Recap by Max Stewart
Photos by George Trent Grogan
Nothing beats music on the farm at LOCKN’. The collaboration and community is a vital part of this festival, and Day 2 certainly had its fair share of musical cross-pollination, with the Grateful Dead being the consistent arc of the day.
Soulful guitar sensation Marcus King kicked off the day around noon while wearing a tee shirt that seems to be the theme of the weekend in the wake of the tragedy in Charlottesville: Virginia is For Lovers. This festival is further proof of how much acceptance and positivity is in this world. King’s raspy, wide-ranging voice and mastery of the guitar, at the ripe age of 21 no less, makes me think this won’t be his last time at this festival…
Tauk eased in the day with some complex but accessible Rock Fusion tunes during a mild but pleasant afternoon. The music got going with a bang when Atlanta GA’s Blackberry Smoke took the stage. The take-no-prisoners Southern Rock band opened with “Fire in the Hole,” and kept the deep-fried vibe rolling on with “Waiting on the Thunder.” This band has a repertoire of superb songs, but certainly has the chops to extend instrumental sections of their live shows. “Sleeping Dogs” featured a bunch of teases showcasing Singer / Guitarist Charlie Starr’s lead guitar acumen: Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” and The Beatles’ “Come Together” were especially well-received. The set ended with a tribute to the late Gregg Allman, who played on the tune “Free on the Wing” on their last record, Like an Arrow. An uplifting end to the set included a slide “Amazing Grace” intro and a tease of Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds.” Blackberry Smoke should most definitely be regulars at LOCKN’, having surely won over some new fans today.
Jim James slowed the pace down considerably with some really heartfelt acoustic songs, featuring solo material, My Morning Jacket songs, and a fair share of covers (opener of Frank Sinatra’s “Young at Heart” sounded just right in a solo setting). Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me” was especially powerful, with many friends and members of the LOCKN’ family embracing with smiles on the lawn. Brandi Carlile sat in for My Morning Jacket’s “Wonderful” before Joe Russo joined in as well for a rendition of John Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance.” The crowd continued singing “All we are sayyying… is give peace a chance…” as the musicians exited the stage for a truly beautiful moment of the day. Brandi Carlile missed last year’s festival due to illness, but she gave it her all this year to make up for missed time, dedicating “The Story” to the unruly events at Charlottesville. Her on-stage charisma and warm charm, in addition to her amazing voice, make the Seattle musician a perfect addition to the festival.
“This is possibly the greatest vibe in the world out there,” Carlisle mentioned. She’s obviously another one to catch the LOCKN’ love bug.
Phil Lesh began his set with Terrapin Family Band with a bang and rousing renditions of “Bertha,” “China Cat Sunflower,” and “I Know You Rider.” Keeping it in the family with his son Grahame Lesh on Guitar / Vocals, this cohesive musical unit represented quite possibly the best Phil Lesh set performed at LOCKN’. This is no doubt a testament to the musical chemistry of the Terrapin Family Band.
Warren Haynes kept the LOCKN’ theme of collaboration a pattern of the evening when he provided strong lead guitar licks on “St. Stephen” and “New Minglewood Blues.” The vibe was at an all-time high during “Franklin’s Tower,” just as the sun set over the picturesque Virginia horizon. Bob Weir joined Lesh for a vast and multi-layered “Jack Straw” and a stirring “Uncle John’s Band.” Gotta love the impromptu musical sit-ins at this festival, anything is possible at any given show at LOCKN’…
Gov’t Mule brought their distorted groove to the main stage playing a mixed bag of material that included “Hammer and Nails” and “Soulshine.” Just as Blackberry Smoke did earlier in the day, Haynes and co. honored the Allman Brothers Band with a tease of “Mountain Jam.”
“You know how things happen at LOCKN’ that never happened before? One of those things is happening.” Haynes said, fabefore Heart’s Ann Wilson joined the band for riveting covers of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and “Black Dog,” Janis Joplin’s “Cry Baby,” and a classic close to Wilson’s heart, “Magic Man.” Wilson’s versatile voice had no trouble adapting to the ranges of classic rock royalty.
The main stage highlight of the night was when Nicki Bluhm joined forces with Phil Lesh’s Terrapin Family Band and Bob Weir for a full album cover of 1977’s timeless release, Terrapin Station. Bluhm’s angelic voice could not been a better fit during “Dancing in the Streets,” “Passenger” and “Sunrise.” This collaboration will certainly be included in the Hall of Fame of LOCKN’.
During the late night set, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead kept the music going and brought along some more friends. Jim James sat in for a “Brown-Eyed Woman” and a cover of Jane’s Addictions’s “Been Caught Stealing.” The unique twist on the band’s otherwise mostly Dead covers, with an all-star guest nonetheless, was well-received and will go down as another instant LOCKN’ classic. “Brokedown Palace” featured Jim James and Nicole Atkins and was one hell of a nightcap.
Man, what can we expect from Day 3? Live Music Daily will continue to bring you all the highlights, but be sure to check out the free stream on Relix.com and to donate to the Heal Charlottesville Fund by texting “LOCKN” to 444999.
Rock on and keep the LOCKN’ love alive for the final two days!