Furthur with Trey, at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos Photo)
[REVIEW IS STILL BEING UPDATED. KEEP CHECKING BACK.]
The first ever Lockn’ music festival (formerly known as Interlocken) was held this past weekend in the rolling hills of Arrington, Virginia (2010 census population: 708), on the fringe of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The concept of the fest, co-organized by Peter Shaprio (owner of The Capitol Theatre, The Brooklyn Bowl, The Wetlands), was to encourage the co-mingling of top-tier musicians as best as one can… and then see what happens. Much depends on scheduling and logistics with this sort of thing, so if you just put artists you’d like to see link up playing back-to-back sets and give them a little nudge, it makes it much more likely. Interlocking performances… interlocking songs… interlocking mindsets… you know… Lockn’.
The name was only changed from Interlocken to Lockn’ within the past month, exemplifying the laid back, freewheelin’ and continually-evolving concept of the event. It was, and still is, a work in progress, by design.
Unlike most other current music festivals, this one featured guitar-driven bands and eschewed the electronic music the kids seem to love so much these days. Not everyone who likes the Grateful Dead likes DJs with laser shows, and this festival was custom built for that crowd. Also, there were no side stage (except one late-night stage in the campground), so at any given time only one band was playing. As soon as they finished, the next band would start on the adjoining, identical main stage. Continuous music all day, but only one band at a time. There was never a reason to miss anything, or to hear your favorite band drowned out sonically by another louder band.
(The goal with reporting on shows these days is to post something as soon as humanly possible, to get the scoop and get as many hits as possible before the event goes stale, so that’s why this post is here, in its incomplete state. As I sift through the photos and remember things that happened, I’ll update accordingly. This wasn’t an instant gratification kind of experience, and you’re just going to have to wait for the juicy details, maaaaaan. Every time you hit “refresh,” it’s going to get better, I swear.)
Let’s start with the sit-ins. The rumors were flying Saturday that Trey Anastasio (who played with his non-Phish band earlier in the day) would play with Furthur for the very first time that night. Phil and Bob and friends opened their set with Workingman’s Dead in its entirety, and sure enough, before the final song of the record, “Casey Jones,” Anastasio joined them on stage. And then he stayed up – for the rest of the show. Everyone was expecting/hoping for a visit, but this extended stay was something special. Which isn’t to say it was perfect, because it certainly wasn’t flawless, but it was genuine and loose. “Bertha” was the next song, and Anastasio did an admirable job taking the lead vocal. Then came a mellow “Truckin’,” a not-so-mellow “The Other One,”Viola Lee Blues,” and “Scarlet Begonias > Fire on the Mountain.”
Stream or download it on Archive.org right here.
Furthur with Trey at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos Photo)
More Furthur with Trey at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos Photo)
Another sit-in was scheduled, but no less impressive: John Fogerty with Widespread Panic. Fogerty emerged about halfway through the band’s two-hour slot, opening with “Born on the Bayou” and sounding more or less vocally the same as he did during the Creedence years (he’s 68 now), and wearing the same plaid shirt. Not holding back at all, he chugged into “Bad Moon Rising” next, and the frenzy that overtook the crowd was infectious, a grand payoff following Widespread Panic’s more cerebral jams. For years, Fogerty couldn’t or wouldn’t play his old songs on stage, and was being sued by his former label (for plagiarizing his own songs). As a result, there’s a vitality he’s got now that might have gone away had he been playing the tunes all along. (See him at the Oakdale Nov. 9th!)
John Fogerty and Widespread Panic at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos photo)
John Fogerty at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos photo)
Widespread Panic with John Fogerty at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos Photo)
Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic (Mike Sembos Photo)
The beauty of Virginia in early September, a couple of hours south of Charlottesville, is tough to beat. I mean, check out this ridiculous sunset:
Saturday Sunset at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos Photo)
There was a general lightheartedness at Lockn’ that was a pleasant reprieve from the darkness that sometimes envelops similar events. The lack of the electronic scene and the presence of the physical landscape certainly contributed to this, but the crowd seemed very stable and grounded… perhaps a little older and wiser, demographically-speaking.
Lockn’ – The Crowd (Mike Sembos Photo)
Lockn’ – More of the Crowd (Mike Sembos Photo)
There was some confusion getting into the fest to begin with. Staff and volunteers didn’t know the answers to basic questions. That’s the way it often goes for first year festivals, I guess. Word is that on the first day, Thursday, it was taking several hours to enter. By the time I arrived on Friday afternoon, most of the kinks had been ironed out, but it was still a bit stressful. Good thing Jimmy Cliff was on stage waiting for me when I finally made it down to the stage. I found a spot and he immediately launched into “I Can See Clearly,” quickly erasing the morning’s relatively benign discomforts.
Jimmy Cliff at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos photo)
Oh hey, remember the Black Crowes? They played under crisp blue skies on Saturday and they totally ruled. They played hits like “She Talks to Angels,” “Thorn in my Pride” and their cover of “Hard to Handle” that introduced the band to the MTV generation in 1990, as well as a whole bunch of deeper cuts. On Sunday Bob Weir sat in with them for a version of “Turn On Your Lovelight” which I missed. Damn. And the Tedeschi Trucks Band sat in for Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned,” which I also missed. Double damn.
The Black Crowes (Mike Sembos Photo)
Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes (Mike Sembos Photo)
Here are some Furthur pics to keep you occupied while I tend to other work for a bit…
Bob Weir at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos Photo)
John K & Phil of Further at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos Photo)
Phil Lesh at Lockn’ (Mike Sembos Photo)
MUCH MORE TO COME…