Looking Forward to Jamband Heaven at Lockn Festival
There are music festival lineups that are impressive and inspire a long distance drive to attend the weekend’s festivities, and then there is Lockn’ Festival. The fourth annual music festival held amid the Blue Ridge Mountains in Arrington, VA provides a scenic backdrop for one of the best musical lineups, now in its fourth year. The 2016 edition is no exception, providing fans with rare reunions, coveted jambands both familiar and new, plus speculation towards the potential collaboration that is at the heart of Lockn’.
Thursday arrivals to Lockn’ will be treated to the heavy 70’s soul funk of Vulfpeck, Umphrey’s McGee’s continuing dominance as prog-rockers extraordinaire, and Ween’s first festival set of the summer, a reunion that was due in part to Phish’s Trey Anastasio, who will be on hand with Phish on Friday and Sunday nights.
Friday features a nonstop amount of funk, getting going with Moogatu and Turkuaz, with even more Vulfpeck to follow. Indie rockers White Denim take the stage after, followed by Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires – if you haven’t seen Charles Bradley, you are in for an impressive treat. The former James Brown impersonator has an act that is fully his own and rises to the task of conveying pure emotion through soulful blues. Peter Wolf of The J. Geils Band gives some classic 80s rock to the fans before the 1-2 punch of Ween and Phish close out the night, possibly the night when fans get the much discussed potential sit-in between the members of the headlining acts. “Spirit of 76” anyone?
Saturday starts off with DJ Williams Projekt out of Richmond features Williams, guitarist for Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, stepping out into a galaxy of his own at Lockn’. Nashville alt-rockers Moon Taxi follow before Twiddle gets the jamming going for the day. Coming off their Tumbledown weekend in Burlington which featured both Page McConnell and Holly Bowling joining the band onstage, Phish fans in attendance will be able to see first hand what the latest foursome from Vermont has to offer. Galactic with Lee Oskar brings a taste of New Orleans blues, soul, funk and rock to the crowd, followed by Hard Working Americans, a true supergroup featuring Dave Schools of Widespread Panic and the songwriting of frontman Todd Snider is a treat for those who loved their debut release, The First Waltz.
As if to round out the extensive geography behind the artists on Saturday, Brandi Carlile out of the Pacific NW brings a rock n roll songwriter to the stage, just as the sun sets over the Blue Ridge Mountains, belting out tracks from The Firewatcher’s Daughter. Phil Lesh & Friends’ set features Jon Fishman, Page McConnell, Joe Russo and The Infamous Stringdusters, possibly playing some earlier, more country-influenced Grateful Dead tunes with Phish-influence for the first time in many years. Tedeschi Trucks Band have been performing impressive shows all summer, including dusting off covers from last year’s Joe Cocker tribute at Lockn, to deep cuts from Traffic and John Prine. To close out Saturday, My Morning Jacket brings psychedelic rock with a hint of country, with songs off their upcoming album expected to be added into the always powerful live performance.
Sunday, the final day of the festival will drain whatever energy you have left, starting out with The Dharma Initiative out of Hampton Roads, VA and Doobie Decibel System with David Crosby (Phil & Friends, Assembly of Dust) and Roger McNamee (Moonalice) featuring originals and covers from The Beatles, Pink Floyd and the Grateful Dead, among others. Twiddle performs their second set of the weekend, followed by The Wailers, a healthy amount of reggae-infusion to start the day. Chris Robinson Brotherhood combines Chris Robinson’s soulful vocals with Neal Casal’s guitar for nasty psych-rock. Afterwards, in true Lockn’ form, Robinson and possibly Casal will join Phil Lesh and Gary Clark Jr. and more for Phil & Friends stand alone set. Gary Clark Jr. then will show fans why he is the preeminent blues guitarist of the 21st century and Phish will close the festival out with two huge sets.
Latenights include Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Lettuce at the Blue Ridge Bowl, while in the Woods you can find EOTO, Circles Around the Sun and Khruangbin. Wake up each morning with Donna the Buffalo and Keller Williams performing sets at the Blue Ridge Bowl, and kick around Garcia’s Forest all four nights for plenty of Jerry goodness until the morning comes.
If you are camping or riding in style in an RV, the important thing to note is that the music on the stages is seamless, and finding time to get back to your site for downtime is a tough call, with nonstop music and few breaks to venture out into the campgrounds. Plan your day wisely, as there is much to see and do inside the Oak Ridge Bowl.