All Good blooms in the Valley: A comprehensive look back
If there ever was a hill that was equally loved in the same amount of which it was loathed, it was Marvin’s Mountaintop. For nearly a decade, the All Good Festival faithful made an annual journey that took them deeper into West Virginia they ever should have or would have gone. They didn’t do it for a host of reasons. It wasn’t as though on any other given weekend of the year that one would find even ten people gathered there. They did it because of the music, vibes, and the overall formula of the festival that they had come to count on for being one that stuck close to its roots but showed no fear when it came to stepping into the uncharted. But still, that canyon had been where it had all gone down and it came as no surprise when many questioned the event’s ability to duplicate itself in another location, some 200 miles west.
After dealing with the daunting process of relocating from the previous venue, the hard work was evident and the results were triumphant.
Thankfully, the prospective new All Good spot, the aptly named Legend Valley, was nestled in the middle of nowhere just as the faithful had come to know in Masontown. Seriously, have you ever heard of Thornville, OH?
Under the name of Buckeye Lake Music Center and somehow located in another city (Hebron, OH), the spacious field has hosted bands ranging from STYX to Bon Jovi, Alabama and Journey. But the bright spot for most of the All Good community was the fact that the site had been one that the Grateful Dead had called home on tour stops from 1988 when Bruce Hornsby first played with the band through 1994 when he was a full-fledged member… a somewhat obscure fact that wasn’t lost on festival organizer, Tim Walther, who made sure to note when selecting 2012′s lineup.
Headlined by Bob Weir and, you guessed it, Bruce Hornsby with Branford Marsalis along with other purveyors of the sound, Phil Lesh and his latest ensemble of Friends and Mickey Hart’s project who are still relatively fresh from the release of Mysterium Tremendum, the bill was no doubt suited to the new site’s tie-dyed history. But it wasn’t all about summoning the late Jerry Garcia who would have turned seventy this year, other heavy hitters included The Allman Brothers Band, The Flaming Lips, Yonder Mountain String Band, and Michael Franti and Spearhead, amongst others. And when fans wheeled their vehicles onto the site, the immediate feeling that things were going to be all good was overwhelming.
Besides the gorgeous landscape and careful organization of the festival itself, patrons were comforted to find that the All Good two main stage setup had remained intact. Once again, there would be none of the schedule conflicts that plague other festivals and there would be no hustle and bustle across football fields littered with hippies and hula-hoops. Rather, the tradition of chilling and turning your head left or right would be the name of the game and would once again make the All Good experience exponentially more enjoyable than many similar events. And then, there was the music…
Phil Lesh and Friends
Having to split duties between All Good and the Gathering of the Vibes in one weekend didn’t seem to deter Phil and his crew from giving festival goers what was arguably the most smokin’ set of the entire weekend. Rocking the massive throng of dancing souls for over two and a half hours and keeping the set almost completely Dead-centric, Phil’s “friends” included the über-talented Jackie Greene (keys, harmonica, guitar, and vocals), Joe Russo (drums), sons Brian and Grahame Lesh (mandolin and guitar), Larry Campbell (guitar, strings, and vocals) and Campbell’s wife and frequent collaborator, Teresa Williams (vocals).
Not at all surprising to folks who follow Furthur or project to which Joe Russo adds percussive accompaniment, his double-jointed beats were impeccable. Larry Campbell’s cleanly played and tight guitar work added an elegant sheen and perfect contrast to his leader’s deep plucks while the ever-growing Jackie Greene managed to juggle his vast scope of duties with dexterity. Once again, Phil had pulled off the perfect entanglement of musicians, and in regards to the man himself, he sounded as perfect as ever, supplying a bass led sound that could never get old.
With the two stage set up and non-overlapping sets, artists are forced to do their sound check onstage while the previous band finishes up; this led to a bit of a confusing opening jam. Fans that had waited patiently for their heroes set weren’t sure the sound emanating was merely sound check or the beginning of the show and had no clue as to whether they should continue to politely wait or do what they wanted to do, start shouting with joy. All doubt was done away with by the time that the band’s warm-up yielded into a rollicking “Truckin’” with Greene on vocals.
The set was long and incredible, treating the crowd to “Deal,” “Big River,” a gorgeous “Peggy-O,” “Half-Step Mississippi Uptown Toodeloo” and more from the Dead’s gem-packed catalogue. Standout moments included a soulful performance from Teresa Williams on “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” a tune that Williams became well known for during her Levon Helm Band tenure, and seamless segues out of and back into (twice) what was perhaps the most extensive use of “Viola Lee Blues” in the history of the song.
“Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad” and “And We Bid You Good Night” served as a fitting encore, were fitting as the encore, prepping the sweaty crowd for a night under the starry skies and leaving them primed for the rest of the weekend.
Setlist: Jam, Truckin’, Deal, Chest Fever, Big River, Peggy-O, Long Black Veil, Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning, Mississippi Half Step, New Speedway Boogie, Casey Jones, Viola Lee Blues > Folsom Prison Blues > Viola Lee Blues > Bertha > Viola Lee Blues, Sugaree,
Encore: Goin’ Down the Road Feeling Bad, And We Bid You Goodnight
Bob Weir, Bruce Hornsby, and Branford Marsalis
Though they’ve played with each other on many different occasions, this was the first time Bob, Bruce, and Branford were presented officially, and somewhat dishonestly, as a trio. In retrospect, it was quite an interesting way to bill the band when calling the ensemble “Bruce Hornsby and the Noisemakers with Bob Weir and Branford Marsalis” would have been quite a bit more accurate.
In spite of the aforementioned and a couple of awkward moments, the set was splendid and the implications from the billing were met as the song count was nine to two with Dead tunes clearly owning the outing.
A highlight came in the form of the opener, a dreamy “Bird Song” – the only number to feature only the named trio of artists — that made all yearn for the days when the sax-play of Marsalis melded into Jerry’s subtle riffs.
Bruce took care of most of the vocals, and his own songs, including “Rainbow’s Cadillac,” were done beautifully. His ridiculous skills as a pianist seem to improve with each passing and there’s always something about the unique lilt to his voice that tinges every song with a sweet sadness.
Needless to say, there were rumbles in the crowd complaining that Weir wasn’t featured enough on vocals, but all grumbling soon turned to elation when the first notes of “Hell in a Bucket” were played; as Bobby began the repetitious and gorgeous howling of “ride!” to end the tune, there wasn’t a Deadhead soul in attendance that wasn’t beyond appeased.
Not surprisingly, the talk afterward was primarily centered in how beautiful Bob and Bruce harmonized together… such a peaceful bunch.
Setlist: Bird Song, Other One, Great Divide, Rainbow Cadillac, Franklin’s Tower, Hell in a Bucket, Loser, Scarlet Begonias, Jack Straw
Allman Brothers Band
What a welcome sight it was to see Gregg Allman sitting atop his perch, nestled behind the keys and looking healthy as he sung those soulful harmonies alongside his Allman brethren. Allman devotees were most certainly in their happy place as Warren Haynes, Derek and Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Oteil Burbridge, and Marc Quinones brought the house down with jams like “Don’t Want You No More,” “Midnight Rider,” “Rocking Horse,” “Hot ‘Lanta” and more.
As is par, the evening was a smattering of musical perfection from men who not only seem to be able to predict what the other is about to do, but thrive on it.
Highlighted by a sit-in from now extended family member, Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys), who delivered an extra element of tastiness to “One Way Out” and a take on “Liz Reed” that once again took the classic number to an all new place, Warren’s guitar cried out while Derek’s assault was more subtle, collectively channeling Duane, while Quinones killed it on percussion and Gregg inspired. Many in the crowd seemed to feel the set was too short, only because it was so good that nobody wanted it to end.
Setlist: Don’t Want You No More > It’s Not My Cross To Bear , Trouble No More, I Walk On Gilded Splinters, Who’s Been Talking, Midnight Rider, Hot ‘Lanta, Rocking Horse, Blind Willie McTell, One Way Out (with Roosevelt Collier, lap steel guitar) Leave My Blues at Home, Worried Down With The Blues, Statesboro Blues, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
Encore: Whipping Post
Mickey Hart Band
Last day of the festival. Mid-afternoon. The hottest day of the week. Fans are hung-over, strung-out or just exhausted. Suddenly, something makes everyone at the beer lines wake up and turn their heads in unison. It was the angelic, silky-smooth voice of Crystal Monee Hall, rising star and singer for Mickey Hart’s band.
Mickey brought his usual thunder and the percussion was perfection – that driving beat that summons you to move and takes your mind to wild places. Needless to say, he woke the crowd up properly.
Playing alongside an ensemble that only someone of Mickey’s stature and discernment could pull off, the band that includes Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools, Gawain Matthews, Sikiru Adepoju, Ian Herman and Ben Yonas, has been touring extensively following the release Mysterium Tremendum. Folks were thrilled when dead tunes including “Samson and Delilah,” “I Know you Rider,” and a sweet “Bertha” were bridged, but the band’s original material – ranging from African beats to trippy transcendental jams — was just as spectacular.
What was most revealing was the fact that in spite of the talent that she stood alongside, it was Monee Hall that stood out as a force to be reckoned with and one of the standout stars of the entire festival.
In a scene that is dominated by male singers and sometimes judges female artists more on the length of their skirt than on their ability, here was a rare gem that inspired us all on that hot afternoon. A series of “wows” rippled through the crowd as Hall’s voice soared, with a soulful grace that made the Allgood mass stand up and stomp.
Ever heard a “Fire on the Mountain” that made you feel like you were at church? We did.
Setlist: Sampson and Delilah, Time Never Ends, Brokedown Palace, Cut the Deck > Bertha, Heartbeat of the Sun> Falling Stars, Fire On the Mountain
Bluegrass, Funk, and Jam-tronica
Amazing folk and bluegrass bands played throughout the festival – The Wood Brothers, Greensky Bluegrass, Trampled by Turtles and more, but it was Yonder Mountain String Band that successfully melted faces – with a mandolin.
Funk may have been a tad underrepresented, but when you have Lettuce and Galactic as the carriers of the torch, it’s not a problem. Both sets were powerful enough to get every single booty in the crowd shakin’ and short enough to leave everyone begging for more.
Over the past several years, The Flaming Lips have cemented their position as the consummate festival act — the band to look to when a lineup was in need of an extra dash of spice. Their performance at All Good was just as we all have come to know it and at one time, the one in which we all fell completely in love. It came complete with the theatrics, scantily-clad girls onstage, naked girls on the jumbo-tron, vaginas afire (i.e. flaming lips) and front man king of the weirdos, Wayne Coyne, in his hamster-bubble — adrift in a cloud of curly confetti, barking semi-inspiring orders to the massive throng that meets the band at virtually every festival stop.
There is no doubt that the Lips have all but completely ensured their spot atop most bills that the band is slated upon, but the unfortunate fact has long been that their sets are little more than recitations former outings. Coyne will, at some point, definitely hop on the bear’s shoulders and appear to be completely amused with himself as he fingers the bear’s nostrils in the same manner in which the rest of us hold a six-pack.
Recently, Coyne and company have begun mixing things up, setlist wise, and with a new album in the can, one can only hope that the new material will provide a launching place for marked changes in the band whose live act has become one of the most well known and celebrated.
Lotus played a mesmerizing late night set that cast fire into the night, setting it ablaze with twinkly lights and spaced out kids. While it was more of the hard partying crowd that stayed for the late night Lotus action, the talent of the ensemble, but particularly that of Mike Rempel (guitarist) wasn’t lost on anyone and one would be remiss to simply cast Lotus into the same box as most of the other electronica that has come of age lately. Newer bands like Papadosio and local boys The Werks also got the kids dancing with some impressive sets.
Artist-at-Large: Roosevelt Collier
The hardest working musician at the festival this year couldn’t have been anyone but Roosevelt Collier, famed pedal steel guitar player of the Lee Boys. Collier waspretty much everywhere, sitting in with acts including: Galactic, YMSB, ALO, The Allman Brothers Band, Lettuce and Tea Leaf Green.
Aside from just being a hard worker though, every time that he appeared onstage, he brought something special with him and a new power could be felt as he somehow managed to simultaneously bring the blues, emotion and sacred steel to every song, regardless of genre.
In short, Collier’s rare talent and incredible skill level provided the perfect harmony to any artist he accompanied, his steel moaning and wailing like a banshee but never sounding out of place. What a talent.
Thank you, All Good
As in years past, the All Good Music Festival brought young and old deadheads (lots of random hugging of strangers), lovers of bluegrass and funk and kids hoping to wig out on electronic beats together in a sweaty, ecstatic melting pot of music lovers learning to appreciate each others’ beloved artists. Stories were swapped and grooving together against a backdrop of beautiful green hills and LED lights was the picture that will forever be etched in the mind.
Founder Tim Walther and his brain child have seemingly risen above the challenges of the past with a renewed energy that brought joy to thousands.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of the weekend came with marching orders given by none other than Mickey Hart, who stood and surveyed the audience at the close of his band’s set. The love emanating from the crowd was palpable and clearly felt by the intuitive rhythm devil. But rather than taking it in and departing the stage, Hart instead chose to say what many had already thought when he charged the crowd with the task to “take this energy, go out and do something with it.”
More setlists, downloads and other useful goodies
(full photo gallery below)
Yonder Mountain String Band
Peace Of Mind, 40 Miles From Denver, Maid Of The Canyon, Pockets, Pretty Daughter, Pass This Way, Spanish Harlem Incident, Dawn’s Early Light*> Girlfriend Is Better*, Sharecropper’s Son, Traffic Jam > Whipping Post > Traffic Jam
Encore: Troubled Mind
*= w/ Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys) on lap steel
Spiritualize, Middle Road, Bellwether > Ghosts N Stuff > Umbilical Moonset > Bellwether, Behind Midwest Storefronts, Harps, It’s All Clear To Me Now > Massif,
Hammerstrike, Greet The Mind, Wooly Mammoth, 128
Encore: Bush Pilot
Watch this set, in its entirety on YouTube
Race For The Prize, The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song > On The Run, Is David Bowie Dying?, Ego Tripping at the Gates of Hell, See The Leaves, Laser Hands, Drug Chart, Ashes In The Air, Pompeii Am Gotterdammerung, What Is the Light? > The Observer
Encore: 21st Century Schizoid Man, Do You Realize?
How Mountain Girls Can Love, Lose My Way, Bring Out Your Dead, Gumboots*, Old Barns, Broke Mountain Breakdown > Atlantic City > Broke Mountain Breakdown, Kerosene
* = w/ Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys) on lap steel
Karate, Total Descruction Of Your Mind, You Don’t Know, Hey Na Na, Keep Steppin’, Doublewide > Go Go, I Don’t Know What…Funky, Never Called You Crazy, Out In the Street, Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover, Cineramascope, Goin’ Down, Cult Of Personality, Boban, Boe Money, Heart Of Steel, Sympathy For the Devil
The Wood Brothers
Up Above My Head, Liza Jane, Luckiest Man, One More Day, Spirit, Postcards from Hell, Shoofly Pie, Stealin’, Heaven is a Honey Jar, Pray Enough*, Atlas
* = w/ Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys) on lap steel
Pimps of Joytime
Freedom Dancer, ?, ?, Joytime Radio, Janxta Funk, Keep That Music Playin’
Tea Leaf Green
Arise > All Washed Up, Criminal Intent, Nothing Changes *, My Bastard Brother*, The Garden (Pt. III), Fallen Angel, Germination Seed, Incandescent Devil
*= w/ Roosevelt Collier (Lee Boys) on lap steel
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