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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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Tara Nevins releases her new album ‘Wood and Stone’ tomorrow, Tuesday May 3rd! Amos Perrine reviewed the album for No Depression. Here is an excerpt from the review. Please click the link to read the full post.


“Wood and Stone” is likely the solo album that many Donna the Buffalo fans have wanting. Tara has said the songs on the album are about relationships and begins, fittingly enough, with the title track about her own family, her home, mixing the inorganic and the organic that makes family life the foundation of one’s own journey. . . .  . . . .

Produced by multi-talented Larry Campbell and with only a few extra special guests, Levon Helm, Teresa Williams, Jim Lauderdale and Allison Moorer, it’s very much a solo album with a band and recorded in Woodstock at Levon’s studio. Tara as singer-songwriter is front and center here. As much as I have listened to “Mule to Ride” during the past twelve years, I, like many other Donna fans, have also yearned to hear Tara in her own voice, on her own terms. The new album is just that — and more.

Upon repeated listenings to “Wood and Stone” I find that the album seems to be two albums. The first half is the result of constant touring with the band, are very Donna-like and you can easily see these songs as part of their sets. It will please any Donna fan, including myself. But whether purposeful or not, the transition for me is separated by the album’s only instrumental track, “Nothing Really,” that is smack dab in the middle of the album.

The album vears away from an overt Donna influence with “What Money Cannot Buy” and, again purposefully or not, Tara’s vocals become stronger, more upfront. The next song, “The Wrong Side,” is a highlight, about a bad breakup and moving on. Replete with swing fiddle, pedal steel and electric guitar solo breaks, you can easily see it a hit song back in the 1950’s — commercial country music’s artistic highpoint.

But even that great track did not prepare me for what comes next, the only song Tara did not write, the jazz vocal standard, “Stars Fell on Alabama.” Opening with a mournful fiddle and Rose Sinclair’s poignant banjo and even though I am familiar with at least two dozen other renditions of the song, it’s as though I heard it for the first time. It is stunning in its quietness.

I asked Tara during a conversation at MerleFest about the genesis of the performance, especially as it was also the only song not recorded at Levon’s studio. She was asked by the people who made the 2008 movie “20 Years After” to do the song in a more Americana mode. While the movie was unsuccessful, Tara’s version continues to haunt me.

Following the very uptempo “Down South Blues,” the album turns introspective again with “Tennessee River” that’s driven by Larry Campbell’s fuzz electric guitar and Justin Guip’s heart pounding drumming. It takes your breath away. The album’s final track is a near spiritual, “The Beauty of Days Gone By.” Closing out the circle of relationships with reflections on a life lived, memories and the relationship we have with ourselves.

By concentrating on the latter tracks, I do not mean to slight the others, it’s just that the second half of the album seems to come out of a different place, a deeper well that is as invigorating as it is mesmerizing.

READ THE FULL POST HERE: http://www.nodepression.com/profiles/blogs/tara-nevinswood-and-stone

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Below are excerpts from a great review in the Middlesboro Daily News of Larry Keel and Natural Bridge from last weekend’s show at Johnson City, TN’s newest venue, The Spring Street Music Hall.

Trip on a Tank: Larry Keel and Natural Bridge light up Johnson City

by Adam Young www.middlesborodailynews.com
. . .    . . .    . . .
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. — The journey for music is a familiar occurrence in my contemporary life. The complete experience of travel, companionship and performance is truly something my heart yearns for often; and this weekend I satisfied my craving and witnessed a legendary group of Americana musicians in action for the first time.

Larry Keel and Natural Bridge brought their innovative sound to the recently-established Spring Street Music Hall on Saturday. The spacious venue had quite the crowd for only its second night in existence, bringing together a nice assortment of youth and tradition, and the approachable staff provided folks with a rich atmosphere, good beer selection and one quality sound system perfect for the Keel experience.

The Virginia-based ensemble, considered by many to be one of the most powerful, inventive and complete Americana groups performing today, lived up to all the word-of-mouth hype on Saturday night and delivered a dynamic performance — which was nothing short of spectacular.

Larry Keel, an award-winning flat picker and overall respected musician, along with his group Natural Bridge — consisting of the vastly talented Mark Schimick (mandolin and vocals), his wife Jenny Keel (upright bass and vocals) and Will Lee (banjo) — were vibrant from the beginning. It only took about six songs into the first set before the crowd livened up and hit the dance floor romping and stomping.

The mighty group lit up the stage for nearly three hours on Saturday night, with a brief intermission in between sets, and honestly there was never a dull moment. They played songs from across Keel’s extensive career and many traditional numbers — and even incorporated into the mix a few good-timin’ tunes from the likes of Tony Rice and Kenny Baker.

Moreover, both sets were overflowing with periods of experimental and improvisational jamming, and this presented each member with the opportunity to display their distinctive styles and talents (as a tribute to the greats).

On stage, the band puts out such unexplainable energy, and truly has a knack for taking traditional instrumentation and putting a complex, modern twist on it. Keel and Natural Bridge, as a whole, can transition from traditional tunes to reggae-like vibrancy with ease — which is like going from mountains to islands in mere musical moments — and there is never time for discontent or boredom.

Keel and his talented bunch are very particular in their approach, flawless in their execution, and a joy both on and off the stage. There is such freedom in the music that Larry Keel and Natural Bridge create, and this was sincerely a valuable experience.

. . .    . . .    . . .

Adam Young is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted by e-mail at ayoung@heartlandpublications.com.

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Here’s a nice review of the recent Acoustic Syndicate show at the Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, NC  with Glide magazine. Some excerpts are below. Please click the link to read the full review with show specifics and see some great photos by Bryan Rogers as well.

Acoustic Syndicate

The Cat’s Cradle, Carrboro, NC 1/8/11

By Bryan Rodgers

The recent resurgence of Acoustic Syndicate has seen the band utilize a wide variety of formations.  After six albums and a decade of touring with the core quartet of brothers Fitz and Bryon McMurry (drums/vocals and banjo/vocals, respectively), their cousin Steve McMurry (guitar and vocals), and bassist Jay Sanders, the band took a hiatus that, at the time, was of undetermined length . . .

. . .

n 2011, it seems that the Syndicate is really and truly back, at least in a regional sense, with Sanders fully on board, several tour dates in the southeast, and their first new batch of songs since 2004.  Despite this rejuvenated focus on the band, the McMurrys continue to find themselves balancing different formations, as evidenced by the long-awaited Saturday night Cat’s Cradle show . . .

. . .

Dobro player Billy Cardine is the latest addition to the group, and in many ways his inclusion makes perfect sense. . .  the band often featured saxophonist Jeremy Saunders during their most prolific period, so Cardine helps bring back that instrumental flexibility, giving Syndicate a new weapon to utilize during their lengthy improvisations. Starting slowly with “Billy the Kid” and crowd favorite “Pumpkin and Daisy,” the band wasted no time in paying tribute to one of their key influences on his birthday. Elvis Presley’s first ever single, “That’s Alright, Mama” was performed with reverence just before the joyful, island-flavored “November” pushed the energy of the show in a new direction….

Read more of the show review: http://www.glidemagazine.com/articles/56785/acoustic-syndicate.html

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Here’s a great review of Dehlia Low’s New Album ~ LIVE. Check out the album for yourself: https://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dehlialow3

Dehlia Low and Firefly Soda

Hot tracks for chilly days

by Sanuk D. in Vol. 17 / Iss. 24 on 01/04/2011

When the weather turns cold and the leaves fall off the trees, it takes a little something extra to warm you up inside. Few things do the trick better than a well-hit Dobro lick. It will sort of explode in your chest and creep out to the ends of your phalanges, making them tingle with the spirit. If you don’t have a Dobro handy, you could always try some corn liquor, but ever since Popcorn passed, the warmth has been more reliably communicated by string bands like Dehlia Low. Warm, in fact, is an understatement for this hot quintet that has become a staple of the festival scene. Even over the melee of last year’s Brewgrass, Dehlia Low broadcast not only their individual talents, but also their collective synchronicity.

So their newly minted live album (simply titled Live) carries with it high expectations for anyone who has seen them perform. Dehlia Low does not disappoint, displaying its own blend of traditional and new hillbilly styles in its natural environment. The music is so well captured that, from time to time, one can forget that it’s being played live. This might be a credit to some fantastic sound engineering, but it also means that listening to the record doesn’t give one the feeling of being at a show in the way Nanci Griffith’s One Fair Summer Evening does.

Not that we were talking about summer. With the wind howling outside the cabin door, high lonesome songs about going home are easy to relate to. Most of these songs, which sound like classic tunes, are originals written by the band. When they are really cranked up, Dehlia Low all seem to be taking solos at the same time, without stepping on one another.  Instead they form a locomotive with each instrument trading position as the drive wheel. If all this motion is not enough to heat you up, you’re going to have a long, cold winter.

— Read more about albums, Asheville and life at Saunk D’s website, http://www.sanukd.com.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AND ABOUT FIREFLY SODA’S NEW ALBUM HERE: http://www.mountainx.com/ae/2011/010511dehlia-low-and-firefly-soda

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Keller and the Keels “THIEF” has been getting lot of great attention this year! There are a couple of popular voting contests running now with it on the list: check out WNCW’s top 100 list here & Leeways Homegrown Music Network voting here. THIEF will make a great stocking stuffer too (Please just do not steal it, or it will turn into a lump of coal overnight…)!

Here is a fun review of Thief in the WV Rock Scene Blog and below is one from Bluegrass Unlimited. Click here for the full post.

If  Keller Williams is reading this, we just want to come out and admit that we didn’t pay for Thief. But we didn’t illegally download it or anything like that. Judging from Williams’ liner notes, we don’t want to get off on the wrong foot. [When you buy a copy of the CD; you will see the “Karma Warning”… I’m not going to spoil it for ya though 😉 ]*

But let’s set up exactly how much we wanted to hear the CD first.

A few phrases we’ve coined here include: “The best things come to those who wait,” and “Better late than never.” Both describe our feelings on landing a copy of this 13-song cover CD.

Getting hooked up with the second installment of Keller Williams’ collaboration with Larry and Jenny Keel seems like some sort of cosmic convergence of the most awesome kind.

And in case you didn’t know yet, Keel, the critically acclaimed, much loved flatpicking master, shreds. It would be great to hear him play some metal. Jenny rocks the upright bass and, together, Williams (a star in his own right) and the Keels take songs — maybe not even their favorites, exactly — and, kind of like The Ramones did with songs from rock and roll’s past, put their own unique countrified bluegrass stamp on them.

Remember when you first heard about a bluegrass cover CD of AC/DC songs, and your mind kind of reeled? Hearing Williams and the Keels cover Butthole Surfers, Cracker, Presidents of the United States of America, The Raconteurs, and yes, Amy Winehouse, might seem like a stretch, but they nail it.

They even cover “Sex and Candy” by Marcy Playground. Remember that friggin song? This might make getting that Marcy Playground tattoo seem like a good idea, which, maybe not so much.

More obvious songs for the trio to steal may include “Cold Roses” by Ryan Adams, “Wind’s on Fire” by Yonder Mountain String Band, and“Mountains of the Moon” by the Grateful Dead. Bookended by a pair of Kris Kristofferson songs — he stands to make the most money offThief royalties, as Williams points out in the liner notes — this is a great CD to play on a sunny day aimless drive around town, doing chores, or anything else you wanna do.

The most awesome song for us to hear was “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers. Like over a decade ago, we wore out that Electriclarrylandcassette we had. Williams even does a good Gibby Haynes voice.

But the title of the CD is a slight dig on the whole stealing other people’s songs to make a record, and the tendency of you people to download music for free, and not supporting the artists.

Even though we were late getting this, we are so glad to have got hooked up with it. Apparently there was a Keller and the Keels Play Your Couch type contest. Hopefully that person cleaned off their couch.

But for us, we’re gonna go burn a Grass/Thief compilation CD. And of course, we won’t let anyone steal it off of us.

READ THE FULL POST HERE: http://wvrockscene.blogspot.com/2010/11/cd-review-thief.html *Dreamspider’s addition

Bluegrass Unlimited just released a review today. Click the link for the full review, here is an excerpt:

When I first received Thief, the second set of cover songs recorded by Keller Williams and Larry and Jenny Keel, I fully expected my review to end up in the “On The Edge” section of this magazine. Williams’ music floats on the quirky yet inventive side of the jam band scene, and The Keels have always had an open mind about their Virginia ’grass. … Thief, on the other hand, flows wonderfully throughout with great arrangements and expanded musicality.

The unusual cover-song choices here will seem odd at first glance. But, the positive approach and upbeat grooves makes this CD fit in the “regular” review category just fine. Williams handles most of the lead vocals, while all three keep their acoustic instruments humming throughout. Larry Keel’s leads are excellent, especially in the case of rollicking and infectious versions of Patterson Hood’s “Uncle Disney” and Ryan Adams’ “Cold Roses.” Both Keels sing harmony and Jenny’s bass playing is as solid as ever. Other covers include “Switch And The Spur” by The Raconteurs, “Get It While You Can” by Danny Barnes, Cracker’s “Teen Angst,” “Bath Of Fire” by Presidents Of The United States Of America, the Grateful Dead’s “Mountains Of The Moon,” and Yonder Mountain String Band’s “Wind’s On Fire.” Even when the trio takes on the Amy Winehouse song “Rehab,” it isn’t done in a gimmicky way, but instead rocks right along.

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Jeb Puryear. Photo by Monty Chandler.

Check out this review of Donna the Buffalo from their show at Infinity Hall.

Review: Donna the Buffalo at Infinity Music Hall

By Eric R. Danton on August 27, 2010

blogs.courant.com

Sometimes all it takes is a niche, and the members of Donna the Buffalo have certainly found theirs.

With easygoing songs and a low-key peace-love vibe honed over the past 17 years, the western New York folk-rock band can essentially play as many intimate halls and small festival gigs as it wants — Infinity Music Hall in Norfolk, for example, where the band performed Thursday night.

It was a generous set, spread over more than two hours, with guitarist Jeb Puryear and violinist/guitarist Tara Nevins alternating on lead vocals on songs drawn from folk, country, rock and Cajun traditions.

Backed by drums, bass and keyboards, the co-leaders had an easy rapport with each other, and with the crowd, which occasionally stood to dance in the aisles. Puryear sang with the same mellow inflection as Willie Nelson, though the former’s voice isn’t quite as rich, and he played his Stratocaster guitar without a pick, coaxing a smooth, buttery tone from the instrument.

Nevins, who also played accordion and washboard on the thrumming, bayou-flavored “Part-Time Lover,” has a pretty, slightly frayed voice that sounded wistful on the countrified “Locket and Key” and bobbed lightly on “Blue Sky,” an easy flowing rock song with Puryear’s electric guitar cascading over Nevins’ sturdy acoustic strumming.

The band often stretched out, steering songs into light jams. The electric guitar and violin each sounded in turn as though they were straining toward the heavens during an extended middle section on “Let Love Move Me,” and the rest of the band left Puryear and Nevins alone on stage to finish the aptly named “Funky Side” themselves, locked together on the riff that drove the song.

After finishing the main set with Nevins singing the acoustic country-ish song “No Place Like the Right Time,” she and Puryear started the encore as a duo as she played a mournful violin line over a plucked guitar groove.

The rest of the band emerged quietly to join them on the end of the song, before diving back into a good-natured jam on the next song.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://blogs.courant.com/eric_danton_sound_check/2010/08/review-donna-the-buffalo-at-in.html


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