Written by: Kathy Moore
Photos by: Cryptical Photography (Dave Cunningham)
“That night changed my life. It was some of the most genuine love and good times I’ve ever experienced. I didn’t realize how deficient I was in those aspects of my life, until I had the evidence right in front of me, tangibly.” – Larry Morris, on the conception of the first Larrypalooza.
You know that you are appreciated and loved when your friends throw a festival in your honor. What started as a house party with friends’ bands has turned in to a full-fledged festival. Back in September of 2014, the plans that Larry and his friends had made of attending a festival fell through, so they decided to throw their own party. Using a church that is located on TrailHeads’ property in West Leisenring, PA, the friends decided that the show would be dedicated to Larry since his birthday was coming up. TrailHeads and HABATAT headlined that first Larrypalooza and have headlined at every one since. If you have ever attended a TrailHeads or HABATAT show, you have certainly seen Larry front and center with a towel around his neck. Larry is the number one fan of his friends’ bands- I have personally seen him help unload the van, then help set up equipment on stage, and then help with the break-down at the end of the night. The dedication and love he has for his friends are now celebrated at every Larrypalooza.
Larrypalooza IV- The Big One was held on September 22, at The Glades Festival Grounds, a beautiful venue in the mountains of Gibbon Glade, PA, about 10 miles north of Bruceton Mills, WV. It was a perfect warm, sunny day for a festival. In addition to music on two stages, there were live artists painting, a variety of vendors, and even A Camp- or sober camping. For such an intimate festival, there was something for everyone. Domenick Ottoviani (Lazy Ass Productions) and Dana Duncan are the gracious hosts of The Glades. This is their second year hosting festivals at this up and coming venue, with more festivals being added as word spreads about the picturesque grounds which are situated high atop a mountain with an expansive view of the sky, plenty of flat, open area, and groomed woods where you can also camp. Dom and Dana can often be found in front of the stage, singing, dancing, and interacting with the festival goers. These fellow music lovers work extremely hard to make sure that everyone is safe, happy, and having a good time. Helping with the production of Larrypalooza was Written Hour Productions, out of Connellsville, PA. They insured that everything ran smoothly, from check-in, to lighting, and everything in between.
The lineup of this year’s one-day festival included several local PA bands as well as nationally known Baltimore band, Deaf Scene. Kicking off the event on Saturday afternoon was C.J. Oswald, playing a solo acoustic set. You may have recognized C.J., aka Bat, from Trip’s Farm in Terra Alta, or from one of his many band incarnations- Bat’s Dynamic String Band, Dynamic Merger, or The Good, the Bad, & the Snuggly. Having recently located to PA and already making a mark on the PA music scene, C.J. brought his songwriting talent to the stage and warmed the crowd up. On the side stage, following C.J., was Voodoo Circuit who got the crowd dancing despite their early 2:00 p.m. start. You could feel the buzz and the excitement in the air as they brought the energy typical of a Voodoo Circuit show and got the momentum going. Reuniting for Larrypalooza were the Yough Jam Band– a four-piece jam and rock band comprised of Jake Halfhill (TrailHeads’ guitarist) and friends. They brought a fun and energetic jam session. The Glenn Strother Project took the side stage after The Yough Jam Band and had a surprise guest on bongos-Glenn’s daughter. Playing a set of mostly originals with a few covers thrown in, his electrifying jazz-fusion sound brought a different mood to the stage. Moving over to the main stage, Manor & Friends, from Morgantown, WV, lit up the stage with their rock and soul. Front man Nate Morgan not only sings, but grooves to the tunes and knows how to hype the crowd. His infectious demeanor was felt throughout the crowd. It was hard not to dance, smile, and enjoy yourself.
HABATAT brought the funk to the side stage and started the evening off with rowdy horns and soulful vocals. These Larrypalooza regulars laid down the groove and brought the energy that is always present at their shows. Pittsburgh instrumental trio Sweet Earth followed HABATAT with their blend of prog rock, funk, and fusion. As the sun went down, the volume went up. Their heavy grooves were felt by all. The energy of bassist Derek Martin amped up the crowd and set the stage for the evening. Chalk Dinosaur, also from Pittsburgh, maintained the groove with a synth, guitar, and drum filled set. The electro-dance vibe filled the air as more people made their way to the stage. Festival hosts and best friends of Larry Morris, TrailHeads took to the main stage and incorporated their signature style of jam and funk. Guitarist Josh Erhardt, who recently moved to San Francisco, flew back to PA for his last gig with TrailHeads. As usual, the band got the crowd dancing with their high energy and driving beats. Especially outstanding was Missy Baker on sax-she was captivating to watch as her powerful personality took over. By this time, the crowd was raging and ready for the last act- Deaf Scene. This Baltimore based power trio delivered the prog rock and psychedelic sound that I love so much. From tweener sets at Domefest, to headlining shows at the 8×10 in Baltimore, they never fail to deliver. They played multiple Tool covers that the crowd was waiting for, in addition to their many originals. They have a powerful and commanding character onstage, yet offstage they are extremely personable. The band arrived to Larrypalooza early in the day, threw a football around, and mingled with the crowd. The energy and force they brought to the stage were unreal and they looked like they could have continued playing all night.
As the night wound down, everyone gathered backstage and around the fire. The music and dancing were over, but the celebrating was not. As I walked back to my car as the sun was coming up, I could still hear the laughter and commotion of friends enjoying their time together. Good vibes were in the air. Larrypalooza IV was a success.