Everything’s Right: Lockn’ and Other Assorted Love Songs

By Stu Kelly / August 29, 2019

The 2019 Lockn’ Music and Arts Festival was chalked full of what fans have come to expect from this festival over the years: unique collaborations, a lineup bolstering diversity in the jam band community and plenty of surprises that occurred over the four days of the event.

However, this year didn’t get off to a smooth start. In fact, Thursday of this year faced more adversity than any Lockn’ in years past and it was mostly due to the inclement weather. Some attendees took advantage of the early arrival option and setup camp on Wednesday night where most of the general population began to funnel in on Thursday and proceeded to setup camp in a timely manner. Nobody was fully prepared for the storms that were yet to unfold. In the late afternoon a series of storms rolled through the campsites like a bowling ball in a china shop, completely destroying people’s tents, pop-ups and more. Needless to say, a plethora of music was canceled due to the inclement weather and the main stage area had to be evacuated several times. The Audacity Brass Band, Midnight North and Andy Frasco & The U.N. never got to play.

After the storms passed, Khruangbin graced the crowd of fans and brought the energy back up to a place that attendees were yearning for it to go. The trio, hailing out of Texas, was absolutely incredible on the main stage. Khruangbin wasted no time and took advantage of their time slot. The band opened up with a strong three-song punch of “Maria Tambien” > “Dern Kala” and “August 10” before unleashing the first major surprise of the weekend when they welcomed guitar virtuoso Trey Anastasio to sit in. Anastasio has a budding friendship with the trio as they recently opened up for one of his Ghosts of the Forest shows earlier this year. Big Red stayed on stage for the remainder of their set and showcased his work on notable tracks like “Lady and Man,” “The Infamous Bill,” “Evan Finds the Third Room,” “People Everywhere (Still Alive)” and “Bin Bin.”

Gary Clark, Jr came up next and when he finally took the stage he also took the crowd by storm. One of the rare luxuries of Lockn’ is the rotating stage that creates quick transitions between sets. For whatever reason, Clark and his band took a while to actually take the stage long after it rotated. The band more than made up for it when they opened with their first major breakthrough single “Bright Lights.” Clark ripped through his set and concluded it with a beautiful cover of The Beatles’ “Come Together.”

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead headlined the main stage on Thursday night and they easily had the largest attendance over the course of the evening. Spanning over two sets, JRAD kept their feet on the gas and let it all hang out. Staying topical to the weather during the day, the band opened up with Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” Another highlight from the first set came when the band opted for an instrumental cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song,” which was also a live debut. The second set featured many highlights, including another nod to the weather with “The Wheel,” “Eyes of the World,” “Morning Dew” and closing out with a Hoyt Axton cover of “Never Been to Spain.” Over at Garcia’s Forest the first late night set of the weekend belonged to Circles Around the Sun. The energy was perfect and it’s hard to write about this set as this was Neal Casal’s second to last live performance before he unexpectedly passed away after the festival ended. A loss felt rippling through the entire jam band community.

On Friday morning the music got started early over at Garcia’s Forest with Fruition. A large crowd of eager fans welcomed the genre-bending ensemble as they kicked things off around 11:30 a.m. The band played an incredible set and their highlight was an emotional heartfelt version of “Santa Fe.” Over on the main stage the crowd started to fully gather for Melvin Seals and JGB featuring John Kadlecik. The band kept it to Mostly Jerry Garcia songs with the exception of The Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World” and a cover of Chuck Berry’s “The Promised Land.”

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong really stood out on Friday. The Baltimore natives are known for their high-energy performances and sharp guitar solos. This set featured a bevy of special guests including Vulfpeck guitarist Cory Wong and The Revivalists’ horn section featuring Rob Ingraham on saxophone and Michael Girardot on trumpet. After a stellar 15-minute version of “Lightning,” where Wong showcased his skills as both a rhythm and lead guitar player, the band opted for a funky sandwich of “F.U. -> “1999” – > F.U.” featuring the Revivalists’ horn section. The Prince cover was met with a roar from the crowd and ignited a full sing-a-long dance party. Old Crow Medicine Show paid tribute to the Grateful Dead with takes on “Mexicali Blues” as well as “Cumberland Blues.” It wouldn’t be a festivals set if they didn’t play their biggest song to date, “Wagon Wheel,” which was very much welcomed.

New Orleans natives The Revivalists took the energy up a few notched and never let go of the audience’s new found momentum. David Shaw is a natural front man who knows how to use every corner of the stage and really work a crowd. The band mostly stuck to their hits from their most recent studio release Take Good Care, which included “When I’m With You,” “Oh No,” “All My Friends,” “Change,” “You and I” and “Got Love” which featured Jennifer Hartswick on trumpet. Other highlights included “Eminence Front” by The Who and “Wish I Knew You” to close out the set, which also featured a “Shakedown Street” tease.

The headlining sets on Friday night was incredibly special. The Trey Anasasio Band was tapped to bring things home and the second set featured Derek Trucks. This was one of the best shows of the entire weekend as Trey and company were ready to go and in top form. The first set featured classic TAB staples like “Cayman Review,” “Alive Again,” “Night Speaks to a Woman” and “Simple Twist Up Dave.” Before Trey closed the first set out with “Tuesday” he was joking that he’s making the decision in the moment to make this the shortest first set in the band’s history, because he was so excited to bring out Derek. The front man couldn’t stop smiling going on to say he wanted as much time as possible with Trucks on stage.

The second set blew the first one away and Trucks added his full spectrum of range into the music. At times he would rip through his solos with raw power and other times he would subtly chime in with a gentle “humming” like sound coming from his guitar. Trucks is a master of tone and if two guitars soloing together are having a musical “conversation,” than Trucks knows exactly what to say and when to say it. The majority of the second set featured staples from the Phish catalog. Right out the gates the band played “Set Your Soul Free” > “Everything’s Right” > “Camel Walk” > “Ghost” and “Blaze On,” which felt like one nice surprise that kept continuing to unfold.

It wasn’t long before Susan Tedeschi joined her husband and Trey Anastasio for an absolutely beautiful two-song punch of “A Life Beyond The Dream” > “Rise/Come Together.” Trey was all smiles as he looked to his right and saw the husband/wife powerhouse contributing to his music. We didn’t know it at the time but this was foreshadowing for just how incredible Saturday’s headlining second set was going to be. In the encore slot, Anastasio and Trucks emerged alone armed with nothing but their acoustic guitar in toe. Together the duo sat together at the skirt of the stage and played “Brief Time” > “More” before the rest of the band joined them (sans Susan) for “46 Days” > “First Tube.” As the festivities on the main stage came to a close, hoards of people immediately went to Garcia’s Forest to catch Galactic serve up some of their signature funk.

The Lil Smokies kicked things off early at Garcia’s Forest with their signature high-energy bluegrass. The crowd was fully invested in what the band has to offer and they took advantage of their time at Lockn’.

The band also confirmed that after the left the festival, they were immediately going to go in the studio and start recording their upcoming record. Everyone on stage seemed to be in good spirits and they were genuinely excited to share this news with the audience.

Saturday afternoon was absolutely gorgeous all around. The worst of the weather was behind us and the adversity campers felt through the inclement weather bonded people together. Cory Henry and the Funk Apostles, Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Twiddle with John Popper drew large crowds of people despite the heat index. 

The Oteil & Friends set featured a plethora of star studded talent including, Bob Weir, Duane Betts, Melvin Seals, Eric Krasno, Neal Casal, Jay Lane, Jen Hartswich, Natalie Cressman, Alfreda GeraldLamar Williams, jr. and of course Oteil Burbridge. It was also Oteil’s birthday and Bobby helped lead a happy birthday sing-a-long with the crowd in honor of the occasion. The super group did a great job mixing in Jerry Garcia numbers with classic tunes from the Grateful Dead and a cover of “Piece Of My Heart.” It was especially nice to se Oteil sing “Dreams” by the Allman Brothers Band as well. 

Vulfpeck were the last band to play the main stage on Saturday before the headliner and they came out flying with energy. The rapidly ascending band proved why they deserved such a late time slot. Highlights from their set included the “Dean Town” opener, “1612” with Antwaun Stanley, “Funky Duck” and “Christmas in L.A.” 

The Tedeschi Trucks Band closed out the main stage on Saturday and they brought man surprises along with their traditional soul blended rock and roll. The first set was just members off TTB and featured beautiful renditions of songs like “Do I Look Worried,” “Midnight In Harlem,” the Derek Trucks Band cover of “Get What You Deserve” lead by Mike Mattison and a cover of Bobby “Blue” Band’s “I Pitty the Fool.” 

Trey Anastasio joined TTB for the entirety of their second set, a guest who was previously billed to join the band, but the first surprise came when guitarist Doyle Bramhall II, who played with Eric Clapton, also joined the stage. Together the ensemble surprised their fans by performing a nearly complete rendition of Derek And The Dominos’ classic album Layla And Other Assorted Love Songs. This was a fitting tribute especially since Duane Trucks is featured on the original recording, the album was originally released on Susan Tedeschi’s birthday and the title of the album played a role in Derek’s parents choosing his first name. 

During the set, Derek even played his 1957 Gibson Goldtop guitar that is one serial number away from the ’57 Goldtop played by Duane Allman. Derek originally purchased the guitar in early 2016 and it has rarely been seen on stage. This was easily the best set of the weekend and a testament to the magic that can happen at Lockn’. Over at Garcia’s Soulive closed things out with the Infinity Horns and played well into the early hours of the morning. 

Sunday morning kicked off with the longest lasting tradition at Lockn’ Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel. The early morning Sunday set has been dubbed “Sunday service” by veterans of the festival as it feels like a religious experience. While Keller is always dressed up and bringing the energy early on Sunday morning, it would be nice to see him switch up the setlist. He usually sticks with “Eyes Of The World,” “Samson and Delilah,” “Midnight Moonlight” and “St. Stephen” year over year. Regardless, it’s always a fun time and Keller brings the energy at a time when people need it most. 

Nahko and Medicine For The People took the crowd by storm and played an incredible career spanning set. Highlights from their set included the opener “Aloha Ke Akua,” “Take The Power Back,” “Build A Bridge” and “Love Letters To God.” The artist/activist wasted no time dressing the global tragedy of the Brazilian rainforest burning at exponential rates and urged everyone to come together and take care of one another. 

Steel Pulse featuring the Soul Rebels, St. Paul & The Broken Bones and moe. all served up plenty of good music as well before the sun began to set for Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit. The largest crowd of the day was in place for Isbell and his Lockn’ debut. The singer-songwriter has a natural talent of storytelling and it was clear his messages resonated with the audience. 

Bob Weir & The Wolf Bros. closed out the festival with Susan Tedeschi and Mikala Davis joining them intermittently during the band’s second set. The trio graced the stage and delivered a nice set of Grateful Dead tunes including “Jack Straw,” “Cassidy,” “Friend Of The Devil,” “Loser” and “Throwing Stones.” Whenever Bobby is even remotely close to Washington, D.C. it seems like he plays the politically charged number “Throwing Stones.” 

Susan emerged during the second set with Bob Weir and company for a cover of “Me And Bobby McGee” which found way into Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright.” The highlight of this set came when the band opted for “Angel From Montgomery” -> “Sugaree” -> “Angel From Montgomery.” The two songs were mashed up and featured Susan and Bobby switching the lyrics over the music as they improvised a series of vocal jams. The two songs together are a staple for Susan and TTB during their live shows so it was nice to see her play them with Bobby. 

Susan stuck around for “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” and “Turn On Your Lovelight” before Mikaela Davis replaced her and joined the stage on her harp. It was absolutely beautiful to hear Davis contribute to such sacred Grateful Dead songs using such a unique stringed instrument. Davis contributed on songs like “Days Between,” “Bird Song,” “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider.” The encore slot featured “Not Fade Away” and “Ripple” to close out the 2019 installment of Lockn’.

The Lockn’ festival proved once again why it’s the most important festival for the jam band community. This year wasn’t perfect fro the organizers as the weather was the most difficult it’s ever been, attendance was significantly lower than year’s past and there were several complaints of tightened security and undercover police officers roaming the main stage area as well as the campgrounds. However, all things aside, this was one of my personal favorite years to attend Lockn’. Everything’s right, just hold tight. 

About the author

Stu Kelly