If you found better music for $20 last weekend, find your local promoter and hug ’em hard, because they’re secretly Santa in disguise. Dead serious.
As for Atlanta, Georgia this June 3rd and 4th – our Claus came in the form of Center Stage, Rival Entertainment, and Candler Park Music and Food Festival.
Tucked in a green leafy corner of the city’s middle-east side, bands, fans, food, and brews joined in holy matrimony to throw a downright jammin’ time that still leaves echoes ringing through the soul.
Bringing together Galactic, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Yonder Mountain String Band, The Revivalists, Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass, and more out for the weekend (again… $20 freakin’ dollars!?) – the crowd knew exactly what to expect, and still somehow got more than they bargained for.
Kicking off with local ATLiens Blair Crimmons & The Hookers, the gauntlet was thrown down for what was about to ensue over the next two days. Usually, the festival opener brings it up slow, easing the crowd into the night’s festivities. That apparently isn’t Blair Crimmons & The Hookers’ kind of hootenanny.
Crimmons and his marauders brought the house down with their tasty brand of southern-edged ragtime that left one hearing rasps of Devil Makes Three and more in the back of their mind. A showman and string-thumping banjo player with a fiery band to back – the stage was immediately set for the weekend.
Followed by Keller Williams’s bluegrassy tribute to the Grateful Dead, the acoustic raconteur brought the vibe back down easy street with classics like “Shakedown Street”, “Eyes of the World”, “Candyman”, “Friend of the Devil” (with Allie Kral taking the reigns, kicking ass and taking names), “Scarlet Begonias”, and more.
Taking the stage next was New Orleans’ own funkaholics, Galactic, swinging the party on into full bore. If you’ve never seen Galactic, do. Hop on board that righteous jazzy funk train at the next stop you can; they’ll make you think that you were born just so you could catch ‘em once.
Taking the stage as only they know how, arms hit the heavens and eyes the stage as the musical melee began. Funk, jazz, hip hop, and more – all blended to create a sonic fire in the purest sense of the words. Thus the boogie ensued and sweat dripped from our collective brow as we settled into the night we hoped would happen.
Kicking off the second day of festivities were Webster (Candler Park’s own) and Great Peacock followed by fellow Atlanta locals, King Baby. King Baby brought the energy up early with a rockin’ jam feel and soaring organ that warmed into a midday steamer set that undoubtedly earned them scores of new fans throughout the crowd.
Lee Fields & The Expressions came next, bringing back the soul of the 60’s with an R&B spectacular that couldn’t have been more perfectly placed. Following up their set was the one and only Yonder Mountain String Band, bringing their signature blend of bluegrass out to the crowd’s delight.
New Orleans stalwarts, The Revivalists, quickly followed – dropping rock ‘n’ roll bombs like only they know how. As David Shaw’s incendiary croon drove over the beat, The Revivalists steamrolled through a fiery set that included old and new classics like “BTBD”, “Monster”, “Stand Up”, “Catching Fireflies”, “Amber”, “Wish I Knew You”, “All In The Family”, and more.
Closing out the night was none other than Chris Robinson Brotherhood and their laid back southern-sauced jams. Meandering in and out of tunes reminiscent in more ways than one of the Grateful Dead, Chris Robinson and crew kept the crowd rocking and entranced throughout their entire set.
In ways more fitting than words can explain, the Marietta, GA-born musician and crew left the crowd uplifted and ecstatic to end the night’s revelries.
All in all, if you’re looking for a quick sum of all parts: Candler Park was a time to remember, plain and simple. Beautiful music, a beautiful city, and beautiful smiling souls to enjoy it with. It felt good.
As worldly woes melted in sweet sound, Candler Park Music and Food Festival didn’t disappoint for even a single second. And, if this writer could do it all again, he wouldn’t miss it for the world. Neither should you.
Photo Recap – All Photos Courtesy of Connor McFadden.