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Published: 2005/09/21
by Coele Gaia

moe.down 6, Snowridge Ski Mountain, Turin, NY- 9/2-4

There remain few better ways to farewell kiss the summer than by celebrating the love of music as a labor of love on Labor Day Weekend. Perfectly located in the scenic upstate Adirondack Mountains the pristine, laidback and spacious camp-fest atmosphere proved to be a grand success before the largest moe.down audience assembled to date.

Nestled at the base of The Snow Ridge Ski Area in Turin is an absolutely beautiful and an ideal location for a vibrant musical gathering. The rarefied air, star filled skies and grassy slopes provided a tasteful, natural of music, cool people and fun filled memorable moments. Creating and sustaining a homegrown event is a formidable task and speaks volumes for moe.’s expanding, endearing fanbase.

Jumping off the New York Thruway about 120 miles north of Albany a flowing caravan of jam-packed vehicles followed a rural winding, woodsy scenic two-lane country road through the Turin valley. The curvy trail terminated at the base of the summer-green Snow Ridge Ski Mountain. Gorgeous and fresh, the gradual steep grassy slope levels out at the bottom of the hill creating a natural acoustically-friendly amphitheater, ideal for unobstructed viewing of the Main Stage performances.

A seasonably cool Friday evening found the vast majority of the festival attendees in full camp-fest chill mode. Circled up party camp areas were playfully adorned with festive flags, colorful lights, hightech dome tents and comfy chairs. A special Recreational Vehicle parking lot sported a cool cross section of stateof-theart mobile home away from homes. All in all the even carried the low-key homegrown family feel of an intimate event, fostering a feeling of community in these challenging times.

moe.down has blossomed into the premier Northeastern end of summer campfestival laden with a creative mix of road-tested talent. The opening night festivities commenced with the rocking funk grooves of Burlington, Vermont’s RAQ. Performing on the Tent Stage RAQ ignited the sonically-crunchy smaller second stage venue all night with four freeform danceable electric sets. Kicking the weekend into high gear RAQ’s solid blend of deep groove jams combined a retro-rock steady feel with exploratory spacey dynamics. The talented quartet gladly filled the void for a sadly missed, yet thankfully safe New Orleans resident Theresa Andersson. Main Stage opener The Hackensaw Boys kept the music flowing with a country roots straight to the core original bluegrass picking style. Uncluttered staging and several grids of colorful intelligent, artfully trance-formational lights bathed performers in a stellar glow.

The Main Stage next welcomed the greatly anticipated wizardry of Keller Williams, who delighted an appreciative audience with a non-stop display of sleight-of-hand instant dub looping rhythmic technique, prodigious musicianship and enthused creativity. Later in the evening Keller joined moe. for an inspired double helix “Stairway To Watchtower”. Combining the dual classic rock epics has clearly defined Keller’s love of the complex, spirited stream of consciousness that resides within a true musical prodigy. The polarity and similarity of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway To Heaven” and “Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” coalesce into a message of being in the moment, embracing challenge and enjoying life regardless of obstacles.

The splendid evening found moe. in fine form as the first of six sets kicked into high gear. Rob Derhak’s “Rebubula” ultra-slick bass line drove the crowd into a swirling dance frenzy. “Recreational Chemistry”, “Wind It Up” and “Salt Creek” led into the Keller collaboration that ended with a the curious line “and she’s buying the Stairway to Watchtower”. The crowd loved it. A subdued “Faker” segued into the free flight of “Moth”. A darker edgy downward spiraling “The Pit” led into “Brent Black” resolving back into the storied “Moth” igniting a brilliant chorus “she knows nothing at all about life, now she knows everything about living”. A heartwrenching version of The Band’s “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” closed the evening expressing collective condolences to the fellow Americans in peril on the flooded Gulf Coast.

Saturday’s high noon Main Stage offered an embraceable brand of soul-folk with Before Cowboys, the collaboration between Al Schnier and his wife/pianist/vocalist Diane. The resulting performance was inspired. Jomama and The Funkdaddy’s then lit up the Tent Stage with two dancing funkadelic sets. The mid-afternoon Main Stage greeted Chicago’s The Redwalls pouring out a high-octane, super-charged garage punk soulful show.

moe.’s Saturday afternoon set list was an exercise in the extended segue, as the group launched into “Spine Of The Dog” shifting into “Buster” and slipping into “She.” The fluid improvisational energy raged into the dazzling warning song “Crab Eyes.” Continuing the collective sonic freefall “Hi and Lo” merged into “Timmy Tucker” and the set resolved with an adventurous “Kids.”

Up next on the big stage the hard-touring North Mississippi Allstars, who seemed to have put on considerable musical weight since touring and recording with John Hiatt this summer. Later in the evening the bluesy swampy slide styling of Luther Dickinson embellished Medeski, Martin & Wood’s set. A soaring Jimi Hendrix inspired “Third Stone From The Sun” tempo-shifted into a remarkable “Uninvisible.” Saturday night and the lineup is tight. Telltale seasonably low temperatures brought a brief cooling rain shower yet the music never stopped.

Japan’s popular jam export Big Frog jumped on the Tent Stage playing their only gig in the U.S. to resounding applause. Later in the evening Big Frog would pull off the patent-pending full-band swap with moe. during “Happy Hour Hero.” A bit later, The Breakfast, filled the Tent Stage to overflowing capacity while dishing up three exhilarating sets of energized psychedelic rock spinning a surefire rolling thunder nexus.

The music on Main Stage music then concluded as moe.rons trudged up the slope to catch Saturday night’s offering. “Not Coming Down” slinked into “Wormwood” and into the dichotomous “God is Light God is Good” of “St. Augustine.” The scat rap “32 Things” opened into “The Road” and then onward into “Kyle’s Song”. “Akimbo” closed the smoking set. A surprise double encore of Pink Floyd’s “Time” punctuated the timeless weekend and appropriately morphed into “Sensory Deprivation Bank.”

Sunday skies were clear with a few billowing clouds. In the Tent Stage Dread Clampitt dropped two sets of a sweet bluegrass fusion with cool mandolin and fiddle soloing. The Main Stage then came alive with the definitive moe.down breakout band San Francisco’s quartet Tea Leaf Green. Creating a potent hybrid of blistering guitar and keyboard-oriented tunes Tea Leaf’s “Planet Of Green Love” attitude is kind. Guitarist Josh Clark’s penchant for holding back at peak moments or suddenly shifting gears only left the audience wanting another go around. Keyboardist and vocalist Trevor Garrod’s stylized sensitivity was endearing. Quoting a fresh blend of classic influences and carving a solid sound, signature Tea Leaf’s intensity is awesome. Bassist and vocalist Ben Chambers rides the groove with drummer Scott Rager building a concrete bottom. The set closing tune “I’ve Got A Feeling” left the crowd feeling fine.

As the lights came up on the Main Stage a collective doubletake sparked the crowd’s curiosity as “Hasidic Reggae” practitioner Matisyahu was in the house. What began as slightly surreal, within a few minutes became a spiritually-infused musical experience. Dressed proudly in the traditional Hassidic garb and standing atop the drum riser high above the stage, Matisyahu’s towering presence was only upstaged by his rapid-fire roots rasta reggae lyrical delivery. High road hip-hop, beatboxing syncopation and a crucial rock steady backing band kept Matisyahu on track, projecting positive vibes.

Then, keeping in step with a seemingly annual moe.down tradition of including a quirky musical blast from the past, The Violent Femmes took over the Main Stage for a familiar set of hybrid punkish rock. After their introduction by moe.’s bassist Rob Derhak, the Femmes slammed into “Gone Daddy Gone” with Derhak joining in as well.

moe.’s final Main Stage show shot out with guitarist Chuck Garvey’s “Bullet.” Perhaps moe.’s finest composition, “Bullet” garnered a best song Jammy Award nomination and elicited a grand-scale sing-along. A brightly-inspired first-time live version of The Grateful Dead epic “Terrapin Station” elicited massive applause. “The Ghost of Ralph’s Mom” “She Sends Me”, “Tailspin”, “California” and “Big World” rounded out the set.

After a brief break moe. returned to the stage with “Y.O.Y.” into “Down Boy” and ”Mc Bain.” An amazing “Four” led into the juicy ska-beat of “Dr. Graffenberg”. A liquid bass-fueled rollicking “Rebubula” reprise completed the sixth and final set. The double-encore “Tijuana Donkey Show” and “Meat” closed the night in style and a fabulous surprise grand finale fireworks display capped off a wonderful weekend.

Music is love and love never fades as the vibrant music community remains perpetually fortified by the spirit of joie de vivre: The Joy of Life. “Let the good times roll” will be the theme once again as “RE”NEW Orleans efforts rebuild the creative musical Crescent City. The good times rolled at moe.down Six and looking forward to moe.down Seven one can only be thankful for life, liberty and the pursuit of musical adventure.

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