Photos | Review | Dark Star Jubilee | Ohio

Words by: Suzy Perler and Tim Walther | Images by: Suzy Perler

Dark Star Jubilee :: 08.31.12-09.02.12 :: Legend Valley :: Thornville, OH

Read Suzy's review below the photo gallery, and click here for festival promoter Tim Walther's perspective!

After flying over 500 miles to reach the destination, nothing felt more ‘at home’ than being at Dark Star Jubilee. Set in the beautiful rolling hills of Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio, it was a perfect setting for music, friends and family.

DSO's Jeff Mattson and Rob Eaton
by Suzy Perler

Entering the festival grounds early Friday morning, one could immediately feel the camaraderie and good spirit amongst the crew as they were finishing up their last minute preparations for this long anticipated inaugural event. The friendly and positive nature of owner, Tim Walther of All Good Presents, was clearly infectious.

The members of Dark Star Orchestra were our welcoming hosts. When not performing, they spent the weekend intermingling with the crowd of loyal fans. I took a leisurely golf cart ride with DSO drummers, Rob Koritz and Dino English and was pleased to see them stopping often to just say hello and chat with fans and friends. People liked seeing the band hanging around – it made everyone feel more connected.

The festival kicked off late Friday with The Rumpke Mountain Boys, Cornmeal and then a 4 hour set by DSO. Early Saturday morning arrived with heavy rains, causing some structural issues with the main stage. Not sure how the show was going to go on, a brilliant decision was quickly made to create an alternate stage in the VIP tent, complete with comfy couches, rugs and tapestries. There was no complaining in this crowd. The communal spirit of braving the elements made this festival even better. Everybody involved felt they were a part of something very special.

Mickey Hart Band Drum Circle by Suzy Perler

Some of Saturday’s bands included Jorma Kaukonen, The Donna Jean Godchaux Band, Matt Reynolds (also DSO’s tour manager!) Keller Williams and DSO playing another 4 hour set. The Mickey Hart Band was then scheduled to play, but his band couldn’t fit on the alternate stage. The crowd waited patiently for the outcome. It was then announced that everyone should grab their percussion instruments and join Mickey Hart in an impromptu drum circle. Everyone circled in the intimate glow of the VIP tent and created music with the band. Other musicians joined in, including DSO drummers, Rob Koritz and Dino English. Mickey Hart said it was one of the best times they've had. It was a magical and memorable highlight of the festival for everyone.

The Sunday sun dried up the damp grounds, and the music played on all day with The Folkadelics, Donna The Buffalo, The Infamous Stringdusters, Great American Taxi, 7 Walkers, Perpetual Groove and many more. The festival ended with another 4 hour rockin' set by DSO. Bill Kreutzmann even joined in on a few songs. "We Bid You Goodnight" was the final and fitting song of the night.

Continue reading for commentary by Tim Walther of All Good Presents! Words by: Tim Walther

George Porter Jr. by Suzy Perler

The inaugural Dark Star Jubilee was an unforgettable and life-changing experience. Ten of us arrived on the Sunday before, and started the build for the event with a work hard, play hard mentality. We worked for over 16 hours a day, and then hung around the campfire discussing the game plan for the next day, doing it all over again. We were ahead of schedule all week and kept doing the extra things in an effort to make the Jubilee a special event. Unlike the 30,000 linear feet of steel fencing we put up for All Good, we used wooden stakes with string to section off areas, and Christmas lights as a barricade for our Rising Star VIP Viewing tent situated 80 feet in front of the stage. We went into the weekend with the goal of the fans, bands and crew co-existing and operating as one. We kept a close eye on Hurricane Isaac as it approached, and it just kept coming straight for us. Friday went off without a hitch, but on Saturday morning we were hit with a fast and furious 3 inches of rain, which eroded the grounds underneath the main stage. With ‘Safety First’ as our motto, we made the decision to shut it down for the rest of the weekend. With no main stage, there was talk of cancelling the show all together. As a promoter, the most important rule, although there is no rulebook, is The Show Must Go On. After consulting experts for advice, it was eventually decided that we would build additional support under the side stage and have that function as the main stage. As the Legend Valley and All Good Presents crews were working together on the stage, we invited The Rumpke Mountain Boys play an acoustic set in the VIP tent. Forging ahead, we soon realized that the best solution would be to transform the side stage into the main stage, and utilize the VIP tent to host the side stage acts. As I went back and forth through the crowd, I did not hear one complaint from anyone. As the music resumed, the energy grew and the fans were pleased.

Tim Walther Does the Slip and Slide

On Saturday afternoon, just a few hours after we shut down the main stage, I got a call stating that there were twenty kids waiting to see the promoter do the slip and slide. After politely declining, I received a call from my site guy, who stated that they were not going to allow the kids to go down the slip and slide until I came over and did it myself. I got my bathing suit on, climbed in to my golf cart (nick-named the Safety Machine), and headed to the slip and slide. In front of friends, crew, fans and a bunch of kids, I got down in a football stance and launched into the slip and slide. I shook the stress of the day and began to have fun again. As the music continued, the fans were going out of their way to thank the crew, the crew was going out of their way to keep things moving forward, and the bands were arriving with the attitude of “How can we help?” Just the way it should be.

We all needed a miracle, and we got it. Every band on the bill got to play and the incredible circumstances of unity set the stage for some ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences. The side stage that became the main stage could not fit the Mickey Hart Band and their equipment. Mickey rolled with the punches and got his band to join him in the VIP tent for an impromptu acoustic drum circle. Mickey invited all the fans to go back to their tents to get whatever they had, and come join the circle. Not 30 seconds into it, Mickey invited Rob Koritz of Dark Star Orchestra to join him, satisfying a life long dream of Rob’s to play with his hero, Mickey Hart. Later on in the weekend Bill Kreutzmann and George Porter Jr. joined DSO in their final set, with George singing the oh-so-appropriate verse, “I’ll meet you at the Jubilee”.

Unfortunately, yet another storm approached as Dark Star got to the final hour of their set. Five minutes before the storm hit, I had to make the tough call to shut down the stage and suggest that fans head for shelter. The band ended with “Good Lovin’”, matching the “Good Love” slogan which was posted all weekend to the right of the stage with six foot rainbow colored plywood letters. After the storm passed, Dark Star and some friends gathered around the one existing microphone and sang “We Bid You Goodnight”.

This festival reminded the crew, fans and bands why we are all here. It’s all about the music!

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