Green Apple Fest | 04.20 | USA

San Francisco | Chicago | Denver | Washington, DC

Words by: Nick Boeka

Green Apple Music Festival :: 04.20.08 :: Speedway Meadows/Golden Gate Park :: San Francisco, CA

Mickey Hart & Tommy Lee :: 04.20 :: SF, CA
By Susan J. Weiand
Marking its third year, the Green Apple Music Festival once again took over and hosted this year’s largest Earth Day event in the world, now throughout eight participating cities in the United States. Peter Shapiro, Green Apple founder and organizer, reported approximately 200,000 people attended the completely free events over the weekend, which highlighted not just musical acts but also painters, sculptures, writers and a wide range of vendors showcasing eco-friendly and forward thinking products. In San Francisco, Golden Gate Park is a perfect venue for an event of this magnitude, and in the second year in a row this SF spot drew the largest crowds of any of the Sunday events. By days end, the tally hit over 25,000 people.

What this means is that as you enter the enormous park your experience begins long before you even make it to the concert grounds. There are many people around you, all walking briskly following the faint sounds of music playing in the distance, converging on Speedway Meadows. The meadow is actually a large flat field nestled in a small valley in the center of the park. There is always a large stage setup, and even though the music doesn’t start until noon, by 8 a.m. there are already hoards of people squatting spaces and setting up shop. The weather was beautiful on this weekend tribute to Mother Earth – a little windy but full of blue skies and warming sun.

Brett Dennen opened up the afternoon with a strong set. His sound is a bit mainstream and poppy but his great songwriting and a charismatic style are appealing. Once he started playing it immediately attracted people wandering into the area. Following Dennen’s set, Mill Valley’s Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks took the stage with special guest Michael Kang of The String Cheese Incident. Hicks’ classic folk-lounge band style featured two female back-up singers and a full string band. Hicks has an incredible sense of humor and the rapport he has with his bandmates allows him be funny, crude and somewhat rude in an acceptable manner. Midway through his set, he introduced Kang, who emerged with his electric mandolin and jumped right into trading licks and strumming along. Despite having a violin next to him the whole show, Kang never went to the fiddle and instead produced some pretty standard but still impressive solos.

Joan Baez :: 04.20 :: San Francisco, CA
By Dave Vann
During the intermission, one of the hosts of the event, Radio Active, emerged and provided a beat box and pan flute mini-set. A small green puppet emerged on stage to announce it was running for President. Once the break was over, Yonder Mountain String Band came out for a perfectly placed, fast paced set. As the sun hit the top of the stage, Jeff Austin led them into the opening notes of “Casualty” and they were off and running.

This was the ideal atmosphere for Yonder – outside in the sun with no shoes on. It didn’t take long for bassist Ben Kaufmann to take over the lead vocals and by the middle of the set the crowd had nearly doubled in size. There was a “Traffic Jam” segue that led to fan favorite “Follow Me Down to the Riverside,” which eventually ended up in a reggae jam tease before settling into “2 Hits and the Joint Turned Brown”, which arrived just as the clock passed by 4:10 p.m. At the close of their set, master of mischief Wavy Gravy came out to kill time while they set up for the next group. I feel bad for him because so many of the young attendees, sadly, did not know who he was and were heckling him.

At this point I noticed someone backstage standing next to Mickey Hart whose name was not on the bill. In an unannounced appearance, Bob Weir joined Hart and his Mass Drum, taking the stage with his former bandmate for a set opening “Blackbird.” Hart is so bad ass that he didn’t need a whole kit, just two drums and he was ready to rock. After fine- tuning their instruments, the pair were joined by Kaufmann and Kang for Dead staples “Friend of the Devil” and “Peggy-O.” In another surprise, towards the end of this opening collection of songs, Joan Baez emerged. Afterwards, the friends left the stage and Hart was joined by a collection of drummer that led the crowd through a half hour of tribal drum music. Included in the morphing ensemble onstage was Jon Fishman, Tommy Lee (yes, Tommy Lee of Motley Crue), Bobi Cespedes and the Rhythm Village. The performance ended with a truly extraordinary version of “Not Fade Away” featuring Weir, Hart, Kang, Baez and Lee.

Later in the evening, the official post show party at 1015 Folsom paved the way for an electronic super group calling themselves Symbiotic Orchestra consisting of Kang, Steve Molitz, Aaron Holstein, KJ Sawka, Jamie Janover and Audio Angel. There was just too much good music to be seen by just one person, and that’s the way a true festival should be. Kudos Green Apple!

Green Apple Festival :: San Francisco, CA by Dave Vann
Wavy Gravy & Tommy Lee by Dave Vann
Yonder Mountain String Band by Dave Vann
Joan Baez and Mickey Hart by Dave Vann
Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks w/ Michael Kang by Dave Vann
Michael Kang by Susan J. Weiand
Ludacris by Susan J. Weiand
Joan Baez by Susan J. Weiand
By Susan J. Weiand
Tommy Lee by Susan J. Weiand
Brett Dennen by Susan J. Weiand
Hart, Weir and Kang by Josh Miller
Mickey Hart & Bob Weir by Josh Miller
Mickey Hart & Tommy Lee by Josh Miller

Continue reading for Green Apple coverage from Chicago…

San Francisco | Chicago | Denver | Washington, DC

Words by: Patrick Knibbs

Green Apple Music Festival :: 04.20.08 :: Lincoln Park Zoo :: Chicago, IL

For the second consecutive year Chicago’s contribution to the Green Apple Music Festival featured a weekend packed with music at venues throughout the city, and culminated with a massive gathering at the Lincoln Park Zoo. While at the zoo, single sets from the Chicago Afrobeat Project, Bassnectar, Meshell Ndegeocello, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, and the debut of Three Bill Kreutzmann, Oteil Burbridge, and Scott Murawski) provided an eclectic soundtrack for both the human and animal audience. Besides music, numerous booths were set up throughout the zoo providing information about Green initiatives and tips on how to lessen our environmental impact. Chicago’s Head Count team was on hand registering hundreds of new voters, and one of the NFL’s most promising environmental activists, Chicago Bear quarterback Kyle Orton was emceeing the event.

Following two acts geared towards the children, local heroes the Chicago Afrobeat Project took the stage. Over the past several years the CAbP have established themselves as an elite core of musicians dedicated to preserving the rich tradition of the Afrobeat genre. Their infectious blend of world/Afro-infused polyrhythmic music have earned them a rabid following, not to mention prime slots at several of the Midwest’s top summer festivals. Relying heavily on bouncy, rhythmic progressions and high-energy call-and-response riffs it was nearly impossible to remain still during their short set. Their rousing version of Fela Kuti’s “JJD” (Johnny Just Drop) was a clear highlight. Near the conclusion of their set, the enormous male lion, which had been rather tame all morning, stood atop his sun-soaked boulder (located directly across from the stage) and showed his appreciation for the band by expelling several impressive roars.

With the mid-day sun beaming, San Francisco artist/producer/DJ Bassnectar kept the party moving with a crate of old school records and booty-shaking beats. It was interesting to see the crowd’s overwhelming acceptance and response to his music. His bass-driven grooves had the masses throbbing in-sync consistently throughout the set, and he even dedicated his last mix to Vice President Dick Cheney. Following the energetic Bassnectar set was veteran rocker Meshell Ndegeocello and her band. Ndegeocello seemed a little out of place on the bill and it was evident that many in attendance also felt the same as the crowd seemed to thin a bit during her rowdy performance.

It’s hard to beat the atmosphere of an outdoor Dirty Dozen Brass Band show, especially on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon. There’s a joyous, even moving feeling associated with: A) an inspired New Orleans-style march in the mid-day sun, and B) the uncontrollable urge to boogie one gets during their quintessential full-throttle funk grooves. So that said, DDBB staples like the aptly titled “Ain’t Nothing but a Party” ignited smiles and massive amounts of dancing throughout the crowd.

Following the Dirty Dozen was the most anticipated group of the day, cleverly and matter-of-factly named Three. The power trio consisted of Bill Kreutzmann (Grateful Dead), Oteil Burbridge (Allman Brothers), and Scott Murawski (Max Creek) who filled a last minute slot originally scheduled for the Derek Trucks Band. Opening the set with a hard jazz-fusion version of “Franklin’s Tower” they set the tone early for what to expect: brilliant, virtuosic runs and riffs that showcased the immense talent each musician brought to the table. Sure there were moments of chaotic unpolished noodling, but the overall rawness and improvisation was exciting. The clear highlight of the set was an outer-worldly jam that segued wonderfully into a stellar “Eyes of the World.” Murawski’s vocals sounded crisp, and entwined nicely with his dynamic rhythm section- which was in-the-pocket for much of the set. Near the conclusion of their slot they received a thunderous response after the “dress myself in green” lyric during “Bertha,” after which they gave the old girl some new life with an extended jam. This is definitely a post- Dead project worth checking out.

Dirty Dozen Brass Band :: 04.20.08
Kinetic Playground :: Official GAMF After Party :: Chicago, IL

For the closing night of the Green Apple Music Festival, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Van Ghost, and DJ Lou Dooben rocked ’til the wee hours at the Kinetic Playground. Opening the night was upstart Chicago indie-folk rockers Van Ghost, the octet – which features Jennifer Hartswick on vocals – warmed up the thin crowd with an inspired set of original material and a couple of well-placed covers.

Upon taking the stage it was apparent that the Dirty Dozen was a bit weary. The band had traveled to Chicago from Houston, and immediately headed for the zoo to do their afternoon set, but that did not stop the consummate professionals from igniting one more Windy City dance party. Their non-stop grooving was especially funky during the Meters’ “Cissy Strut.” But it was the intimacy of the dual encore, played by baritone saxman Roger Lewis and trumpeter Efrem Towns as a duo, that really showed the group in a different, more subtle light. Their take on “St. James Infirmary” was stark and moving, it relied on the basic structure and tonality of their two very different instruments, not to mention the haunting, cryptic lyrics about “seeing my baby on a long white table” that sends chills down the spine. Lewis then took the final moments of the night to do his humorous “Dirty Old Man” before exiting the stage.

Continue reading for pictures of Denver’s Green Apple celebration…

San Francisco | Chicago | Denver | Washington, DC

Images by: Pamela Martinez

Green Apple Music Festival :: 04.20.08 :: City Park :: Denver, CO

Jackie Greene
Daniel Sproul – Rose Hill Drive
Jacob Sproul – Rose Hill Drive
Benevento/Russo Duo
Marco Benevento
Art Neville
Aaron Neville

Continue reading for pictures of Washington DC’s Green Apple celebration…

San Francisco | Chicago | Denver | Washington, DC

Images by: Arthur Shim

Green Apple Music Festival :: 04.20.08 :: The National Mall :: Washington, DC

Umphrey’s McGee
Umphrey’s McGee
Warren Haynes
Chevy and Jani Chase
Benj Gershman – O.A.R.
Marc Roberge – O.A.R.

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