Review & Photos | Peach Music Festival 2013 | Scranton
Words by: Chadbyrne Dickens
Peach Music Festival :: 8.15.13-8.18.13 :: Montage Mountain :: Scranton, PASuzy Perler’s Photos…
The Allman Brothers belted out the Dickey Betts-penned lyrics “People can you feel it? Love is everywhere. People can you hear it? Love is in the air” with a sing-a-long crowd bursting energetic camaraderie and passion during the contagious tune. The anthemic chorus was apropos as it encapsulated the vibes for so many at the second annual Peach Music Festival in Scranton, Pennsylvania on August 15-18. With over 50 sets of music over four days, the festival included genres from jam to bluegrass to electronica to soul. The successful musical oasis is held at a ski area, Montage Mountain, centrally located two hours from New York City and two hours northwest of Philadelphia.
The second annual Festival saw exponential growth after its trial run last year, with nearly 35,000 people soaking up the weekend festivities. It is fair to say some of this may be due to positive word of mouth from last year’s unveiling, but also due to the fact that Mr. Bob Weir was slotted to perform three sets. Live Nation and The Allman Brothers Band did an impeccable job organizing a complex event by delivering a stellar lineup with safety and comfort among many stimulating options. In addition to musical entertainment, which saw a bevy of once-in-a-lifetime collaborations, fans were entertained through a myriad of means.
Unquestionably, what sets The Peach Festival apart from its contemporaries is the location. At what other festival can you take a ride on a zip line travelling at 55mph with a 40-story drop? Where else can you go on a water slide or a wave pool to refresh between sets on a beautiful summer day? The festival is located smack dab in the middle of the fully functional and fantastic Montage Meltdown Water Park. The impact the water wonderland has on the psyche of participants cannot be overstated. Furthermore, the hillside camping under the ski chairlifts allows one to hear the sets while one is at camp -always a bonus.
The only challenge at the festival, if any, is the inability to carry an alcoholic beverage from one stage to the other. However, this is due to different liquor licenses at each location and a necessity and really not that big a hassle in the scheme of things. Otherwise, the vending was located in an organized prime location and security was a friendly subtle presence. The additions since last year were more shuttles, a third stage and an expanded camping area.
Thursday, August 15
Thursday evening saw a free night of music that included local powerhouse bluegrass band Cabinet teaming up with local favorite son and virtuoso guitarist Mike Mizwinski for an electrifying set, The Vagabonds delivering some simmering southern rock, Rusted Root jamming a solid set that included their monster smash “Send Me on My Way” and Rogue Chip and Laser Sex performing for the late night crowd.
Friday, August 16
Tauk returned for another year of face-melting instrumental music, Railroad Earth shared their toe-tapping brand of bluegrass, Grace Potter rocked the house and sat-in with RatDog and Miz showcased why he is considered one of the most promising guitarists on the scene today.
The Allman Brothers Band :: 9:30 p.m. -12:00 a.m. :: Peach Stage
The Allmans commanded the Main Stage during the prime time slot for Friday and Saturday nights and did not disappoint. Last year there were worries about Gregg’s health and he quickly and effectively put those to rest with his strong energetic performance. Fan participation was strong for this Friday’s epic two hour and 20 minute show as the lawn and pavilion filled with patrons. Highlights included a bombastic “Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody’s Home” that saw interplay between three superior guitarists: Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes and special guest Eric Krasno. To the delight of a screaming audience, Weir appeared for a dirty “Good Morning Little School Girl” complete with bluesy raspy vocals and a lengthy jam that slowly built to crescendo. To witness Weir performing with the Allman Brothers proved to be worth price of admission alone to many. However, it was “Liz Reed” that tore up the house, as usual. The instrumental was meticulously played, with the help of a Bill Evans sit-in on sax and further demonstrated that veterans, The Allman Brothers, still have a lot of energy in the tank and can still reach some amazing heights when the jam is in sync.
Set List: Don’t Want You No More, It’s Not My Cross to Bear, Trouble No More, Statesboro Blues, Midnight Rider, Spots of Time, Revival, Hot ‘Lanta, Feel Like Breakin’ Up Somebody’s Home (w/ Eric Krasno), Stand Back, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl (w/ Bob Weir), Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’, One Way Out, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed (w/ Bill Evans)
Encore: No One to Run With
Galactic :: 12:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. :: Mushroom Stage
Galactic, the reigning kings of NOLA, are Jeff Raines (guitar), Stanton Moore (drums), Robert Mercurio (bass), Ben Ellman (saxophone) and Richard Vogel (keys). Although he is consistently with the band these days, the band still announced Corey Glover, of Living Colour, as a special guest. The group is like two totally separate entities with and without Glover. For half the show, the band is an instrumental tour de force. With songs like “Cineramascope” utilizing the fat, funky bass beats brought by Mercurio, the band proves to be a powerhouse complete with jazzed up passionate grooves. With Glover on vocals, the outfit turns into more of a soulful R&B unit. Glover eerily sings out to the early morning crowd, “Night people hanging out looking at each other, waiting for something to happen” as if speaking directly to their soul. However, the real hero in an arsenal of professionals is Corey Henry. Henry is an immeasurable talent on the trombone and his playful energy exudes across the sea of dancing masses as he prances about the stage with force. Glover adds some punch to the proceedings with a raucous rendition of his main band’s signature hit, “Cult of Personality,” which sounds fantastic with the brass underpinnings. Galactic continues on a hectic tour schedule including stops at Catskill Chill, Bear Creek and Jam Cruise.
Set List: Cineramascope, Let’s Do It Together*, Out in the Street*, Hey Na Na*, Keep The Dream Alive, Night People* >Boom Boom > Move Fast*, 2 Clowns, You Don’t Know*, What is Success*, Lil’ Ol’ Money Maker, Cult of Personality*, Ooh Nah Nay, I am The Walrus* > Heart Of Steel*
Encore: Does It Really Make A Difference*, Gimme Shelter*
* -w/ Corey Glover
Saturday, August 17
Fresh off his artist-at-large tenure at Vibes, talented veteran saxophonist Bill Evans started the day off with a frenzy, Floodwood brought bluegrass energy to the Main Stage, Karl Denson demonstrated why he is one of the brass greats, Giant Panda Guerilla Squad raged the reggae rhythms and Lotus, about to drop a hip-hop album, owned the late night slot, as usual.
Cabinet :: 2:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. :: Mushroom Stage
Scranton’s own bangin’ bluegrass outfit of Pappy Biondo (banjo/vocals), Mickey Coviello (guitar), JP Biondo (mandolin/vocals), Todd Kopec (fiddle), Dylan Skursky (bass) and Jami Novak (drums) performed in front of a rambunctious crowd of loyal revelers. Anyone who has seen them live or heard their 2012 studio effort, Leap, can attest to the quality musicianship of this band. With a relentless touring schedule, Cabinet has seen a meteoric rise over the past year and the amount of ardent fans in attendance further proved that. Fresh off a surprise late night set, it is safe to say that these boys can be mentioned in the same breath as their bluegrass brethren Yonder Mountain and Railroad Earth. Although fan favorites “Heavy Rain” and “Doors” were performed previously in the weekend, there was plenty of energy in this set that included the hootin’ and hollerin’ fun of “Hit It On The Head” and “Susquehanna Breakdown.” Vocals are handled by the brothers Biondo with JP tackling 60% of those chores and Pappy 40%. Highlights included the banjo pickin’ of Pappy who again further proved his prowess on the instrument, JP’s crisp and clean vocals with superior nuance and feeling and Kopec’s ability to fill with his fiddle at the most opportune times and completely take over the proceedings with authority. Jazz great Ron Holloway added another layer with his tenor saxophone for half the set and it created an even richer and fuller sound.
Set List: Hit It On The Head, RRR, Old Farmer’s Mill, Mr. Spaceman*, Shady Grove*, Susquehanna Breakdown*, The Dove*, E.M.D*
*w/ Ron Holloway
RatDog :: 7:15 p.m. -9:00 p.m. :: Peach Stage
Although not the official headliner, it’s safe to say that most eyes and ears were ready in anticipation for Weir’s engagement at the Peach Festival. With his recent health challenges in fresh memory, one held a little trepidation as to the outcome, but Bobby delivered. With his cohorts in RatDog: Jay Lane (drums), Robin Sylvester (bass), Jeff Chimenti (keyboards), Rob Wasserman (bass) and Steve Kimock (guitar), the band shared an exquisite and professional showcase. The set started with a lengthy jam that eventually led into “Bird Song.” RatDog’s set was low-key and jazzy with an occasional outburst of vocal energy from Weir. During “Jack Straw,” Weir strutted down stage to accentuate the guitar crescendo in the middle of the tune and it was one of those rare moments where it felt familiar. It may not be Brendan Byrne 1987, but the moment demonstrated that he hadn’t lost his powerful touch and has many more years of touring to come. Other highlights included “Days Between” which marked only the 13th occasion that RatDog has covered the Garcia/Hunter-penned piece. The second verse of “Dark Star” surprised many as it was aborted the previous night to allow Grace Potter to take the stage. “The Other One” proved to be the highlight on this night due to pure energy and moxie alone. Steve Kimock, who has joined RatDog for this festival, showed off masterful guitar work. Kimock is an exemplary addition to this incarnation and adds the proper tone throughout. Although Weir had flubbed a few lyrics Friday night, that was nothing new and on Saturday he was on point and mistake free. To the fans delight, their hero delivered an impeccable performance.
Set List: Jam > Bird Song > Jack Straw > West L.A. Fadeaway > Cassidy > Dark Star > Even So > October Queen > The Deep End > The Other One, Days Between > Two Djinn > Not Fade Away
Dopapod :: 8:00 p.m. -10:00 p.m. :: Peach Stage
Dopapod is Eli Winderman (keys), Neal “Fro” Evans (drums), Rob Compa (guitar) and Chuck Jones (bass). The first thing one probably notices at a show by this electrifying jam outfit is the wizardry on the Moog synth by Winderman. Seemingly effortless, he rolls up and down the scales with grace while punching the right notes to fill the appropriate spaces with magic. As seen during his sit-in with Lotus the previous night, and with Turkuaz at Disc Jam earlier this summer, Winderman’s uber talent makes any music collaboration sound sweeter. Rob Compa is a mad man on the axe, very proficient at knowing when to noodle, when to explore new worlds and when to kick back settle in and improvise. Dopapod is a quickly-ascending band that has busted out in the last year with YouTube videos garnering hundreds of thousands views. The high-energy performance was marked with a “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” tease during “Roid Rage” and a tease of Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad’s “Mr. Cop” during “New James.” However, the most impressive work came during “Trapper Keeper” -their well-known, meticulously tight and groovy funk tune. Check out their Redivider record.
Set List: Black and White, Like A Ball, Roid Rage, Bubble Brain, Give It A Name, New James, Hey Zeus!, Weird Charlie > Trapper Keeper
Sunday, August 18th
Michigan’s Greensky Bluegrass shared their unique brand of American bluegrass, Dirty Dozen Brass Band delivered a set of high-energy brass band funk and The Black Crowes closed the festival with a frenetically-paced set of classics, with Chris Robinson introducing Bob Weir’s sit-in by exclaiming, “Please welcome the Mayor of Peach Fest…”
Bob Weir :: 1:00 p.m. -2:15 p.m. :: Peach Stage
If Bob Weir is playing three sets at a Festival, you can bet that at least two are going to make it into the highlights. Last year, it was “Wake up with Warren” that started off the last day of the festival, but this year’s “Brunch with Bobby” had been circled on many folks’ calendars for months and it seemed to draw an even larger crowd. Bobby, clad in his now trademark khaki capri pants, Birkenstocks and broad grey facial hair that is reminiscent of The Lorax, treated the early afternoon revelers to a diverse set. From the traditional bluesy “Walkin’ Blues” to the upbeat cowboy tune “Me and My Uncle,” fans in attendance were entranced by Weir’s solo acoustic performance. Bobby was on point, flawlessly delivering both Grateful Dead classics and various other standards including a cover of Memphis Jug Band’s “KC Moan” and Delbert McClinton’s “Standing on Shaky Ground.” To augment Weir’s patented playing style, fans were fortunate to have Pennsylvania native Steve Kimock sit-in on a slew of tunes including a lengthy “Playin’” jam and a poignant “Peggy-O.”
Set List: Walkin’ Blues, Me & My Uncle, City Girls (false start), Big Bad Blues > Loose Lucy, City Girls (take two), KC Moan, Peggy-O*, Playin’ In The Band* > Jam * > Playin’ Reprise*, Shaky Ground*
* -w/ Steve Kimock
There is nothing better than love and it was indeed in the air at Peach Festival and for good reason. With great music, fantastic weather, a waterpark, great friends old and new and a meticulously organized festival -there was much to fall in love with.