As darkness fell upon Marvin’s Mountain on Thursday night, a thick, dense fog descended. The nighttime effects were similar to the dust bowl we steered through Thursday afternoon; visibility at camp had reduced to near-zero, this time due to mist. Friday morning I rose from inside my tent to a completely saturated camp. Lawn chairs, folding table, paper lanterns, cooler-insulating sleeping bag… all were soaked in condensation- an effect of camping in the clouds that I had not yet considered.
My home overlooked the bustling back half of the campgrounds. Port-a-potties and a main road ensured constant activity at the bottom of the hill. “Where’s Green Man?!” somebody shouted at the completely-enclosing orange jumpsuit that climbed the path parallel to our outpost. Across the valley that camp sat atop of, a small series of hills garnished the mountain; one time I caught a lone deer prance across them and away into hiding. All Good’s scenery simply can’t be beat.
Greensky Bluegrass commenced Friday activities at All Good in the campgrounds with a 10:15 a.m set on the Grass Roots Stage. Read the full review, as well as an interview with their mandolin and guitar players, here.
TEA LEAF GREEN
Introduced as “The best-dressed band in the jam band scene”, Tea Leaf Green kicked off their set with a harp intro that led into “Incandescent Devil” and set the crowd in motion. Band members wore a variety of outfits: guitarist Josh Clark fronted the band in a fake tuxedo t-shirt and a rainbow colored propeller beanie that let curly tufts of hair poke out the bottom; bassist Reed Mathis advertised Las Vegas radio station KUNV 91.5 “The Lyons Den” with his apparel; keyboard and vocalist Trevor Garrod wore a plain black top, auburn aviators, ankle-length khakis, and unlaced sneakers. Drummer Scott Rager’s getup, however, remained a mystery hidden behind the drum set.
Even though the band is currently touring on a new album, the set was full of classic Tea Leaf Green favorites, making for an exceptionally fun time. Midway through the set during “Georgie P”, the audience was struck with amazement and awe when Chicago-based jazz trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick joined the band on stage. Hartswick’s trumpet entered into a musical conversation with Clark’s guitar for an extended interlude that melted faces to the ground.
Tea Leaf Green closed with The Garden (Part III) just as rain began to fall on the patrons of All Good, first as a mist and later much heavier for a brief period. The precipitation continued sporadically, but persistently, over the next couple of hours.
THE REST OF FRIDAY
During an afternoon return trip to the campgrounds for lunch, I made a pit-stop at the Grassroots Stage to hear a song from the Cornmeal all-request set. Arriving at just the right time, I caught a unique bluegrass cover of “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger.
The band is out of focus and the camera operator keeps telling her friend to move his head, but the audio is fun and the rain is observable here.
Later, back at the main venue, all six members of Old Crow Medicine Show stood in a line across the front of the stage lost in a whirlwind of lightning-fast picking. In between songs, we overheard countrified banter and true, twangy Tennessee accents. Multiple strings from the bow of fiddle player Ketch Secor had broken in the fury of his performance; they dangled loosely like a wilted flower as he persevered until the end.
Before an explosive set with Umphreys McGee, mayor of Masontown Lydia Main was brought on stage to deliver a personal message. She crept to the microphone and mistakenly greeted us to the 8th annual All Good. She then continued, “I’m sorry. I can do a lot of things in my town, but I can’t stop the rain.” Ironically enough, the intermittent drizzles practically ceased from that point forward. She continued to tell us how happy she was to host the festival in her town and told the entire audience to call her directly if they found trouble with the law. “Just not all at once,” she added.
Umphreys McGee and Cornmeal played consecutive sets, both of which I watched with a satisfying closeness to the stage. With the exception of a few headlining acts (namely Further, Widespread Panic, and Bassnectar) I was repeatedly able to penetrate the crowd and find a viewing spot near the stage- a feat not easily possible at most music festivals. Furthermore, the advertised claim of “no overlapping sets” is completely legit. Two stages sat side by side. When one band concluded, the next began literally seconds later. The physical impact on the audience was a mere 45 degree shift of the body. Again, an awesomely exclusive attribute that gives All Good bragging rights over all other festivals.
Again distancing myself from The Grateful Dead, I stayed only for the beginning of the two hour Further set (featuring The Dead’s own Phil Lesh and Bob Weir). I used said block of time to return to camp and begin preparations for Bassnectar: drop off poncho, change into dry clothes, wash face, and dress body in glow sticks.
Bassnectar’s show was scheduled for a 1:45 a.m. start but, while rushing through the security check point, I observed white flashing lights synchronized with flying glow sticks and screaming fans; the show had gotten underway much earlier than anticipated. When I finally reached the concert field, the thick mass of people was barely navigable. The natural slope of the hill seemed much steeper in the dark and worked against me as I followed my group to an acceptable vantage point.
Lotus took the late-late-night timeslot after Bassnectar, playing from 2:45-4:15 in the morning. As expected, the band brought intense, club-inspired beats and a visually splintering light show. Lotus effectively acts as a bridge between electronic dance music and jam rock. My inner rager craved- no, required- the former in order to keep going but, alas, spacey soundscapes held more weight in their set composition. Midway through, it was time to call it a day. Almost.
En route to camp, my festival partner spied members of Greensky Bluegrass huddled in a circle on the main path. We stopped briefly to observe the portable, impromptu jam session. As promised during the close of their set earlier that day, the band was hanging at All Good for the weekend and could be found playing in the campgrounds almost any given time of the day.
For more images of this and other events, please visit RobStaubPhoto.com.
Photos Copyright Rob Staub.