(Photo: John Kadlecik of Dark Star Orchestra)
Jarrett Bellini reports from the 13th annual All Good Festival in Masontown, West Virginia
All Good 2009 is now done and dusted, and what a weekend it was!
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I opted out of Saturday's late night Umphrey's McGee set in favor of this really awesome new band called My Head Hitting the Pillow Inside My Tent. I play every instrument.
However, reports that came back throughout the day on Sunday told of one wildly fantastic late night. Oh well... you can't see 'em all. And, as it turned out, not seeing 'em all would sort of be my personal theme for Sunday, a notoriously wild day on the mountain.
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue was the first band I missed, and I was told they played a terrific opening set to start out the day. That said, I was able to catch Donna the Buffalo, immediately after. My friends really enjoyed them, and I thought they were pretty good, but nothing spectacular – just some quality feel good music to help liven up the mood for the final push.
Tea Leaf Green would be the next band to hold down the main stage, and I had every intention of checking them out. However, something big happened that forced me to pass, something that would turn out to be the highlight of my weekend.
A few of us from the media were hanging out in the press tent, filing our reports and sharing war stories from the previous night. Then, from out of nowhere, Bill Kreutzmann, one of the drummers from the Grateful Dead, casually strolled into our area, beer in hand. I had to do a double take as he wandered over to where we were all sitting. But it was definitely him.
Apparently, he was bored hanging out in the artist compound and just felt like going for a stroll. We must have seemed like fresh, friendly faces, so he decided to sit down and shoot the breeze. Here we were, sitting with a member of the Grateful Dead, just having a normal, everyday conversation that ranged from talking about his home in Hawaii to some of his efforts in protecting marine wildlife. It wasn't an interview – just a rock legend killing some time with strangers. He even shared some personal thoughts on Jerry Garcia, and recounted his experiences recording with Bob Dylan. To our surprise, he was amazingly candid about a number of things, both good and bad.
So, with all due respect to Tea Leaf Green, there was simply no way I was leaving that tent.
Naturally, I did make it out to catch Kreutzmann's new band, BK3, who played a really good, hour-long set on the side stage. Donna the Buffalo's Tara Nevins sat in with them for the entire performance, which consisted of a mix of original songs as well as some old Dead tunes. Scott Murawski turned in some heavy hitting guitar work, making BK3 one of the better performances of the weekend.
The final act, closing things out, was Dark Star Orchestra, who, last year, belted out what I thought was the best set of the entire festival. For those who aren't aware of the concept behind DSO, they're a Grateful Dead tribute band that, for eleven years, has been killing audiences nationwide with their commitment to "raising the dead."
To be honest, I'm not even entirely comfortable using the term tribute band – I'd hate for someone to misinterpret that as them being in any way amateur, because I can assure you there is nothing amateur about these guys. The musicianship is absolutely out of this world and sometimes, if you close your eyes, I swear you'd think Jerry and boys (and girl) were up on stage.
Unfortunately, needing to get back on the road to head back to Atlanta, we only managed to stay for half the set. However, I was more than pleased to leave having heard my favorite Dead song, Jack Straw, and another classic, Terrapin Station.
Adding to the overall atmosphere of those closing hours was the fact that this was Sunday on the mountain – the day when things get a little weird. Generally, the crowds are smaller; many have left early to drive home and others are simply "too tired" to make it out. However, the crowd that does emerge on the hill tends to bring it strong – the tops come off, the dancing gets wild, and there seems to be a real music-first attitude among the fans. Of course, this is also the day you're most likely to see some wookie burn away his final brain cell, fall into another guy's folding chair, and then attempt to explain that he can't pay for the damage because he spent all his money on drugs. The chair owner's response, "I know. It's all over your face!"
So, yeah, Sunday's can get a little wild. But that's All Good for you... a weekend of great music and great friends that always seems to go out with a bang! Or, in this case, a broken folding chair.
*** FESTIVAL NOTES ***
BEST SET: Yonder Mountain String Band
BEST SONG: Morning Dew (performed by Bob Weir & RatDog)
BEST DARK HORSE PERFORMANCE: Cornmeal
BIGGEST SURPRISE: Buckethead
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: Todd Snider... love the guy, and his set was cut way too short
THE WEATHER: A+++
BEST NEW FRIEND: Eric, the HeadCount.org intern
FUNNIEST MOMENT: "Mr. Shuffles" breaking the folding chair
BEST PERSONAL MOMENT: Meeting Bill Kreutzmann
BIGGEST "FEELING OLD" MOMENT: From the hill, watching the amazing rave atmosphere during Bassnectar and wishing I could still hang
BAND I MISSED, BUT WISH I CAUGHT: Tie: Trombone Shorty and Lotus
BAND MOST LIKELY TO GIVE ME NIGHTMARES: Les Claypool... the whole stage get-up was a bit creepy
ONE THING I WOULD HAVE CHANGED: Dark Star Orchestra to headline Saturday instead of Ben Harper
PERFORMER I'D LIKE TO SEE AT A FUTURE ALL GOOD (BUT WON'T): Roger Waters
NOTE: Though I may not have mentioned every act in my posts, I did see most of them. You can read all of my All Good posts by going here.
What do you call a celebrity personal life equivalent of "Jumping the Shark"? You know, the precise moment in time when a much beloved TV show completely lost its mind. The phrase legendarily evolved from the "Happy Days" episode when The Fonz showed up on water skis.
He with the magical finger-snap ability to turn lights off and summon girls; He who oozed cool with one vowel –"Ayyyyyy"; He whose image I chose over Donnie & Marie for my iron-on transfer t-shirt. THAT guy, we learned, was afraid of sharks? He faced that fear by jumping over one on water skis– wearing his leather jacket, no less. Ah, the drama. We the viewers sat in presumed suspense wondering if poor Fonz could work out his inner demons there on the lake. Neither I nor anyone else wanted to know The Fonz had demons. Fonzie, please no. I had t-shirts.
Which brings me to Mel Gibson. I prefer to remember the heroic Gibson of "Braveheart"– among my favorite films of all time. I wax nostalgic on the Mel of the "Lethal Weapon" movies with Danny Glover– funny, cool. All the while, Gibson maintained such a respectable distance from Hollywood in his personal life. Married for decades to the same woman– Robin– a Hollywood outsider, he had seven seemingly law-abiding children, and appeared devoutly spiritual.
Then came the drunk driving arrest three years ago, the anti-semitic tirade, and a few curious movies. "Apocalypto" comes to mind. The marriage fell apart publicly when Robin filed for divorce earlier this year. Nevertheless, I held out hope. Mel's still a talented, brilliant director, I told myself, personal life aside.
Enter Oksana Grigorieva. Gibson's new girlfriend: classical chanteuse, stunningly, scarily beautiful, severely younger than he. Oh, and she's pregnant. New today, her music video from her debut album, which was produced by Gibson. The song is called "Beautiful Heartache", Gibson, the svengali, directed the music video himself.
You can view it here: http://www.oksana.fm
Not to give away the money shot, but when the piano explodes into flames, I nearly cried.
Wherefore Art Thou, "Braveheart"?
If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog then you know that over the past few months I’ve stood firmly in the “Team Jon” column in the battle between Jon and Kate Gosselin. He still seemed like the loving, caring dad that he had always been, and I believed him- hook, line and sinker when he looked into the camera and said he never cheated on his wife. I really thought that maybe he just wasn’t the brightest guy and got caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. Look, I live in Hollywood, I see the way the paparazzi work, and I see the way pictures can sometimes be taken out of context. I also thought that there was no way he would be stupid enough to cheat with camera crews following him around all the time. He really had me going; at least until I saw the pictures of him walking hand in hand with his new girlfriend in St. Tropez this weekend.
Really Jon-are you kidding me?! This isn’t even the woman you were being accused of cheating with to begin with- this is a new girl! And to add insult to what I am sure is a great injury to your entire family, she is the daughter of Kate’s plastic surgeon; seriously?!
Jon, you really let me down; I believed you. I am not saying that you can’t have a girlfriend; you are legally separated, you are allowed to date. Here’s the thing though. Like it or not you are a public figure now, you will never be a private citizen again. For better or worse you are a celebrity and have paparazzi following you everywhere. You have 8 children- remember them? They will grow up and use the Internet and see these pictures. It’s called tact, Jon. Use some.
For more on Jon's trip to St. Tropez with his new girlfriend and much more tune in to Showbiz Tonight – 11PM Eastern and Pacific on HLN- Don't miss it!
Editor's Note: This blog post contains spoilers for the season premiere of HBO's "Entourage."
The sixth season is underway. When we last left the crew, Vince's career had fallen on lean times, Martin Scorsese appeared to ask Vince to play a lead role in his new flick, the boys toast to what the future might bring and we faithful "Entourage" fans are left hungry for more.
Last night's season premiere got off to a quick start with the familiar diet of Ari Gold's insult-laced dash through the agency on his way to a surprising showdown with Gold's faithful assistant, Lloyd. Lloyd is the very polite "yin" to Gold's very profane "yang". But this time, Lloyd is demanding a promotion or answers as to when things will work in his career's favor... or both, in no particular order.
The interaction between these two is memorable as Gold soon realizes he cannot break Lloyd's will on the issue and offers the proverbial olive branch. In a brilliant, simple moment of "Entourage" hilarity, Gold proclaims "Lloyd, you have 100 days". Needless to say, this particular plot line could carry the show and make for a comedic season of its own.
At this point in the episode, all the familiar "funny-cool comforts" of "Entourage" are back in place. Let's recap them quickly:
The episode ends with Vince coming home to an empty house. The boys are each off having their own adventures, and this uncharted water foretells that there are new shenanigans to be had.
All in all, it was an enjoyable start. Lots of ideas were sparked with the first episode and it will be interesting to see how things play out. Do you agree? Tell us your thoughts on "Entourage" below.
On HBO’s “True Blood,” flipping away from the bloody goodness a minute too soon can hurt.
Sunday’s episode, “Shake and Fingerpop,” shelled out a pair of tantalizing twists in its final moments - a technique writer Alan Ball and company have used a few times in the past for maximum cliffhanger effect. (Proceed cautiously, fans of the fang. Spoilers ahead).
First we learn that the mysterious and seductively creepy Maryann is the minotaur-like creature that’s been carving up the residents of Bon Temps - which wasn’t terribly hard to see coming but good to finally have out in the open.
It also looks like the hormone-soaked parties that she induces - Now with dirt eating! - have something to do with her ability to make the switch.
And right before the credits roll, Sookie learns that she’s not the only one who can read people’s minds. She and Barry, a bellhop at the Dallas vampire hotel, share an accidental brain chat - setting up all kinds of fun questions about who he is, why he’s there and who, if anyone, sent him.
Also, anyone else think bellhop in a vampire hotel would not be a great job for a mind reader? Hell, the minds of a regular hotel’s patrons would be bad enough to peek at, much less a place where “male, straight, B-positive” is an item on the room-service menu.
The bits with Jason and the Fellowship of the Light dragged on a bit, although we get to see his fantasy - think Warrant’s “Cherry Pie” video meets Padma Lakshi’s Hardee’s commercial - about Sarah Newlin and more hints she’s willing to do more than grill ribs and “whip out her pudding” for him.
Laugh of the Night award goes to Lafayette for his amped-up bump and grind with everything within reach after getting a mouthful of Eric’s blood. Apparently the stuff from 1,000-year-old Viking vampires packs more of a punch than he was used to getting.
Not the most action-packed episode ever. But it set up bunches of salty story lines for the near future.
And ... a look at next week's episode.
Patrick Dempsey is playing another doctor - this time in the celebrity-packed film called "Valentine's Day." Plus, Mel Gibson and Jodi Foster are teaming up for the film "The Beaver" and "Guitar Hero" will be expanding its playlist for the new release. CNN's Jennifer Wolfe has more on these tidbits in today's buzz:
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