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From The Lockn’ Times: Celebration

Sam D’Arcangelo | September 05, 2014

Music lovers from far and wide made their way to Arrington, VA this morning for the opening day of the second annual Lockn’ Festival. In something of a contrast with last year’s inaugural event, spirits were high as thousands of cars breezily made it into the festival and to their campsites without a hitch. An abundance of smiling faces, high fives, hugs and other universal signs of joy could be seen in every direction, creating a palpable sense of excitement throughout Oak Ridge Farm.

Some fans started streaming into the festival grounds around 3pm to get the lay of the land and check out the various vendors and non-profits on site, while others simply made their way to the stages to grab a prime viewing spot for the festivities that were to come.

“After hearing about last year, I knew I had to make it out to Lockn’ this time around,” said New Orleans resident Will McGoey as he waited in line at the main entrance. “I got off work and drove through the night. It was pretty rough, but I’m sure it will be worth it.”

“No other festival can compete with this lineup,” added Sam Brown of Burlington, VT. “When we first saw it, I knew it would be no contest. Just today you’ve got Umphrey’s opening for String Cheese opening for Umphrey’s opening for String Cheese and the Gang. That’s tough to beat.”

The music finally got started at 4pm sharp, when Richmond, VA’s No BS Brass Band took to the Ridge Stage for a set of New Orleans-style brass music that featured covers of Michael Jackson and Led Zeppelin. New Orleans’ own The Revivalists were up next with an entertaining performance that saw singer David Shaw shine, enter the crowd at one point to sing and shake hands, while delivering some soulful takes on the band’s originals and a solid rendition of The Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.”

The Wood Brothers followed, as brothers Oliver and Chris Wood, worked their way through a number of tunes from their latest album, The Muse, as well as an earnest take on The Band’s “Ophelia.” Lettuce then brought a heavy dose of funk during their show, which included sit-ins from the No BS Brass Band. Alecia Chakour, who has performed with the band on countless occasions, joined the group for a few songs, including a new one.

The sun finally began to set on what had been a surprisingly hot day (most forecasts pointed to rain, which never arrived) as Umphrey’s McGee made their way to the Ridge Stage for the first of two sets. The six-piece rock powerhouse came out the gate strong with the instrumental “Le Blitz,” which segued into “1348.” The heavy tune was left unfinished, only to return later in the set before “Ringo” closed things out.

Umphrey’s performance was followed, almost instantly, by the String Cheese Incident, who came out on the Oak Stage for their first (“traditional”) set of Lockn’s opening day. The band got started with crowd-pleasing renditions of “So Far From Home” and “Can’t Stop Now” followed by the Kyle Hollingsworth-led spacefunk jam vehicle “Let’s Go Outside.” Bassist Keith Moseley then took over vocals for a newer song “Sweet Spot,” which saw drummer Michael Travis and percussionist Jason Hann switch places before reverting back to their usual positions for a rock-oriented take on “Outside and Inside.” An exciting “Little Hands” and “Can’t Stop Now” then wrapped things up as Umphrey’s McGee returned to the adjacent stage.

Umphrey’s once again started strong with respectable versions of “The Floor,” “Wappy Sprayberry” and the relatively new Similar Skin track “Cut The Cable.” Next came a “Higgins” that was seamlessly sandwiched between “Puppet String” before the band ended things with a fantastic cover of Pink Floyd’s “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” (marking the first time that the band had played the song on American soil in over a year).

In what was certainly the night’s most anticipated set, The String Cheese Incident then returned with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band horns to kick off their tribute to Kool and the Gang with a Michael Kang-led “Jungle Boogie” and a Jason Hann-led “Hollywood Swinging.” The group was then joined by Kool and The Gang lead singer JT Taylor, members of his band and a trio of background singers/dancers for a number of tunes, including “Ladies Night,” and “Joanna.” Taylor showed off his own dance moves during the performance, which came to an end with the classic “Get Down On It” and a raucous “Celebration” finale.

Though the day’s main stage(s) sets had come and gone, the music continued as Taj Mahal christened the Triangle Stage with night’s first after-show. The party then moved to the Shakedown area’s Relix Stage, where Dumpstaphunk treated fans to their signature onslaught of double-bass grooves.

The second annual Lockn’ Festival will continue today with sets from Phil Lesh and Friends (featuring Warren Haynes, John Scofield, John Medeski and Joe Russo), The String Cheese Incident, Bill Kreutzmann’s Locknstep Allstars, Drive-By Truckers, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Del McCoury Band, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi (acoustic), Chris Robinson Brotherhood and Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass.