By: Mike Grieco
This was my first time at the All Good Music Festival in West Virginia, and let me tell you, it was beautiful. Upon entering the state, the sign read Welcome To Wild And Wonderful West Virginia and it was spot on. Marvin’s Mountaintop was the perfect place for good times and good vibes. We arrived there late Thursday night and sat in tremendous traffic, waiting to enter the beautiful festival grounds. This is my only complaint of the weekend, because once we were in everything was ALL GOOD. Due to the traffic, I missed the Donna Jean Godchaux Band, and arrived to a nice rendition of Dark Star Orchestra’s “Fire on the Mountain”. I have seen DSO 9 times now, and without John Kadlieck as their frontman, they just don’t do it for me anymore. Jeff Mattson did a very solid job recreating Jerry’s guitar licks, but his voice could not send people to outer space nor to tears of blissful happiness like Jerry could. All in all, they did make up for that with a fun, upbeat show, and a solid way to kick off the weekend.
Friday was the day I had been looking forward to for months. With acts such as Tea Leaf Green, Femi Kuti and the Positive Force, Everyone Orchestra, and Dr. Didg during the day, there was a great day of music in store. As the rain poured down and Umphrey’s McGee took the stage, the rage began. Umphrey’s, whom I am a very big fan of, took us into nightfall. Despite some audio problems at the beginning of their set, they picked it up and ended with a bang. The highlights for me were “Miss Tinkle’s Overture” and the end of the set, “Divisions > I’m on Fire > Divisions”. My only problem with this set is that it did not have the energy I usually find in an Umph set. Following Umphrey’s was a band called Cornmeal, and up until this weekend I was never a fan of Bluegrass music, but Cornmeal really blew me away. I recommend everyone check this band out if you want a fun, energetic show. Following Cornmeal was the main reason I took my trip down from New York to West Virginia: Furthur. They started the set off with good, but slow versions of “After Midnight” and “Estimated Prophet”. As the set went on, they picked up the pace and Bob Weir really nailed “Looks Like Rain”, one of the show’s highlights for me. The second set is exactly why I love seeing any type of Grateful Dead act, as they completely rocked it out. Coming out firing strong with an “Uncle John’s Band,” they never looked back. Furthur also played a new song called “Colors of the Rain,” and it was perfect with the rain flowing through the lights into the crowd.. the colors looked incredible. The main highlight for me, since I have never seen it done, was the “Scarlet >Fire”, which literally brought people around me to tears. John (playing Jerry) absolutely nailed the vocals and brought tears, goosebumps and hope to everyone in the festival. That is what music can do to people and it was beautifully done. After a well done “Sunshine Daydream” finale, followed by a “Cumberland Blues” and “Ripple” encore, the crowd marveled at the fireworks as Furthur took everyone to another level.
After Furthur a little bit of classical Mozart flowed from the stage break, followed by the WOMPS of Bassnectar, who brought the party to another, more energetic level. I love all types of music, and the transition from Furthur to Bassnectar was fun for me, though I did hear some complaints. I feel as though Bassnectar set the stage for Lotus, as the late night act who absolutely threw down. Lotus arguably stole the show of the night, as their lazer lights took everyone into Lotusland. As they rocked for about 2 hours, the crowd could not get enough, calling them back for encores in the early morning hours. Lotus is a band that should be checked out by all music lovers. Great way to end Friday Night.
Saturday was, again, great music all day. All Good did it right. It really took off for me when Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi came up on stage; the best act of the night if not the entire festival. I know this is a bold statement, but Trucks can really make his guitar sing, while Susan’s Janis Joplin-like voice sent the crowd into blissful happiness. When Jimmy Herring from Widespread Panic came out, the dueling guitars left me with my mouth wide open. A great show from two of my guitar gods. One of the most underrated acts of the festival was the New Mastersounds. They had a half hour time slot, and they rocked it! An outstanding show that left the crowd wanting so much more, even with Widespread Panic immediately following them. Hopefully they will be back with a longer slot next year. Widespread Panic then came out and played a very solid show. Not one of my favorite Panic shows, but the highlight for me was the beautiful launching of hundreds of flying lanterns into the sky during set break. This was a sight to see, and if you can find pictures anywhere it’s well worth the look. After Panic came Garage A Trois, who put on a very lively show, which was fun to watch as a late night, compared to the electronica from the night before. Then boy oh boy, Yonder Mountain String Band late night was so much fun. As I mentioned earlier, bluegrass was never my thing, but after this festival I am hooked. The energy in the crowd during Yonder Mountain was unmatched all weekend long, and to see them carry a late night until 4:30 in the morning was awesome to watch. It was also very appropriate to see them play “Crazy Train” as an encore. All in all, I can now say I am a big fan of this band.
Sunday was the day to relax and take in the sights. It was a beautiful day, marked by relaxing music such as 2 sets of Keller Williams, The Heavy Pets, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and SOJA. Again, All Good did it right as every act played a strong, energetic set to keep the whole mountain happy. Grace Potter has an incredible voice, and everyone should check out her band. Keller did a great job closing out the outstanding weekend. After 4 days of constant music, singing and dancing, he left the crowd wanting more, and that is the way it should be.
Thank you, All Good, for a wonderfully put together festival. See you next year!