The Head and the Heart have been one of those bands that I fell in love with at first listen. I first wrote about them about two years ago after seeing them perform at the 40 Watt in Athens, GA. A couple of months after that I was able to catch them on tour with DMB. Since these two shows I have been waiting to see the next creative step for them. I can say I am not disappointed.
The Head and the Heart premiered their new video for “Another Story” on BuzzFeed earlier today.
This is the first post of many in a new weekly TBT post that will revisit music from my past. Some will be ugly, some will be embarrassing , much will be emo, and all will have countless memories attached. If you can’t already tell, much of the music I listend to in high school is similar to the band highlighted in this post. So, shall we kick this thing off?!
The Ataris. What can I say? In the early days their CD was played in my Discman and then eventually on my first gen iPod, what a clunker that was. I found it only appropriate to start the TBT posts with the Ataris because in addition to being a band from my past musical tastes, they are currently preparing to embark on their 25-date ‘So Long Astoria’ 10-Year Anniversary Tour, beginning February 28th.
‘So Long Astoria’ was released in 2003, sold 693,000 copies (according to Nielsen SoundScan), and included the band’s chart peaking hit, a cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” that peaked at No. 20 in the Hot 100.
Check out the video of the band’s reunion and hear them talk about what they think of the upcoming tour:
Dates for the ‘So Long Astoria’ Tour:
Feb. 28: Scottsdale, AZ (Pub Rock)
March 1: Las Vegas, NV (Backstage Bar)
March 2: Fresno, CA (Strummer’s)
March 3: San Luis Obispo, CA (SLO Brewing Company)
March 5: Los Angeles, CA (House of Blues)
March 6: Anaheim, CA (House of Blues)
March 7: San Diego, CA (House of Blues)
March 8: San Francisco, CA (Bottom of the Hill)
March 11: Portland, OR (Hawthorne Theatre)
March 12: Seattle, WA (The Showbox at the Market)
March 13: Boise, ID (Knitting Factory)
March 14: Salt Lake City, UT (In The Venue [Club Sound])
March 15: Denver, CO (The Summit Music Hall)
March 16: Kansas City, MO (Riot Room)
March 18: St. Louis, MO (Old Rock House)
March 20: Minneapolis, MN (Mill City Nights)
March 21: Chicago, IL (House of Blues)
March 22: Indianapolis, IN (The Vogue)
March 23: Detroit, MI (The Shelter)
March 24: Cleveland, OH (Agora Ballroom)
March 25: Pittsburgh, PA (Altar Bar)
March 27: Philadelphia, PA (Theatre of Living Arts)
March 28: Silver Spring, MD (The Fillmore)
March 29: Boston, MA (Brighton Music Hall)
March 30: New York, NY (The Gramercy Theatre)
And an added bonus, one of my favorite songs from back in the day from the ‘So Long Astoria’ album:
Mark Van Hoen (of Black Hearted Brother, Seefeel, Locust, Scala) and Martin Maeers are set to release two EPs (second is yet to be named) and an LP in the coming months for their new project, Children of The Stones.
Joining them on their upcoming LP, The Stars And The Silence (coming March 25th) are Rachel Davies (Esben & The Witch), Neil Halstead (Slowdive, Black Hearted Brother, Mojave 3, solo) and Al Forrester, plus Angus Finlayson, amongst other friends.
The first EP, Extended Play, is scheduled for release on February 18th and includes four tracks and two remixes of the single “The Stars & The Silence.” This debut release is a transcendental spacey voyage evocative of melodic early 80’s synth. Themed, or perhaps plagued, Extended Play conveys a dysphoric bleakness centered around love’s emotions.
“The Stars & The Silence” is mystic lullaby that hypnotizes the listener into a dreamlike state. This first track and single breathes a lighthearted vibe into the otherwise melancholy EP. As expected….
I think it’s natural for when we go through life’s little and big moments we tend to seek out vehicles, such as music, that put our feelings into pure and simple words. While on the cusp of the next steps in my life and on the eve of graduation from graduate school two songs, more specifically two lines from these songs, have been hitting home pretty hard.
“It feels so scary getting old…” I mean I’m 26, by some standards that’s not old at all, but at times it does get a little scary. When I was younger, I’m talking that age you are about when you’re in 4th-6th grade and talk to your little girlfriends about what you want to name your kids, I always wanted to “grow up,” but I was never one of those little girls with images of a big white wedding, specific numbers of children, dogs, white picket fences, and a specific job. I was one of those little kids who just wanted to do something extraordinary with my life, no clue what that could even be, but putting it lightly I wanted to do something, anything kick ass. With little sleepover chatter around me I would sit and have no ideals to how I wanted my life to look like at 26, or any age for that matter. I will tell you I would have never guessed I’d be here graduating with a masters and so lucky to have never put perimeters around what my future life should look like.
But as I sit here today with what feels like I’m being surrounded by the majority of my peers getting married and having established jobs and starting families (and don’t forget the almost everyday bombarded with Facebook engagements) it can become, and I really hate using this word, “scary.” With all of these progressions of life and all this “growing up” smacking you in the face in the physical and digital worlds it’s easy to be swept up in the hype and let “getting old” become a “scary” thing when it feels like you’re falling behind in what life should look like at a certain age.
Some people fail to recognize that what may be good for a majority at certain ages may not good for the outliers. And let me tell you, the majority of us outliers at the age of 26 are doing just fine without your engagement speculations, personal amusement of if and when we’ll plop out a kid, and the constant questioning of when and if we will ever get real jobs. Personally I could care less about the first two, but the last- that one about the job- trust me friends when I say no I will not be a full-time student the rest of my life, hence the graduation, and that fact that I’m turning into quite the job hunter. And the only thing scarier than conversing with you and waiting for you to rip off the conversation band aid and dig into the wound of one of those three topics…every…time…we…talk, is our own personal uncertainties.
Uncertainties. Those have always been challenging to me. So at this fine age of 26 I currently face many of those. But just as getting old and falling into self judgment of what life should be looking like, uncertainties shouldn’t be this “scary” thing . I may not know where I’m going, where I’ll end up, how I’ll get there, who I’ll go with, what I’ll be doing, what I’ll be seeing…I set no limits to what comes next. I guess nothing really has changed from when I was that little girl with no ideals of life I wanted to live up to. I’ve never seemed to go with the majority and don’t plan on starting. So to anyone, and I know you are out there, who may have similar feelings and in similar “life” situations…”One thing before I graduate, Never let your fear decide your fate…”
Songs that inspired this post: “Ribs” by Lorde & “Kill Your Heroes” by AWOLNATION
A wedding shower…at a tailgate? “Crazy!”, said some. “I don’t understand?!”, said others. There was madness behind my genius. Allow me to give you some background. I’m the MOH for my best friend from college’s (we went to Clemson- GO TIGERS!) wedding in this coming May. With half of the bridesmaids and college friends still living in the southeast it would be hard for many of us to make it to the bride’s home state of Ohio for many prior wedding functions.
With the couple’s love of Clemson football and their friends wanting to celebrate their engagement and approaching wedding, a tailgate designed to honor the couple was created. In essence it was the tailgate we were too poor in college to put on ourselves or too drunk to even attempt such a civilized event (just being honest here). Southern chic was the overall theme with a Clemson touch. Hope you enjoy the Pinterest-esq photos and please feel free to leave any questions!
The last day of a four day festival is always that day when you know you are completely exhausted and perhaps just totally burned out, but any fatigue is suppressed by the notion that there are great music and vibes to bask in for just one last day. Although “Sunday Funday” was about to commence at Lockn’, there was nothing fun about what was going on in the car camping fields. Despite the fourth beautiful morning and waking up to blue skies and the sun just touching above the mountain backdrop, a repugnant stench from the deplorable provided porta-johns, which had only been cleaned once (on Friday) over the entire weekend, wafted through the camping field. After twenty-four hours of pleas to staff and to Lockn’ via social media which started on the previous day, alleviation from this overlooked logistic for campers came around 5:00PM Sunday. My gratitude still goes out to the men who had to clean those those plastic stalls of something that can only be described as a defecation hell.
With images and stenches that I hope to never see or smell again behind me, Sunday did in fact prove to be one hell of a finale to what was truly an amazing and momentous weekend. The music started off with yet again another local Charlottesville bluegrass band, this time being the Hackensaw Boys. The set was a perfect start to the day and set the crowd up for the second act of the day, Col. Bruce Hampton & Friends w/ Oteil.
From the fabrications that Neil Young would in fact make an appearance at Lockn to the speculation surrounding why/how Trey Anastasio had been added to the lineup, Lockn’ was somewhat of a rumor mill and Col. Bruce’s set just added to the disillusioned hopes. Although a very plausible assumption considering Jeff Snipe, Oteil Burbridge, Jimmy Herring, and of course Col. Bruce Hampton were all present at Lockn that Sunday, it had been anticipated that a possible Aquarium Rescue Unit reunion would take place. As much as crowd members hoped for the reunion it did not occur, but that doesn’t mean Col. Bruce Hampton & Friends’ set was a flop, quite the opposite actually. In addition to Snipe and Burbridge joining the set later on, Eric Krasno, Soulive and Lettuce guitarist, also found himself on stage that afternoon.
Fresh off an album release, the Tedeschi Trucks Band band took to the stage next and delivered a set chock full of collaborations. Off of their new album they delivered “Made Up Mind,” “Do I Look Worried,” and “Part of Me.” Remarking that this was one of her favorite songs written by band guitarist Mike Mattison, Tedeschi sang a beautiful soulful “Midnight In Harlem.” Krasno accompanied TTB on a version of John Prine’s “Angels from Montgomery” that included a “Sugaree” tease. Just when you thought the set couldn’t get any better, Chris Robinson, Bob Weir, Jackie Greene, Burbridge, and Krasno all sat in on celebratory “Sing A Simple Song > I Want To Take You Higher.”
Robinson greeted the audience to the beautiful Sunday afternoon with “Seeing Things” followed by “My Morning Song > Stare It Cold > My Morning Song.” In addition to Black Crowes’ classics such as “Garden Gate,” Nonfiction,” and “Shine Along,” notable covers included Joe Cocker’s “Space Captain” and The Velvet Underground’s “Oh! Sweet Nuthin’” with Robinson’s brother Rich Robinson on lead vocals. The Tedeschi Trucks Band returned to the stage to collaborate on Ray Charles’ “Let’s Go Get Stoned” and they remained on stage for the last song of the set, Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Turn On Your Light,” which included an appearance from Bob Weir.
The sets full of guest performances and collaborations continued with Widespread Panic’s second set of Lockn. This sunset set kicked off with “Conrad The Caterpiller” and “Please” into an ode to Neil Young with a fiery “Mr. Soul” that highlighted what Herring does best with his guitar. The always favorite instrumental “Disco” got the crowd dancing up a dusty storm and a re-boost in energy came with Robert Johnson’s “Stop Breakin’ Down” and a cover from one of their favorite bands, as John Bell put it, “Can’t Get High.” Keyboardist John “JoJo” Herman had the opportunity to show off his expertise with J.J. Cale’s “Ride Me High,” another staple and perfected Panic cover. Derek Trucks sat in on “Chilly Water,” Robert Johnson’s “Me and the Devil Blues,” and Jerry Joseph’s “North,” to close out the set. Between Herring and Trucks, this was an on-point collaboration that had festival attendees reminiscing hours and even days after this set had ended.
The last show of the weekend was performed by none other than crowd favorite Furthur. Opening the set was the Grateful Dead’s “Terrapin Station,” followed by “Samson And Delilah” with Susan Tedeschi on guitar and vocals. Herring sat in on classics “Brown-Eyed Women” and “Box of Rain.” Tedeschi returned again for a cover of Traffic’s “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Playing in the Band,” and “Standing on the Moon.” Furthur came full circle and closed out their set with “Terrapin Flyer > Terrapin Reprise;” in a sense, finishing what they had started. A melancholy spirit blanketed the crowd as the realization that all was coming to a close as Furthur returned to the stage one last time. Phil Lesh stood on stage, as he has done at the end of shows since his liver transplant in 1998, and delivered his organ donor rap. The encore was a beautiful “Brokedown Palace” that peacefully lullabied the crowd and proved to be an appropriate finish to a weekend that provided not only sweet songs, but rocked our souls.
It was another beautiful day at Lockn’ and day three opened with a fusion of ‘80s and bluegrass. Yes you read that correctly. The Charlottesville band Love Canon, comprised of Jesse Harper (Guitarist/singer), Adam Larrabee (Banjo), Andy Thacker (Mandolin), and Darrell Muller (Bass/Backing Vocals), got this music going with covers like Peter Gabriel’s “Sledgehammer,” ZZ Top’s “Legs,” and Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical.” Comical, yet genius. The afternoon turned funky and Black Keys-esq with The London Souls followed by The Punch Brothers taking us straight back to traditional bluegrass roots.
By the time the Black Crows took the stage the sun was starting it’s slow decent into the earth. Their impassioned set was filled with soul and good old rock and roll. Many classics and favorites were played including “Jealous Again” and a “She Talks to Angels” that got the entire audience singing a long. Admist beautiful segues and seamless transitions, The Crows slipped covers of the Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and their own version of Otis Reddings’ “Hard to Handle” into Billy Joe Royal’s “Hush.” The Black Crows would take the stage the following day for their second set of the weekend.
Days after Neil Young’s cancellation, it seemed that Lockn’ made the right replacement choice with the Trey Anastasio Band. Although it has been speculated that Anastasio was never a replacement choice, that Lockn’ had previously planned to add him to the lineup anyway, either way his set was a highlight for festival attendees alike. You didn’t have to be a Phish fan to enjoy TAB that evening. The set opened with a lively “Cayman Review” and included some Phish staples “Ocelot” and “Sand.” This set was also an opportunity for Anastasio to play some of his solo songs like “Valentine.” The absolute high point of TAB’s set was the cover of Gorillaz’ “Clint Eastwood,” that got the entire audience singing and dancing. In addition to the songs, the horns, the band, and Anastasio himself, it cannot go unmentioned how songstress and trumpet player Jennifer Hartswick captivated the entire Lockn’ crowd with her incredible vocals, both on “Clint Eastwood” and Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.” This was TAB’s only set of the weekend and the performance that was put on that evening left the Lockn’ audience wanting more.
As soon as TAB was done ramping up the crowd, Widespread Panic took the stage a few minutes later for their first of two highly anticipated sets of the weekend. For two hours not only did we get a full serving of classic Panic, but for the last thirty minutes of the set legendary American rocker and former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty took the stage with those Georgia boys. There was a “Henry Parsons Died” opener with “Pigeons” following. “Pilgrims” into “Ribs And Whiskey” got the whole crowd stomping up a dusty storm and elevated the excitement for what was yet to be delivered. After an appropriate “Ain’t Life Grand,” Fogerty joined Panic on stage and immediately delivered those time-honored CCR classics the crowd was just waiting to sing-a-long to. Those classics included “Born on the Bayou,” “Bad Moon Rising,” “Suzy Q,” “Keep on Chooglin,” and of course “Fortunate Son.” After thanking “The Panics” for having him on stage Fogerty plugged and played his new song “Mystic Highway.” The entire Widespread Panic set with John Fogerty: Henry Parsons Died, Pigeons, Travelin’ Light, Pilgrims >Ribs And Whiskey, Holden Oversoul, Dyin’ Man, Taildragger, Bust It Big > Surprise Valley > Drum Solo > Surprise Valley > Blue Indian, Ain’ Life Grand, Born On The Bayou (with John Fogerty), Bad Moon Rising (with John Fogerty), Mystic Highway (with John Fogerty), Suzy Q (with John Fogerty), Old Man Down The Road (with John Fogerty), Keep on Chooglin (with John Fogerty), Fortunate Son (with John Fogerty)
Taking the Lockn’ stage for the third time that weekend, Furthur played a complete set featuring the Grateful Dead album Workingman’s Dead. It seemed that the crowd that Saturday night was the largest it had been all weekend and there was an overall sense that the culmination of Lockn’ was about to be heard and seen. You couldn’t help but sing a long to “Uncle John’s Band” and “Dire Wolf.” Anastasio joined on stage for the last song of the album “Casey Jones,” and remained on stage for the remainder of the set. “Bertha,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and “Fire on the Mountain,” among other Grateful Dead staples, closed out the memorable festival day; a day that could never and will never be duplicated.
Friday was a brand new day in the world of Lockn’ with all the hiccups of yesterday behind us.The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the beautiful oak tree in the middle of Oak Ridge Estate greeted us as we made our trek to the festival area. This second day of music started off with the local Charlottesville duo Founding Fathers, comprised of Andy Falco and Chris Pandolfi of the Infamous String Dusters. Following this bluegrass set, Pegi Young and The Survivors brought some country rock to that hot Virginia afternoon. With the cancellation of headliner Neil Young only a couple of weeks prior to the festival it was inevitable that Peggy’s performance at Lockn’ would fuel rumors of Neil Young actually showing up at the festival. Although she is married to the music legend, his wife of 31 years, her performance that afternoon was not overshadowed by the fanciful hopes of a special appearance that filled some festival goers that weekend.
Booty shaking, boogie funk. Need I say more? With temperatures rising in that wide open field, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band and the Soul Rebels Brass Band turned up the heat a little more with the third set of day two at Lockn’. Both bands brought the party from New Orleans to Arrington, VA with covers like Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky and the Eurythmics “Sweet Dreams.”
Where others may not be fond of story telling by musicians between songs, I do appreciate anecdotes that convey personal and deeper meaning to the musical performance. In his set following those funky bands from NOLA, Jimmy Cliff not only brought his talent but his intimate stories to the stage. Highlights of the set included “Vietnam” where he substituted Vietnam for Afghanistan, the Cat Stevens cover “ Wild World,” and Johnny Nash’s cover “I Can See Clearly Now.”
Immediately following Jimmy Cliff, The String Cheese Incident began their first of two performances that evening as the sun set over Lockn’. “Outside and Inside” was the first song of the set with Billy Nershi on lead vocals and Kyle Hollingsworth rhythmically pounding the keys. In provoking the celtic spirit, they segued into the instrumental “Valley of the Jig” which set the tone nicely for their the rest of their bluegrass and electronic infused performance. “Joyful Sound” incorporated these electronic undertones as experimental improvisations broke from the cease of Keith Moseley’s vocals. Following this frenzied dance party and impassioned jams, Kyle served us a lighthearted and funky “Let’s Go Outside,” followed by a playful “This Must be the PLace (Naive Melody). SCI’s entire first set of the evening: Outside and Inside > Valley of the Jig, It Is What It Is, Yo Se, Joyful Sound > Let’s Go Outside, This Must be the Place (Naive Melody) > Restless Wind
Furthur took the stage for their first set of the week noodling around for a moment before dropping into a powerful and funky shakedown street. The crowd erupted as Phil Lesh’s opening notes rang out. An excellent choice of opener to set the tone for the weekend. Next up was The Wheel, a personal favorite of mine written by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter followed by Cryptical Envelopment into a very dark Estimated Prophet. Music had been going for almost an hour nonstop by the time the band finished Cold, Rain and Snow. More great renditions of classics followed with Cassidy, Candyman and finishing the set with Jack Straw.
The String Cheese Incident’s last “incident” of the weekend included a collaboration with American country songwriter/singer/guitarist Zac Brown and his fellow band members of the Zac Brown Band. When the “Zac Brown Incident” was first announced a wave of dismissal amongst Cheese fans swept the the Internet forums about this performance. Even in the moments leading up to the start of the set uncertainty emanated from many loyal Cheese fans that surrounded me. In attempts to not make assumptions before experiencing this “incident” I went in with the mind set of expect nothing and be surprised. And sure enough I was pleasantly surprised. Of course I have seen better Cheese sets, but Brown’s talent as an artist cannot be dismissed.
The common perception of Brown as a sold-out pop country artist was shattered, for me anyway, as the set began with “Sometimes a River,” as Keith and Brown switched between lead vocals. Throughout a interlocking set of Cheese and Zac Brown Band songs, Brown’s stage presence conveyed a sense of desire to prove his worth as an artist to the ever loyal Cheese and jam-band fans. Brown took the reins on many lead vocals and his proficiency with his guitar was highlighted throughout the evening. Brown played guitar and shared lead vocals with Kyle on “Close Your Eyes.” Although sharing the spotlight, nothing could outshine Kyle’s finesse on the keys that added to the fiery jam within the song. A soulful “When I go Away” reminiscent of deep south gospel hymn was an unforgettable and beautiful tribute to the late Levon Helm. Bluegrass merged with rock on a cover of Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion,” which was followed by a feet-stomping and hand clapping “Born Free” accompanied with a lively fiddle. The cheesiness of the set was amplified with Zac Brown Band’s song “Jump Right In.” As Cheese fans we expect some level of “cheesiness” with some SCI songs, but this song may have taken that to a whole different level and it was my least favorite song of the set. A funky “Use Me” followed and included a surprise ending taken from Outkast’s “So Fresh, So Clean.” Brown took lead vocals one last time on the SCI classic and fan favorite, “Colorado Bluebird Sky,” but the culmination of the song came when Billy took back lead vocals and everyone on stage finished the set with an energy filled jam. The set encored with an island vibed “Could You Be Loved.”
Furthur’s second set started kicked up as “The Zac Brown Incident” were still saying their goodbyes from the neighboring stage. The set began with a nice jam led by Phil before dropping into “Dark Star.” This song has really enveloped the spacey and abstract sounds that The Grateful Dead were well known for. An unfinished “Dark Star” transitioned into a nice up beat version of “Eyes of the World” that featured some great work from John Kadlecik on guitar and vocals before leading into “St Stephen” and “Unbroken Chain.” This whole segment featured some some of my favorite jamming of the weekend before spacing back into “Dark Star.” Zac Brown returned to the stage once more and played his song “Free” which segued into what can only be described as a magical rendition of Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic.” Brown remained on stage for the classic “Tennessee Jed” and later returned for an encore of “Touch of Grey.”, Furthur finished their second set with the classic “Help on the Way>Slipknot!>Franklin’s Tower” trio; an excellent group of songs that often found themselves joined together.
The sweltering heat that arrived with the second day of Mumford & Sons’ Gentlemen of the Road (GOTR) St. Augustine Stopover was the type of weather that made an air-conditioned hotel room seem like paradise. Knowing that the ocean was less than a mile away, it was hard to resist the beckoning surf and white sand while I made the sluggish trek to downtown St. Augustine and Francis Field. If it wasn’t for my love of music and The Hyppo, a local gourmet popsicle shop, and their stand within the festival I’m not sure I would have survived the day.
My arrival came right as Canadian indie rock band Half Moon Run was finishing up their set and just in time for American singer-songwriter Justin Townes Earle. Earle is
best known for his artistry with folky lyrics with blues and country melodies, his father, alternative country artist, Steve Earle, and, perhaps after his Saturday performance, his semi-snarky and “calling it like he sees it” disposition. Astonishment and a “Who the hell does this guy think he is?” swept the crowd when he addressed the fact that he does not take song requests during any of his shows since he stopped playing for tips. He also added, “ You would know this if you came to any of my shows.” His cynical tone didn’t sit well with the audience after that commentary and many replied, “I won’t be coming to any of your shows with that attitude!” If I was on stage, I’m not sure I would have said that to a 10,000+ audience, but then again I don’t think I can really blame Earle.
The sun was beginning to set behind the single main stage and crowds were still piling into the festival as The Vaccines took the stage. The English indie rock band seemed to bring a new life and energy to the festival as frontman Justin Hayward-Young poured his entire being into his red guitar and vocals. Putting it lightly, he rocked the shit out of that stage. His thrashing stage presence was reminiscent of gritty punk show you would only find in a seedy, black walled and graffitied club. Although The Vaccine’s sound was not as edgy, their set was more of a post-punk revival fuzed with pop rock.
The Vaccine’s solo set would not be the only time they had on the GOTR stage that evening. They would later share the stage with Mumford & Sons, but they also filled in as backing for fun.’s replacement, Mr. John Fogerty, former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman. We can all appreciate fun.’s catchy tunes and bubbly performances, but there is no comparison to such an American legend and I must say this replacement choice was an upgrade. In addition to The Vaccines, Fogerty shared the stage with his son Tyler Fogerty and Mumford’s Winston Marshall. We were immediately served up the CCR classic “Susie Q,” followed by Fogerty’s “Old Man Down the Road.” Next up was a “Fortunate Son” that Fogerty and The Vaccines played with such ease you would have never known the efforts it took for all artists to get to this point. To fill the slot, Fogerty took an overnight flight from L.A. and spent the hours leading up to set rehearsing.
Without any surprise, Mumford & Sons came out for the remainder of this memorable set. Mumford and Fogerty collaborated on fan favorites “Down on the Corner” and a fitting swampy “Born on the Bayou.” As the lightening in the navy blue sky began to flash overhead, “Bad Moon Rising” rang out over Francis Field; Mother Nature could not have planned her light show more perfectly. A 25,000 person sing-a-long to “Proud Mary” concluded the set and as Fogerty left the stage festival goers cheered and pounded the air with their fists begging and screaming for more. At this point any, and I say this as if there even was any to begin with, disappointment with fun.’s cancellation was a very distant memory and Fogerty proved to be an absolute incredible choice because, as Marcus Mumford stated, “ John Fogerty was fucking awesome!”
Something between a captivating theatrical performance with a climaxing finish and a photographer’s nightmare unfolded as Mumford & Sons took the stage and performed “Lovers’ Eyes” to a packed out dusty field of thousands. Musicians and audience were immersed in total darkness as Marcus Mumford’s vocals struck the heartstrings of those in earshot. As the song intensified, particularly when Mumford roared the end of the chorus, the signature stringed lights that hung from stage to soundboard and stage lights would momentarily illuminate the faces of Marcus, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall, Ted Dwane, and the 25,000+ in attendance. Although frustration could be sensed within the photo pit, under normal circumstances photographers usually only get the first three songs of performances to get their shots so the loss of one song was what I call a pain in the ass, I was nothing but impressed with the showmanship and grasp Mumford held on crowd; it was hard to not be hypnotized.
Thunderous stomping and dancing came with a blazing delivery of “Little Lion Man” and a raw emotional “Whispers in the Dark” filled with torment of uncertain loss followed. From a “I Will Wait” full of fervor to the comforting spiritual of “Timeshel,” Mumford produced a divine awakening within all who were in attendance. Mumford’s performance can only be defined as a revival of the soul.
The set finished out with more fan favorites, but they seemed to save the best for last. Gathered around one microphone and stating that it “Needs to be fucking quiet,” Mumford started the encore with a sweet and delicate acoustic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire,” followed by an a cappella round, almost too quiet for those in the very back of the field to hear, of “Sister.” After a serious start to the encore, The Vaccines and members of the band Bear’s Den joined Mumford on stage for an uplifting and sing-a-long promoting Beatle’s “Come Together.” For those seeing Mumford for the first time on their 2013 tour, this encore excited and entertained, but for anyone who was able to catch one of their shows, either in Atlanta, Georgia, or Simpsonville, South Carolina, earlier that same week, the encore was beginning to sound familiar and repetitive. The final songs of the evening were, of course, “Babel” and “The Cave.” Up until the encore I was absolutely enthralled in the music, but soon became disappointed in the standard and predictable set it had become.
This is what music that appeals to the masses has become; a regurgitation of songs that sound nearly identical to that being played on our radios, Pandoras, and studio recorded albums. Even down to the order of songs in the encore, practically everything about this show was the same as their performance in Atlanta only four days prior. Maybe this is just my jaded perception from going to countless shows over the years and becoming spoiled from performances that have hardly ever repeated songs in a similar fashion, let alone the same encores in exact song order as previous shows. Don’t get me wrong, Mumford & Sons is and always will be in my top artists I listen to. It is my recognition of them as outstanding artists and masters of their craft that allows me to know they are more than capable of producing cookie cutter sets.
Exhaustion and a need to escape the inebriated crowds started to set in as Mumford left the stage for one last time. As the mass exodus began, Australia’s Yacht Club DJ’s provided a 30 minute set of energetic mashups that seemed to give the extra oomph needed to walk the mile back to the hotel. With the curtain closed on the 2013 GOTR Stopovers, The St. Augustine Stopover proved to be one grand finale. From the beautiful host city to the extraordinary music and once in a lifetime collaborations, this momentous weekend will provide a lifetime of memories for all those who were in attendance.
Rarely is it the intent of music festivals to engage and immerse entire communities with event festivities beyond the promotion of the host city as the location for the festival, the invitation of local vendors within festival grounds, possible volunteer opportunities for locals, and promises of a local economy boost. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Wait a minute… all those listed points do in fact ‘engage’ communities when music festivals come to town.” Of course they do, to an extent. (Bear with me now) From city fests to out in the middle of nowhere in giant fields, music festivals I have seen foster community involvement only to the degree mentioned above. It wasn’t until my arrival in St. Augustine that I finally understood what it truly means for full entire communities to embrace and welcome a music festival to their home.
Welcome signs, Mumford & Sons and Gentlemen of the Road (GOTR) flags, and mustaches seemed to greet visitors everywhere. From the smallest shops in town to the the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse, warm “gentlemen” welcomes were abundant and every local seemed to be embracing the GOTR spirit. St. Augustine was the final Stopover city for the traveling festival this summer; other cities included Lewes, East Sussex (UK), Simcoe, Ontario (CAN), Troy, Ohio (US), and Guthrie, OK (US). Mumford & Sons began hosting global GOTR Stopovers in 2012 and the essence of this project over the past two summers has remained the same: to produce “a music festival that celebrates local people, food and culture, where everyone pitches in and everybody gets something back.”
The official planning process for the St. Augustine Stopover with city officials began eight months prior. For a city that depends greatly on summer tourism, GOTR was a huge deal for locals and the the festival dates were set for Sept. 13-14, during a time when the local tourism economy is slow. Throughout the weekend the only concerns from locals seemed to be over traffic and price gouging. With downtown parking extremely limited all weekend a partnership between the city and GOTR provided a shuttle service from general parking areas outside of town. The only price gouging, and the highest gouging for an event I have personally ever seen, came in the form of $50 event parking spots throughout the town. The markup seemed to quickly drop to half price as the weekend went on, as there was lack of visitors in need of such parking spots; the city had done such an exceptional job in deterring anyone from driving downtown that most festival goers were using the shuttle, walking, or riding bicycles.
The main festival area was located at Francis Field, but there were also smaller stages planted around the downtown area supplying free music and encouraging visitors to explore St. Augustine beyond the confines of the festival grounds. The Festival kicked off at 6PM on Friday and had a lineup that included Willy Mason, Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, The Walkmen, and Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.
Willy Mason and Thao & the Get Down Stay Down were both good sets to ease into a weekend of music. Mason’s set was acoustic, as well as nearly the first half of alternative folk rockers T&TGDSD’s set. Thao Nguyen and her band had a performance
style was able to capture new listeners off guard and beg them to question themselves with “why haven’t I heard of them before?” There was a familiarity and comfort in Thao’s voice, almost as if watching a friend perform, and watching her switch between banjo, guitar, and mandolin maintained audience intrigue. Cheery, light, and happy is how T&TGDSD left that Friday evening crowd.
Throughout the weekend emcee “Big Mike,” unbeknownst to many in the crowd that “Big Mike” was in fact the talented guitarist Mike Harris of Nashville’s The Apache Relay, had the responsibility of introducing all bands and hyping up the crowd. Between sets Friday night he publicly announced the cancelation of highly anticipated headliner fun., but provided the hint that an artist with a connection to the phrase, “Have you ever seen the rain,” would be the replacement. “Holy Shit! John Fogerty!” remarked one festival attendee. Although Fogerty was the obvious choice, rumors of Old Crow Medicine Show and Kings of Leon were rampant throughout the crowd.
By the time New York’s The Walkmen took the stage, festival attendance and anticipation seemed to have grown immensely. In a crisp white button down, almost too refined for an indie rock band, frontman Hamilton Leithauser took to the stage and positioned himself with microphone in hand under the blue lights. As soon as his mouth opened and The Walkmen began to play, it could be heard that Leithauser and his bandmates are masters of their craft. Genuine raw emotion full of beauty, agony, and power seemed to emanate from Leithauser’s vocals. In backing the captivating frontman, The Walkmen exuded an overall sound of vintage rock with a hint of polished garage band. Through the entire set, soothing singing morphed into fiery powerful vocals and it seemed that at times Leithauser held back as to not overpower the performance, but there was a sense that given the opportunity he was extremely capable of taking his vocal performance to a soaring new level.
The last set of the evening was held by Friday’s headliner Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. Stage preparation took place as frontman Alex Ebert, clad in a red coat over a dingy white and paint splotched t-shirt, unexpectedly took the stage and introduced a video the band had just recently shot during a stint in New York City and had just been finished being edited that morning. The videography of the video for “Life Is Hard” was eloquent and alluring and gave a look into the soul of the band. Alex remained on stage for the entire video, crouched in the corner, and his eyes shifted back and forth from the video to the crowd as he took in any and all receptiveness of his latest creation. Although he maintained a quiet presence in the shadows, and with my position right next to him from inside the pit, it was evident that internally Alex was basking in a personal and momentous moment.
Soon after the video’s conclusion, Alex emerged once again this time with the rest of the band. Screams hailed from the crowd for vocalist Jade Castrinos as she made her way to her microphone. She was dressed in a white floor length vintage gown reminiscent of the Summer of Love in the Haight. With a smile and a soft appreciative wave she acknowledged the shouts of adoration. “Man On Fire” was the first song of a set that only the love child of the Mamas and the Papas and Jefferson Airplane would perform.
Alex and Jade have a charismatic stage presence and unmatched harmonious chemistry that can only be fully understood by attending one of their shows. The duo sang and danced their way through a set that was partially chosen by members of the audience from the front few rows. Against a psychedelic backdrop, Jade transitioned between singing and playfully dancing with Alex, where as Alex’s dancing and flailing was interrupted by jumping off the stage and diving into the sea of worshipers. The audiences was enthralled.
Probably the most recognizable Edward Sharpe songs, “Home,” was the second to last song performed. Within the song, Alex provided commentary on how we would not see us for a while and that they wouldn’t be there to hang out with us tomorrow. This bitter-sweet song choice was appropriate as their GOTR journey and Day One of the St. Augustine Stopover came to end.