There was this music festival down the road in Nelson County called Lockn’ this past weekend. Across the street from where the festival is held is a church, Trinity Episcopal. A small but rather sweet church, they host Sober Lockn’ as well as Waterlockn‘, embracing the festival as their neighbor. Pat’s employer, James River Association, was assisting with Waterlockn’, which offered rides to a private, local swimming hole on the Tye River, just a few minutes away from the festival site, with proceeds benefitting Kid Care. (The Tye is a tributary of the James River.)
We camped out on the church property, across the street from the festival itself. What’s better than being at a festival? Being across the street from one, where you can come and go as you please, where there is electricity and air conditioning and running water to do things like wash your hands.
Gate One was just beyond our tent, while Gate Two, where the artists’ buses came & went, was on the other end of church’s property (beyond the graveyard).
It was fantastic to be so close and yet have a quiet space to call our home for the weekend. I’m not sure we could have done the festival had we stayed in the main campground. I heard it was nuts and I don’t doubt it. We shared our peaceful, scenic spot with the Trinity community as well as some of Pat’s coworkers.
The entire weekend was one of those all encompassing wonderful experiences. Having a small part in making something connected to the festival was great fun (Edie & I spent Saturday afternoon walking around the festival handing out flyers, promoting Waterlockn’, running into friends and making new ones while Pat spent a few days driving shuttle vans back & forth) and the festival itself was top notch.
Saturday afternoon when I ran into our friend William, I said something to the effect of I hadn’t seen that many dreadlocks and patchwork since my last Dead show. To which he replied, “Becky, it IS a Dead show.” While Bob Weir had dropped out, there was still Phil & Friends and Bill Kruetzmann & friends, Widespread Panic, String Cheese Incident….
So yeah, I spent some time pondering the fact that we brought our twelve year old to a Dead show. We are those parents. (Actually, I likened it to a Dead show on steroids.) Thankfully, she was a trooper about it. Friday night, she turned in early with a book while we went to a show. Saturday, she tried to catch the tail end of Phil & Friends, but a threatening storm shut down the show for a bit and she realized she was too bushed to make Tom Petty. The festival itself, with the people watching that was above and beyond everyday people watching (guy with dreads down to his feet, guy with dreads wearing nothing but a tye dyed speedo, topless girls covered in body paint, rainbows, patchwork, tutu’s, unicorns, the flags!, the microphone stands for taping!, guy in a kimono with a plastic sword, bamboo sun hat and flowered anklet who cheerfully told us how amazing alligator bites are, glow sticks everywhere, the smells – oh the smells! the top hats, the guy in the dress, oh, all of it!) was quite a bit to take in we realized. She had to build up to go into the crowd to take on a show.
The reason we were there (beyond volunteering with Pat) was the music. There was a list of bands we wanted to see and here’s my official run down of the ones I made a point of seeing. We caught bits & pieces of other sets, but these are the ones we caught with full attention.
Phil Lesh & Friends – My first Dead show was the RFK “Dark Star” show which had some mystical elements to it (or so I recall. You know how it is with the Dead). Pat had never seen the Dead live and this was the closest he was going to get. The magic of being with someone as the experience that for the first time? Always pretty great. Bonus, as they broke into “Box of Rain” I looked up and saw a shooting star. Magical.
Wilco: The reason I was there. I went by myself, with a plan to meet up with Pat, but then suddenly, I found myself down in front, as tends to happen, especially when I see Wilco. As they played, there was a sun shower followed by a rainbow (Pat saw a double rainbow from his vantage point, but I only saw this one.). And then a hippie started waving a stuffed purple unicorn in the air.
Rainbows, unicorns, Wilco.
The first two sets I made a point of seeing had these wonderful mystical elements to them. Between that, the patchouli &the dreadlocks, the shooting stars and rainbows, I felt more in touch with twenty year old me than I had in I don’t even know how long….it was off to quite a start. And we were just getting started….
Steve Winwood and Widespread Panic: So, we didn’t catch all of this, but we did catch part of it, as Pat wanted to see Steve Winwood. I had forgotten I had feelings about The Panic, but they all came rushing back.
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Not entirely a sing-a-long show, but close. I have been a Tom Petty fan for longer than I can remember, so this was officially a bucket list show for me. I’m still singing “Yer So Bad” (and I will spare you the bad video Pat took & posted of that particular performance in which I’m singing loudly and off key off camera, but if you’re facebook friends with him, check it out.)
Grace Potter and the Nocturnals: I’d heard fantastic things about her live show. None of them came close to what it’s like. She is all that with sprinkles on top. I needed a smoke after that show. She may actually be the most talented, sexiest human being alive. For real.
Willie Nelson: My dad used to sing the opening lines from “The Party’s Over” at bedtime when I was growing up. No family road trip was complete without a few renditions of “On the Road Again”. I grew up on Willie and went to see him a few years ago with Betty. But Pat & Edie had never seen him before this. Three generations of my family have now seen Willie. I get happy goosebumps just thinking about it.
Wilco: Day two. How to top the unicorns & rainbow show?
By stepping over all the fans waiting for the Allman Brothers to come on that stage later that night and getting absolute front & center, where eye contact was made with Jeff Tweedy more than once and I swear, he sang half that show to me, that’s how. It was a tough act to follow, but Wilco topped the rainbow show the day before.
Allman Brothers Band: This was the band Edie was here to see. We’re not at all sure how she knows so much about them – walking to the show, I heard her explaining the significance behind the “Eat a Peach” t–shirts to Pat’s coworker’s girlfriend. I mean, I only figured that out myself a few years ago, somehow my twelve year old just knows this and it’s not something I’ve taught her. Neither Pat nor I are admittedly big fans, but as our friend William said, this is history. This is one of their last shows, it was their last festival appearance and well, Edie was excited about seeing them. Pretty amazing stuff.
All in all, it was one of those amazing weekends that I’m fairly confident permanently altered Edie’s view of the world. The community we found ourselves surrounded by – both the Trinity family, the JRA family as well as the Lockn’ community – was welcoming and amazing. It was all that, with shooting stars and rainbows to boot. It won’t be topped for quite some time.