News Column

Lockn' out: Inaugural festival comes to an end

September 9, 2013


Sept. 09--Over the course of the next several days, what once was a virtual pop-up city filled with thousands of revelers, hundreds of tents, rows of luxury tour buses, tiers of rotating lights and so much more will vanish into the night as if it never existed.

There were films and videos, sing-alongs and dance-alongs, a campground world with solar-powered, solo-electric guitar jams, food trucks, guided mountain bike rides and a nearly 700-acre principality of general all-over-the-place-ness.

But before the last notes rang out at the inaugural Lockn' music festival in Nelson County on Sunday, fans and artists who'd taken over the grounds of the Oak Ridge Estate this past weekend had one more collective bellow to emit.

"It's crazy," Purcellville, Va. resident Adria Cancelosi said. "I can't believe it's almost over. Great people. Great atmosphere. The music's been insane."

The lineup during the four-day event included the psychedelic musings of Furthur, fuzzed out rumblings from The London Souls, the storytelling style of reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, an appearance by powerhouse vocalist Grace Potter, and the list just keeps going.

Never mind the choices: put those acts together, and what's the message? Maybe it's about music that either has had a long life or expects to. Music that isn't instantly forgettable. Music that you would want to deposit in the correct recycling bin. The music certainly is where a festival like Lockn' tends to define it-self.

Charlottesville's Hackensaw Boys kicked Sunday's festivities off with their traditional yet distinct blend of folk and country. Formed in the late 1990s, they became something of a local institution before garnering a national and international audience.

"We were in Amsterdam yesterday, and now we're here today," singer/guitarist David Sickmen said a few songs into the band's set.

Sickmen and company were crowded together onstage around a few tall microphones, forming a tight, acoustic cluster of reeling fiddles, banjos, guitars, upright bass and mandolin.

Plowing through more than 20 tracks in roughly 90 minutes, the group demonstrated their flair for rowdy instrumentation and fluid harmonies on cuts like the stringy noodling of "Keep It Simple," the brazen punk attitude of "Dance Around" and the pitchy bursts of "Ruby Pearl."

"They're a lot of fun," said Chicago native UJ Lee, who flew to Atlanta before driving to the festival with his friend, Sanjay Satyal. "It was awesome."

Col. Bruce Hampton & Friends followed the Hackensaw Boys, mixing things up with their brand of jazz and southern jam music, which has continued to evolve during Hampton's 50-year career in the industry.

Allman Brothers and former Aquarium Rescue Unit bassist Oteil Burbridge appeared with the band, playing through such crowd favorites as "Basically Frightened" and "I'm So Glad."

Tedeschi Trucks Band -- the 11-piece rootsy blues collective Derek Trucks formed with his wife, Susan Tedeschi, in 2010 -- hit the stage next, performing several songs off the group's 2013 studio album, "Made Up Mind." Trucks, Tedeschi and Bob Weir, of Furthur, would later join the Black Crowes onstage toward the end of their late-afternoon set, capping off the bluesy rockers' two-hour performance with a thrilling rendition of the 1960s Grateful Dead staple, "Turn On Your Love Light."

"I really like a lot of the collaborations," Satyal said. "All the people getting together around the music, it's awesome."

As the sun started to set, earthy stalwarts on the jam band circuit, Widespread Panic, were wrapping up another two-hour-long run, brimming with the group's signature concoction of urgent guitar solos and slow-cookers.

Tracks like "Mr. Soul," "Stop Breakin' Down Blues" and "Saint EX" ignited the crowd of festival-goers, before Panic called it a day for the second straight day.

With just a couple of hours of music left, Furthur put the lights out on hours of notable performances since the festival went live on Thursday, playing through a collection of songs befitting the band' s status as the event's headliner for three nights.

Weir and bassist Phil Lesh carry on the work of the Dead, a group that became as much a cultural touch-stone as a musical force, in fine fashion.

"They've been rocking it," said Cancelosi's husband, Andrew. "Their setup is pretty cool, too. I love how they just all start jamming together."

While Furthur's last few guitar chords still were ringing out, vendor Kate Wellborn began the clean up process for her food tent, Outback Kate, a business she's been transporting to festivals all over the country since selling her free-standing restaurant in Boone, N.C.

"It's been a lot of work," Wellborn said. "We've also been to some bigger ones, like Bonnaroo. And when tomorrow hits, I'll be ready for a little break. But I was super excited to be part of the first year of this one."


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