Northlands Music & Arts Festival 2024 brought a wide range of artists and fans together last weekend for an elevated festival experience in Swanzey, New Hampshire. The independently owned and operated event had a rock-solid lineup that mixed well-toured bands like Greensky Bluegrass, Goose, Spafford, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong with more personality-centered acts like Eric Krasno and Friends, Sierra Hull, and Mahali.

While The Psycodelics were welcoming fans with their opening set on the Echo Stage, a light drizzle didn’t stop the crowd from packing the area in front of the stage and getting down. This Charleston, South Carolina-based band has a rapidly growing fan base thanks to its ability to deliver when it counts, and Friday’s eclectic, hazy, rock-driven affair was no exception. Ignoring the quickly dissipating showers, The Psycodelics gave established fans a true treat while winning over a horde of new converts.

Meanwhile, over on the Mountain Stage, Magic Beans were ready to demonstrate why they’re steadily worming their way into the music scene’s collective consciousness with another impressive outing. With both stages properly fired up, it was off to the races for a cavalcade of perfectly timed music hand-offs that would last through the entire event.

Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad delivered a tight hour of their always enjoyable reggaeton-based dub-meets-guitar-funk before tossing the musical hot potato to Big Something to alley-oop dunk on the other stage. Though Big Something is more than capable of wowing crowds with their idiosyncratic, jam-based musical mixture, they got a boost from Artist at Large Kanika Moore (Doom Flamingo). Her soulful and sultry vocals on a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” brought the energy level to a sexy fever pitch.

Sierra Hull brought the spiraling, deep space vibe of the earlier acts a bit closer to the Earth without letting the energy dissipate with her heartfelt brand of Americana. In just an hour’s time, she showcased her mandolin chops while giving each member of her stellar road band time to shine and demonstrating her powerful songwriting skills. The buzz Hull has built is well-earned, and her high-energy set carried straight into Spafford’s ensuing session.

Any hesitation about the sudden sonic gear shift was quickly dispelled by Spafford’s throwdown. Special guest guitarist Mike Gantzer (Aqueous) filled in Brian Moss, who is taking time off to recover from the band’s recent car accident. With only an hour to play, the newly blended four-piece, admittedly built for longer presentations, managed to fit a lot of solid work into a short span. At the heart of their performance was an anchoring three-fer of “Diesel Driver” into a deadly cover of ’90s grunge rockers Filter’s “Take A Picture” before closing with a “Giants In The Light” that reassured fans Spafford is fully stocked and ready to rock in terms of musical fire power despite the temporary lineup change.

Closing out the Echo Stage, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong presented a heady blend of dual guitar fireworks, old-school showmanship, and an innate sense of internal reliance. Years of grinding on the road have certainly paid dividends for this quartet. Evolving into a sure-to-please, heavy rock-oriented collective, PPPP were enthusiastic to share tunes from their new album, Day In Time, like ”Beneath The Surface”. It wouldn’t be a Northlands set without a soul-drenched sit-in from Kanika Moore, who, alongside Dopapod guitarist Rob Compa, popped in for a take on The Beatles‘ Abbey Road classic “Come Together” that gave everyone on stage a chance to shine. With the crowd whipped into a frenzy, PPPP rode over that surge down to their last flourish before the final relay of the day back to the main stage.

The closing two-set tour de force from Goose saw the late arrivals filling out the crowd out to full force. Goose’s ascension to festival-topping status has been a pleasure for genre enthusiasts to watch. Over the course of the band’s sprawling two-set jam, percussive partners in crime Cotter Ellis and Jeff Arevalo worked in tandem alongside bassist Trevor Weekz to provide a granite-strength foundation for guitarist Rick Mitarotonda and keyboard Peter Anspach’s instrumental efforts to shine.

Goose – Northlands Music & Arts Festival 2024 – 6/14/24


Come Saturday, a fun and funky set from Cool Cool Cool had the early-rising crowd dancing front to back. Then it was time for one of Northlands’ most popular recurring fixtures, the Super Sonic Shorties. This gathering of the finest first ladies of the jam scene has drummer and vocalist Nikki Glaspie at its center, who along with bassist Tonya “Sweets” Dobbs (Lizzo) and percussionist Marcie Chapa (Beyonce) provided a dynamic and funky back beat for the powerhouse performance, with Trey Anastasio Band horns/vocalists Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman on trumpet and slide trombone, respectivley. They joined forces and voices with Kanika Moore and the dynamic duo of vocalists from Cool Cool Cool, Shira Elias and Sammi Garrett, who, along with keyboardist Amy Bellamy and guitarist Kat Dyson, provided plenty of melodic frontline firepower.

After that down and dirty set from the Shorties, the pride of Oyster Bay, New York, TAUK, got the funk energy going full blast. No stranger to Kanika thanks to their joint Tauk Moore collaboration, the band put on a dazzling display of instrumental originals before welcoming the singer out for a tune and then bringing out guitarist Eric Krasno, Dopapod keyboardist Eli Winderman, and the Cool Cool Cool horns (Chris Brouwers on trumpet and Greg Sanderson on sax) for a monster closing jam that threatened to test the stage supports with its sheer sonic weight.

Twiddle frontman Mihali and his band delivered an energetic set that saw Kraz peek his head out and pop in for a set-closing guitar wail-a-thon on the seminal Led Zeppelin epic “Stairway To Heaven”, closing with a blistering fretboard faceoff between Mihali and Krasno—easily one of the best-received jams of the day.

Dopapod delivered a blistering set full of musical twists and turns. The only time they gave listeners a chance to catch their breath was during a memorable sit-in from Kanika, then it was straight back to washing progressive jams over an appreciative throng of dancing fans.

Andy Frasco & The U.N. were, as expected, more than stoked to take the stage and unleash their barely constrained brand of chaos. Frasco and Co opened with a cover of moe.‘s “Happy Hour Hero” in honor of the jam scene godfathers, who canceled their headlining appearance due to an unexpected family tragedy. Ending with a “We love ya moe.” shoutout from Frasco, the audience cheered the gesture and the sentiment behind it. From there, it was a straight hour of musical calamity and chaos.

Eric Krasno brought his friends Nate Edgar and Nikki Glaspie as the core of his backing band, alongside the returning Hartswick and Cressman. His Krasno-Moore Project partner-in-crime, keyboardist Eric Finland, helped deliver a wild set of unrestrained funk. Krasno paid tribute to the heart-rending loss of Dumpstaphunk’s Nick Daniels III with a soulful take on the late bassist’s signature “Leave Me Alone” in a most moving gesture of love and respect. Kraz then welcomed a procession of other players, including Mahali, Andy Frasco, and more for a chance to share the love before passing the musical baton to headliners Greensky Bluegrass.

Greensky dobro master Anders Beck summed up the artists’ side of the Northlands experience perfectly when he spoke of how, normally, bands get a chance to go freshen up and rest at the hotel, but Greensky’s players—including Michael Devol on bass, Mike Bont on banjo, Dave Bruzza on guitar, and Paul Hoffman on mandolin—were simply having too much fun seeing the music their friends were making and hanging with the crowd to even consider leaving. After using set opener “Windshield” to both warm themselves up and get the crowd involved with the singalong portions of the song, Greensky delivered yet another installment of their seemingly never ending parade of pitch-perfect performances.

Greensky Bluegrass – Northlands Music & Arts Festival 2024 – 6/15/24


Though their own sound skews heavily toward the jamgrasss side of the spectrum, the extended guest appearance by funk- and jazz-minded guitarist Eric Krasno served as a masterclass in how a sit-in should be done. Kraz sat back in the mix during the majority of his visit, “Fixin’ To Ruin” before unleashing his own take on the song’s themes and structure.

This illustration of the spirit of cooperation and collaboration served as a perfect encapsulation of Northlands Music & Arts Festival as a whole. Players who have admired and enjoyed performing with each other in varying combinations in the past—all gathered under a united banner with the sole purpose of creating a distinct vibe for a fully enthralled and appreciative audience. What more could a discerning fan possibly hope for in a weekend getaway?

Click below to view photo galleries from Northlands 2024 courtesy of photographers Dave DeCrescente, Jesse Faatz, and Vic Brazen, and click here to relive the magic of Northlands 2024 via