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bob susan_Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015Grateful and Unforgettable: Lockn’ 2015 in Review.
Words By Kirby Farineau; Photos by Milo Farineau

Stepping up the grassy hill to attend the third annual Lockn’ Music Festival, attendees were greeted with the sight of the event in all its grandeur. Fields of tents, cars, and RVs stretched into the distance far from the dazzling Oakridge stage. Held inside the Oakridge farm racetrack, Lockn’ provides a wide open space for its many thousands of attendees. Based on previous year’s success, the setup for year three is mostly unchanged, providing a great structure to explore the festival grounds and enjoy the music from almost anywhere.

One cannot discuss this year’s festivities without mentioning the unfortunate and literal rain on the parade. Due to an intense storm system on Wednesday, there was enough damage to the festival stage, vendor tents, and campgrounds that impaired their ability to safely run on its scheduled opening day. To the dismay of many, the festival shut all Thursday events down, turning attendees away to the many impromptu pop-up shantytowns in campgrounds and parking lots around the state. Some of the acts were lost, as Thursday was the only day they could play (Little Feat, Galactic, etc.), but Lockn’ was quick to remedy the situation, taking action to create a condensed schedule of music for the remainder of the weekend, making the best of the time and musical talents they had to work with.

Doobie_Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015_1Seeing as that first Friday fell on the important but somber date of 9/11, the festival did their best to honor the occasion in a way that didn’t dwell on the tragedy. John Popper of Blues Traveler took the stage first to deliver the national anthem, surrounded by a group of first responders from the attack on the Twin Towers underneath a big star spangled banner waving for everyone to see. After a few moments to reflect, the swaths of festival attendees bunched up towards the stage were finally greeted with the sounds of The Doobie Incident, a respective combination of classic rock band The Doobie Brothers, and The String Cheese Incident, who played classics from the Doobie’s career but with some added instrumentation from String Cheese. The rest of the first day’s acts followed in a seamless succession, as bands like Seth Stainback and Roosterfoot, Moonalice, and the North Mississippi Allstars all provided rocking, roots, and bluesy sets before New Orleans singer songwriter Anders Osborne and his band brought their original style of heavy funk/blues rock to the stage.

Phil_Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015Steve Earle and The Dukes, with his deep southern tones and their unique country style provided a chance for audience members to gather themselves, and prepare for a torrential outpouring of musical experiences that evening which surpassed the literal storm from the days before. The String Cheese Incident revisited the stage to deliver their own set, followed closely by a performance from the always varying Phil and Friends, this time featuring the fantastic vocal stylings of Lockn’ veteran, Chris Robinson, who took the stage singing classic Grateful Dead tunes in front of Phil Lesh, himself. This was the first of many performances that emphasized one of the greatest elements of Lockn’: collaboration. The cooperative efforts of veteran musicians across genres made for some historical and downright crazy performances throughout the rest of the weekend.

LR_Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015The night ended with back- to-back powerhouse celebrations of music history: The 50 year anniversary of Jefferson Airplane, and a tribute to the late Joe Cocker. The first performance featured Jack and Jorma of Hot Tuna fame, alongside Rachael Price of Lake Street Dive, and drummer Bill Kreutzmann, followed by an unforgettable show simply dubbed Mad Dogs and Englishmen. There’s something magical about seeing Susan Tedeschi, Leon Russell, and Chris Robinson all on the same stage alongside Cocker’s old backup singers like Rita Coolidge which created an image and a sound that attendees will not soon forget.  Closing up with late night performances from Mickey Hart and Umphrey’s McGee, Friday came to a very rousing and very late conclusion.

Karl_Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015Things ramped up early on Saturday kicking things off with one of the Rockn’ to Lockn’ contest winners, local country band Lord Nelson, followed by the always entertaining 80’s cover bluegrass group Love Canon.  Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe teamed up with keyboardist Chuck Leavell to deliver a remarkable performance of soulful horn-heavy rock before Hot Tuna once more took the stage, this time playing a sit down acoustic set of their own music and introspective conversation, allowing audience members a little period of relaxation. More great sets that afternoon with the Tedeschi Trucks Band, who somehow get better with every performance. The soulful duo of quiet guitarist Derek Trucks alongside wife Susan Tedeschi, a woman who could sing the roof off a stadium, was soon joined by Grateful Dead legend Bob Weir for a few tunes. The appearance of Weir enamored audience members with another brilliant aspect of Lockn’: The Legacy of the Grateful Dead.

billy_1_Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015Ever since the grand reunion show in Chicago, speculation about the Grateful Dead at Lockn’ gripped the hopes of Deadheads everywhere. For many who were unable to attend that “last show” at Soldier’s Field, it seems that Lockn’ was a possible opportunity to see the four members in some capacity. Ever since Lockn’ organizers Dave Fry and Pete Shapiro announced that all four members were going to be there, the hearts and minds of fans everywhere were racing.

Before that was to be seen, we got musical legend Robert Plant with the Sensational Space Shifters , followed shortly by what at this point seems to be a Lockn’ tradition of Widespread Panic collaborating with a classic musician, in this case Jimmy Cliff.

Mickey_2Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015Then came a show from Billy and The Kids, which may be the closest to the real lineup people may ever get, with Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann, and Mickey Hart all performing on the Oak Stage, while Phil Lesh set up for his show on the Ridge Stage adjoining (but not accompanying). For a very brief moment in time, from the audience, one could at least see all four members of the Grateful Dead together, in some capacity on stage together.

The second Phil and Friends show was as interesting as the first, featuring two different but masterful guitarists Warren Haynes and Carlos Santana. Saturday finished with another late night performance from Mickey Hart, and an appearance of Govt Mule.

Sunday waved goodbye to the thousands of festival-goers, but not without a few more stunning performances. Richmond reps and Rockn’ to Lockn’ winners, The Southern Belles , followed by Fishbone, The Oh Hellos, and a hip shaking performance by St. Paul and The Broken Bones. Save for performances from Trombone Shorty and Slightly Stoopid, the last evening was comprised of artists (Widespread Panic, Gov’t Mule, and Robert Plant) who had  played previously, but played additional sets in different configurations, proving that more is sometimes better.

plant_2Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015It seems that with each successive and successful year, Lockn’ has become one of the biggest and most unforgettable festivals in Virginia. Through the efforts of vendors, volunteers, and staff, Lockn’ managed to overcome significant environmental challenges and not only compensated but turned obstacle into accomplishment by providing collaborative combinations into experiences unlikely to ever be forgotten by event participants.

hot tuna_Mickey_2Lockn_byMiloFarineau2015RachaelLockn_byMiloFarineau2015WP_1_Lockn_byMiloFarineau_2015Steve_1_Lockn_byMiloFarineau_2015

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Interview with Larry Keel at the Festy

by Diane Farineau

Author, Diane Farineau, is  researching & co-writing The Festival Project, a photo book project which features the combined works of photographers Chester SimpsonMilo Farineau
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One of the highlights at the Infamous Stringduster’s new Festival “The Festy” was a Sunday appearance by Larry Keel and Natural Bridge. The trio quickly became a quartet as they were joined on stage by guitarist and Larry’s brother, Gary. When asked if they played together a lot, Larry responded “It’s rare. But when we do festivals in the area, he comes out and does some picking with us, it’s always so fun! ”

After their rousing set, the band spoke with members of the press and then settled in to just hang out for a little bit. “Everyone’s just here to want to hang out for a bit, which we don’t get to do much” said Mark Shimick. “The Stringdusters will play a lot of traditional bluegrass festivals, where we play some jam band festivals, so we don’t get together that much so it’s nice to see
them.”

The band is known to end up picking in the parking lot on occasion, which they enjoy, and Larry explained; “when I started going to festivals/fiddlers conventions, that’s what it was all about, before being a performer at them it was about all our friends getting together, making a big ol’ pot of soup or something, playing a bunch of music all night and then all day, then playing all night again. That’s where you get your chops down, where you learn to play. It’s very special.” Jenny agreed “That’s a great place to go when you’re just learning, listening and absorbing and getting in to the pulse of it all, watching others, the old-timers, new-timers and everything in between, and then slowly you start picking yourself, it’s a great way to absorb it and take it further, if you want to or just enjoy it for what it’s worth. “

The band has had a busy but fun year, listing some of their highlights “we’ve had a wonderful season this year, Telluride, Grand Targhee, Music on the Mountaintop, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in San Francisco was really awesome too, French Broad, Watermelon Park.”

I couldn’t resist asking for a fishing update as well, “I haven’t done as much of that as I’ve wanted to,” said Larry, “I did some out in Idaho, fly fishing. I fish every kind of way I can, I do a lot of bass fishing, I did some fishing in the Outer Banks this summer, some saltwater fishing. I caught a lot of bass in Georgia. Every chance I get, I go!”

I wondered what it was like to be on the road as a musical couple, Mark pointed out (and Larry agreed) “Jenny is the bedrock of the band, seriously, she takes care of a lot of stuff to let Larry have his creativity and she’ll let me know if I have something I need to do.” “We wouldn’t want it any other way,” explained Jenny, “we knew, one way or another, we wanted to work together
and be together, so here it is!”

When asked about the noticeable absence of a banjo in the group, Larry explained: “We had our banjo player for a while, he’s out in Colorado now, he’s restarted up his old band and we’re back to our trio that we’ve had for 10 years, and that’s our core part of the band but we have a few very special guests we like to bring in to make it a quartet. Today it was Nate Leath on the fiddle, which, he’s as great fiddler player as there is, really. We have quite a few special guests we like to get out, like Will Lee on the 5 string banjo, he’s a master and a wonderful singer too. We sort of switch it up, have trios, have a banjo or a fiddle, we like to mix it up. And I think our audience likes that. It keeps it fresh for them and it keeps it fresh for us.

When asked where their evening was headed, Larry smiled “I’m looking forward to picking with as many of these folks as I can, we don’t always get to hang out, so it’s sure nice when we do!”

Also, check out this article by Diane about the Festy itself: https://dreamspider.wordpress.com/2010/10/13/introducing-the-festy-experience/

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Check out this great article about the inaugural Infamous Stringdusters Festival, The Festy, that took place this past weekend in Nelson County, VA.   Diane Wildman Farineau is the author and Milo Farineau is the photographer that took this amazing shot!  The two of them have joined forces with Chester Simpson Photography and are working on a book called, The Festival Project to document the music festival lifestyle and to chronicle all types of music festivals, with an emphasis on the revival of bluegrass music... Also click here for Diane’s complete interview with Larry Keel and Natural Bridge at the Festy!

Introducing The Festy

by Diane Wildman Farineau

Incredible music, a breathtaking venue and promotional visionaries got married about a year ago and gave birth to a baby this weekend and its name is The Festy.

The first cries issued forth from this newborn on Saturday, October 9th on the double stages in front of the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company, in beautiful Nelson County, Virginia were soft and sweet, with performances by Sarah Siskind, Robinella and Crooked Still, but as the evening and weekend progressed, the cries turned lusty and ferocious culminating with stage thumping and fist pumping performances by the Infamous Stringdusters (the event’s curators and hosts) and Railroad Earth.

Like most newborns, this baby didn’t get much sleep this weekend, as the jams went on well into the wee hours both on stage and in the form of impromptu campfire performances throughout the campground. “I was walking back through the camp zone after it got dark and I saw all these fires, and heard the sounds of picking and people hanging out and that’s a big piece of the whole puzzle that makes a great vibe,” said Stringdusters guitarist, Andy Falco, “there are not enough facial expressions that we can make to show how excited we are about this festival.”

That the award winning Stringdusters could line up a few friends to “gig for a weekend” wouldn’t surprise anyone. The true indicator of success, however, lay not only in the breadth of talent represented, but also its depth. Included in the line up were legendary flat pickers Larry Keel and Tony Rice. The crowd was in awe, as were a number of the performers. Said Keel about their involvement: “We were called by the Stringdusters and they said they were having a festival up here…I couldn’t believe it, I love playing in the hills of Virginia, and they said they really wanted us to be a part of it, so we worked it out and we’re real glad we did.”

Unlike some festival events, where bands roll in and roll out in a dizzying cloud of dust, the goal of these organizers was to create an environment and a vibe where performers would want to stick around, not only to catch up with friends, but also to sit in and jam with one another, something so many love to do, but for which they don’t always find the opportunity. Said Jenny Keel; “The hanging out factor was good. Having the band mastermind it all had a great impact and a very positive one.” There was a veritable love-fest backstage, between artists, organizers, the production team, and volunteers and this vibe flowed from behind the curtain out across the stage and into the crowd which sang and danced their hearts out for two full days and nights. Said Allan “El Ron” Ronquillo, promoter from Running Smooth and good friend of Railroad Earth “When an event is done well like this, everyone, from the band to the fans, walks away feeling empowered.”

More than just a concert, the Festy was designed as a lifestyle, wellness and music experience. In addition to music, the event hosted both a trail running and mountain bike race on the two mornings. Yoga classes were free and available to all participants. A climbing wall, massage therapists, a host of food and beverage vendors, instrument workshops and educational workshops on environmental sustainability were all in the mix. “What we’re doing here” said Michael Allenby, (owner of The Artist Farm, and event co-producer) “is creating an experience for people who love the outdoor culture.” Said Devils Backbone Brewing Company owner and venue developer, Steve Crandall, “we’ve done a lot of work to point event participants in the direction of local resources here, we’re about creating sustainability.” With crisp fall weather and access to hiking and biking trails, participants took full advantage of what the area had to offer. “People come to this area and fall in love with it instantaneously, we can’t manufacture or fabricate any of these mountains around us, that’s their dream, the Blue Ridge Mountains, when folks pull in here…..it’s overwhelming ” said the event’s production company, Cerberus’s co-owner, Justin Billcheck.

Great time, great music, great location, this nascent event just knocked it right out of the park. Go ahead and mark your calendars, this baby will turn one next year on October 8 & 9, 2011 and that’s going to be a birthday party no one should miss!

Click here for the post on the Bluegrass Blog with more photos from Milo and here for photos from the Festy staff photog Tom Daly.

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The word is out about The Festy Experience this past weekend hosted by the Infamous Stringdusters featuring the music of Tony Rice, Larry Keel and Natural Bridge, Toubab Krewe and lots more!  All opinion points to a fabulous festival experience with some fantastic music! Check out this blog post from the Bluegrass Blog below and be sure to follow the link to see the GREAT Photos!

Photos from the Festy Experience

posted by John Lawless in  the Bluegrass Blog

Milo Farineau took in the debut Festy Experience, the recently-concluded three day music event headlined by The Infamous Stringdusters adjacentent to the Devils Backbone Brewing Company in Nelson County, Virginia.

The entertainment featured a who’s who of modern bluegrass and jam grass acts – Tony Rice Unit, Crooked Still, Railroad Earth, Larry Keel, Packway Handle Band, Old School Freight Train and more. The ‘Dusters served as amiable hosts and performed both days (10/9-10) on the main stage.

Milo sent along a gallery of images from the musical performances. CLICK HERE TO CHECK THEM OUT.

Also Check out these Fantastic shots by the official staff photog for the Festy, Tom Daly: http://www.thedalydose.com/?p=479

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