July 26-28, 2007
Words and photos by Brad Kuntz
In northwest Virginia, nestled in the wooded, rolling Appalachian Mountains sits the remote, 3000-acre Cove Campground, home to the 2nd annual Camp Barefoot.
It was a small, intimate festival filled with lots of positive energy, good vibes, friendly people, and a relaxed, uncrowded feeling. Making it to the front row was no problem and there was plenty of room to dance to the diverse music – from reggae to bluegrass, from psychedelic rock to jazz, no matter your fancy, it was there.
The festival kicked off Thursday with U-Melt, who ripped out some great psychedelic rock to about 300 of the 1300 fans to attend the weekend event. The trippy lights and smoke machine on stage, mixed with the cool mountain air helped liven the crowd for the first evening of music.
DJ Riochet Red played some house music on the side stage between acts to keep the tunes coming nonstop, and the air was filled with the odors of veggie quesadillas wafting from the food vendors.
Next on the main stage was Baltimore's The Bridge, who brought their special high energy funk-rock. The highlight was mandolin player Kenny Liner's beatbox.
The DJ Williams Projekt played a great set, and the night ended with Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, played until past 3:30 am. Eventually, the sound was cut off when the sound guys went to bed, but the band persevered, playing their drums and percussion into the crowd, the horns and sax still on stage. Things eventually turned into a quite a scene as band members jumped off the stage.
Percussionist/guitarist Josh Phillips had certainly imbibed his share, and passed out. A group of fans took it upon themselves to do what people do to drunk, unconscious partiers: they wrote on his chest. Phillips awoke like an angry beast and playfully chased bass player Al Al Ingram around with an empty bottle of Yeungling. Perhaps it was an act, but it made for a fun-filled night.
Friday came with mild, sunny weather and a host of great up-and-coming bands like Incognito Mosquito, Monkey Navigated Robots, Jazzam and the Burnin Smyrnans. Jackass Flats filled the voids on the side stage with great traditional bluegrass.
Three of the better performances of the festival came later that day. The Breakfast come onto the smoky stage ready to play, and Tim Palmieri ripped out some amazing guitar playing throughout the whole set. They delivered a rocking "Inner Glimpse," a dark "Psygn," and an insane "Overexposure," all eaten up by the crowd. The band announced that this would be their final show as a three-piece and Tim gave the keyboard a hug and kiss goodbye.
Garaj Mahal delivered a mellow set that started slow but picked up a little with a familiar Police cover, "When the World is Running Down You Make the Best of What's Still Around." The crowd seemed really into the performance, but it never really got off the ground. Garaj Mahal pulled out two familiar songs, "Make a Hippy Happy" and "Poodle Factory," and when The Breakfast’s Tim Palmieri emerged to sit in, the tide turned. Palmeiri was coaxed timidly onto stage and he took over, tried to walk off the stage, but was convinced to stay; He and Fareed Haque subsequently belted out a killer dueling guitar "Key to the Highway" jam. The set ended with a good "Massive" encore.
The late-night Barefoot Manner set started of with a banjo-driven bluegrass take on the blues classic "Killing Floor," segued into "Little Man" and then into a psychedelic "Pulse" dripping with Shawn Chase's great mandolin riffs and thundering drums and bass, and then meandered back to "Little Man" to complete the sandwich. "Pencil Song" featured nice bass lines from Leo Kishore, and fan favorite "Roots" with Chase on lead vocals excellent lead mandolin. A nice washboard solo from Jeff Garland was augmented by the quick tempo changes from Hank Smith's deft banjo picking, The band encored with a smoking "Winter" that went into a raging high energy "Airplane" that literally crashed when a speaker started smoking on stage.
Natural Born Easy started Saturday off with some nice southern rock, and reggae act The Itals brought brought out the Rastafarian vibe. However, a lot of folks were extremely upset about how the the end to the festival unfolded.
First, RAQ ran an hour or so late, but did bring some great guitar driven hard rock to the stage though that did not disappoint, highlighted by the opening "Nasty" and a killer version of "Circumstance" They played for slightly less than an hour, but had a two-hour slot.
The second unfortunate occurance was a sudden thunderstorm. Kickin' Grass was able to play one final set, with fans huddled on stage to keep dry, but Barefoot Manner had just started playing their first song when the main stage had to be shut down. The highly anticipated Brothers Past late night set was unfortunately not to be.
Despite the damper on the end of the festival, the rest of the weekend was packed with friendly faces and peach moonshine, and attendees made their way home satisfied.
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