All Good Music Festival and Camp Out, Legend Valley, Thornville, Ohio – 7/19-22
It may have been a new location but it was still all good.
After nine years the All Good Music Festival and Camp Out moved from Marvin’s Mountaintop in West Virginia to Legend Valley, 30 miles east of Columbus, Ohio.
For All Good veterans it took a little time getting used the new surroundings. For Deadheads the site brought back memories of shows that took place here in 1988 and 1991-94 when it was known as Buckeye Lake Music Center.
Several of the performing artists acknowledged the change including Michael Franti and Jacob Hemphill of SOJA. After reminiscing about the band’s days playing and camping on the mountain top, he said, “We were worried that this year it wasn’t gonna be the same but it feels the same. Hope it feels the same for you guys.”
And it did. As soon as Trampled By Turtles opened the 16th annual event it was time to create new memories, and they arrived nonstop over the span of four days.
Thursday offered a healthy taste of what was to come — endless hours of music due to two stages resting next to each other and no overlapping sets that featured All Good favorites returning with the next wave of bluegrass and folk (the Lumineers, Devil Makes Three, Elephant Revival), reggae (SOJA), funk (Pimps of Joytime), livetronica (Big Gigantic, Papadosio, Conspirator) and artists that simply rocked the naturally landscaped bowl (Jerry Joseph & the Jackmormons, Cris Jacobs Band, the Bridge, Tea Leaf Green).
Bob Weir & Bruce Hornsby featuring Branford Marsalis were backed by the Hornsby’s perpetually alert and highly talented Noisemakers. At times it seemed as if Weir was the chaperone for a first date that found Hornsby and Marsalis instantly in love. The two bonded over their improv abilities that weaved in, out and around tunes such as “Bird Song,” “Rainbow’s Cadillac” and “Franklin’s Tower.”
Later, Weir’s Dead and Furthur alum Phil Lesh led his Friends (and Family) through a set that brought together classics such as “Sugaree” and “Truckin’” with a nod to Levon Helm via a couple songs performed by the Band (“Chest Fever” and “Long Black Veil”). This version of Lesh’s band included sons Grahame and Brian, Larry Campbell, Jackie Greene, Joe Russo and Teresa Williams.
Honoring Helm came up again during the Allman Brothers Band’s set on Saturday with “Blind Willie McTell” and Greensky Bluegrass covering “Atlantic City.” The Allmans seemed quite relaxed and pleased to see each other with numerous moments of Warren Haynes sharing smiles with Derek Trucks and Oteil Burbridge. Still, it was all business when it came to playing “Trouble No More,” “Statesboro Blues,” “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” and “One Way Out” with artist-in-residence Roosevelt Collier of the Lee Boys. The intensity was amped up by Trucks’ solo during “Rockin’ Horse” and the interplay between Trucks and Haynes on the encore, “Whipping Post.”
That same intensity came through the previous day when Yonder Mountain String Band performed “Whipping Post” as part the quartet’s 90-minute set. Collier added lap steel to “Dawn’s Early Light,” which segued into the Talking Heads’ “Girlfriend Is Better.”
He also made guest appearances during sets by Michael Franti, Galactic, ALO, the Wood Brothers, Tea Leaf Green, Larry Keel & Natural Bridge, Lettuce and the Rex Jam. What was impressive about all of his guest spots was the mutual joy Collier and his fellow musicians displayed as well as the ability to fit into whatever was happening onstage.
He didn’t appear during the Flaming Lips set, which was probably for the better. While the smoke, confetti and dancers give the impression of chaos, it’s actually highly-controlled madness that doesn’t seem in tune with musical improvisation. That’s okay because, as usual, the Lips brand of DIY rock spectacle did exactly what it was meant to do – make the more than 20,000 in attendance overwhelmingly happy to be alive.
Mickey Hart Band aimed for the same sensation but on a deeper, more spiritual level, with Hart imploring the Sunday afternoon crowd to take the feeling they had and bring it home.
There wasn’t much time to meditate on Hart’s words since Greensky Bluegrass moved through an exuberant set that featured songs from the group’s latest, “Handguns” and a cover of Paul Simon’s “Gumboots.”
Then, Michael Franti & Spearhead put the exclamation point to complete another All Good Music Festival and Camp Out. Playing for more than two hours on the stage, in the crowd and, at one point, running up the hill to get a little closer to those finding shade under the few trees in the concert area, Franti exuded the type of charisma that should be bottled, and left the sunbaked thousands wearing full-body smiles as they left the venue feeling all good.