Our big event of the year is now done and over. Dad and I flew from LAX to D.C. then drove to Nelson County, Virginia to attend all 4 days of the Lockn’ Musical Festival. We’re big music people, and even more, we’re Deadheads. So Dad and I make it a point to regularly attend the various shows that the remaining members of the Grateful Dead play in, or the off-shoot bands, cover bands and similar style jam bands.
Lockn’ has a growing reputation, being the festival’s 4th year in existence. Not actually knowing who we were going to see, we bought tickets early this year before the full line-up was out. I got really lucky that Phil Lesh, my hero, showed up for 2 nights. That was the real clincher for my excitement. As well, there were a multitude of other musicians that I was excited to see: Umphrey’s McGee, Phish and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead being some of them.
Overall, I feel the festival and my experience there was a wonderful success and I am solid in my plans on going back this next year. Without taking on the title of a ‘transformation festival’, it took on that aspect for me and I’m sure for others who used the time to our personal and spiritual benefit. And it was a shit load of fun to boogie down and let loose for a full weekend with no consequences 😉
Getting in and setting up camp Thursday morning was easier than I would’ve imagined for the amount of people who gathered early. We showed up at 10am and were done by noon and able to explore. The heat and humidity was already at a brutal point but the adrenaline and excitement of actually making it there kept us going for a bit. We did try to nap at the camp, but the weather made it nearly impossible. We didn’t get to bring nearly anything we actually needed for a proper camp set up because we flew in so it became obvious quickly that we would need to figure out a different set up quick.
First Day at Sunset
As the sun went down, things became bearable again and we made it to the Umphrey’s McGee show. They were fucking amazing! The term “face melting” comes to mind when trying to describe them. Think jam band with a heavy metal influence and a splash of EDM. I’m a big fan and want to see more of them!
Umphrey’s rocking out!
Later on in the night, while the last main stage band performed (Ween), we went to the smaller stage “Blue Ridge Bowl” and watched Joe Russo and his band set up for their show afterwards. It was pretty neat to see everything get set up and everyone joking around while getting ready.
Joe getting ready
The bassist for Ween is also the bassist for JRad so they didn’t start until 1am. I made it for a good 3/4ths of the show before I got ridiculously tired and couldn’t dance anymore. Finally, at 4am they ended with an awesome full Terrapin Station and Dad and I went back to camp and passed out in the car. We didn’t expect the major precipitation that occurred so the tent was basically useless.
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
Our favorite place in the whole festival was Garcia’s Forest. We think that was a genius set up and took full advantage of it. Almost all day they would play old Jerry Garcia Band and Grateful Dead songs, and you could set up hammocks or a temporary tent under the trees and cool off in the shade. Dad and I brought our yoga mats and would stay there in the heat of the day, napping under the trees. When we had to go back to the camp to get something, I’d make him turn on the car and blast the AC for a major cool down, but only for a few minutes.
The perfect place to rest ❤
Friday night was the first night of Phish, the main headliners for the festival. It had been ten years since Dad had seen them last and I had never had the honor so this was a big one for us. I really only know a few songs well and one of my favorite’s is “Wolfman’s Brother”. Lucky me, they played that as one of the first songs in the first set. They put on a great show! And as they left for the set break, they did a wonderful rendition of David Bowie’s “Major Tom” in a Capella. I was hoping for some sort of Bowie tribute and this was a really unexpected and pleasant way to do it, I think.
An impressive Trey Anastasio
We left Phish a bit early to head over to “The Woods”, (the Featured Image for this post) another stage at the back of the festival for the performance by Circles Around the Sun. When we went to the Dead’s 50th Anniversary shows in Santa Clara last year, before the shows started and during the set breaks, there was a specific sound track played of instrumental, calm jams with Grateful Dead rifts mixed in. This was the band who made that music so we got to hear some of what was played for us during those shows.
Pretty lady hooping to Circles Around the Sun
We left the show in the woods a little early so that we could make the full show of Joe Russo for the second night. Once again, they started at 1 and didn’t end until 4. But this time, I was way more prepared and was with it for the whole show. I danced like a crazy person the whole time and loved every second of it. Those guys put on a great concert! ‘
Someone live painting to Joe Russo’s Almost Dead
On Saturday, we had finally gotten the hang of the weather and how to conserve energy so we were able to make it to a few of the day shows at the main stage. We saw Galactic first and loved their show. Grace, the singer, has a phenomenal voice. Her way of vocalizing reminded me of the blue alien opera singer in the movie “The Fifth Element”. I bet she could recreate that song almost perfectly! Lee Oskar, from War, came out for a few songs as well to play the harmonica.
Grace from Galactic
Next on stage was Hard Working Americans. The bassist is also in Widespread Panic, one of my all time favorite bands, so I was excited to see them. Unfortunately, I fell asleep for a good part of their show and I don’t even know how! It was loud, hot and crowded and I still laid down in the middle of it all and took a 45 minute nap. But from what I saw, they had a really great show.
Hard Working Americans
Next up was Phil!!! Saturday night he played with the Infamous Stringdusters and they put on a great collaboration. Jerry would’ve been proud to hear a banjo being played in Shakedown Street. Even though it was a short set and part of the speakers weren’t fully on (to my extreme disappointment), it was awesome. They did a very different and awkward style of Terrapin Station and a funky Mr. Charlie.
I came all the way to Virginia and got to see Phil – AGAIN!
Phil Lesh and Friends ft. The Infamous Stringdusters
After Phil was Tedeschi Trucks Band and then My Morning Jacket, but I got a little too fucked up into Phil’s set and we went back to the car where I lost my mind but could still hear everything. Both bands sounded fantastic and I wish I could’ve stayed in the main stage but I’ll see Tedeschi Trucks again for sure and they turned up the volume for My Morning Jacket so it felt like I was right there. MMJ did a great cover of Prince’s “Purple Rain” which made the crowd go wild! Lettuce played at the Blue Ridge Bowl following MMJ and even thought I felt better, I didn’t want to tire myself out too much we called it an early night in total.
A regular favorite occurrence at Dead related concerts is Participation Row – the Lockn’ Row had local schools, wildlife organizations, the Lynchburg Humane Society and assorted food, gardening and ecology non-profits too.
Of course I had to go say Hi to the Lynchburg Humane Society booth!
Sunday’s line up for us consisted of The Wailers, Chris Robinson Brotherhood and my man Phil Lesh ft. Chris Robinson Brotherhood and a sit in with Gary Clark Jr. The Wailers had one of the Marley brother’s perform with them and put on a hell of a show! Buffalo Soldier has been stuck in my head since seeing them.
The Wailers but no Marley yet
While I’m not the biggest fan of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, they put on a good show by themselves and did a good job with Phil as well. They’ve played with Phil before so it was a smooth show and longer than the night before. We had a great spot in the field with some nice people next to us and we boogied the entire time Phil jammed out. I was sporting my CODY wristband and though he didn’t do his Donor Rap, I still represented. *If anything ever happens to me, I want to be an organ donor!*
Phil and Gary Clark Jr.
Phil Lesh and Friends ft. Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Gary Clark Jr. and the final show from Phish finished of the night and the festival as a whole, but because of our travel plans back home to California, we felt it was best to leave early. We walked out in the middle of Gary Clark’s set and tried to wait for Phish to play their first song of the set but got antsy and left. We’ll make it a point to see them again after being so impressed with their show on Friday night but it was a shame to miss out on them as they closed out everything. Next year, we’ll plan ahead better.
Last sunset on the Lockn’ hillside
As we left, I saw fireflies for my very first time ever and was so happy! It was like they were giving us a special goodbye. I had an amazing time at Lockn’ and can’t wait to go back. They created a new life time family member out of me, for sure. I want to bring people with me next year and have my friends share the experience with me! It stirred something up inside, the desire to travel and see more, do more, something I’ll go into more detail with in my next blog post about the whole experience of traveling itself. So I’ll end this post by saying THANK YOU LOCKN’, you were a blast!