The Peach Music Festival 2018 Review (Jam Juices Overflowing)
It's always a pleasure to gain admission into such prestigious festivals like, The Peach Music Festival, which boasted one of the best lineups of the summer 2018 and that may be, a modest understatement. This year, I had to take the plunge to Montage Mountain, Ski Resort and Water Park very close to Scranton, Pennsylvania. With “The Office” theme song on an endless loop in my head, I anxiously anticipated Friday's stacked lineup but was still bummed about missing one of my favorite Jam acts, The Marcus King Band, and Marcus's various sit-ins, which always highlight his versatility and ability to improvise. For those that got to see Marcus, lucky you! I look forward seeing him, as soon as, musically possible.
Friday Highlights and Montage Musings:
Arriving at the festival location, I had to park off-site and take a shuttle to the venue. This was not the easiest experience, as I was nervous and excited to get into the festivals and see some live music! I suppose I could have bought an onsite parking ticket but seeing as I was covering this event, it's difficult to spend all my hard earned dollars on extra services and fees. No camping pass was provided and no media accommodations were available but the show must go on!
When I arrived within the pavilion area, I was confronted with quite a mess of festivalgoer’s vying for coveted seats within the pavilion. This was a much different festival atmosphere than I was used to but after getting somewhat situated, I attempted to enjoy moe. one of my all time favorite bands. moe. would bring out the Turkuaz horn section for The Bands, "Ophelia." The horns would definitely add some sonic compliments. "Maybe we should have ended on that one," said Rob but out of nowhere they cover Rush’s, "Tom Sawyer;" Rob thrashing the bass with an octave pedal on full blast. I was completely lost in the music and ready for more moe. the following day and had forgotten about the seating fiasco.
Past the lazy river and beyond the lodge, at the Mushroom Stage, The Main Squeeze was my in-between before settling in to catch Leftover Salmon. The Main Squeeze seems heavily influenced by R & B and classic rock. The lead singer had a great stage presence and I was impressed by the guitarist’s full force, Game Of Thrones cover.
Leftover Salmon was up on the Mushroom Stage, which is adjacent to a wave pool, where patrons can cool off and listen to music. I got the opportunity to meet Vince Herman before their show. What a great experience and kind man. Leftover would play many of their original songs, which have lots of energy. I particular liked “Gulf Of Mexico,” “Liza” and “Aquatic Hitchhiker.” Their sound is Bluegrass, mixed with Island (Calypso), Reggae, and throw in some New Orleans Zydeco for a tasty musical gumbo and you will have Leftovers. This band is raw, eerie and danceable, the last few songs were extremely Jammy and improvisational, with very progressive movements.
Phil Lesh and The Terrapin Band, began the night with a solid but easy rendition of "China Cat Sunflower" into “Mr. Charlie" with Midnight North vocalist, Elliott Peck, accentuating the original blues quality of the early Dead. (Pig Pen style) Again, the band followed up with another older catalogued number, "Tennessee Jed." Jason Crosby’s piano playing shines through flawlessly. “New Speedway Boogie” continues this bluesy song selection but they end that musical streak with "Throwing Stones" which turned into a yelling cacophony right until the end, when they progressed into a slower rendition of "He's Gone." Never stopping, they continue into "The Other One" with Phil forgetting the lyrics but that's ok, at 78, he can do that. Grahame Lesh took the lead on the guitar and has grown up humbly and professionally. Taking these songs to a sonically singular level with the addition of a flute (Gotta be Karl Denson) to the song structure and transitioning beautifully into "Bird Song" and then returning again into "The Other One." "Truckin'" was up next and the crowd sang along at the top of their lungs. "The Wheel" and "Sampson and Delilah" rounded out the end of the set with "Sugeree" bringing it home. The audience wanted an encore and the band rejoined onstage for one final song and of course, it's Phil singing "Box Of Rain."
As I was trying to get some water from this giant water tank, in anguish with the thirst of the day, I got caught in a jazz traffic jam with horns and drums blocking my every path. At that moment Umphreys McGee comes on like a panic attack; I get anxiety just thinking about some of their songs. I did my best to make it through but in the end, my nerves can't handle the twist and turns this band brings like, a bi-polar Van Halen on Meth. While I must admit they are talented and present a much more a psychedelic experience than most of the other bands that played during the day sometimes, I just have to call it a night.
Saturday’s Musical Experience (ie; Little Feat and moe.)
Repeating the shuttle process to the festival site and having very little sleep, I continued on to catch Aqueous at the Mushroom Stage. I always have a great time with this band, they have an eclectic sound and span various genres. The Turkuaz horns join the band for the "Power Of Love" by Huey Lewis and The News followed by "The Median" and ending with an extended jam, "Don't Do It." If you haven't checked out Aqueous, reverse this song and do it! They are one of JBP favorites. (pew pew)
Staying at the Mushroom Stage for Ghost Light, I was excited to see my second performance from this very improvisational group. Warming up with Tenacious D’s "F*** Her Gently," The Turkuaz horn section would join them immediately on stage for one of their originals, "If You Want It." Tom Hamilton is the consummate bandleader, calling out the shots and leading the other musicians including: Holly Bowling, Scotty Zwang, Steve Lyons and Riana Mullen into new territories. Their compositions like "Winter War Games" and "Untitled D Riff" are intense in all the right places and can bring some solid blasting Americana Rock. I will always check out Ghost Light, any chance I can and hope they return to 5 Points Music Sanctuary soon.
I tried my best to get a good pavilion seats before the mass exodus of people beginning to descend upon the Main Stage for moe. and Little Feat. This was compacted by the fact that the rain began to come down harder and without proper VIP credentials for the 100 row seating, it was almost impossible to find any room to accommodate reviewing the performance. I was lucky enough to have found a pavilion seat with a giant beam directly blocking my view but at least I was out of the rain for this amazing feat.
This performance was the main reason I had drove 5 hours to Montage Mountain and traversed the Pocono’s at 2:30 AM. Little Feats seminal live album 'Waiting For Columbus' is one of my all time favorite records and with hit after hit, I knew moe. and the remaining members of Little Feat plus The Turkuaz horn section, would knock this one out of the park. The show begins of course, with "Join The Band” which is sung acappela. Jim Laughlin's mallet cat was the first thing that stood out to me as they went into "Fat Man In The Bathtub." Billy Payne taking over, while Al Schnier holding his own, killing on the slide guitar. Both bands kept it coming on strong, recreating these classic songs and revisiting this album. The group of musician began to jam during "Day Or Night." With Rob Barraco and Fred Tackett leading the way, skipping "Mercenary Territory" and going straight for "Spanish Moon." "Willin'" saw the Montage Pavilion singing along with Rob Derhak, arms raised towards the sky. Rearranging “Dixie Chicken,” Billy Payne brought his progressive Fusion piano skills to the table. All and all, it was a fun and solid set but I would have loved to have heard: “Mercenary Territory,” “Sailing Shoes” and “Rocket In My Pocket.” I guess I'll just have to see Little Feat again ASAP!
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead has been gaining a lot of followers within the Dead/Jam community and for good reason. They are constantly morphing, shifting and transitioning into and beyond the cosmic space of The Grateful Dead’s musical catalogue. They begin with "Cats Down Under The Stars" which goes on for, well over 15 minutes until, at the snap of the finger, they switch into "Big River." "Row Jimmy" didn't diverge from the original at all and stayed pretty low-key while "Loser" felt like it could have morphed into anything at anytime. During JRADs second set Tom Hamilton and Scott Metzger began dueling on guitars, Russo keeping time and Benevento sweeping across the keys. This band has gone further than any I have I have heard before and I look for them to continue gaining mass appeal with all audiences.
Having to choose between Dark Side Of The Mule and Spafford was almost sacrilegious but I stayed for some of Dark Side Of The Mule (Govt’ Mule covering Pink Floyd, which is kind of self-explanatory) before bracing for the rain and catching Spafford. Spafford has been really gaining a lot of support, as well in this community and it was good to see so many people dancing and braving the rain. The band had some hard times dealing with the weather but they brought the jams, they just played a lot of improvisation and instrumental. The set was filled with jams like, “The Postman,” “Slip and Squander,” “Electric Taco Stand” and “Virtual Bean Dip.” Some serious Spaffnerds that I talked to really enjoyed this set and were talking about how great the improvisation was. As I am not the most familiar with the catalogue, it all sounded like Jams to me and that’s a good thing. Hopefully, I will be checking these guys out again at Lockn’ Music Festival next month.
Sunday: (The Spirit Of The Allman Brothers And Beyond)
The Allman brothers theme is visible throughout this festival but I wasn't sure to what extent this festival actually represents ABB. I can assure you the spirit of the Allman brothers is alive in well at The Peach Music Festival. We may not be in Georgia but these were some juicy musical peaches.
Sunday was filled with Allman Brother songs and many members of the bands iterations, it became a true celebration of their spirit with Dickey Betts closing out the night, Oteil and friends and of course, Waking Up With Warren. It's hard to comment on all the great collaborations but notably, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer would really impress me yet again, sitting in with various musical acts at The Peach Music Festival. While the rain subsided for some of the day, it was still quite a mess at all the stages but I don’t want to get specific here for my Sunday review. Instead, I want to take this opportunity to talk about The Allman Brothers, their legacy and the losses we have all endured over the past few years musically.
My first concert was ABB almost 15 years ago and I haven’t stopped since. It was something that truly changed my life and my outlook on live music. I daresay, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for The Allman Brothers Band. While, I never got to experience Duane or Dickey with Gregg, what I did see was a wonderful iteration of the bands spirit and legacy; Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes intimate keepers of the flame. I did however, get to see Dickey Betts and Great Southern once and while it wasn’t such a grand experience as ABB, it was still great to see a founding member. I was always hung-up on dreams Id never see and after Gregg passed last year, things would never be the same again, I never thought I would see a celebration with that same spirit. Was it that lost forever? Not by a long shot. The Peach is the ultimate commemoration of ABB their formidable legacy will never die. The Peach may be lacking in a few overall technical issues but the music truly shone through. While the logistics were kind of a nightmare due to media limitations and overall expenses, I would return as a patron, as there are always, one of a kind musical collaborations that occur every year. I look for another solid, staked lineup next at The Peach Music Festival.
Eat A Peach,
Jam Band Purist is super excited to be covering The Peach Music Festival Full Coverage coming next week! Who will we see there? Eat a 🍑!
Widespread Panic Red Rocks 2018 (Solid Rock in Colorado)
Back at Red Rocks for my 5th year of sold out shows from Widespread Panic, one of my absolute favorite touring bands out there. While I had to really scrape up the cash to make these shows work, I can still remember dreaming of being at Red Rocks and now, I have seen 15 WSP shows here. What an experience it always is to return to Colorado for this pilgrimage. The band would open with "Solid Rock" for the megalithic rocks on each side of the audience. I have become quite familiar with them both over the years. Ship Rock and Creation Rock both, encapsulate this venue for the ages. Widespread Panic again solidify their sold out, record holding shows at Red Rocks 2018. The foundation of this music is built on solid rock!
"One Arm Steve" was short and to the point and was followed by “Glory” which was again, quick and done. "Contentment Blues" was hard and raw, finally letting Jimmy out of his cage. Stepping it up a notch with "Send Your Mind", I hadn't heard this tune in a few shows. "Sleeping Man" began with the crowd chanting, "You’re a freak of nature!" This song explores the dark, conspiratorial side of the band. A long jam was next, moving forward into "Driving Song." A woman in front of me burst into tears of joy; I want to get back to that place.
"Space Wrangler," a classic Panic song, can literally go anywhere musically. I've heard them reach the nether reaches of jam and sometimes they seem to barely take off. This “Wrangler” would see high crescendos and even a projection of Elon Musk’s Tesla car in space, journeying through a cosmic adventure before returning to “driving song.” The background image of the Tesla, would be tweeted by Elon himself, but I am not sure if he was at the show or, just sharing. Been waiting for that "Travelin’ Light" but overall a fairly short first set.
Opening the second set with "Protein Drink/Sewing Machine" making the term sewing machine itself, almost sound sinister. This song is a Red Rocks staple and this was one of the best I have heard yet. "1x1" had not heard in awhile but I wasn't sure about “Happy” until the instrumental jam, which was southern gothic in nature. If you haven’t heard my definition yet, you can check it out in some of my previous reviews. It exemplifies Widespread Panics sounds, ups and downs. This song will extend on into a improvisational jam breakdown. “B of D” and “Love Tractor” go hand in hand into another extended jam. “Drums” again and again every show…
Thank The Grand Zombie! After 8 longs years of waiting, I get another “golden splinters” and it was well worth the wait with one of the best renditions I have heard with a beat box ending into “Papa Legba.” What a perfect combination of Dr john and Talking heads songs both, oozing voodoo lyrics and dark qualities. Not much to say about “stop breaking down or the encore “You Got Yours” but I did notice Every time JB turns his back to the crowd, the jams begin.
Saturday's event would begin with “Rebirtha” and quickly into a slow jam that would meld into “Black Out Blues” which was again, a little slow warming up. “Little Kin” picked up the pace with JB whaling those vocals and Jimmy bringing in the lead.
“Radio Child” had Red Rocks on its feet and the crowd dancing. Jimmy
Herring’s final notes on the guitar were as epic, as any Red Rocks show I have experienced. Moving on quickly again to “C Brown” this songs origins lie somewhere in the peanuts comic strip with Snoopy being the dog that's as good as any man. One of the reasons I love panic is their pet and animal references many regarding them as more important than anything. “Tickle The Truth” highlights the songwriting from this group and the existentialism of WSP. “Stop And Go” would see Dave Schools dropping bass bombs on Morrison, Colorado. Bring that soup bowl home and JB shredding the slide. “Tail Dragger” to close out the first set
Second set, opening with “North,” Jojo formidable on keys. “Sharon” is always a treat, what a great cover with some interesting lyrics as JB coos like a pigeon. Should I, “Sell, Sell" all my Sunday tickets? I wasn’t quite sure. With their past track record of slow, Sunday shows at Red Rocks, I was undecided about the returning again…
“Second Skin” was pretty epic and with lyrics that are refreshing and enlightening. A wind delay would make this a 3-set show and the screen would remain off for the entire weekend. “Greta” is played for the weather and then “Cease Fire” which is still one of the best examples of Panic’s sound and musical structure. “Blue Indian” had the entire crowd singing at top of our lungs and a blistering, “Holden Oversoul” would lead into “Puppy Sleeps” a song, that I have never heard but enjoyed laughing about later with friends. “Expiration Day” is always an epic ending to any show. Lightening could be seen over Denver in the distance adding to the already spectacular light show. “Flat Foot Floozy” was American AF and so was that “Porch Song” encore.
OK...So, I didnt skip Sunday at Red Rocks completing my five full years of WSP Red Rocks run. I have climbed up that mountainous venue 30 times and decided to take a break next year. I also decided not to cover Sunday and take a breather from music writing. Festival season is upon us and I have lots of new reviews and content coming soon! We all need to take a vacation sometime. These shows at Red Rocks have meant so much to me over the years and its a good example of making your dreams come true. Red Rocks remains my favorite venue of all time and the shows seen here will go down in history forever. Thank you WSP!
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Editor: Robert (R.A.) Fadley
Freelance Writer, Musicologist, Music Journalist, Music Critic, Music Writer, Author, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Composer, Guitarist.