops celebrating artistic expression, carnival rides (oh yeah!), and culinary delights will all be readily available to the festie-goer at Hudson Project.
Things to Know:
2014 is the Hudson Project’s inaugural year, which means that its aiming to pack an enormous punch. Its tough being a festival these days with all the competition constantly growing and evolving around this fabulous sub-culture.
Winston Farms, home to the brand spankin’ new Hudson Project, was once home to another festival y’all might remember. What was its name you ask? Oh just a little old hippy shindig named WOODSTOCK. That’s correct ladies and gentlemen, Hudson Project is the newest festie to call these hallowed grounds home.
-Previous Winston Farms performer. Jimi Hendrix.
With that being said, this festival has some unique options for lodging. One can purchase a camping or non-camping ticket to Hudson Project, so be sure that you purchase the correct one when checking out! Nothing like planning to crash at a festie, and realizing there’s nowhere to rest your whimsical mind.
With camping/non-camping tickets, and luxury on-site accommodations, this festival was engineered to fit any music lover’s standards. They claim to have carnival rides, and flameless grills for which to cook your own food. On top of that, they actually allow outside alcohol in the grounds. Cha-Ching!
Boasting a bass heavy lineup, the Hudson Project seems to be the hottest new kid on the block. With names like Bassnectar, STS9, Infected Mushroom and Big Gigantic, you can bet fans of electronica are jumping for joy. Additionally, on the less-electronic side of the spectrum, Dr. Dog, Flaming Lips, and Kendrick Lamar will be holding it down for sure.
So what are you waiting for? Don’t miss out on this inagural opportunity to rage on such sacred ground!
Nightmares On Wax
Gathering of the Vibes
When: July 31 – August 3
Where: Bridgeport, CT
Cost: $235.00 Weekend Camping Pass
Style: Jam-Band, Folk, Prog-Rock
Nestled into one of the country’s first “rural” parks, Gathering of the Vibes calls Seaside Park its home. Its 360 acres of land rests adjacent to Long Island Sound, providing s scenic and restful view for all dead-heads who gather at this festival.
Things to Know:
Gathering of the Vibes is the premiere Grateful Dead music festival. Any and all bands who have played or plan to play this festival have been touched by the Dead in some way. True there are plenty of folk, acoustic, bluegrass, and reggae bands that make an appearance here, but everyone knows that this is a serious dead-head heaven. Remember to pack all your camping essentials, and pay heed to the “banned, not-banned” list the site provides.You can only bring CANNED beers folks, so pack accordingly. Don’t miss their Shakedown Street either!
At its inception, Gathering of the Vibes was a small hippie drum circle. Basically stemming from a Jerry Garcia tribute bash, this festival has migrated from New York down to quaint Connecticut. Congruently, it has bloomed from miniscule to one of the east coast’s forerunners in the festival realm.
Through and through this is a no-bones-about-it hippe festival. There will be hooping, stone-wrapping, patchouli burning, tie dye hustling, and all sorts of merriment making at Seaside Park. The Shakedown Street at this festival would rival damn near any in existence, so don’t miss out on heady lasers or shirts, bro!
Overall, if your heart lies in the airy melodies of Jerry Garcia’s electric guitar, or if you have a penchant for blue-grass twangings, this festival is for you. Be free you Chaco-wearing spirit! Be free amongst the glory that is Gathering of the Vibes!
Disco Biscuits w/Mickey Hart & Bill Kreutzmann
Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros
Dark Star Orchestra
The Main Squeeze
Next in the series: The Midwesterner’s Guide to Music Festivals Pt. 4: Venturing Further
Leftover Salmon have been touring the country for over 25 years, bringing their blend of bluegrass and jam music to adoring fans everywhere. They will be performing at the Vogue Theatre on May 1st with Bill Payne, the keyboardist for Little Feat. I had a chance to interview Vince Herman, the guitarist and singer of Leftover Salmon about their upcoming show. Continue reading to hear how he started playing music, formed the band and more.
MOJO: I figure I’ll start at the beginning; how did you get started playing music?
VINCE: I grew up in a town near Pittsburg and went to a lot of family weddings. I had a real big family and I saw bands playing there. I just thought that was the shit, man. No one else in my family played but I decided to start lessons in 2nd grade or something like that. I played at church as a kid and then went to college in Morgantown, West Virginia, and got all tied up in the bluegrass scene and migrated to Colorado and started a band.
M: What was the first band that you were in?
V: Leftover Salmon, pretty much.
M: How did you guys come together initially?
V: It was a combination of a band called The Salmon Heads that I was in. Yeah, I guess that was really my first real band. We combined the Salmon Heads with some guys from the Left Hand String Band and what we thought was going to be one gig, filling in a couple people, we called it Leftover Salmon out of a combination of the two bands names. Little did we know, almost 25 years later, we’re still doing that stuff.
M: When did you decide to incorporate the washboard?
V: I got turned on to Cajun music in 1982 at the Augusta Heritage Festival in Elkins, West Virginia and that is the first time that I heard the washboard played and I thought that it was pretty cool. I didn’t get one until about 10 years later but you know.
M: You recorded your last album in 2012, before that it had been 8 years, what made you decide to record that album?
V: We called it quits on the band for about three years and then got it back together for the occasional one-off reunion gig and then we did enough of those that we figured it was either time to do it for real or not and we decided to do it for real. That meant doing a record.
M: Why did you guys take a break for a couple of years?
V: Well, we lost our banjo player to cancer. We really needed a break after Mark Vann passed.
M: I saw that you guys recently released the self-titled album digitally. What made you want to do that?
V: Well, that was the last album that we made before we took the break and that was before iTunes and all of those things and so we realized that we never had an online digital release of the record. It just took us a little while to realize that.
M: That makes sense, that is the way that most people get music these days, I guess. Have you played Indianapolis before?
M: What do you think of the music scene here?
V: It is great city, I love it, man. (There are) a bunch of cool little venues. I’ve always enjoyed my time in Indianapolis.
M: Do you like life on the road?
V: Sure. I’ve done it almost 25 years; I hope I did (laughs).
M: Since you guys have so many songs, how do you decide what you are going to play on a given night?
V: Well, we kind of put together a set list just about every night but we tend to forget about it and play whatever we feel. Having a list makes sure we don’t forget what we know. There are about 300-400 songs that we can pull off at any time.
M: Is it more fun to just drift into a song that seems right but wasn’t on the set list?
V: Absolutely, absolutely.
M: I used to go to a bunch of festivals, but I haven’t really as of late. I was wondering your thoughts about electronic music taking over the festival scene.
V: It reminds me of when disco happened. The culture will cure itself.
Leftover Salmon will be at the Vogue Theatre on May 1st at 9:00 p.m. You can purchase tickets here.
Click below to hear their self-titled album that was recently released on all major digital outlets.