Written By: Clayton Silcox
Photos By: Chris Gamber
Music festivals are all about having fun, love for friends, love for music, and love for love. Every year thousands of people across the country descend upon these events to get away from their overly structured and horrendously oppressive lives, for some peace of mind. Such decisions are usually very refreshing and rejuvenating for one’s social life and state of mind, as they should be. Fortunately for those that reside in the mid-Atlantic, Peace of mind is located about 45 minutes north of Pennsylvania’s state capital. No other festival is like this one, and no festival in Pennsylvania can be compared to this one in terms of being a musical proving ground for our scene. Peace of Mind has the distinction of being the first festival in the U.S. to feature stars from Swearnet’s “Trailer Park Boys” television series and has reached maximum capacity for the third straight year. Oh, then there’s the lineup; a rippin’ good time of a lineup.
From the first night to the sweet dreams you’ll dream for weeks afterward, you will experience nothing but happiness. The first night this year featured an all-indigenous-to-PA lineup and it was kicked off by Kluster Phunk of Wilkes-Barre, PA. A very pleasant warm-up for the chilly crowd on Thursday afternoon it was, and Duck Duck Goose of Northumberland, PA was up behind them. Duck Duck Goose had a guest appearance by John Colon of UCM Trio for a few covers including the song “Whipping Post.” It was beautiful and extremely well executed. The much-anticipated Dr. Slothclaw from Red Lion, PA shredded the place to pieces afterward with an awesome Zappa cover and played a few originals from their album “Deep Space Boogie.” As the night grew chillier (you could actually see your breath!) Camp Muckleratz was treated to a piping-hot set by Willie Jack & the Northern Light of Sunbury, PA, who delightfully covered Stevie Wonder’s “Superstitious” and “Dear Prudence” by the Beatles. The female vocals soared from this band as did the guitar riffs. No Peace of Mind experience is complete without having your brain wrung-out by the “Coal-Region Colossus” known as Time Relapse. They played a beautiful set and they can get jammy but the jams are just right, especially for a Thursday night. All who slept went to bed with the sweet melodies of Time Relapse on the brain, for Friday and Saturday’s shenanigans were on the horizon.
Friday began with Samantha Frome taking the stage and lighting up the air with glorious female vocals. Some originals were performed but her covers of “Life is Beautiful” by Sixx:AM and “Zombie” by the Cranberries were magnificently put together. “Zombie” got the crowd singing & dancing all over the campground, and drew attention like fresh carnauba on a pair of wing-tip shoes. A fill-in set came next and an impromptu performance by a collaboration between Medusa’s Disco’s side project Indian Dog Food and two members of Didges Christ Superdrum. They were all joined onstage by the two festival promoters who originally birthed the idea for Peace of Mind, Jason Shearer and Krystle Hauck. It was a magical experience and the forest was alight with their pleasant harmonies during “Down by the River” by Neil Young and Krystle’s soaring pipes captured all attention during the Dylan song “You Ain’t Going Nowhere,” which made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The talented performances had only just begun.
Roaring in from Richmond, VA came The Southern Belles who put on a standout performance of the material from their new album “In the Middle of the Night.” The music itself is well-written and has a fresh, squeaky-clean feel to it, with very groovy rhythms and wailing guitars. The Southern Belles delivered a gelato-smooth blend of genres at Peace of Mind and left a lot of smiling faces in Pennsylvania.
Here came one of the weekend’s first pleasant surprises; Porch 40. This very nasty quintet from Cullowhee, NC brought loads of nastiness to Peace of Mind. The band features mind-numbing horn work and more colorful guitar work than Jimi Hendrix in a kaleidoscope. A progressively heavy funk rock, their music is in your face but palatable enough to bite right out of the oven. The first head-banging splendor points of the festival are accrued by Porch 40 and they stood out among the top performers of the weekend, almost more-so than the more famous outfits to grace the stage. Keep an eye on this band, you’ll be seeing them ascend quickly.
Making their first stop on the east coast and in PA at the same time (duh!), The Royal Jelly Jive brought their warm west coast smiles, tempos, and attitudes with them to Peace of Mind. This band blew me away and not a soul at Camp Muckleratz could resist dancing to their colorful and happy melodies which were festooned with the metallic glitter of a horn and female vocals. The festival lavished in these jams like a group of alligators in spring’s first glimmer of warm sunshine, it was a beautiful sight to behold. Head-banging splendor points were accrued by the loud, thrashy Stonewall Vessels, and I was in disbelief at how a human could channel talent into such a fast but technical group of songs. Wow, just wow.
To no one’s surprise, Consider the Source were up to their usual shenanigans of scrambling brains and taking no names. If you haven’t seen this band yet, you are missing out on what the pinnacle of artistic ability in our scene consists of. Consider the Source can be summed up in the name of their most recent album “World War Trio.” This is a war fought with a guitar, a bass, and a drum kit; in this war Consider the Source is the undefeatable juggernaut of seemingly unattainable synchronicity. Every space in their music is filled with all 3 parts; every nook and cranny. You get all of Consider the Source or you get none at all. This band literally is comprised of musicians raising the bar such that there is not a bar to be raised nor boundaries to be defined by. They will leave you without breath. Stellar performance every time.
A big band from Brooklyn, NY was up next after Consider the Source; a band with whom I was unfamiliar. Cousin Earth had no shortage of energy and seemingly no end to how far they could stretch their songs into an atmospheric astro-sonic head rush. Their performance will leave you questioning their origin and all I can tell you is that they are related to us Earthlings somehow. The crowd was left to gather their thoughts at the campfire, jams provided by Williamsport, PA’s Moonlicker.
It is now Saturday morning, and those with an appetite are in search of the elusive breakfast burrito, but it is rainy. The first weekend in the history of Peace of Mind to be more rain than sunshine, but no one’s spirits were dampened. No matter how muddy it seemed to get by lunchtime, everyone loved the official wakeup by the iridescent female vocals of Felix Fenix, which gave way to the tranquil and mellow guitar work of ARJUN. ARJUN occupies the space between sight and sound, whilst being progressive but calming. Every year Eddie Arjun brings something different to Peace of Mind, this year he brought a multidimensional approach to his songs.
In the pouring rain, the times only got wilder as the drum circle hosted by Didges Christ Superdrum came in full force. Holy (expletive deleted). There is no shortage of holy (expletive deleted)’s at Peace of Mind. The entire weekend I felt like I was running around shouting “did you (expletive deleted)ing hear that?! Whoa!!”
After the drum circle the Peace of Mind regulars Penque-Diomede band lit up the rain with their love-filled Dead covers. I’ve seen TONS of Dead covers, but these guys are notable in that they’ve been around for a very long time and that they do the covers right.
Hot on the heels of the Penque-Diomede band at the side stage was a phenomenal foursome from Murfreesboro, TN called New Suede. The name accurately describes how their music feels on the brain, to a “T.” Very well-received by the crowd, they were fast and edgy but technical and on-time. Incredible performance for it being three-quarters of the band’s first time in PA. I want to see this band again.
Rain still happily falling, the gents from Greensboro, NC took the stage to perform a “Talking Dead” set. These are mashups of Dead tunes with Talking Heads tunes, and I’m not talking about your normal “this into that” either. I’m speaking instead of long, epic jams that seemed to bounce back and forth repeatedly or at will. Songs such as “Psycho Rider,” “Take Me to Althea,” “During the Other One,” and “Burning down the Mountain” were insanely well put-together and very tastefully blended. This is one of the most creative things I’ve seen a band attempt at a festival other than testing new original material. These mashups really made one stop and pay attention as the changeovers were so frequent or even ambient throughout the length of the song.
If we weren’t bewildered enough by the mashup set, the next band showed up like a rabid raccoon and lingered like a moonshine buzz. A fiery stage presence and a sound that is tangible like the texture of cold, ripe watermelon is what sets Medusa’s Disco apart from the crowd. Their performance is teeming with lots of hair and sweat and sure to make you smile. A standout performance by this band at Peace of Mind would definitely have to be their song “Cellophane Snake,” which has been polished and honed since it appeared on their album “Forked-Tongue Fables.” They played material from their newest album “Ripe,” in which “Otherwise” was the peachiest; crisp and happy like absorbing the heat from a fire and sipping hot cocoa after a tiring day of sledding. Head banging splendor points go to this band as well.
It is becoming a Peace of Mind Saturday night tradition to see a trifecta of thunder such as the Peoples’ Blues of Richmond take the stage and shred everyone’s brain. This year they started out opposite of last year, playing their usual set-closer “Nihilist” first. This alone had me on my toes for the whole set, from “Nihilist” to their unreleased original “Maria Doesn’t Care.” This band is never short on energy, always bringing the circus with them to Peace of Mind. With songwriting that is cohesive and tight to musicianship that is second-to-none, I give this band head banging splendor points. Their tunes are lively and well-executed with their unique approach to raw, unhindered psychedelic prog rock. The bluesy but riffy and hard licks are just as hot as they are cold as ice, similar to how a cold beer is symbiotic to a warm, sunny day. With these performances, the oh-so-tangible song structure, a new album under construction, and whose greatest influences are life and the toilet (according to the band), they are going a long way. Keep your eye on this band.
With the rain still coming down, and the hour ripe into early Sunday, it was time for NYC’s InDaze to rock the ‘Ratz. This band is best summed up by saying they’re a blend of reggae-rock with Latin undertones. Crunchy and cool music that is sweet on the palate and delivered with whipped cream and a cherry on top.
Night three of music was almost over, but no one’s mind was ready for the scrambling that was provided by Didges Christ Superdrum. Set up in darkness, they quickly lit up the entire place with crazy cool grooves. I really cannot explain what my ears experienced in front of them, but I can say that I was definitely discombobulated by digeridoos and drums, dude! Wow. Peace of Mind gets more and more creative each year, this time it seems they’ve outdone themselves. Didgeri-damn!
Light rain is falling and there is a misty fog in the air, but the Weiser State Forest is aglow with the sweet harmonies of “Yellow Submarine” performed by Janelle Vibes and the children of Muckleratz and it was absolutely precious. These children and Janelle were just the right amount of sunshine to wash away the rainy and gray weather. They set a very relaxed mood that continued through Janelle’s set and PA festival veterans Stronger than Dirt’s set.
The relaxation was over once Williamsport-based Moxie & Rebel took the Peace of Mind stage. Minds were blown by the bluesy and psychedelic cover of “She’s So Heavy” which was heavy and wonderful like thick maple syrup. Moxie & Rebel have a very unique sound and amazing vocals to boot.
The rain subsided as a thrill from Charlottesville, VA descended upon Camp Muckleratz with soothing melodies and a hard-driving rhythm as their modus operandi. The music of Disco Risqué is like sonic medicine decorated with loads of brass pizzazz. The trumpet seems to shine through the songs like midday rays of sunshine through the depths of a pond. If their set was a meal “Wreckfest at Riffany’s” would be a smashing dessert of red velvet cake sweetened with whiskey. The set completed with the trumpet player jumping into the mud to dance with the crowd and play his final notes. A truly stellar performance.
The last band to grace the stage at Peace of Mind 7 was the Mantras with material from their new unnamed album. They brought a very clean and polished sound with them, just like during their “Talking Dead” set. Their cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” was icing on the cake for an incredible weekend.
Anyone that has ever put on a music festival or helped to work one knows the almost impossibly massive amount of work it takes to make function. The weekend’s standouts were Whiskey Jar Productions and their stage crews, Camp and the security team, the stage managers Uncle Joe and EA, and the kitchen staff for safely keeping the musicians’ tummies full. Great job to all of you beautiful creatures.
Peace of mind was a huge success this year and also tons of fun. I got to see Leigh Macinnis from the “Trailer Park Boys” and paint on the community-wide painting. From the drum circles to the smiling faces to the unique Pennsyltucky love, Peace of Mind fest will touch every heart and delight every mind. The sun may set but the love at Camp Muckleratz will not fade away.