I made a point of getting up early on Saturday morning of the 15th Annual All Good Music Festival to catch some of the local talent at the Grassroots Stage. Having been told by numerous local media sources that they were a hot ticket, I made a point of seeing a bit of Fletcher’s Grove from nearby Morgantown. As usual, I was not as quick making the trek as I’d hoped and arrived about halfway through the fledgling jamband’s first set, just as they were finishing a very strong cover of Buddy Holly’s classic Not Fade Away.
The next few songs in the quintet’s inaugural All Good set proved once again that festivals are a great place to check out fresh talent. See more about Fletcher’s Grove in the All Good New Artist Spotlight below. As local favorites, Fletcher’s Grove brought a sizable audience to the campground stage that quckly cleared after their set. I waited around to see a bit of Chicago’s Lubriphonic whose funk and horns also proved danceable and fun, although it was a shame there wasn’t a larger audience.
Opening the main stage on Saturday was self-contained band Zach Deputy whose soulful vocals and looping guitar and beat lines made for a more relaxed set under the West Virginia hills’ intense mid-day sun. After Deputy, I caught only the first couple of songs by The Werks (which the audience seemed to enjoy) and headed back to the Grassroots Stage to see Michigan’s Greensky Bluegrass, where they performed only bluegrass covers of rock songs including Traffic’s Light Up or Leave Me Alone, Talking Heads’ Road to Nowhere, Arcade Fire’s City With No Children and Prince’s When Doves Cry.
READ ON for more thoughts and photos from Saturday at All Good…
Pop rockers These United States took the stage a day early due to a scheduling and travel issue and although their songs didn’t deviate much from the recorded versions, their pop sensibilities and solid performance made for a fun daytime set. Santa Barbara’s Rebelution brought their own West Coast dub reggae rock combo to All Good for a second year in a row and reaffirmed the physical and mental health benefits of danceable reggae even in warm weather.
I skipped out early and ran back up the hill for a special acoustic set by moe. Yes, those few hundred folks in attendance were beneficiaries of a special fan challenge appreciation set at the very tiny Grassroots Stage. Okay, I’ve gotta admit it. I’m not a huge moe. fan. I’ve always like seeing them, but just never got hooked. So, I’m really not a competent authority on their performance, but it seemed like it was pretty special for all of the audience. I’m sure that 10 years from now, after I’ve drank the Kool-Aid, I’ll be kicking myself for my lack of appreciation.
After a special Rex Foundation benefit version of Matt Butler’s Everyone Orchestra featuring Greensky’s Anders Beck and Butler chum Jennifer Hartswick, on the Crane Stage, All Good perennial favorites Yonder Mountain String Band hit the stage running. Although their set lacked the insane, frenetic energy of their extended 2010 All Good late night set, their early evening set definitely had the crowd excited with older and newer numbers including Fine Excuses, 2 Hits and the Joint Turned Brown, Complicated and Deep Pockets.
A set on the second stage by L.A. Afrobeat-funk band Orgone kept the party going in full swing as horns, guitar, bass, and percussion blended with vocalist Niki J. Crawford’s soulful vocals. A main stage set by moe. followed – they pretty much killed it starting with a hot Buster > Skrunk > Billy Goat and didn’t let up until closing the set with Akimbo. Papadosio, formerly of Athens, OH and now Asheville, took over on the second stage and proved once and for all that jamtronica needn’t be the soulless beeps and beats that some have come to expect as they blended indie-alterna-pop vocals with impressive instrumentation and electronic beats. And then the light that Papadosio and moe. had brought to the crowd faded and the darkness descended as Primus took the stage.
The extended bit of chaos that Claypool and Co. brought included crowd favorites Jerry Was a Racecar Driver and Tommy the Cat. A number of festivalgoers complained that the volume was too low, and this was pretty apparent during Primus’ set, where theoretically one shouldn’t be able to easily converse without screaming, but such was not the case. A short, 45-minute set by Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe led off the late night sets. Unlike many KDTU sets, the All Good late night performance seemed heavy on the electronic and dance arrangements, and far lighter on the funk. Although this was likely intended to keep the audience dancing, some in the crowd were dismayed at the time that the master tenor man spent shaking a tambourine and not blowing his soul out into the world.
The final late night performance was by Pretty Lights whose subsonic bass vibrated the crowd while melding occasional pop music samples into the noise. The crowd hardly thinned at all during the Pretty Lights set and responded enthusiastically to occasional calls to make themselves known. Even by the set’s 4AM closing time, the concert hill was packed with fans not wanting to say farewell to the last rager of the 2011 All Good Music Festival. As I made my way back to my campsite, I thought bitter sweetly that the relatively shorter set of music scheduled for Sunday was coming way too soon, and I better get my festie five hours of shuteye if I wanted to make it to the end.
Fletcher’s Grove in the All Good New Artist Spotlight
Now hailing from Morgantown, WV the jamband quintet Fletcher’s Grove made their debut All Good appearance on the festival’s Grassroots Stage on Saturday morning. Despite the 10:30AM set time, the audience was packed with fans of the up and coming hometown heroes. As the morning party raged around me, I couldn’t help but think that their timeslot was WAY too early in the day (or just WAY too late in the morning) for their sound.
I sat down with the band for a few minutes later on in the day to learn a bit more about them. Fletcher’s Grove includes Ryan Krofcheck on guitar and vocals, Matt Marion on percussion and vocals, Wes Hager on lead guitar and flute, Taylor Pratt on bass and Adam Greene behind the drum kit. Speaking with the 22-year old recent college grads, I was immediately impressed by their perspective and cohesion. Having started off as rival high school bands that brought the best of their worlds together, FG combines solid hooks and improvisation with surprisingly mature songwriting to produce a sound that’s familiar and accessible while bringing their own unique twist into the jam.
Reminiscent of elements of Papadosio or the Macpodz, Fletcher’s Grove alternates between faster-paced more heavily jamtronica numbers and songs with strong vocal leads and harmonies. This is definitely one band to watch – catch them in August when they play West Virginia music festivals Camp Barefoot 5 or the High Land Jam Music Fest.