Words by: Tiffany Narron | Images by: Dave Vann
Loki Music Festival :: 10.10.08 – 10.12.08 :: Deerfields :: Mills River, NC
Friday, October 10
Feeling the good vibrations of music and togetherness, buses and carloads of families and kids rolled into the deep woods for a weekend of ambient bliss. Winding through the trees in the beautiful fall flavored leaves to the serene setting known as Deerfields, a buzzing excitement mingled through the atmosphere.
|Loki Music Festival :: Deerfields, NC |
As tents and makeshift homesteads were thrown up, everyone ventured out to explore the picturesque land. Crazy canvas art stretched out amongst the trees and covered the dance area in a carousel style whirlwind of color. Twinkling green lights adorned the trees and purple fluorescent lights reflected the lake's ambient beauty.
Jumpstarting the weekend jams with a little Latino love were Caribbean dance style musicians Grogus. Spirits were flowing free and wild as festivalgoers bounced around hundreds of acres of beautifully crafted land. Twirling around to the raw, bluesy sounds of the up and coming Shane Pruitt Band, mamas bundled their babies around their waists and swayed under the canopy of orangey yellow foliage. Families came out in full force, which truly brought a free spirited feel that echoed throughout the land and in the hearts and minds of everyone in attendance.
The Robert Walter Trio kept it going with their up-tempo jazz jam, creating that Cajun style, down in the bayou feel that would be felt and heard all weekend long. As campers packed in tight, pouring in through the night, New Orleans-based Bonerama kicked it up with their hard hitting brass bonanza. Trombones blaring in time with drums and guitar, they brought their anything goes, free flowing funk full force.
|The Roots :: Loki Music Festival 2008|
Bringing the hip-hop rhythms to settle into Friday night were none other than The Roots. They kicked off the night right freestyling and flowing from familiar Roots tunes into the legendary Dylan jam "Masters of War." Guitarist Captain Kirk Douglas shredded every note on electric, echoing the sounds of Jimi days while ?uestlove kicked up an equally ferocious drum solo. Adding a critical ingredient to The Roots flavor was Mr. Tuba Gooding Jr., whose sousaphone stylings rang out so deep they kicked a hard, deep-rooted bass that reverberated through the land and up through our feet. As the crowd got going, the hip-hop gloves came off and the guys free styled into a bluesy swing style jazz session slipping into unexpected classics "Sweet Child of Mine" and "Push."
The tone was set with spirits soaring high and with the night still young, one felt anything could happen. Making their debut performance late into the night were the funk-filled collaborations of George Clinton and his 35 member Big Ol' Nasty Get Down. Opening up with a slow rolling jam from Parliament's own Ms. Danita Woods. George then came out to serenade the crowd with a few familiar jams, calling out to the crowd to chant his infamous "We want the funk, gotta' have that funk." The massive crowd of fans echoed back in glorious unison. With members of Yo Mama's Big Fat Booty Band, Sci-Fi, Galactic, Laura Reed and the well known P-Funk Crew, these guys brought it hard, putting a little funk in everyone's step.
Saturday, October 11
Swinging into a Saturday morning groove, campers were serenaded by the folky blues filled sounds of Moses Atwood. Joining him onstage was New Orleans funk and blues master Papa Mali, Ralph Roddenbery and the young, soulful Ryan Montbleau. As campers made their way out into the chilly morning, so did the sun.
|George Porter Jr. - PBS :: Loki Music Festival 2008|
The day rolled on and TR3 made their way onstage. The eclectic trio brought a hard hitting jams session, which found its way into a heavier electric feel at times. The guys all agreed that playing Deerfields was a unique and beautiful experience. When asked to describe how they were feeling they shot back, "magic, happening, birch and quirky," with Tim Reynolds, a big grin spread across his face, said, "I like acid!"
The Hackensaw Boys kicked it up over on the smaller Hillside Stage with their old time bluegrass melodies. They jumped, screamed and got down, kicking the traditional fiddle and bow up a notch. Their intensity and spirit was matched as Josh Phillips and Strut followed, combining their heartfelt, bouncy sounds into one energetic homegrown party. Switching between Phillips' more relaxed sing-songy vibe to the more up-beat funk-rock feel of Strut, the combination swirled into one uniquely happy hoedown.
Day slowly slipped into night as campers ran back to their tents to don their glittery getups for the masquerade ball. And there was a whole lot more than glitter, gold, lace and face paint. Freak flags were flying high as fans marched around in full-on Halloween getups. From Mexican wrestlers to Mr. Peanut himself, this Mardi Gras parade was a spectacle even New Orleans couldn't have topped. Sarah Palin even managed to make her way out amidst the mavericks of the night.
Everyone was shaking their tale feathers to the spicy jazz happy horns ringing from the never before heard Peruvian Pedicurists. Comprised of musicians from eight different bands, the Pedicurists include Robert Walter, George Porter Jr. (The Meters), Col. Bruce Hampton, Brian Stoltz & Russell Batiste of the Funky Meters, Tim Reynolds, Jeff Sipe and many more.
|Peruvian Pedicurists :: Loki Music Festival 2008|
Each bringing their uniquely distinct musical flavor to the table, they exuded a powerfully woven web of vibrant horns and bee-da-beep boppin' flavor. Keeping a toe tapping, skirt flapping crowd moving and shaking all around, the party was just getting started. There to take it to the proverbial next level were Asheville's own Toubab Krewe, whose eclectic, worldly mix of kora and drum beats flowed seamlessly from one jam to the next. Non-stop polyrhythmic African drum sessions drove a hard hitting dance beat, setting the intensity just right for the high pitch harmonic strum of the kora to shine through.
Afterwards, breaking the beats til' the wee hours of the morning were DJs Money B and the infamous DJ Equal, who crushed through some classic oldies, spicing it up with a little hip-hop flavor. For those party pioneers who made it through the night the reward was sweet. The Wilmington-based Sci-Fi made their way out, bringing their jazzy, improvisational, and at times trance-like melodies to the stage, keeping the party going til' the early morn'.
Sunday, October 12
Who better to kick off Sunday morning than Larry Keel and Natural Bridge? Their fiery mandolin and banjo picking, backed by an up-beat bass groove, melded perfectly with Keel's old time storytelling lyrics.
|Loki Music Festival :: Deerfields, NC |
Families spread their blankets on the ground and kids broke out their hula hoops and juggling sticks to soak it all in. Donna Jean turned on her lovelight, churning out a much needed Dead set in all her glory. The day was full of unexpected musical surprises as the Everyone Orchestra took the main stage.
Boasting an all-star cast of musicians such as Jon Fishman and Jonathan Scales on the drums, Marco Benevento on keys, Toubab's Justin Perkins on kora, Papa Mali on guitar and the angelic voices of the Barrel House Mamas, the set was packed with talent. These guys truly brought an eclectic super jam of melodic bliss with their light, fluffy lyrics and solid revolving beats. Scales' steel drums and Perkins' kora picking mingled in a perfect existence, creating a blissful harmony that shone oh so bright. Holding everyone's attention as conductor, Matt Butler hopped around onstage, mime-style, holding makeshift signs telling the audience to laugh and cheer, and that is exactly what they did.
As fans made their way to the Hillside Stage or down to the ice cold lake for a dip, the most unlikely mix of beats rang through the air. The Turbo Pro Project brought their mix-matched combo of twangy bluegrass and R&B beats to the scene. Standing in awe of the unlikely five-member ragtag team of guitar, bass, banjo, DJ and the freestylings of lyricist Ryan "RnB" Barber, swarms of people made their way to the front to check this musical mixture out. With such an unlikely combo of hip-hop and twang, these guys (and girl) combined the two perfectly for a musical journey into the unknown.
Another seemingly unknown musical surprise came with the stylings of Ralph Roddenbery and his band. Their eclectic mix of funky, freestyle blues connected immediately with the crowd. Roddenbery grabbed the microphone and said, "I know a lot of musicians that have played many festivals all over the world and the one place they always talk about is right here in Asheville. You guys just have this energy that you bring that's hard to find in just any old place."
|Toots and the Maytals :: Loki Music Festival 2008|
And that energy was still pumping through the night as festival pros able to stick it through to the end caught their second (or maybe third) wind. And out came the musical masters. First up, reggae pioneers Toots and the Maytals. An old and wise Toots Hibbert took the stage, grinning from ear to ear, letting the crowd know how thankful he was to be all the way out in the Carolina mountains and how much different it felt from basking in the Jamaican heat. They eased their way into familiar favorites such as "Pressure Drop," "Reggae Got Soul," "Love Gonna Walk Out On Me" and old Bob Marley tunes, melding the upchuck rhythms seamlessly from one song to the next. Their experience and ease oozed from the stage and flowed through the crowd under a beautiful moonlit sky. Breaking into Marley's "Turn Your Lights Down Low" to send a peaceful lull through the night, they finished up, giving thanks and praises for being able to come so far and spread their hopeful messages of peace and love.
Ending the festival in all its glory was none other than JJ Grey & MOFRO. Their bayou funk rock melodies exuded powerfully from the stage as Grey mixed in a few stories in his deep southern twang. Digging deep into a hard jazz, funk mix, Grey stopped the music and said, "You know, growing up when I was kid was quite different than growing up in the world today. You see, parents were not allowed to cuss, especially the men folk. So, as kids we were always waiting for them to slip up. One day we were in the car with my daddy and a lady walked by. I was just a kid and wasn't paying attention to no lady but my daddy looked and said, "Goddamn, that's a big old ass on that woman.'"
The crowd laughed as the blues kicked right back in, settling deep into funky juke joint sounding' romps. The horns shone through perfectly, creating an on-your-feet New Orleans jam session. Papa Mali came out to end the night, wailing an intense, breathtaking guitar solo and winding the weekend down into a soulful, deep-rooted, true blues feel.
The good vibes and high spirits of the weekend captivated and embraced the hearts and souls of every man, woman and child, and brought back the kindred spirit of the good ol' days, one hard to find in this current time.
Continue reading for more images of Loki 2008...