Duck Creek Log Jam Benefits From Date Change
Words and Photos by Tom Wickstrom
Located near the Hocking Hills area of southern Ohio, the Duck Creek Log Jam is a music festival celebrating the best in americana, folk & bluegrass music. It always took place on Memorial weekend, so I was unable to attend because of other festival commitments. They also had to compete with many other festivals on the same weekend. This year they pushed Duck Creek back 3 weeks which finally gave me the opportunity to attend. This years lineup boasted a lot of my favorite bands as well. Upon entering the festival grounds, I was impressed by the beauty of the place. There were 2 ponds that many campers were utilizing to keep cool and a huge structure on the hill that had recently been erected for a wedding. I was directed over to the “Party Down” area to camp where all the pickers would be jamming throughout the day & night.
The Pine Grove Stage was used for all of Friday night’s performance. Located back in the woods in a natural amphitheater, Pine grove offered intimate sets of music all night long. Local boys, The Squirrel Kickers, opened and set the stage for a great night of music with their traditional & old-timey sound. The Last Revel from Minneapolis then followed with a lively set of music that blended bluegrass, folk & rockabilly with 3 part harmonies that had the crowd begging for more. Next up was Chicago’s Henhouse Prowlers. Dressed in traditional 3 piece suits, they got everyone up dancing with their tight instrumental prowess and lush harmonies. It was a highlight for me to hear them cover Guy Clark’s “Fried Green Tomatoes”. Finally, it was time for Old Salt Union to close things out on the Pine Grove Stage. It had already been a great night of music but Old Salt Union kicked things up 2 more notched with their energetic & frenzied performance that had everyone sweaty & wiped out but walking back to their campsites with a satisfied smile on their faces. Lead singer & bass player Jesse Farrar even stage dived and crowd surfed at the end of the set. Exhausted, I walked back to camp and fell asleep listening to people picking music a couple of campsites over.
I was feeling lazy on Saturday and tried to sleep in but once the sun rose it started getting hot and it was time to find some shade. I noticed that many people came prepared with floating devices to enjoy the cool water in the In front of one of the ponds was the Cabin Porch Stage, which was used for regional acts from the region. Eric Ahlteen started things off with a set that was like a singalong involving many kids that participated with him. The Lucky Holler Boys, Chris Bishop & the Fret Mashers all followed with sets of music that was perfect for a lazy Saturday afternoon. At 5pm everything shifted over to the Woodlands Productions Main Stage for the remaining performances of the day. Whetherman, who is actually Nicholas Williams from Columbus, started things off. I really dug the way he blended multiple genres together to deliver his songs in a captivating manner. Erika Hughes & the Well Mannered then followed with a set of mostly Erika’s originals with her distinct country rock sound & vocals. Caamp, who graduated from nearby Ohio University, came next with a set of classic rock style songs reminiscent of Crosby, Stills & Nash. Being local boys didn’t hurt as many of their friends and fans came out to enjoy their set. Austin Texas’s Wood & Wire then fired everyone up with their lively bluegrass originals. I had seen them before but had forgotten how much fun they were. The final 2 performers for the evening were Billy Strings & Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band. While both are pros at firing up their audiences, they have different approaches on how they get it done. Billy Strings learned how to play guitar from his dad and absorbed all the music around him and what his dad threw at him. Billy melded all those musical styles & influences together to create a bluegrass style that takes the listener from one musical peak to another. It seemed like we were in another dimension and time was standing still. Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band took more of tent revival type of approach in their performance. Consisting of the Reverend on guitar & bass (simultaneously), his wife Breezy on washboard & Maxwell Senteney on drums, this 3 piece band from Brown County, Indiana drowned the crowd with their energy. I felt like I was at church as the Reverend fused country, blues & rockabilly together to spiritually lift up the crowd to a musical nirvana. What a great way to close out the festival.
Duck Creek Log Jam made for a great weekend of music. I ran into so many people I knew, but also made many new ones. It was very family oriented and having the ability to swim in the ponds was a huge bonus. The main focus was the music and it was all excellent, whether it was on the stages or in the campground. I’m glad they moved the date. I’m looking forward to next year.