10,000 Lakes Music Festival :: 07.21 - 07.24 :: Detroit lakes, MN

A revamped Dark Star Orchestra, retooled Black Crowes, re-energized Widespread Panic, remarkable Everyone Orchestra with Steve Kimock, and a revitalized Trey Anastasio moved through Northern Minnesota as if rock itself was being reincarnated out of the dust of music past. The 10,000 Lakes Festival rocked non-stop in near perfect weather while bands were given ample time to flex their chops, which helped double the attendance at this annual event.


Dark Star Orchestra :: 10KLF by Chris Monson
With the passing of keyboardist Scott Larned, Dark Star Orchestra has gone through a period of reflection that infused its set with timely passion. Headlining the Festival Pre-Party on the Barn Stage, the band stormed through a rippling set of Grateful Dead numbers. While DSO spun an astronomical web around the audience, the night sky wrapped around us in a surreal little dance. From an exquisite "The Music Never Stopped" to a poignant "Box of Rain" onto a spectacular "St. Stephen" > "Not Fade Away," the group soared with subtle emotional nuances. This is no cover band but rather a group that has mined a rich body of work and interpreted the grooves with its own magic.

Earlier, Signal Path lit up the night on the Barn Stage with an enclosed cocoon vibe that was rather cool when you accounted for the sonic techno trips laced with a mind-blowing light show. "Transit" was a highlight with purple, green, and blue lights hovering overhead while sound floatation devises lapped the jammed head-bobbing floor. Meanwhile, Trampled by Turtles were doing a take on Minnesota native Bob Dylan's "Shelter from the Storm" that slapped my ears as we visited the Saloon Stage — a location that would repeatedly redefine hot, heavy, and rapturous. God Johnson followed the Turtles with a two-hour jazz funk fest that closed the Saloon for the night.


10KLF by John Crouch
Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey played on the Barn Stage and featured huge bass notes from Reed Mathis with psycho post-modern keys ala Brian Haas, with drummer Jason Smart applying abstract machinery within an organic shell. "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" was a very cool little weird instrumental, and "Santiago" featured the trio in its definitive role: extended elastic jams that carry multiple themes while rocking out. "Playing here was just amazing," said Mathis. "People were just partying at two in the afternoon, just ready to rock." Holy Moses & the High Rollers, a band from Fort Collins, Colorado, played great Latin/salsa/reggae/jazz cross-cultural carnival music — you could just see the Rocky Mountains hovering overhead on the Saloon Stage. HMHR was one of seven new bands that won the "Cosmic Break Competition" sponsored by JamBase. This tactic yielded many fine musical moments, especially the crowd-pleasing HMHR set. "The crowd was really something else," said Nick Boeka, keyboardist and vocalist, "and the close proximity of each of the stages made it really convenient to make it from one act to another."

Chris Robinson of The Black Crowed
10KLF by Chris Monson
Rusted Root followed on the Field Stage with a spirited tribal stomp and a perfect hot afternoon mix. "I didn't know what to expect as we'd never played here before," said Michael Glabicki, guitarist and lead singer. "I was really surprised at the energy of the show and crowd." Meanwhile, the Jazz Mandolin Project played the first of two days worth of a very enjoyable acoustic blend on the Barn Stage. This band is different every time I see them, and I'm always surprised at their interesting tangents within a frame. Bump, a band from Detroit, played on the Saloon Stage and delivered smart, exploratory rock that bounced off the people dancing within the rustic wooden structure.

The Black Crowes, like their hiatus-ending brethren - Widespread Panic, have played many a fine gig since their return earlier this year. "Hello, all you freaks," leader Chris Robinson bellowed as they opened up the Main Stage for its first blitzkrieg. The Crowes went on a journey into Southern Country Honk, reaching an early peak with "Downtown Money Waster" > "Share the Ride" > "Mellow Down Easy." Rich Robinson and Mark Ford clearly had their axes welded together as Chris whipped out his killer blues harp magic. The band has shot forward rapidly this year after some good ole rust removal.

John Bell of WSP :: 10KLF by Chris Monson
Widespread Panic began the first of two days of three-hour music marathons. On Friday evening, Panic had a wonderfully heavy bottom-groove with cobra-shock vocals from John Bell. This was hard, tight, drinking music, and it went down about as well as could possibly be expected. "Worry," "Good People," and "Pickin' Up the Pieces" were played with pile-driving fury. Bell and McConnell were shredding while Schools was applying the massive bass notes with percussion duo and keys lining the pocket. "Makes Sense To Me" roared to a set break close, leaving many to ponder the 'water vs. beer' debate. Second set? Suffice it to say, "Stop Breakin' Down Blues," "All Time Low" > "Pusherman" > "Fishwater" leveled the crowd and reminded everyone that these cats have only just begun their new era. Next, I ran off to the Field Stage to catch the spectacular tones of Sound Tribe Sector 9. Their setup faced the Main Stage in the distance, and in a magical moment, somebody with a wad of cash in the VIP Campgrounds was putting on quite a fireworks display. Coupled with the light show shattering the blackness of night, we all thought the fireworks were part of the STS9 vibe, but no — they were just another cool little synchronicity in the North Minnesota night. "Honored to be at 10,000 Lakes," said percussionist Jeffree Lerner before STS9's set. "I have the usual openness to stuff I haven't seen before." "Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey dedicated a song to STS9," I stated. "They're beautiful like that," Lerner responded. "This is a nice clean scene here." Meanwhile, over at the Saloon, Fat Maw Rooney was laying down its own style of trippy funk, and the crowd ate it up.

10KLF by John Crouch
The Breakfast played a rousing Fireman's Nightmare set. The long room that held the Saloon Stage was so crowded that people were hanging out of windows and standing on tables. It was an unbelievable sight as the band played numbers off of their new release Real Radio and threw in a few classic gems as well like "Buquebus" and "Rufus." They also played the Red Hot Chili Peppers' song, "Sir Psycho Sexy." It was an amazing scene and a great way to end Day 2. "The crowd was very receptive. There were a lot of women, and we played a Chili Peppers song to complement that," cracked drummer Adrian Tramontano.

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