(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.
To much rave crap, should of went to the Forecastle Festival, last years AG music was much better. Phil and Widespread vs Rat Dog and Ben Harper. No comparison.
How about Galactic asking the whole crowd to get DOWN low, ridiculous, and during their set does anyone know the rapper who got all the ladies up on stage, (that was a new perspective for me, kinda funny running into my stagehand friend CLay up there). I was on the hill watching bass nectar. Did they sound better on the ground in the crowd?? the glowsticks seem to be the real phenomena, but its hard to say. Also, for those who don't know this is festy is not for ametuers, this is the grittiest, sometimes most ghetto one around. I love this one cause the magic on the mountain can't be beat, but I'd be concerned to let my daughter go when she's older. This is raw. And usually a high light of my year when it all goes off well. Peace from Pittsburgh-SARAbEAR/ SaraBelle
Wow, my festivarians are a bit harsh on Jarrett for missing some shows, AS IF anyone could ever catch it all. This is what makes All Good the premier festy for the east, watching this one grow has been a true pleasure-I've got 7 (8?) all goods under my belt and I will tell you something about living deliberately, sometimes your personal experience doesn't flow directly toward the gate... but never the less, as far as what went on inside the gate, I would venture to say that Umphreys are really something, and why has no one mentioned their 40 spot light plus light show that looked liked a moving work of art-hands down the best lights I've ever witnessed. I had to get up on the hill to take it in. And Jarrett I liked how you give real props to DSO, cause if you aint seen 'em, u don't know.
This was a great year for All Good. Weather was fantastic... way better than Bonnaroo! As for your segment on DSO, I have to agree with you. I was not able to see them play on Sunday :-( unfortunately we had to skip out early. However, last night they played a FREE show 15 minutes away from where I live and I saw them for the first time... completely blew me away. The show was peaceful and they played a wonderful set, song for song, note for note... These guys do The Dead a great justice and I suggest that anyone who loves the Dead's music as much as I do go and see them!
Can't wait to see the lineup for next year! It's All Good!
What are you talking about Ben Harper was great!!!!!! Yes I so agree that DSO should have played saturday night, but I also think that Keller Williams should have been on the main stage and the grassrot stage, but over all I could not have asked for a better weekend!!! It was ALL GOOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
all the music was awsome and les is awsome not creapy ! ! ! bucket head is a little weird and creapy if anyone but sts9 bassnectar and umphryes all rocked it just like every band the whole weekend ! you dont have to be a rave kid to like bassnectar or sts9 i never been to a rave and i love all the music dont hate cause you cant handle the BASSSSSS
Forgot to mention that Donna the Buffalo was fantastic and they are definitely a group I would like to see again.
Wanted to comment as well on the poor sound quality from the small stage – particuarly during AOD. They not only had too much bass and not any lead guitar coming out they were in a truly wierd set time of 1/2 hour which seemed to be cut back due to extended performances before them. This is a really good band that I would have like to have heard more of and with better control over the sound system on that stage.
I think the best performance of the weekend belonged to Umphreys McGee. Steve Kimock and his Crazy Engine were right up there as well.
Thought Ben Harper was relentlessly flat and boring contrasted with great sets by Cornmeal, Yonder String, The Bridge, Soundmasters, BK3, Les Claypool (just ask HIM about Les), Hill Country Review and moe.
I too missed Lotus and regret it. Saw Keller and was disappointed.
I do believe, and I saw the GD many times, Bob Weir and Rat Dog are a tired unenthusiastic act. I frankly prefer Phil Lesh any day of the week. The only thing that saved that performance was Al Schneir (moe.) coming on stage for the last couple of tunes. Bob W. still played badly, sang badly and could not seem to keep up with the phrasing of some epic Grateful Dead tunes.
Just a note on Umphreys. How can you noit be familiar with them? They are, for my money, one of the premier acts out there in the Jam Band arena. I am feeling my years as well but keep an open ear. They tore it up on Saturday night and left a new respect for this outstanding band with me. I am 57 and hold down a job in the military . I was going to Dead concerts way back when as a younger guy and can say I have seen some of the best: The Who, Led Zeppelin (when they were a lead off band for Vanilla Fudge), Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, etc... It has been such a long time since I have witnessed more fun, more musical talent and more appreciative audiences than I did at Allgood this year. It was my second visit and will not be my last!!
DSO was fantastic at the close on Sunday. So much great music and we have to wait for another year for it to come again.
Where's the picture of the little boy painting over Homer Simpson?
I have to agree with the greatest disappointment. Todd Snider was one of my prime motivations for attending and his set was way, way too short. So was Yonder Mountain for that matter, though I have to concede that a longer set my well have killed me the way I was dancing. My folding chair survived, but I did get a get crushed in a headfirst diving fall.
liz, I totally disagree STS9 was one of the best!!! And, I have a 50+ hour a week "real" job.
Next time, make CNN splurge for VIP. You can hear everything clearly from your tent. Hard to imagine a review of this festival from someone who missed so many great sets...
I thought Lotus thursday made for a great weekend. STS9 rocked that place and yes Umphreys McGee yet again AWESOME show guys!!
I don't think you have to see EVERY act to review a festival.
Heck, that's actually impossible to do at most fests.
i just wanna let the reporter know that you didnt miss anything when u missed lotus they didnt even play that great... i think that that ropeadope or grassroots stage messes bands up and makes them play worse....i totally agree with his changeing of dark star to saterday thats a great idea but i think the best show was by far galactic they raged and everyone was having a blast....
The point is and will remain, you DID NOT see all the performances and your review is weakened by that very fact. People who go to All Good are avid music fans and respect those who are open to experiencing the varying scenes, vibes and the energy each band has to offer. BTW, I too followed the Dead and am probably twice the age of 1/2 the concert goers but I am also open-minded. I came to a beautiful revelation that I love the rave-esque music, the kids that follow it, and respect the musicians who play it. I WAS in Bassnectar's rave crowd and it was AMAZING!!!! A word of advice evolve with the fest scene, open your mind to new experiences, and for God's sake if your going to review a music festival, attend the entire festival. Maybe, then, people will listen to what you have to say.
I'm 49 years young and was right in the middle of the Bassnectar dance party. A veteran of 6 All Goods, I find dancing enhances the listening experience (understatement). Forget what you think the chicks are going to think about you and get your ass out there. THEN you can say what was the "best" set or whatever. STS9 brought it and so did the Relentless 7. It probably seemed subdued to those pasted to the hillside. Can't wait 'til next year!!!!!!
I feel you. My legs were like Jello by the end. I definitely need to get them in shape for Burning Man.
We also brought some food/beverages that certainly helped. Baby coconut water is THE BEST beverage at a festival.
Re-hydrates & refreshes like none other.
Kombucha & peppermint tea are great too. Keep my digestive system happy, even after all the festie food.
I was kind of sad I missed Rothbury this year (last year was one of my all-time favorite festivals), but this past weekend made up for it.
Still vibing from it.
Contrasting the former Dead members to me it was like Rat Dog was all about nostalgia. I saw the Dead many many times but the spark is just not there.
On the other hand I'm sure Jerry would approve of BK3. Kreutzmans playing if anything is as good or better than when Jerry was still alive. Also rather than just covering a bunch of Dead tunes and trying to look like Jerry like Weir does he gets a hot guitar player that doesn't play anything like Jerry, a bass player that can play rings around Phil and a countryish singing fiddle player and has at it! Thought BK3 summoned the spirit of the Dead with it's unpredictability and americana aspects better than Rat Dog or Phil Lesh's efforts.
P.S. ... too old for Bassnectar? I just looked up your Wiki page... you're 2 years younger than me!
Old is only a state of mind!
I still dance my tail off & you can too!
Admittedly, I'm not THAT old, but HOLY COW was I tired and sore. Thus, I felt like Old Man Bellini up there. The important part, of course, was BEING THERE! :-)
Biggest complaint soundwise... Ratdog was way too loud. I was almost all the way up the hill & it still sounded like crap b/c of it. Louder isn't always better, especially when it causes distortion.
Then right after... Bassnectar was too low. It only sounded good right in front of the stage, though I agree... watching it from above was also a sight to see.
That's really unfortunate that you didn't catch a lot of amazing music to give a complete analysis of the weekend and inform people of really talented upcoming acts. Such as Umphrey's, sts9, bassnectar and lotus. Should have got your money's worth :)
Regarding Bassnectar... didn't mention it in my wrap (and I might actually make an addition), but in the car ride home my buddies and I were making a list of All Good Things at All Good. I added to that list that watching the absolute madness from atop the hill during Bassnectar was amazing! I definitely dug it! In fact, I mentioned that set in an earlier post, commenting that seeing everyone with all their energy having so much fun made me feel kinda old. :-) Anyway, you can read the earlier posts – all of the posts in fact – here: http://marquee.blogs.cnn.com/category/all-good-festival/
UMPHREY"S blew STS9 out of the water! The DSO performance was one that only could've been created only by the Grateful Dead. Every song was top notch. Besides those bands, i must say the rest of the bands performances were ~~ALL GOOD~~
Thats a pretty good wrap up but yeah its seems you did miss a lot of crucial music. umphrey's was definitely one of the most powerful performances i've ever seen. i absolutely loved cornmeals set and agree dso would have been really good late saturday but it was also a crucial last set to wrap up the weekend.
Let's not forget Bassnectar...he put on a fantastic show, despite it being only 45 minutes. I'm disappointed in moe. for cutting into his set early. Umphrey's was great, but I would have liked to see them come on after Bassnectar, not moe. Cornmeal was def a darkhorse, they put on a great show...esp their unpublished acoustic set on the grass roots stage in front of like 50 ppl
If you knew anything about this year's Allgood, you would know that Umphrey's McGee was EASILY the best set of the festival and that their cover of Pink Floyd's "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" was EASILY the best/surprising song of this year. Seems like you missed the best performance of the entire festival, sucks for you, but the people who managed to stay up all night with me know what I'm talking about. Also, early bird late night with Lotus was very insane, you should have been there too. I agree though, DSO would have been a much better choice then Ben Harper, man did that place clear out when they came on... still I enjoyed your review, cheers!!
STS9 was a snoozer, unless you're a rave kid who likes throwing glowsticks. Totally agree that DSO should've been Saturday night. I guess they wanted to spread the Deadhead stuff as far apart as possible? But unfortunately those of us who most want to see Dead-related bands are also the ones who have jobs to return to, so we had to leave Sunday at noon. Bummer.
We were strolling around after DSO on sunday unable to accept the fact that music was over when after a glance over towards the budweiser tent we spot John from DSO. We all got a few great pictures with him and thanked him multiple times for the amazing set and great show! I would love to post the picture!
i agree that this guy missed alot of highlights: Boombox, STS9, YMSB, Bassnectar, moe, Les Claypool, Dumpstaphunk, The New Mastersounds, Lotus, Galactic,,Soja, Umphrey's!
Just so everyone knows, there were a lot of bands throughout the festival that I DID see, but, for the sake of length, decided not to mention in this post. For instance, I definitely caught Les Claypool, The New Mastersounds, SOJA, etc.. Some are mentioned in previous posts – some aren't mentioned at all. I sort of went with what moved me.
Just didn't want anyone to think that I only saw a small portion of the weekend. I was there for almost all of it, and it ruled face! :-)
Umphrey's was amazing. As was STS9 & Bassnectar. & Les.
Actually... it seems like you missed a lot of the good bands!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.
Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.
Join 7,773 other followers