Tag Archives: Zach Deputy

All Sorts of Tour Announcements!


PHISH PHINALLY ANNOUNCED THEIR NEW YEARS EVE RUN. Now I can move on in planning my winter. I am a dedicated Phishead at heart, but it’s only natural that I should want to see as much live music as possible and if I was going to have to pick another band to see on NYE, I might have been disappointed. Luckily, I’m not.

As was heavily speculated, Phish will return to Madison Square Garden for their 2011 holiday run, which concludes on New Years Eve. Including the first ever New Years Day show that closed the 2010 run, the band had played at MSG 19 times, and this year, will have played there on the very first and very last days of 2011. The first show at this incredible venue that took place on December 30, 1994, has gone down as legend in the Phishtory books.

I seriously recommend going here: http://phish.portals.musictoday.com/ and entering the Phish ticket lottery by Monday, October 24th at noon. When tickets go on sale to the general public on the 29th at noon, they will be much harder to get, but not impossible. Like the summer that has just flown by (definitely not ‘just’ any more), tickets for this run will be easier to get than last year but still a fight and still expensive. If you’re on a budget, consider buying the early nights’ ticket from a seller on the street to save money. As in the past few months, each ticket comes with a free download of that night’s show.


12/28 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
12/29 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
12/30 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
12/31 Madison Square Garden, New York, NY

The ever-touring Zach Deputy is back on the road to support the release of Another Day (check out my review here). Though the album is much more mellow and represents the laid back side of Zach, you will definitely find yourself a dance party if you hit any of these million shows coming up:

Oct. 11- Woodlands Tavern- Columbus, OH
Oct. 12- The Castle Theatre- Bloomington, IL
Oct. 13- Red Sky Lounge- Mankato, MN
Oct. 14- Cabooze- Minneapolis, MN
Oct. 15- The Aquarium- Fargo, ND
Oct. 18- The Zebra Cocktail Lounge- Bozeman, MT
Oct. 19- Top Hat Lounge- Missoula, MT
Oct. 20-Tractor Tavern- Seattle, WA
Oct. 21- Berbati’s Pan- Portland, OR
Oct. 22- Humboldt Brews- Arcata, CA
Oct. 25- Lost on Main- Chico, CA
Oct. 26- The Mint- Lost Angeles, CA
Oct. 27- Winstons- San Diego, CA
Oct. 28- Marilyn’s on K- Sacramento, CA
Oct. 29- The Independent- San Francisco, CA
Oct. 30- The Underground- Reno, NV
Oct. 30- Hangtown Halloween Ball- Placerville, CA
Nov. 2- Hodi’s Half Note- Fort Collins, CO
Nov. 3- Cervantes’ Other Side- Denver, CO
Nov. 5- Three20South- Breckenridge, CO
Nov. 7- College Bar- Stillwater, OK
Nov. 8- 2826 Arnetic- Dallas, TX
Nov. 9- The Den at Howlin’ Wolf- New Orleans, LA
Nov. 11- Nov 12- Bear Creek Music Festival- Live Oak, FL
Nov.  15- 5 Points Pub- Columbia, SC
Nov. 16- Ziggy’s- Winston Salem, NC
Nov. 17- The Orange Peel- Asheville, NC
Nov. 18- Work Play Theatre- Birmingham, AL
Nov. 19- Exit/In- Nashville, TN
Nov 21- Brooklyn Bowl- Brooklyn, NY
Nov 22- Toad’s Place- New Haven, CT
Nov 23- Mills Street Brews- Southbridge, MA
Nov 25-Nov 26- Rock and Roll Resort, Kerhonkson, NY
Nov 27- Appalachian Brewing Company, Harrisburg, PA
Nov 29- The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, MI
Nov 30- Zanzabar, Louisville, KY
Dec 1- 123 Pleasant St, Morgantown, WV
Dec 2- Musica, Akron, OH
Dec 3- V Club, Huntington, WV
Dec 4- The Blind Tiger, Greensboro, NC
Dec 7- The Pour House Music Hall, Wilmington, NC
Dec 8- The Pour House- Charleston, SC
Dec 9- Sky City, Augusta, GA
Dec 10- Eddie’s Attic, Decatur, GA
Dec 29- Jack Rabbit’s, Jacksonville, FL
Dec 30- The Bond-Fire Art and Music Festival
Dec 31- The Coligny Theatre- Hilton Head Island, SC
Jan 9-14 2012- Jam Cruise 10- Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Feb 17- 19 2012- Jungle Jam Festival, Jaco Beach, Costa Rica

In one-man band news, Keller Williams is doing a No Kidding! show specifically for kids at The Brooklyn Bowl! Along with the release of his first album for children, appropriately titled Kids and the publishing of his children’s book, Because I Said So, Keller will be stopping in select cities to host this interactive kids performance. Featuring an opening drum circle and Meet and Greet with Keller after the show, it’s not just for kids in a Yo Gabba Gabba! kind of way… plus, he will be performing a night set for us folk at each of these venues the same night.

Saturday, October 22 – 9:30 Club, Washington, DC at 10:30 am
Saturday, November 19 – Brooklyn Bowl, Brooklyn, NY at 10:30 am

Rubblebucket is doing a serious tour, as well, to promote Omega La La, which they were giving out for free download before it was released. For a taste, check out my DJ’d playlist, The Weekend Trip, or hit any of these intimate, affordable shows.

0/12 – Columbus, OH – The Basement w/ Brenda & Cuddle Magic
10/13 – Urbana, IL – The Canopy Club
10/14 – Chicago, IL – Double Door w/ Brenda & Cuddle Magic
10/15 – Grand Rapids, MI – Founders 
10/16 – Milwaukee, WI – Turner Hall  Ballroom w/ Brenda & Cuddle Magic
10/17 – Iowa City, IA – Gabe’s Oasis 
10/18 – St. Louis, MO – The Old Rock House w/ Trombone Shorty
10/19 – The Bottleneck – Lawrence Kansas
10/21 – Denver, CO – Cervantes’ Other Side 
10/22 – Ft. Collins, CO – Hodi’s Half Note
10/23 – Aspen, CO – Belly Up
10/25 – Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court 
10/27 – Seattle, WA – The Crocodile 
10/28 – Olympia, WA – The Eastside Club Tavern
10/29 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios 
10/31 – Bend, OR – Century Center
11/01 – Arcata, CA – Humbolt Brews 
11/02 – Crystal Bay, NV – Crystal Bay Club Casino
11/03 – San Francisco, CA – Boom Boom Room 
11/04 – Los Angeles, CA – Bootleg Theater w/ Superhumanoids
11/05 – San Diego, CA – Soda Bar w/ Superhumanoids
11/06 – Flagstaff, AZ – Green Room w/ Superhumanoids
11/08 – Austin, TX – Beauty Bar 
11/09 – New Orleans, LA – House of Blues: The Parish 
11/10 – Mobile, AL – Alabama Music Box 
11/11 – Live Oak, FL – Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival
11/12 – Atlanta, GA – Drunken Unicorn
12/31 – Northampton, MA – Pearl Street Ballroom 

The Weekend Trip, 9/30/2011


Episode number 3 of the weekly playlist!! Feedback encouraged!! phunkytela@gmail.com

What’s playing in the background?! Band and song guesses in the comments section, winner by next weeks broadcast!!

“Northbound Trains” -Dan Galvano, 420 Jamstravaganza
“Shifty Shaft” –Cabinet, This Is Cabinet – Set 1      
“Twisty Twisty” -Zach Deputy, Sunshine
“Ok” -Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, LIVE UP!! Volume II
“Silly Fathers” –Rubblebucket, Omega La La
“Tonight” –Soulive, Up Here
“Burn My Money” -Jimkata, Burn My Money
“Castaway”  -Wolfman Conspiracy
“Looking Back On Earth” -STS9 , Ad Explorata
“Illumin8”  -The Malah
“Take Your Time”  -Fundimensionals,  Fundimensionals

Dan Galvano and The Bansai Bills


This Is Cabinet Set 1


Alex Sciortino of Fundimensionals


Zach Deputy, Another Day CD Review


On September 27th Zach Deputy released his new album Another Day to an anxiously awaiting and fully buffered audience. His most recent EP Into the Morning… was meant to get people excited for this release, as he told me a couple of months ago, and in sharing 4 of it’s 7 tracks with Another Day, it surely did the job.

At his CD release party, Deputy admitted to starting the project with the intention of doing a dance-funk-party record more along the lines of 2009’s Sunshine, but he kept it mellow to open the album. “Happy Graduation” was offered as a free download right around the end of May (wonder why…) and while it’s a beautiful song, it feels vaguely like an attempt to immortalize a song a la Vitamin C circa 1999.

“Remember” is the first taste listeners get of Deputy’s dance-able side, but stays very much in line with the lovey-dovey theme of the album. “Sweet Rene” is a trick because it starts off in a calmer vein and builds to a high-energy jaunt featuring soulful background singers and Deputy hitting the high notes.

The fourth song is finally the Deputy beast that rears its head in a live setting. “Make It Right” brings out the funky beats that almost force you to bob your head and clap along. It’s not until this track that I really believed what he said to me about this album two months before it came out- “It’s definitely going to open the window to a completely different audience without alienating the audience I already have.”

“Thoughts of Yesterday” slows it down again, but in a much more Deputy fashion by keeping the funk and reggae rhythms anchoring the sound. It becomes a happy, hopeful message rather than the rather saddening beginning which provides an interesting transition to the most melancholy ballad on the album, “You Don’t Even Love That Girl.” I think this song may have been what Deputy meant when, at his first CD release show, he confessed that these songs are what he plays at home to himself, and this one must have a special place in his heart because he played it in both sets that night.

The title track summarizes the apparent theme of the album, keeping with the slower tempos, the ballad structure, and serves as the best display of Deputy’s vocal talents and range. Though this could easily be a lullaby for his young daughter, it’s “Sleep” that was actually written to serve that purpose.

The only song to follow typical jam band standards and exceed 5 minutes is the second to last, “Tagalong,” and though Deputy may be categorized in this genre, he does not attempt to make any sort of typical jam band album. And while this track may meet that expectation time-wise, musically it’s bluesy, jazz-club style ditty with an inexplicable minute of silence before a brief few riffs and wails at the end.

The closing track ironically served as the opening track on the previous EP and closes the album on an up-beat, reggae, danceable, Zach Deputy style classic.

Wormtown Music Festival Review


For most of us, September marks the end of summer. For some, it means no more dancing in sweltering hot fields, sleeping on the ground, or eating hotdogs. No more Jerry Roll, no more dollar beers on lot, and no more 2 am sets- at least until next summer.

While there are still a lot of good music festivals going on, the cap on my festival season is Wormtown. Hosted by Wormtown Trading Company at tiny Camp Kee-Wanee in Greenfield, MA, this festival takes place in the middle of September, right when it starts to get chilly at night. With two small stages next to each other, and 2 more in the woods, plus 2 cabins hosting the late night scene, it’s a weekend long party that helps kick start a dedicated fan base for small-time bands and musicians.

People were trickling in all day on Friday, setting up camp in the woods and throughout the campgrounds. Everywhere you looked, there were streamers, ribbons, signs, anything else you could hang from a tree, and hundreds of happy campers excited to be there. The first heavily attended show on the main stage was Zach Deputy’s first set of the evening, which had the energy and enthusiasm our Friday night needed. Wormtown was the first festival Zach ever played and to see him grow popular enough for 2 Friday night sets is an exciting thing for the Worm family. He delivered a danceable, but quick set, ultimately a tease for what was to come.

Hot Day at the Zoo was another Friday night highlight. Their progressive bluegrass style is a pre-packaged dance party, and the four-piece has an eclectic energy that fuels their live performance. Each of Hot Day’s songs are well rounded, with a stand-up bass that roots them, and mandolin and banjo parts that create waves of excitement. It doesn’t hurt that the guitarist and harmonica player (who sat in on drums for a few songs) has this raspy, emotion-filled singing voice, and is really easy on the eyes. Unlike many bands, they all sing with completely unique, yet blend-able voices, allowing them to take traditional bluegrass to a higher, and more amplified, level.

JT Lawrence from Hot Day at the Zoo

Michael Dion of Hot Day at the Zoo

The late night scene was largely dominated by The Brew, who is just wildly good at their instruments and so fascinating to watch up close, and to close the night, Sauce. Had they been scheduled a little earlier, there may have been a bigger draw, but their funky beats and sexy melodies kept the 4 am crowd dancing into the morning.

Yarn took the main stage around 1 pm on Saturday to kick off the day with another energetic bluegrass set. Then the festival-goers had to chose between The McLovins and the Zach Deputy Super Jam, which was not an easy choice in my opinion. To catch a little of each didn’t do either justice, but nevertheless, The McLovins impressed with tight and fancy jams from a group of 15 year olds. The Super Jam was also a wildly skillful moment of music making, where Zach Deputy was leading the crew, but by no means overtaking it. The exploratory jams flowed organically and weaved into spontaneous songs featuring Wormtown chants.

Shakedown’s 4:20 set was finally the touch of Dead this event needed. Maybe it’s due to the overwhelming presence of Further and/ or Dark Star Orchestra at most of the festivals I attended this summer, but I felt that this festival was seriously lacking in Grateful Dead music, so thankfully Shakedown came in to resolve that issue, and resolved it well- my Dead craving was quite satisfied, although with no particularly memorable covers.

The main event of Saturday was Max Creek, and while he always plays a great set, I wanted to take that time to hear the multitude of new bands performing in that same slot. Wolfman Conspiracy was a standout set, with a prominent horn section and a reggae-rock vibe that you don’t find often. Each song was a bit different, and instead of it coming off as a band with an identity crisis, they seemed multi-faceted and dynamic.

The Phreaks were also absolutely stellar. As a Phish cover band, they are attempting something that may be a little presumptuous, being that the band still tours actively, and while they won’t get to DSO status, it’s immensely impressive that if you close your eyes, and they’re just jamming, it really feels like being at Phish show. Their sound is so big it blew the fuses on the smaller stage multiple times, but their set kept people hanging around. They were playing amazingly replicated covers of Phish’s most technical songs, from “Reba” to “Tube” to bust-outs like “Mike’s Song>Gumbo>I Am Hydrogen>Weekapaug Groove.” Truly, for Wormtown, epic. And if you think no one can play like our boys, well… these guys can and do. To a tee.

One of the first bands to play on Sunday morning was Fundimensionals, with a 10 am set on the RiverWorm Stage. A surprising amount of people made it out, and regardless of the power problems that the Phreaks also experienced, they plugged in the generator to rage a full set. Fundimensionals have an energy to their music that doesn’t compare to many other acts. With each song comes a new journey, and you don’t have to be a genius to follow along. Many bands who are using synth effects and doing “jam-tronica” are a little hard to keep up with because their jams are so advanced and moog’d out, but Fundimensionals produce innovative electro-rock songs that even the least-savvy music listener can enjoy.

Closing the festival was another Wormtown staple, Ryan Montbleau Band. The perfect way to cap off a Sunday, RMB played a mellow but inspiring set that allowed for Ryan’s lyrics to be the highlight. More than lyrics, his poetry seemed to resonate with everyone in the crowd, from 5-year-old girls to 50-something biker dudes, all singing along. Truly, Ryan’s lyrics are unmatched in the jam band scene and his band is the perfect supplement. Careful not to overpower, they linger patiently in the background until their time to shine, when Ryan may even step off stage momentarily so the focus is truly on the sick lead guitarist, funky bassist, seamless drummer, and smiling pianist.

In it’s 13th year, Wormtown Music Festival was again a success. It’s a great opportunity for new bands to break into the scene, for up-and-coming artists to get the support they need (and to repay their loyal fans with intimate sets), and for the Worms to come together as a family again. See ya next year, Wormies!!

Note: more pictures to come!!!

The Weekend Trip, 9/23/11


Hey everyone, thanks for checking back in with the second episode of The Weekend Trip! This weekend, we start off with some bluegrass, mellower tunes, then kick it into gear with a funk sandwich fron Zach Deputy and New York Funk Exchange, and prep you for your night with electronica jams from a couple brand new bands! Let me know what you think, I’m still breakin’ in my DJ skillz and could use some constructive criticism! I would also love to take requests, I’ll honor any that I can, and if you have a band you’d like me to check out- hit me up! Email me at phunkytela@gmail.com

No longer available to stream =( Download it for free =) right here.

Here’s ya playlist, kid!

Eggs- Ryan Montbleau Band, Live at Bear Creek 2009
Complicated- Yonder Mountain String BandThe Show
Whiskey In Heaven- Poor Man’s Whiskey, Dark Side of the Moonshine, Disc 2
Incandescent Devil- Tea Leaf Green, Rock ‘n’ Roll Band Soundtrack
Sunshine- Zach Deputy, Sunshine
Shimmy- New York Funk Exchange, Funkonomic Stimulus Plan
Bugless Brunch- Fundimensionals, Fundimensionals
Beadhead Crystal Bugger- The McLovins, Good Catch!
The Chase- BAM!, Live at Triumph Brewery
Explosions- Wolfman Conspiracy, ( 2011 single )
Devil’s in the Details- Jimkata, Ghosts and Killers
Down in the Yards- Rubblebucket, Omega La La

"How do you like yours? Unfertilized." RMB at Wormtown 2011

Zach Deputy at Catskill Chill, 2011

Fundimensionals at Catskill Chill, 2011

Other important stuff:

Most of these artists are touring right now, so definitely check out their schedules,

ZD is releasing his new album Another Day very soon, pre sale ends Sept 27th and it’s an absolutely wonderful album,

I’m hopelessly obsessed with Jeff Austin, forgive me,

and our background music for this episode was Soulive’s cover of The Beatles “Come Together” off their AWESOME album Rubber Soulive. Check back here for more from Soulive next week!

Peace and love friends!

Catskill Chill Review


Check out my review of the 2nd annual Catskill Chill Music Festival at Camp Minglewood, only on The Grateful Web!!!


Featured artists: Fundimensionals, Shwizz, FiKus, JGB with Melvin Seals, Jimkata, Conspirator, Perpetual Groove, Heavy Pets, Zach Deputy, Umphrey’s McGee, Dumpstaphunk, Particle, 7 Walkers, and more!

Fundimensionals, 2011

The Heavy Pets 2011

ShwizZ, 2011

FiKus, 2011

Zach Deputy, 2011

Zach Deputy, 2011

Umphrey's McGee, 2011

Umphrey's McGee, 2011

Billy Krueztmann, 2011

Zach Deputy speaks of music things


When someone says “one-man band,” the cartoon fool with a drum on his belly, tambourine on his foot, kazoo in his mouth, and other noise making things in his hands is the first image to come to mind. Take away all those cluttered instruments and all that’s left is a musician trying to get his songs heard, but today that cartoon is no longer a fool. In this world, one-man bands are not only feasible, but pretty cool too, and the music they make is just a worthy as that of a full-fledged orchestra.

Zach Deputy is one of those musicians (not the fool, the talented music player) who has taken the one-man band concept to the next level. He has found a way to build his songs live and on stage from scratch- nothing pre-recorded, no buttons pre-set, all in front of an expectant audience. And he does it all with one little instrument- his Godin Synth guitar. Well, so not just the guitar. He’s also got looping machines, special microphones, drum pads, and more to create a full-band effect from just one man, and that guitar sure puts in its time.

I got a word in with Zach about the tech he uses to create his unique sound, where that sound comes from, and why you shouldn’t call him a phony.

Tela: So how long have you been playing music?

Zach Deputy: I’ve been singing since I knew my name, I’ve been beat boxing and making weird mouth noises since 2nd grade, ya know back in school we used to cover our mouth and stuff, and playing guitar since I was 14.

T: What other instruments do you play?

ZD: I play pretty much any percussion, anything string I can’t play, I never got into ya know violin and cello, but otherwise, pretty much anything, I’m into making noise.

T: Tell me about your beautiful guitar, what is that and how does it work?

ZD: That’s my looping guitar, it’s a Godin Synth guitar, so you can use it to play in any instrument you want. It can be a goat, a French woman, anything I program it to do. It can make a ton of noise, and it’s not really that hard to play, pretty much like a regular guitar. I can make so much sound with it.

T: Why did you start the looping thing, and the one-man band thing?

ZD: Well it was by accident actually. My bass player friend and I were hanging out and not being very productive, we weren’t doing anything so I was just like okay what do I do now and he had some stuff I wanted to mess around with, one of which was a looping pedal which I had never used before so I got to messing around with it and eventually created a whole song on his one machine.

T: How many different loop machines do you use now? And how do they work?

ZD: Loop machines basically store all the sounds I need, I have two but on each loop machine I have 4 different tracks or phrases and I can loop as much as I want in each of those. I can have a drum track in one of them, a bass track with backup singers on another, I can have organ and guitar tracks and I can pull any of those in or out as I please. Basically, the second looper is for a B section because they’re not synched up together, so I have to make a completely different loop. Sometimes I’ll knock out all the melodic instruments and keep the drum section in my loop A and I’ll re-loop that and create a different rhythm section for loop B. Then I have an A and a B section to create a song.

T: What brand of looping machines do you use?

ZD: The boss RC 50, like RC Cola, haha.

T: When you go to do a live show, is any of it prerecorded? When you go on stage can you just press a button and the sound you want comes out? Or it’s all done right there?

ZD: No, I couldn’t live with myself if it was prerecorded, it’s completely against my ethics, and morals of music. It would be like going against my whole career if I used pre-made loops, that’s not the idea. In fact, one time at a show, some guy was shouting out, saying I was faking it. Have you ever seen the episode of Family Guy when the guy keeps popping up going “you’re a phony!” to Peter? Well, that’s what it was like, he was screaming in the middle of my show that I was faking it and not really doing what I was doing, so I stopped in the middle of the song I was performing and I said to the audience “This guy doesn’t think I’m really doing any of this up here, so I’m going to make a custom loop for him right now” and so I did and it was pretty good, but the lyrics went “You’re old, you’re creepy, you live in a teepee, you’re old, you’re creepy, you live in a teepee…” and pretty soon everyone was singing along, shouting at this guy at the top of their lungs. It was great, he got so mad and left, and ya know I don’t want to be a dick, but how are you going to stand in the audience and scream that at me? So… yeah, none of it is prerecorded I just could never do that.

T: What happens when you go into the studio? Do you do it on the spot?

ZD: Actually my studio albums are mostly done with a band, I worked with members of Ryan Montbleau band on Sunshine (2009). They came in to help me out, and I’ve worked with some of the Jackson’s, members of Earth Wind and Fire, Dr. John, Bruce Hornsby, a ton of other great musicians.

T: Does it feel much different than when you’re working with your looper, just you on stage, as opposed to a live band in the studio?

ZD: It’s way different, and it’s pretty much the only thing I have the budget for. I sometimes wish I could record in a very different way but my last two albums I’ve made in four days- recording, mixing and mastering takes much longer, but I don’t have the money to spend a long time in the studio so we get in there, lay it down, and get out.

T: How did you meet all these great musicians?

ZD: I guess just being in the right place at the right time, ya know, networking and paying them when they come to the studio.

T: I know you like to describe your music as dance music for the soul, but how would you elaborate on that? Where does your sound come from?

ZD: It just comes from everything I am. My mom is from St. Croix, Virgin Islands, so my grandma would always bring me Calypso mix tapes and other music, I loved getting mix tapes from my grandma. And then when I was younger, my mom got really into country music, which is a little weird, and my dad is into Motown and beach music, so that’s where that all comes from. My parents were professional dancers as well so I have music in the family and I’m a product of the 90’s so you get that whole hip-hop influence in there. Just our whole generation growing up in the 90’s, high school and middle school were kind of sucky, but we had nirvana and sublime and biggie smalls, so ya know whether I like it or not, it’s in my blood and since I grew up in the Southeast, there’s a bit of twang influence. Then I discovered Ray Charles, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, stuff like that. I really draw influence from everywhere, so all those things make my music and then me as a person and individual soul taking it to a new level.

T: What can you tell me about the new album?

ZD: It’s called “Another Day,” it comes out in September. It’s a great album, I’m very happy with it and very excited about what its going to do for my career. It’s definitely going to open the window to a completely different audience without alienating the audience I already have. The songs are closer to what I do at home when I’m just messing around, so that’s really fun for me. I’ve been playing some of the new tracks and people are responding well, so I can’t wait to see how the album does.

Pick up a copy of Zach latest EP, “Into the Morning” or you can download the track “Happy Graduation” for free from his Facebook page. Keep checking back for more from Zach Deputy on BTR, or catch him on his nationwide summer tour, going on now.

Originally published on BreakThru Radio, 7/13/2011

All Good Music Festival and Campout Review


This July 14th to 18th celebrated the 15th anniversary of the All Good Music Festival and Campoutheld on Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, West Virginia. Yes, that is in the middle of nowhere and does mean hiking up and down a mountain. Not a hill, but a mountain. After that weekend I felt fitter, more musically fulfilled, and with a much larger group of friends than I have all summer.

Once I got to the festival, the artists on stage kept referring to what a beautiful family we were, how the love was just resonating out from the crowds. To their credit, the feeling on Marvin’s Mountaintop was something to be remembered. As with most music festivals, the people are very friendly, and after All Good’s somewhat troubled history (problems with drugs, illegal vending, some deaths), to have a year as bright and bubbly as this one was a true joy.

Thursday Night

While it’s my opinion that Hot Buttered Rumgot a little shafted with playing the first set of the festival, they still managed to get the small crowd dancing early in the day.Sound Tribe Sector 9 blew the late night crowd away with the kind of well-played set that STS9 fans haven’t been treated to in a while. Highlights included a “Circus” set opener, a really ragin’ “Grizzly” and the encore, a delicious “The Unquestionable Supremacy of Nature”/”Inspire Strikes Back” sandwich. The Thursday line-up was short and sweet, allowing people to get in, get settled, and check out the show.

Friday Morning and Afternoon

Friday was when the real festivities began, kicking off early with two bands on the campground stage, aptly called The Grassroots Stage. Dangermuffin came on second, bringing their bluegrass heat in a way that definitely drew people out of their tents, perhaps more so than the hot weather.Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad opened the main stage, followed by stellar sets from The Infamous StringdustersGalactic, and Keller Williams.

Beside Toubab Krewe and Big Gigantic, who are both festival staples, the Friday night highlight on the smaller Crane Stage was a new artist called That 1 Guy, who plays songs with a homemade, upright instrument – what he calls his magic pipe. It’s amazing to watch sounds emanate from this seven-foot-tall steel pipe that’s been rigged with low note strings that had different effects. He takes bass-driven music to parts unknown, sounding like a hybrid between Frank Zappa and a dance party.

Friday Night

Furthur, featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead was the headliner Friday night and with the exception of a flat, new Bobby tune (“Spin the Wheel”), they played a well-thought out set both with energy and integrity. The way they cover Dead songs is sometimes questionable but always moving and nostalgic, providing Dead fans both young and old with as close an experience to the real thing as they’re going to get. They also treated the audience to a full “Terrapin Station Suite,” a saga rarely played when Jerry Garcia was alive which has become even more infrequent since his death.

Other Friday appearances that I unfortunately missed included Warren Haynes (of The Allman Brothers Band), Dana Fuchs (from the Beatles movie Across The Universe and the off-Broadway play Love, Janis, where she played Janis Joplin), the Everyone Orchestra (featuring Hot Buttered Rum, That 1 Guy, and others) and an all-star jam on the Grassroots Stage with Keller Williams, members of Toubab and members of Umphrey’s McGee, who played the late night set after Furthur.

Saturday Day

Saturday was all about posting up at the concert field, which had turned into a basin for vendors and music. An energetic and groovy Zach Deputy opened the larger Dragon Stage, drawing a pretty sizeable crowd for the first act of the day. His set was calm but danceable – a perfect way to start the day. Then again, the last time I saw Zach, he was raging a 1 am set for 4 straight hours, so I guess he’s good any time of day.

He was followed by up-and-coming jam band The Werks, who did a good job advertising at the festival by posting stickers reading “Werk it!” all over the place to make their presence felt. Marco Benevento tore it up, though we did not see a guest appearance by Joe Russo (the drummer from Furthur), which I think many fans expected considering their extensive playing history together (check out the Benevento Russo Duo).

The Rex Jam was a fun tribute to the Grateful Dead featuring many different artists who were performing throughout the weekend but during that set, I couldn’t contain my excitement for Yonder Mountain String Band. I’ve seen YMSB a few times and I knew there show was going to high energy and impressive, so the anticipation was killing me. Like Hot Buttered Rum, YMSB was slightly undercut with a 7 pm set as opposed to their amazing late night set last year, but they still brought the heat. Adam, Jeff, Ben, and Dave served up the steamiest plate of electrified bluegrass, spoon-feeding us every pulsing bass note and mandolin riff so it dripped sweetly and gently down into our souls. As they said in the All Good program, “If you don’t love bluegrass before the show, you will afterward.” No doubt.

Saturday Night

Then there was moe., which in my opinion was just…okay. Don’t get me wrong here, moe. knows how to throw down, but this show was mediocre at best. There was a lack of excitement, a feeling that they were just pushing out the songs. I left their set early to prepare more fully for the headliner of the night, Les Claypool’s highly anticipated come-back project, PRIMUS. When I came back, Claypool came on stage holding a long wooden instrument and donning a pig mask – as he is known to do – but it was a while before they started their set. Yes, much preparation was needed for this show, but once Claypool got going on his bass, I was worried the speakers were going to fall right off the rig. Drummer Jay Lane and guitarist Larry LaLonde were hardly an afterthought, supporting Claypool’s funk with their own wild and crazy mud music. To close out their set, Primus had the second biggest fireworks show I’ve seen all summer (the first being at Phish’s Superball IX). Like the two hours of music that preceded it, the fireworks were explosive, intoxicating and downright awe-inspiring. I didn’t think that the festival would put on a show quite like this one.

The display continued into the beginning of Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, which was the greatest example of big band jazz that I had seen all weekend. It was so captivating that I hardly noticed the massive pyramid they were building for Pretty Lights on the Dragon Stage. Alas, a slight turn to the left and you couldn’t miss it. Here’s all I’ll say about Pretty Lights: the cover of “West Virginia” was a nice little tribute to the land, but Pretty Lights is not Schpongle, will never be Schpongle, and should really stop trying. Especially with the rip-off Schpongletron. Still, Saturday was easily the best day of music, with PRIMUS being the unquestionable kings of the festival.


Sunday morning was a very sad scene on the Mountaintop. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Nicole Miller –the 20-year-old was run over by a truck at 8:30 a.m. while she and two friends were sleeping in their tent. When attendees hear of these kinds of incidents, it can be hard to continue with festivities, but there is so little anyone can do. At Gathering of the Vibes in 2009, an attendee was killed with a nitrous tank and festival-goers revolted by sweeping through the campsites and dragging anyone who was selling nitrous to the cops, or worse. That was a situation where attendees could take action, but on that Sunday there was little else to do here but mourn the loss of Ms. Miller and wish her family the best.

The show went on, and because the majority of people didn’t find out about the accident until the drive home Monday morning, festival-goers were still very much in party mode.

The first major act on Sunday was Toots and the Maytals. Now, I know Toots is getting old and he and the Maytals have been playing together since 1962, but he could use a little hop in his step. The show was unfortunately a flat, simple deliverance of tunes, and the whole band seemed a little uninterested in this affair. Granted, I don’t think they were used to playing at a festival but it was still fun to see (somewhat of) a living legend.

Their set was followed by the supposed last show at All Good from The Bridge. This talented group has been playing for over 10 years with minimal success, so they’ve decided to call it quits. It certainly didn’t seem like their last performance as they played with plenty of energy and spirit that made me hope this wouldn’t be the last I’d be seeing of them.

Closing out the music early was Dark Star Orchestra. I guess someone has to play the day sets, but like Hot Buttered Rum and Yonder, this band should have been scheduled after sunset. At last year’s event, the mountains were vibrating from the music Dark Star was making, and they simply couldn’t have that effect at five in the afternoon. Like Furthur, they played mostly Grateful Dead covers, recreating them spot on, note for note, and all-in-all very successfully. It was a poignant end to a musically rich weekend.

Big thanks go out to All Good Presents, Work Exchange Team, Clean Vibes, and everyone else who made the festival possible. I’m sure you know what a gift you have given to us. See ya in 2012!