The Lockn’ Festival this past weekend had an endless stream of music compressed over three days. When one act ended, the next started up without missing a beat. At times, if you weren’t paying attention, you would miss when an act ended and get confused as to who was playing at that moment when a new act started. With such a huge schedule of live music, picking a favorite act or moment would prove to be a difficult decision. L4LM has revisited the weekend and compiled some of the best moments from the festival. Every act was fantastic, but some stuck out as intense highlights and unforgettable moments. Here are some of those moments, in no particular order.
Winners of Rockn’ to Lockn’, Seth Stainback and Roosterfoot are one of the two surprise sets that made this list. Hailing from Virginia, they really blew the doors off the crowd with their raw bluesy, rock and roll feel. Their intense organ jams, incorporated with the growl of the chunky guitar, really got the crowd on their feet. It was easy to see why they were winners of the competition and made it on to the main stage. Their high energy was the perfect prescription for a crowd that was desperate to get the party started, after having been delayed a day. The way they got the audience dancing with wicked energy puts this band on the list of fantastic moments from Lockn’. Don’t be surprised if you see more from these guys in the future. They are that good.
Hot Tuna was simply magical with their relaxed vibe and acoustic jam on Saturday. Jack Casady performed with his custom made Ribbecke “Diana” bass. This beautiful guitar was made in honor of his late wife, Diana, and even holds a lock of her hair in a special compartment so that he’s always carrying a piece of her with him. Their performance was just what the crowd needed to cool down, after such high energy on Friday night. It ranks up there as one of the unforgettable acts, especially in part due to the beautiful bass guitar.
The North Mississippi Allstars really pulled out all the stops. They busted out the flute and threw in an unforgettable kickass washboard jam during their set. The bass drum being carried through the crowd really brought the audience as close to the music as you could get. This band’s amazing energy and audience connection really puts them on the list of top performances of the weekend. It’s a guarantee that they gained numerous new fans at Lockn’ while highly energizing those who are already fans of their music.
Saturday morning’s wake up call was to the joyous sounds of Melvin Seals & JGB with John Kadlecik. What better way for the weekend to start off then to hear Grateful Dead tunes blasting throughout the venue. With Friday’s performances cut from the morning slots, the festival grounds were fully under way with an early morning set smack dab in the middle of the venue for all to hear. Seals’ infectious vibe brought many out of their sites and down to the Blue Ridge stage to wake up in a proper way, with the late Jerry Garcia in mind. The start of Saturday’s performances with this set just kept the vibe right on going after their performance.
John Popper’s opening performance on Friday, of the National Anthem on harmonica, was an ideal way to open the festival. It was also 9/11 and emergency personnel were honored on stage while a gigantic American flag was raised by a crane to the side of the stage. It was an incredibly touching moment to both honor and remember such a sacred day at the beginning of Lockn’. This touching moment naturally makes the list due to the honorable nature of never forgetting 9/11.
Widespread Panic’s Saturday performance was simply magnificent. They packed their set with nuggets of impressive surprises. The bongo jam midway, that broke up the set, had people on their feet and feeling fine. Jimmy Cliff joining them turned up the heat on their set. He showed off his moves with quite a dance number before plowing right in to “Sitting in Limbo.” This spirited performance certainly set festival goers in high gear and ready for more.
Friday’s Doobie Incident performance was the first full set of the festival, and many attendees unfortunately missed it due to the long wait to get in to the venue. The dynamics created by the combination of String Cheese Incident performing with The Doobie Brothers was masterful. These two bands melded seamlessly and their performance was flawless. The combo of their sounds together was a brilliant collaboration. This one-of-a-kind act wasted no time in getting things underway as they started things off with “Rockin’ Down the Highway.” Songs from both bands were performed throughout and, hands down, could not have asked for a better performance to get things underway at Lockn’.
The late night Govt Mule set at the Blue Ridge stage on Saturday really kept the heat of the day going. They performed long, extended jams early in their set and kept that bluesy rock tone throughout. Attendees could hear that guitar sing everywhere in the venue, even as rain started to fall towards the end of their set. Nothing better than rocking out with slight rain, bright lights during a dark evening and incredible jams that make you want to dance the night away. This was one Mule set not to be forgotten, especially since they played well until 4 am.
This list would not be complete without Robert Plant and the Sensational Space Shifters. The Saturday set was chock full of Led Zeppelin tunes. The venue was going nuts as he busted out one Zep tune after another. The only issue was the slight technical issues he experienced, but still, it was Led Zeppelin and fans were embraced with song after song. What was not to like?
The second surprise set of the festival goes to St. Paul and the Broken Bones. So many people had never heard of them and once their notes dropped, became insta-fans. To quote one festival goer, Susan Reed Board, “His voice. It was like the pied piper. I rose out of my tent and practically ran down the stage to see what the hell was producing that amazing vocal and funk.” Their jams were solid with funky rocking blues. Throw in some blasting brass, combined with a commanding voice, and you’ve got a match made in heaven. This band blew everyone away and just gained thousands of new fans. It was a wonderful surprise set on Sunday.
Another late night unforgettable moment goes to Mickey Hart’s Deep Rhythm Experience, on Friday, with Steve Kimock and EOTO and Android Jones. To say the woods were lit up like a Christmas tree is an understatement. The brilliant light display flashed throughout the forest had many in a trance. His late night deep jams kept the party going through the wee hours. The drum and percussion beats had many faces melting and feet dancing non-stop. Hart owned the Woods stage and festival goers were fascinated by the astounding beats he was putting out.
Night two of Phil Lesh and Friends, which included Santana, had everyone watching with jaws dropped. First of all, Carlos Santana brought everyone down to the main stage watching with eyes in wonderment. His fused rock/latin rhythms are magical on their own, but when combined with Lesh and friends, a true synchronicity of musical goodness transpires. “All Along the Watchtower” was probably one of the greatest versions of that song ever heard performed by Phil Lesh and Friends. The energy from that performance was simply mindblowing and had the audience craving more. That was one fiery set and one hell of a way to end the evening on the main stage for Saturday.
Before Phil Lesh’s set, Billy and the Kids, with special guest, Bob Weir, showed up on the main stage. The entire venue was hoping the “core four” would play together on one stage, for at least one song, but alas, that was not to happen. The beauty of this performance, however, was when this set closed with NFA and Lesh started with it during his set, which immediately followed, though did not play the song to completion. The transition between the two acts could not have been more consistent. This set started out by jamming right into “Cassidy” and taking off from there. It was a true pleasure to watch Weir take control of the stage and really keep the music in line. Kreutzmann’s drumming was just a joy to watch as he was clearly having a ball on stage at Lockn’.
The 50th anniversary celebration of Jefferson Airplane with Jorma and Jack was simply spectacular. The Friday night performance had many on their feet during the entire set. Rachael Price and Teresa Williams really belted out the vocals of the “The Acid Queen”, Grace Slick. When the first notes of “White Rabbit” dropped, the audience really went insane. Williams’ voice had everyone on their feet. Bill Kreutzmann delightfully surprised everyone by joining the band mid-set. All in all, this was one unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime set not to be repeated. Lockn’, once again, delighted attendees with another nugget of musical deliciousness.
Sunday morning brought thousands descending upon the site of the Blue Ridge Bowl to start their day off with “church.” Keller Williams and the Grateful Gospel had many waking up early so they could start their Sunday on a high note with the extraordinary soulful sounds of Keller. Everywhere you went, people were asking, “Are you heading to Keller?” or “are you headed to church?”. It was charming to witness so many people waking up early, on a Sunday no less, just to watch a well dressed, fully suited, barefooted musician lead the sounds of “church” for so many. A magical, unforgettable moment indeed, and well worthy of making the top of this list.
The final, and most notable moment for Lockn’, has to be the Friday performance of Mad Dogs & Englishmen with Tedeschi Trucks Band. This was a celebration of the music of Joe Cocker. Leon Russell was instrumental in making this one time only performance happen. The stage welcomed members of the original 1970’s tour, to include Russell, Chris Stainton, Rita Coolidge, Claudia Lennear, Pamela Polland, Matthew Moore, Daniel Moore and Bobby Jones, Chuck Blackwell and Bobby Torres. At one point, there were so many artists on stage that it was hard to keep track. The soulful sounds beaming from the speakers just brought the energy of the venue to new heights. This performance was explosive, with Derek Trucks bringing a new level of invented energy to the venue. How in the world can he play that good? He just pours awe-inspiring life from his guitar. This set was one that no one will forget for years to come.
Though this is just a short list of the amazing performances witnessed during the festival, all acts were incredible in their own way. These acts were inspiring, with some being once in a lifetime. Until next year, we look forward to seeing what Lockn’ has in store for 2016.
All photos, including the full gallery below, courtesy of Sam Shinault Photography: