All Good Music Festival 2013
Review by Elise Olmstead
photos copyright Appalachian Jamwich Photography
It is natural on your summer travels to catch yourself glimpsing at your neighbor’s wrist, and smiling in celebration when they are wearing the same festival wristband as you are from a different weekend. I gather and lose many along the way, but the only one I have carried with me for three years has been my All Good Music Festival 2010 bracelet. It is the year that I spent my honeymoon, and my third year attending. All Good was my first festival I ever went to, taken by my husband, and the place I always truly felt at home. All Good’s lineup every year features powerhouse acts such as Widespread Panic, Furthur, and Lotus, and also smaller eclectic bands of different genres to please any sort of music fan. Besides the music and impressive production, there is always a feeling amongst the patrons that is “all good,” making the event a landmark of the summer. To this day, seeing the big letter signs “Welcome To All Good” on the hill still gives me butterflies in my stomach.
The festival returned to its second year at its new venue Legend Valley, Ohio, but was our first time experiencing it here. The layout was different than other festivals we had attended there, like Dark Star Jubilee. Instead of everyone being situated inside one area, the venue was extended to also include the field across the street, where everyone was camped except for VIP. The police did a wonderful job directing traffic and everyone, including the excited patrons were cooperative and organized. Once inside the gates, the path opens up to a tree line stacked with hammocks as far as the eye can see. You can lay on the spacious green hills on a blanket or grab a beer next to the main stage then boogey down right up front. The Grassroots Stage is on the farthest end of the camping area across the road, but every time we visited there were plenty of people having a blast. Letting the ticket buyers stay overnight Sunday was much appreciated by our tired bodies. Combined with a chill vibration spreading happily across the air like floating bubbles, we felt comfy and accommodated the whole weekend.
When I first saw the lineup for Thursday night, I have to admit I let out a little gasp. Some of my favorite bands were playing, like Lettuce and Papadosio, so I was sure to park my butt at the main stage most of the night. John Scofield UberJam Band started us off with a seamless collaboration between Scofield’s inspiring jazz guitar and Avi Bortnick’s synths and occasional break beats. Papadosio played songs old and new, and you could hear the crowd cheer when they played “We Are Water” from their new album To End the Illusion of Separation. Eric Krasno and Neal Evans were missing from the Lettuce lineup that night, but saxophonist Ryan Zoidis and trumpeter Rashawn Ross were there in full force, getting you up out of your seat almost immediately to get funky. I spotted grins on everyone’s faces when Yonder Mountain String Band played, and you could tell Jeff Austin was glad to be playing back at All Good. Jeff’s positive voice strums against your heartstrings parallel to him strumming that mandolin. I was glad to hear an old favorite of mine, “End of the Day,” and an encore of “Two Hits and the Joint Turns Brown,” which is always a crowd favorite. Beats Antique closed the night with their captivating world music and electronic fusion punctuated by belly dancer Zoe Jakes’ performance and the appearance of a giant neon inflatable squid on stage.
On Friday, Eric made the early morning trek to see Cabinet along with some other dedicated fans. With the growing popularity of their rock and bluegrass fusion, Cabinet is the next Yonder Mountain String Band and I’m confident that I’ll see them headlining a main stage in no time. The Grassroots stage had some great musicians in the afternoon that weekend, such as Nahko Bear from Nahko and Medicine For the People, Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon, and a couple of members of The Werks giving the crowd an intimate session. It was a chance to ask questions and joke around while hearing some beautiful music in between. After a break from performances in the daytime, Grassroots became the late night stage, and Saturday night hosted the fascinating Moon Hooch, a trio from New York City consisting of two saxophonists and a drum player. They remarkably emulate the beats and sounds of electronic music with their live instruments. We made sure to direct everyone over and have a dance party to their set at 2:30AM.
The genre infusing Fear Nuttin Band starts the main stage then Revered Peyton’s Big Damn Band takes the stage. The Big Damn Band is not so big at all in reality, but The Reverend J. Peyton, his wife Breezy and Ben “Bird Dog” Bussell pack a punch on stage with their muscular hillbilly rock, complete with washboard percussion. The Bright Light Social Hour plays a soulful set before some Kung Fu funk, and I’m curious to see who will be in the Everyone Orchestra lineup. Conducted by Matt Butler, the musicians that got on stage for the fun were Jay Lane of Primus; Chris DeAngelis, Tim Palmieri, and Robert Somerville of Kung Fu; Joel Cummins of Umphrey’s McGee; Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon; and Hope Medford of Medicine For The People.
A deciding factor for many going to All Good is the pleasant diversity of the genres and types of musicians. That afternoon we enjoyed a little bit of Grateful Dead sing-alongs with Dark Star Orchestra before some knee-slapping good bluegrass from Leftover Salmon. The smooth dub-instilled acoustic of Nahko and Medicine For The People leads into the electronic dance beats of Joel Cumming’s side project Digital Tape Machine. We had been pleasantly wandering all afternoon, but we noticed a wave of sudden motivation for the Primus set later in the evening that practically pressed us into the stage. Crowds were determined to see the longtime All Good favorite blow our minds with some gratifyingly weird progressive rock. Gratify he did, giving us some completely beloved old tunes like “Southbound Pachyderm” and “My Name is Mud.” Many Les Claypool fans argue that he’s at his best when he is playing with Primus, and the slappin’ good time of an encore with “Tommy The Cat” had me convinced. It was nice to see The Bridge at All Good and made me feel even more at home, since they originate from another place I call home, which is Baltimore, MD. I’ve never lived in Baltimore but we travel there often and have seen a great share of feel-good Bridge shows at The 8×10. STS9 gives us a mellow closer, making us dreams of stars and lasers as we rest for a great Saturday.
Saturday got off to a rainy start that surprised me while I was buying some Spicy Pie. Sometimes you will go to great lengths to make sure you get your annual All Good Spicy Pie slice. The day must go on and there was too much to see to wait around and cry over soggy pizza. Everyone was already buzzing about MarchFourth Marching Band’s performance, which always proves to be visually stimulating as well as musically. Every photographer on the property was scrambling to catch the girls on stilts dancing and the bedazzled band members gathered around. Ultraviolet Hippopotamus has been one of my favorite rising stars in the improvisational jam scene and I was happy to see them on the lineup. Their surprising time changes and funky riffs just tickle my brain in the only way a funky jam can. They played “Square Pegs Round Holes” from their album of the same name, then another track from the album “T1J” with some great little teases of Papadosio’s song, “The Plug.” All the guys we were hanging out with were deliberately excited to see the Grace Potter and The Nocturnals set, and who could blame them? Her beautiful voice is as mesmerizing and addicting as her demeanor.
The homestretch for me was Furthur, followed by The Werks. Furthur doesn’t appear on very many festival lineups these days which makes All Good an absolute must for Furthur fans of both casual and fiercely loyal commitments. A rousing “Dancing in the Streets” gets us started, and the good times keep on swinging throughout the entire set. I could hear people screaming at every moment in excitement. Andy Falco of Infamous Stringdusters gets on stage for a few songs, including “Uncle John’s Band,” and Grace Potter joins them to sing “Turn On Your Lovelight.” There was not a dry eye in the place when they encore with “Brokedown Palace.” The Werks never fail to impress and we sing their praises constantly. We were insanely proud of the crowd they had gathered that was there and hyped just for them. There’s no way you can’t fall in love with the soaring jam ecstasy of “Duck Farm” and everyone went absolutely wild when they played “With a Little Help From My Friends.”
Sunday was a relaxing treat and as the excitement wound down we were glad to finally catch up with some friends during the Keller Williams and Travelin’ McCoury’s set. Every girl still has some dance in her to get enthusiastic for “Women Are Smarter,” and my heart aches for my son to hear him encore with “Pumped Up Kicks,” which is his favorite song for Keller to play. Though the music is over there are still folks wandering in a daze, and we all cherish a little more time with our friends before recovering from the exhilarating weekend.
All Good Music Festival will always feel like a family affair not just to me, but everyone who attends. Whether it is your first year or fifth, there are many friends to be made and meet up with again and again, and the musicians start to feel like your friends as well. Tim Walther’s production and professionalism impresses every time, and he will always have fans follow All Good to the ends of the Earth just to feel at home once again. We can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year, and I can’t wait to add another wristband to my collection.