Photos by Lori Sky Twohy
Despite the absence of perhaps the biggest name on the line-up, this year’s Peach Fest in Scranton, PA, was undoubtedly a success. Not having Bob Weir to look forward to was certainly a disappointment in the days leading up to the festival, but there was going to be more than enough great musicians to pick up the slack. After all, this a festival inspired by southern rock’s quintessential jam band, The Allman Brothers Band, and this was perhaps their last festival stop in the northeast. That right there is enough to get any live music festival fan pumped up.
The music got going on Thursday, and what a first day of music it was. Special guest MC Sam Cutler announced the first acts, and the Peach was rolling. Most famous for being the road manager for the Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead, Sam was there all weekend signing books and talking to fans. This was just one of the nice additions to the music, making for a nice festival atmosphere.
Most importantly though, was how great the music was. On day one Citizens Band Radio, Cabinet, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic all brought the heat, putting on great shows. Dopapod’s closing set though, set the tone for the weekend. It started at midnight, and jammed well past two, putting to bed any doubt what this weekend was going to be about.
Now one thing great about Peach is the location. It takes place at Montage Mountain, which doubles as a ski resort in the winter and the home of a water park in the summer. The water park rides are available for use to all the festival attendees, and definitely a good number of fans get in the water and on the rides for an added bonus to the weekend. It was not too hot, which would make getting in the water a necessity, but it was still warm enough to enjoy.
Being on a ski slope makes for some interesting camping, with one festivalgoer hanging a sign over their tent, dubbing the area “Slanty Town.” Nice play on words with the packed in camping seeming like a Jamaican Shanty Town. Overall though, everything ran pretty smooth. Staff and campers together seemed to make this work just fine.
Friday was the first full day of music with all three stages putting up a full line-up. The head lining act was to be Bob Weir & Ratdog, but instead we were going to be treated to an extra set of the Trey Anastasio Band, as well as a Dead Set by a group that included Joe Russo, Jeff Chimenti, Tom Hamilton, Scott Metzger, Reed Mathis, Jackie Greene, and Joan Osborne.
One thing about the line up this year at Peach Fest was that I don’t remember ever thinking, “this band is not for me, what else is playing?” or anything else along those lines. There were choices to be made though, and that is the difficult part.
Victor Wooten was putting on a smoking set over on the Mushroom Stage, but I had some friends going to check out Consider the Source across the festival at the Grove Stage. “Hmm, what to do?”
The Dead Set came next, and I had to say the weekend would not have been complete without it. I cannot imagine one of these great weekend long music festivals without the music and songs of the Grateful Dead. (Get well soon Bobby! We love you and miss you much!)
Disappointingly had to miss the Tedeschi Trucks Band set to return to the campsite, as it had already been a full day and was getting a little chilly, and people wanted to eat, and get some warmer clothes, as well, but our JBO photographer and editor did make it and said it was “epic!”
Of course there was more great music across the bridge towards the other stage though and we managed a dance party with friends to Boombox, before heading back over to the Peach stage for some Trey Anastasio Band!
TAB has become quite the go to band on the festival circuit. Last year as a late add on to the Lockn’ fest after Neil Young had to cancel, and this year adding a second set for Peach. Well Mr. Reliable came through again.
It was the first performance by the Trey Anastatio Band since the Summer Camp Festival in May, so I thought it would be interesting to see how it went. They killed it of course; giving the crowd the “Black Dog,” encore they were looking for, along with a nice “Sand,” “Magilla,” “Ooh Child,” and “Architect.”
The night was not over yet though for some of the members of Trey Band, as the brass section sat in on a late night session with Big Gigantic on the Mushroom Stage. We were glad to be able to catch this after the tail end of a fun Papadosio set.
At the same time as Big Gigantic though was Cabinet over on the Grove stage who put on their second set of the weekend. Was not able to catch it, but definitely had a lot of fans talking the next morning.
So Saturday should be the climax of any weekend music festival, and this year’s Peach was no different. The day started for those in the camping area with a free pancake breakfast cooked and served by the members of Dopapod.
These guys showed how much fun they are by setting up a booth, cooking up, and kicking it with the fans. Each one of them manned a skillet, except for guitarist Rob Campo who gave those waiting in line a little impromptu acoustic guitar set. Sometimes it is the moments off the stage, like this, that can be the most fun at a festival.
Once everybody was fed and ready to roll it was music all day. Over on the Mushroom Stage the day started with The London Souls and the Rich Robinson Band. And that is actually a pretty awesome way to start the day. I have to say I was pretty blown away by the “Oh Sweet Nothing,” cover the Rich Robinson Band did.
Next, it was back over to the other side of the venue where the main Peach stage was and the side Grove stage. Gov’t Mule was before Trey, and then Warren Haynes played again with The Allman Brothers Band after Trey. Not to mention he was going to be the first act of the day on Sunday, and play again Sunday night as the closer with the Allman Brothers. I get tired just listing the amount of times Warren Hayes plays, but he rocks, and this is business as usual for the great guitarist.
The Werks were one of those bands that just got the short end of the scheduling stick. We were definitely going to see Trey, but would have loved to seen them as well. I am sure some lucky fans were treated to a nice set, but so were those of us who saw Trey Band.
With the large festival crowd, and the ushers overwhelmed by people dancing in the aisles it almost felt like a Phish show while Trey was on. It needs to be mentioned too that Trey wished Bob Weir well, and said he was honored to get to play an additional set this weekend. Those words were definitely appreciated by the crowd.
One more show on the main stage that night, and it was a special one. The Allman Brother’s Band opened up with, “Ain’t Wasting Time No More,” and just really gave fans, who might not see them again, something to remember. With “Melissa,” “One Way Out,” “Blue Sky,” “Little Martha,” encore, it was really good ABB.
Saturday is also the last day of late night music and partying at Peach, and tonight it was Lotus who would take us into the wee hours of the night. Lotus delivered. People still wanted more though, and luckily the festival had one more day.
Sunday is getaway day and the festival planners have to get some props for their scheduling. In contrast to all the music being close to the camping on Thursday, which was arrival day; on Sunday there was no music on the stage close to camping. This allowed for an easy exit, and loading of the vehicles, which is appreciated after a great long weekend at a festival.
A little rain over night had a lot of campers tearing down site early in the morning. It was nothing too bad though, and was over by the time most folk were awake. A little chill at night, and that one couple of hours of rain, is actually a pretty good score, when it comes to weather over 4 days in the northeast, anytime of the year.
The music was not over by any means though. We still had more Warren, Taj Mahal Trio, and the Soul Rebels to look forward too, not to mention perhaps the last set by the Allman Brothers in the northeast part of the country.
There are all different kinds of artwork, with crafts and garments at “Eden’s Rose,” and top-notch concert photographs from Kirk West, for sale and others. The grassroots groups like HeadCount, this year teamed with the iCitizen app, all add to the sense of community and culture festival goers have come to expect.
Ultimately though it is the music that we come here for, and after another full day of it, the Allman’s topped it all off with a 16 song set for the fans. A fitting “No One to Run With,” closer, and a “Whipping Post,” encore gave everybody exactly what they wanted.