Words by: Bill Clifford | Images by: Rob Chapman
moe.down 10 :: 09.04.09 - 09.06.09 :: Snow Ridge Ski Area :: Turin, NY
Majestic mountain scenery, abundant sunshine and a divergent lineup offered moe.rons a weekend to remember. For the tenth year in a row, improvisational rock band, moe. held its annual Labor Day weekend festival, moe.down at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, NY, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. While the festival attendance was down this year – possibly due to the economic recession or maybe because of this summer's Phish tour and upcoming Festival 8 tapping out patrons – both Mother Nature and Lady Karma smiled and endowed approximately 6000 fans with a sensational weekend filled with fresh mountain breezes and amazing musical performances. Throw in local suds and a variety of food vendors, as well as the renewal of a tribal bond this fest is known for, and no doubt about it, for moe.rons, there is nowhere else we'd rather spend the Labor Day holiday.
There was one major change to the festival this year. Instead of holding a second stage under a large tarp/tent, organizers placed the second stage outdoors, allowing more fans an opportunity to take in the sounds with an unobstructed view. The stage was pushed back a bit further in the field behind the lodge, with vendors setting up shop surrounding the grassy field. With two centrally located stages situated less than 150 yards apart from one another and no overlapping sets, this festival allowed fans to see and hear every act, if one so desired.
The New Mastersounds :: 4:30-6:00 p.m. :: Second Stage
This Leeds, England based band has got dirty yet soulful American instrumental soul and funk down pat. Though the field seemed a bit empty as they began with the jazzy, piano led "Flimsy," by the time the song was finished they'd drawn a decent crowd that was ready to let loose. The New Mastersounds performed three separate sets (4:30-6:00, 7:30-9:00, 10:30-11:15) and were the only act to perform on the Second Stage on Friday night, a tradition moe. has adhered to over the ten years of its festival. On the guitar and organ drenched "Coming Up Roses" you could see keyboardist Joe Tatton and guitarist Eddie Roberts smiling and nodding at each other, jazzed at the groves each other were putting down. "We've got time for one more. They're very strict with their time keeping here," said Roberts leading into their closing cut, "Nervous," which clearly The New Mastersounds were not. A bouncy bass solo midway through the 11-minute song opened it up and had heads swaying in rhythm to the groove these cats had laid out throughout their set.
Okemah :: 6:00–7:30 p.m. :: Main Stage
Okemah is a relatively unknown New York band that has recorded a CD and released it on Basement Records, which is owned and operated by moe.'s guitarist Al Schnier. Taking the Main Stage with Schnier on rhythm guitar, their first song, "First Time," put forward a countrified, roots rock sound led by the elegant strumming and haunting vocals of Damien Ubriaco. "Morning Light" featured keyboardist Kirk Juhas switching between a Rhodes piano and a Hammond B3 organ. Though this band of middle-aged musicians doesn't tour much, they all seemed comfortable and right at home on the big stage. While their music isn't exactly "jammy," fans at moe.down X quickly warmed to their rootsy pop rock and offered generous cheers and applause.
|Method Man & Redman :: moe.down 10|
Method Man and Redman :: 9:00–11:00 p.m. :: Main Stage
A whole bunch of people jammed the hill at 9 p.m. in anticipation of one of hip-hop's greatest duos. What is it with rappers not being able to show up on time? A pair of DJs eventually took the stage and hollered about "all y'all white motherfuckers" and "Jerry Garcia, right there," pointing to a look-alike in the center of the crowd. The rappers finally did grace us with their presence, and then it was on! "Sippin' on a 40 and smoking on a blunt" was pretty much the first thing we heard – and of course, a blunt was handed to Redman and never made it back to the fan that handed it off. "How High" was one of the greatest moments in moe.down history, with fans rapping along, hands stretched out in the air and bent at the wrists, bobbing and bouncing while Method Man and Redman pranced from one side of the stage to the other. The duo has an incredible onstage rapport and they are certainly two of hip-hop's best performers. Despite being late and digging into moe.'s late night set time, Method Man and Redman set the tone for the weekend with one of the festival's strongest performances.
moe. :: 11:30 p.m.–1:00 a.m. :: Main Stage
moe. is deeply in touch with the fans, and because of this they're constantly searching for new and exciting ways to change up the setlist and make it exciting for the hard cores. They began their Friday night set with a drum solo from Vinnie Amico alone on the large stage. The "solitary man onstage" was a theme they'd begin each set with throughout the weekend. The rest of the band joined in and they were off on the instrumental excursion "Tubing The River Styx," which segued nicely into "The Pit." Bassist Rob Derhak's vocals were high in the mix and passionately belted out. The first guest of the weekend was keyboardist Kurt Juhaus from Okemah, who joined moe. on the final four songs of the set. As usual, with its quirky chorus, "Spine Of A Dog" gave fans a chance to open up their own vocal chords and sing-along, while also allowing Juhaus to lean into the Hammond. "Four" slowed in tempo and dragged on a bit too long but moved nicely into "Buster," which offered the first chance to hear the signature harmonies of Schnier, Derhak and guitarist Chuck Garvey. moe. encored with the jazz-rock instrumental "McBain," featuring multi-instrumentalist Jim Loughlin on the MalletKAT, a wonderfully pleasant sounding percussive instrument similar in sound to a vibraphone.
|moe. :: moe.down 10|
moe. | 09.04.09
I: Amico drum solo > Loughlin > Derhak > Schnier > Garvey > Buster > New York City, Big World > Hi & Lo > Tubing The River Styx > The Pit, The Seed, Spine Of A Dog* > Waiting On The Punchline*, FOUR* > Buster*
* w/ Kirk Juhaus
Continue reading for Saturday's coverage of moe.down...