Review & Photos | Lockn’ Festival – Day One | Virginia
Words by: Bill Clifford
Lockn’ Festival -Day One :: 9.05.13 :: Oak Ridge Farm :: Arrington, VA
Full review below gallery…
Have Dave Frey and Peter Shapiro created the ultimate music festival experience? With the first foray into the lucrative festival stage, they’ve found what may be one of the most wonderful outdoor concert venues in the country, for their Lockn’ Music Festival. Oak Ridge Farm is centrally located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountain range in Virginia.
The drive into the festival location was through long, winding, dipping and ascending state routes, with a lush green foliage within your view on all sides. The festival set up two full-size stages right next to each other, with the idea that when one act ends, another begins. The concert area is a massive field, encompassed by a professional steeplechase racetrack, with a field that stretches the length of six football fields. Walking around on Thursday, it was obvious there was ample room for anyone to find their own private Idaho right here in Virginia. We’ve been blessed to have gorgeous weather and splendid blue skies above and it looks as though that will be the forecast for the entire weekend.
While this critic wasn’t able to set up camp in time to make it down for the first set of the day, it was certainly fitting that Virginia’s own Keller Williams would open the festival with a bluegrass set. Booked as Keller & The Keels, the performance featured Larry and Jenny Keel, also Virginia-based artists.
Warren Haynes is often described as the hardest working showman in the music business today. Fans were able to compare and contrast the work of his solo project, the Warren Haynes Band, and his full-time occupation as leader of Gov’t Mule, as both played at the festival on its first day. With the solo band, which included renowned keyboardist Nigel Hall, Haynes showcased his more soulful side on songs such as “Invisible,” which included an instrumental tease of The Edgar Winter Group classic “Frankenstein” before concluding. Warren dedicated “Hattiesburg Hustle” to anyone from Mississippi, and the tune gave Hall a chance to lean into his organ.
With Gov’t Mule, it was all about southern rock and blues, with a driving, hard edge. Opener “Where’s My Mule” was a hard rocking, blues scorcher that featured Haynes bending and wailing notes from his guitar with a fiery wail. “Broke Down On The Brazos” was a pounding rocker that gave drummer Matt Abts the spotlight as he hammered on the skins. “Captured,” a relatively new song, brought the tone down just a bit, while still being entrenched in the blues, telling the tale of a love sick man captured by a woman’s beauty. And on the bluesy dirge “Banks of The Deep End” Haynes grieved for a lost companion, former bassist Allen Woody.
Vermont-based chanteuse Grace Potter joined the Mule for a set of classic rock covers mid-set. On “Dear Prudence,” she and Haynes traded verses, while on “Gold Dust Woman” she took on the vocal of Stevie Nicks with great aplomb. But it was their co-vocal on the Neil Young song “Southern Man” that brought the biggest ovation from the crowd. Potter has quite powerful vocal chords and she bellowed and hollered her verses with fierce vigor. It was a great way to honor Neil Young and Crazy Horse who were one of the original acts lined up to play the festival, yet had to cancel due to guitarist Frank “Poncho” Sampedro’s broken hand.
The String Cheese Incident played an early set before Gov’t Mule as well as a late set after Mule. Today’s SCI highlight for this critic was when former tour mate, Keller Williams, joined the band onstage on “Best Feeling,” though it was truly short of a Keller Williams Incident I’d been hoping for. Through the band’s second set they used the four video monitors surrounding the two stages to great effect, altering images of the band with psychedelic swirls of varying color, shape and size on the screens. SCI will be back on Friday with another full set as well as a set with the country pop star Zac Brown, billed as The Zac Brown Incident.
Keep connected with JamBase for updates from the Lockn’ Festival throughout the weekend. Download or stream audio of the Warren Haynes Band and Gov’t Mule sets here.