Lockn Festival 2014 | Fifteen Most Memorable Sets
The 2014 Lockn’ Music and Arts Festival was packed full of highlights featuring some of the most well respected and artistically creative bands touring the circuit today. With two main stages adjacent to one another, festival attendees were treated to the luxury of not missing a note of music in the main festival area. Two other stages were used for early morning sets and late night after-parties and everything was scheduled around the main stages, giving fans a chance to begin seeing music as early as 11 a.m. and staying up past 4 a.m.
The entire culture and atmosphere can only be described as something majestic and intrinsically beautiful. Approximately 30,000 people constructed this utopian society fueled by love and the desire to explore and preserve the festival culture. Stepping into this society, even for the weekend, felt like experiencing another world where anything is possible and there’s nothing to worry about.
The entire weekend was full of interesting collaborations and inspiring covers as this year’s lineup featured everything from local bands who had to fight for their spot on the main stage, through the Rockn’ to Lockn’ contest, to the other side of the spectrum of rock and roll royalty. This particular environment worked so well not only due to the caliber of talent booked but also the schedule of the events as they were set to unfold. It was especially interesting to see String Cheese Incident sandwich their sets with Umphrey’s McGee as well as former members of the Grateful Dead the following day. The same fluidity could be felt as Widespread Panic traded sets with Phil Lesh, Tom Petty and the Allman Brothers.
To witness this caliber of rock and roll history being made is going to be one of the most important live music experiences for a lot of people who attended Lockn’ as The Allman Brothers closed out Sunday night with conviction, performing what is likely to be their final festival set and leaving no more scheduled events until their “final shows” ever as a band at the Beacon in late October.
In no particular order, here’s a rundown of fifteen incredible sets from Lockn’ 2014:
Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Acoustic Set: 12:00 a.m. Triangle Stage 9/5
It’s no surprise that the Tedeschi Trucks Band’s debut album, Revelator, won the Grammy Award for Best Blues Album. TTB are a unique driving force known for rock and roll blues with a heavy jamming style. To see Derek and Susan in such an intimate environment as an acoustic setting was incredibly special and a truly rare performance. This unique set was full of some great covers as they opened up with a gorgeous rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “You Got The Silver.”
Current TTB members, Mike Mattison and Mark Rivers on harmony vocals, also joined Derek and Susan for a few numbers, including original material from the Derek Trucks Band’s catalog like “Ballad of the Chicken Robber” and a cover of Skip James’ “Crow Jane,” as Mattison handled the vocal responsibility on both. Susan went on to power through many TTB originals such as “The Storm,” “It’s So Heavy,” “Idle Wind” and “Shelter.” This incredible set also featured Susan showcasing her soulful vocal range on significant covers such as Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right,” Elmore James’ “Shake Your Money Maker” and a unique version of “Done Somebody Wrong.” To see Derek and Susan in this capacity was stunning to say the least as these two continue to find ways to cater to their fans as they stepped outside of their traditional approach to their beautiful music.
Dumpstaphunk: Shakedown Stage 1 a.m. 9/4
Dumpstaphunk kicked the late night festivities into overdrive when they rocked the Shakedown Stage to a very sizable crowd eager to soak up what the entire band had to offer. The most notable change in the lineup was Alvin Ford Jr. replacing Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power) on drums, bringing Dumpstaphunk back to an all-New Orleans lineup. Not many bands feature two bass players, let alone two as intertwined as Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III. Hall and Daniels III whipped up clever dueling base lines for Ivan Neville to paint his signature sound on the keys by using his Hammond B3. The Steel Town Horns also joined the band for the majority of their set and the horn section blasted energy into the thick New Orleans funk perfectly.
Opening with “Meanwhile” > “Water,” it was clear this was going to be a very energetic set. Dumpstaphunk kept the liveliness high and fully delivered the gritty New Orleans style funk that helped build the Crescent City. Tossing around a four-part harmony vocal, similar to Sly & The Family Stone, the band demonstrated effortless versatility when all contributing to the larger sound. One of the best transitions of their set came when the band dropped “Blueswave” > “Put It In the Dumpsta,” the latter being one of their most recognizable and quintessential songs. Closing their set with “Dancing To the Truth,” a new song off the band’s most recent album, Dirty Word, the band was in full swing before they returned for their encore with “Raise the House,” featuring The Steel Town Horns once again. Dumpstaphunk, once born on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival Stage, have blossomed into one of New Orleans’ most esteemed and well-rounded funk ensembles.
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals: Main Stage 2 p.m. 9/7
It seems as if the sky is the limit for Grace Potter as she’s matured musically well beyond her years. Exploding on the scene as a 21-year-old in 2005 with Nothing But the Water, it was clear that Potter had taken a musical identity of a vintage sound of timeless expression. Grace has a sound that would continue to prosper and develop in quality over the course of her career, all while staying true to the roots that the music came from.
Potter’s inimitable approach to such a vintage sound could have placed on her a bill in the mid ‘70s and she would have fit in perfectly. Taking full advantage of their set time, the band wasted no time delivering many crowd favorites such as “Ragged Company,” “Stop the Bus,” “Ah Mary,” “Medicine” and “Paris (Ooh La La).” However, it was what the band did with their early catalog songs off Nothing But the Water and their encore that separated this as a monumental set. During “Sweet Hands,” Potter & The Nocturnals delivered a nice snippet of “Not Fade Away,” igniting a sing-a-long. Pushing through their set the band slipped in a tease of Sly & The Family Stone’s “I Want To take You Higher” tucked away inside “Nothing But the Water (I)” -> “Nothing But The Water (II).” Both “Sweet Hands” and the two-part sequence of “Nothing But the Water” have proven to be timeless staples off the band’s debut album, not only encapsulating the group’s potential but also foreshadowing their musical direction.
Immediately following the remarkable “Nothing But the Water” combination, the band segued into a cover of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit.” Taking a very patient approach at the beginning of the song, the band let the sound build carefully before Grace came in with chilling authority, as her vocal range is absolutely perfect for this song. As the band returned for their encore they dedicated The Band’s “I Shall Be Released” to Warren Haynes’ late beloved friend and long-term guitar tech -Brian Farmer. Shortly afterwards, the band capped off their encore slot with a beautiful version the Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends.” Grace Potter & The Nocturnals is much more than just an average band touring the circuit today. With their vintage sound speaking volumes of “old souls” it’s clear that over the course of time, this band has the potential to do amazing things in their career that will be remembered forever.
The list continues on the next page…
String Cheese & The Gang w/ The Preservation Hall Jazz Band: Main Stage 11p.m. 9/4
One of the most interesting collaborative sets of the weekend featured SCI and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band backing up James “J.T.” Taylor for a tribute to Kool & The Gang. Headlining the main stage on Thursday, this unique lineup kicked the crowd into a full-fledged disco dance party of funk. Having joined Kool & The Gang at only thirteen years old, JT Taylor was a natural front man and became the lead singer of the band in 1979. Taylor kept the momentum and energy afloat as he led the members of SCI and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band on a series of twists and turns through his old catalog.
Opening up with one of Kool & The Gang’s most acclaimed songs, “Jungle Boogie,” it was clear that these diverse musicians could click easily and they all meshed well together. Michael Kang and Kyle Hollingsworth kicked in some backing vocals on the opening track that kept the song grounded as Taylor addressed the crowd. Moving into “Hollywood Swinging” and working into “Fresh,” the band was in full swing before dropping “Ladies Night,” which featured a pair of female backing vocalists dancing in unison and trading off the lead vocals with Taylor. The song continued to build and Hollingsworth took an amazing solo on the keys and Taylor walked over to his setup and watched in marvel.
There were many great songs to fill the set including “Take My Heart” and “Joanna,” but the real climax came when the band delivered an absolutely stellar rendition of “Get Down On It,” which flowed into “Lets Go Dancin’ (Ooh La, La, La).” During “Dancin’,” the rhythmic section took an extended drum solo as Jason Hann and Michael Travis let the pulse build before the rest of the band took form and slammed back into “Dancin’,” completing the musical sandwich. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, legends in their own regard, demonstrated sheer power and control throughout the entire set as they found room to pump energy into the songs, intricately finding the perfect fills. The full band returned for “Celebration” in their encore slot, which was a perfectly placed song to close out music on the main stage the first night of the festival. That feeling of finally arriving, the anticipation for the other three days, the eagerness to experience Lockn’ could all be related to the meaning of “Celebration.”
Willie Nelson: Main Stage 3:30 p.m. 9/7
Very few single musicians represent activism, outlaw country, Texas pride and rebelliousness all while boasting such an historic musical resume as Willie Nelson. Willie has etched his way into country music history with a unique sound of taking a more “laid back” approach with his soothing vocals and back-seat style of subtle guitar picking. Much of Willie’s sound can be credited to his long-term beloved Martin N-20 guitar “Trigger,” which Willie named after Roy Rogers’ palomino horse. Constant strumming over the decades has caused a large gaping hole to form in the guitar’s body but Willie insists that this particular guitar has the best tone he’s ever heard.
There was a large crowd congregated for Willie’s set and the country music icon didn’t disappoint, delivering almost thirty different songs with a fluid mixture of timeless covers and his most recognized originals. Opening up with “Whisky River,” Willie set the tone for high for the rest of his time on stage. One of the most notable characteristics of his set was Willie’s flawless ability to blend contemporary and traditional country covers back to back. Serving up “Whisky For My Men, Beer For My Horses” (Toby Keith), > “Good Hearted Woman” (Waylon Jennings), > “Shoeshine Man” (Tom T. Hall), > “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (Ed Bruce), was a perfect example of Willie’s extensive abilities to put his sonic stamp on material from an array of different artists.
Persevering through the heat of the afternoon, Willie went on to play such staples as “On the Road Again,” “I’ll Fly Away,” “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground,” “Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die,” “You Were Always On My Mind” and “He Can’t Tell Me What To Do.” A few other notable covers tucked away inside the set were “Hey Good Looking” (Hank Williams), “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain” (Roy Acuff), “I’ve Been to Georgia on a Fast Train” (Billy Joe Shaver) and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” (The Carter Family), which Willie performed solo. Encoring with Hank Williams’ “I Saw the Light,” Willie left the audience more than satisfied. At the tender age of 81 Willie Nelson can still sing beautifully and play “Trigger” with a feel for affection.
Del McCoury Band: Main Stage 2:45 p.m. 9/5
Del McCoury is one of the most prominent names in bluegrass and at 75 his voice is still razor sharp and strikingly beautiful. With a career spanning back to 1939, McCoury was skyrocketed into mainstream attention when pioneering bluegrass musician Bill Monroe hired him for his band, Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys in 1963. Although originally hired as banjo player, McCoury would eventually solidify his role as a rhythm guitar player and vocalist. It was in this band that McCoury would first play the Grand Ole Opry and master his craft. Fast forward to present day and McCoury is showered with accolades, including receiving a National Heritage Fellowship lifetime achievement award from the National Endowment for the Arts, becoming an official member of the Grand Ole Opry and being inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame.
The current lineup of the Del McCoury Band also features Del’s two sons, Ronnie McCoury (mandolin) and Robbie McCoury (banjo), showcasing the musical roots of the family. One of the most notable things about Del McCoury is his charming stage presence as he’s often vibrantly telling stories and always takes requests from the crowd. When Del turned to the crowd for a request, a fan in the front row requested “1952 Vincent Black Lightning,” which McCoury gracefully acknowledged.
This set was full of many monumental highlights, especially when the band dipped into “Nashville Cats” and Jason Carter took an extended solo on the fiddle. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band joined Del and the rest of the band on stage for the remainder of Del’s set, which was a fitting surprise considering the two bands collaborated on their American Legacies album. The unique collaboration between these two bands is a pure and organic way to celebrate their respected genres of American music while meandering off and paving their own path at the same time.
What happened next was the most fluid and exciting transition of music throughout the entire weekend. As The Preservation Hall Band were scheduled to play a solo set next on the empty Oak stage adjacent to Del, the band began marching around Del’s stage in a true New Orleans fashion. Pres Hall took the marching dance party right over took the Oak Stage without missing a note of music or a beat in their step. Del and his band even joined them in the march and stuck around for “I’ll Fly Away,” “The Bands in Town” and “You Don’t Have to Be A Baby To Cry.” Watching these two bands make history together was nothing short of breathtaking.
Bill Kreutzmann’s Locknstep Allstars: Main Stage 7 p.m. 9/5
When the news broke that Bob Weir had cancelled all of his scheduled appearances through early 2015, promoters were left scrambling to fill crucial timeslots previously held by Furthur and Bob Weir & Ratdog. Bill Kreutzmann, founding drummer of the Grateful Dead, stepped up and announced his inventive lineup of diverse musicians featuring Oteil Burbridge on bass, Aron Magner on keys and Steve Kimock on guitar. These four would act as the base and foundation to build off of musically. There was a rotating door of musicians including Keller Williams, Taj Mahal, Tom Hamilton, EOTO and Papa Mali who each took turns contributing their respected sound into the show.
This was one of the most gratifying sets of the weekend and the overflow of talent on stage seemed to have a very lose approach to deep improvisation and their extended jamming reflected their fearlessness and desire to explore. Opening up with “Let the Good Times Roll,” a cover that the Grateful Dead used to perform late in their career, was an explosive way to start the set. As the theme of the song began to resonate, the energy was in full swing. The Dead adopted this cover in 1988 and eventually went on to play it 47 times, so it was nice to see some of the later covers blossom at the beginning of their set.
Keller Williams took the lead vocal role and shined on center stage for an authentic and gorgeous take on “They Love Each Other” > “Bird Song.” Keller has an astounding vocal range that’s perfect for covering the Grateful Dead and his superior vocals shinned on these two numbers. Taj Mahal joined the band for “Further On Down the Road” and “Stagger Lee” before “Help on the Way.” The band took a surprise turn and opted out of the expected drop into “Slipknot!” and instead went into crowd favorite “Dark Star,” which featured both Jason Hann and Michael Travis of EOTO on an extended drum solo with Kreutzmann. Subsequently, Papa Mali joined the band on stage for a nice version of “Wharf Rat” before the jam took form into the imminent “Slipknot!” > “Franklin’s Tower” to finish the set.
Tedeschi Trucks Band: Main Stage 3:30 p.m. 9/6
The Tedeschi Trucks Band is one of the most exceptional and moving bands currently on the road. Overflowing with talent and depth in their sound, the TTB is very subtly changing the course of music as they effortlessly blend blues and jazz into upbeat improvisational fueled rock and roll that’s grounded by a powerful vocal prowess. TTB opened their set with conviction as they bounced two upbeat covers off one another with a take on “Who Knows What Tomorrow May Bring” (Traffic) that went into “Rollin’ and Tumblin’” (Hambone Willie Newbern). The group delivered a full band version of “Idle Wind,” despite the fact Derek and Susan played it during their acoustic set the previous evening. The full band version was especially enjoyable with Kofi Burbridge juggling the keys and flute, as well as the rest of the horn section working over Derek’s intense signature slide.
Derek flexed his range next on “Keep On Growing” a Derek & The Dominos cover from the classic album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs, the same album Duane Allman recorded on with Clapton. Susan sang this song beautifully and lifted the song to great peaks before Derek ripped through a few incredible solos. The set took a nice turn when the band dropped the rare Willie Johnson cover, “Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” where the band demonstrated the upmost level of control and expertise. TTB closed out their set with an awe-inspiring and extended version of “Bound for Glory” and capped off the afternoon with “The Storm.”
Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers: Main Stage 10:30 9/6
It was an honor and a privilege to see Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers headline the main stage on Saturday night. With the recent success of their new album, Hypnotic Eye, the band came armed with plenty of incredible new material to blend in with their timeless classic staples. As much international success this band has achieved and despite the fact that Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers is a household name, Mike Campbell is still a vastly underrated guitar player as his ability could be juxtaposed to Clapton and Hendrix. Campbell has a unique approach of playing multiple strings at once, steering away from being reserved by using one string at a time. The chemistry between Tom Petty and Mike Campbell is absolutely beautiful as theses two have been sharing the stage together since the mid ‘70’s.
Petty opened up by paying tribute to a band that he drives much of his inspiration from when he covered “So You Want to Be a Rock n’ Roll Star” by The Byrds. Wasting no time after the upbeat number, Petty went into one of his most recognizable songs “Mary Jane’s Last Dance,” before he introduced the band and announced how excited he was for the new record. Petty seemed to be in great spirits as he was engaging with the crowd and explained that the next track was the first song on the new album before slamming into “American Dream Plan B.” This particular song speaks of a motivational message of achieving one’s dreams. Petty’s rich vocals were grounded by Campbell’s thunderous power chords as the song continued to unfold. There were an abundance of recognizable hits that graced the set, including “Free Fallin’,” “Runnin’ Down a Dream,” “American Girl,” “Refugee,” “Learning to Fly,” “I Won’t Back Down” and “Into the Great Wide Open.” The new material was rich with character, especially songs like “Shadow People” and “U Get Me High,” both of which shined at Lockn’.
The list continues on the next page…
Widespread Panic with Steve Winwood & Randall Bramlett: Main Stage 8:30 p.m. 9/6
Widespread Panic is a much-beloved Southern Rock institution. The collaboration with Steve Winwood was interesting given Winwood’s experience with Traffic. As elements of British culture fused with Southern Rock, fans were treated to a very special and unique performance from these two celebrated performers. Panic covered Junior Kimbrough’s “Junior” as an opener and jammed that into the Beatles’ “The Ballad of John and Yoko,” where Randall Bramblett joined the band and added some stellar work on his saxophone before Domingo “Sunny” Ortiz let the opening notes of “Fishwater” rip on his plethora of percussion instruments.
Winwood joined Bramlett and Panic for “Glad” > “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” two Traffic covers. The band went on to cover “I’m a Man,” by The Spencer Davis Group, which after some stellar interplay by Jimmy Herring grounded into “Can’t Find My Way Home,” a Blind Faith cover. One of the highlights came when the band dropped into the beloved Widespread Panic original “Surprise Valley,” a fitting song given the location of the festival in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the Appalachian Trail. The best surprise came when Winwood stepped up to the mic and handled some of the lead vocal responsibilities. To see John Bell take a back seat approach to his own material was interesting as Winwood demonstrated a great ability to sing this song and provide some rich fills on the keys. Winwood was constantly switching between the guitar and keys throughout the course of the set. The peak of the performance came when the new super group dropped into one of Traffic’s most notorious songs, “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” again showcasing Jimmy Herring’s beautiful finger-work and improvisation before the band closed out their set with another Spencer Davis Group cover, “Gimme Some Lovin’.”
Keller Williams Grateful Grass: Triangle Stage 11 a.m. 9/5
Keller Williams is an incredibly versatile musicians as he never ceases to explore new musical ground and conquer as many different genres as he can. Boasting a resume of solo acoustic, electro-dance fusion, bluegrass, funk, an album recorded solely with a bass and even a kids album, it seems there’s nothing this man can’t accomplish. With his unique vision and being a huge Dead Head that used to tour extensively, following the band around the country in the ‘90s, it’s no surprise to see Keller pay homage to one of his favorite bands while incorporating one of his favorite genres of music.
This current incarnation of his Grateful Grass project featured Jeff Austin (formerly of Yonder Mountain String Band) on mandolin, Keith Moseley (String Cheese Incident) on bass and Jason Carter (Del McCoury Band) on fiddle. There were at least a couple thousand people at the Triangle Stage eager to kick of the day the best way they knew how. Keller and company played an incredible set full of peak explorations and classic reinterpretations of such beloved Grateful Dead songs as “Sugaree,” “Me and My Uncle,” “Loose Lucy” and even Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again.” Nobody knew the future of Grateful Grass when it originally started as a benefit set for the Rex Foundation, since then this side-project has blossomed into a fan favorite set not to be missed.
Umphrey’s McGee: Main Stage 8 p.m. 9/4
Progressive jam act Umprey’s McGee hit the main stage for the first of two scheduled sets on Thursday at 8 p.m. While their second set found more exploration of the band’s recent material off their latest studio effort, Similar Skin, as well as an absolutely astonishing cover of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” it was their first set that saw much more raw power and sheer supremacy in a typical UM shred fest of pure energy.
Opening up with “Le Blitz” > “1348” was a great way to get the crowd moving right out of the gates. As “1348” was unfinished, UM dipped into “Similar Skin,” but the first real treat of Jake Cinniger’s adept ability on the guitar especially shined during “Dump City.” At just under 12 minutes, “Ocean Billy” served as the first set’s jam-vehicle that inspired plenty of deep exploration and eventually morphed into “In the Kitchen.” Umphrey’s patiently let the song’s intro build the band tore it up before they complete the full circle and went back into “1348” to finish the song. The highlight of the set came next with the laid-back, almost reggae direction of “Ringo,” which while it was treated to a nice walk of jamming, was eventually unfinished. Umphrey’s McGee are quickly climbing the ladder of the most respected top-tier artists in the jam band community. Their ability to consistently impress new and old fans with their genre-bending powerful rock and roll is what separates this band as a show not to be missed.
Phil Lesh & Friends: Main Stage 9:30 p.m. 9/5
With his rotating line up of backing musicians, Phil Lesh constantly finds new ways to tackle the Grateful Dead’s repertoire while breathing a new side of life into the songs with an abundance of capable talent. This particular version featured an all-star lineup of Warren Haynes on guitar/vocals, John Medeski on keys, John Scofield on guitar and Joe Russo on drums. As the opening notes of “China Cat Sunflower” began, the super-group ripped through the beloved Grateful Dead song before covering “Low Spark of High Heeled Boys” (Traffic), and “Let it Ride” (Ryan Adams & The Cardinals). The band then returned to a string of Dead numbers with Warren Haynes shining on “Crazy Fingers,” before the band laid down a nice “Unbroken Chain” > “Mountains of the Moon” > “The Other One” sequence and then going back to Traffic’s catalog for a very nice version of “Dear Mr. Fantasy.” The band then delivered a soft and patient version of “Friend of the Devil” that picked up steam before slamming into “Shakedown Street,” igniting a full-on, energetic dance party.
Moving forward with the momentum, Warren Haynes pressed down on his wah pedal for the opening notes of Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love,” which was not only beautifully constructed, but also very well placed. The band closed out their set with a playful take on “Box of Rain” -> “Franklin’s Tower” -> “Box of Rain.” Lesh expressed the importance of being an organ donor and explained the story of Cody, a young boy at the time who donated a kidney to save Lesh’s life. Lesh takes an opportunity every time he takes the stage to remind his fans the important role Cody played. The band wrapped up the festivities on the main stage with a dynamic cover of “Turn On Your Lovelight” by Bobby Bland.
Bustle In Your Hedgerow: Shakedown Stage 1 a.m. 9/6
Composed of Marco Benevento on keys, Dave Dreiwitz on bass, Scott Metzger on guitar and Joe Russo on drums, this incredible band takes a full instrumental spin on classic Led Zeppelin staples with extended improvisation. While there’s no lead vocalist in the band, most of the vocal foundations of the songs can be heard through Benevento’s Hammond B3 Organ. The energy at this set was at an all time high as the music flowed early into the morning. The band took swings at many Led Zeppelin songs including “Kashmir,” “Immigrant Song,” “The Lemon Song,” “Communication Breakdown” and “No Quarter.” While this band has been around since 2001, if you don’t live in or near New York City it can be tough to catch one of their shows, so needless to say this was a special treat for many fans at Lockn’.
The Allman Brothers Band: Main Stage 8:30 p.m. 9/7
Without any doubt, the most important set of the entire weekend belonged to the Allman Brothers Band. What could easily be their final festival set ever in their extensive career, the Allman Brothers Band closed out the 2014 Lockn’ Music and Arts Festival with grace. There were notably many more single day passes out on Sunday especially since this was their last scheduled performance below the Mason-Dixon line before the band’s inevitable end later this year.
Before the band took the stage, a spotlight illuminated Brian Farmer’s old director’s chair on stage left, a fitting tribute to Warren Haynes’ close friend and long-time guitar tech, who passed away unexpectedly earlier this summer. As the band took the stage, each member was wearing a shirt of Brian himself flipping the bird with both hands and his last name being spelled out in bold white caps. This was a special performance for many reasons, but it separated itself because the band tackled their illustrious live album At Fillmore East in its entirety. As Gregg Allman counted off “1-2-3-4,” the band slammed into “Statesboro Blues,” the Blind Willie McTell cover that helped the ABB hone their sound in their early years in Macon, GA.
Keeping the blues and melancholy theme, “Done Somebody Wrong” (Elmore James cover) was chillingly dark and every bit invaluably beautiful. Gregg’s voice has always played a prominent role in the roots of the band’s southern rock and roll edge. As Warren and Derek traded licks the energy was in high gear before the band descended into “Stormy Monday” (T-Bone Walker cover). This ballad acted a nice, cooling landing gear and ultimately a bridge to Will Cobbs’ “You Don’t Love Me,” which also jammed part of “Soul Serenade.” As the band ripped through “Hot ‘Lanta,” the anticipation was high for the expected “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” > “Whipping Post” to close the show. This two-song punch was the swift reminder of not just how important this set was, but also how important this band will continue to be, how far they’ve come and that their legacy will forever be etched in history. “Liz Reed” and “Whipping Post” took listeners to places of musical appreciation few bands will ever be able to replicate.
As At Fillmore East came to a conclusion, the band took a few moments before returning with “Midnight Rider,” which Haynes reminded everyone was for Brian Farmer. As Butch Trucks started banging his mallets on his large bass drums extended out of his rug, it inspired the band to take form and melodiously began “Mountain Jam,” a more than fitting instrumental piece that has traditionally inspired some of the band’s most extensive and playful styles of jamming. Looking past the stage and watching the lights sporadically illuminate the towering mountain ranges was just one of many soul-finding occurrences that were quick celebrations of simply being alive. Music can hit you like that and sometimes the beauty is so overwhelming that the only thing to do is praise being alive.
“Mountain Jam” featured a steady rhythmic pulse for Derek, Warren and Oteil to fill holes and find their voice. The band dropped into a gorgeous version of “Blue Sky,” where Gregg and Warren traded verses. The band then played “Little Martha” after “Blue Sky,” the same way they close out their legendary Eat A Peach album. The ABB then found themselves wrapping back up into “Mountain Jam” and closing the book on the 2014 Lockn’ Festival. The Allman Brothers Band will always be a part of music forever, even many years after they hang it up for good.
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