Review and photographs by Stanley Johnson
I was up early on Saturday to catch Connor Kennedy, who featured a guest appearance by Amy Helm.
Blitzen Trapper was next with a country-rock sound that was familiar from hearing them on WEXT-FM. “Your love’s like rain in the desert to a thirsty man,” they sang, building into a rocking ending, followed quickly by Joe Walsh’s “Rocky Mountain Way.”
Back in Healy Hall, I listened to Kirk West and author Alan Paul talk about the history of the Allman Brothers until Jeff Tweedy’s blue country set. “Everyone having a good time?” he asked. “Sorry,” he deadpanned. But it wasn’t depressing music, in fact “No Love Is the Only Love” was philosophical in its hypnotic pace. “I’m as high as…” he later sang. “I should take you, too.” Tweedy was accompanied by his son Spencer Tweedy on drums, who was ribbed following a botched intro. “This is a teachable moment,” the elder Tweedy said.
The band followed with the nightmarish, electronic “Terrified of Being Alone,” which was dedicated with more deadpan humor to a baked potato stand visible from the stage. And before long, Tweedy was handed a baked potato. “This is the title of my autobiography,” he said. “‘A Baked Potato in the Sun.'” The second half of his set consisted of a solo acoustic run through favorite songs he recorded with Wilco and Uncle Tupelo.
Next I caught part of a songwriting workshop with Valerie June and Connor Kennedy before heading out for a reggae set with Damian “Jr Gong” Marley. Marley’s versions of his father’s “War,” “Exodus” and “Could You Be Loved” resulted in much dancing. Get Up Stand Up, indeed.
The Tedeschi-Trucks Band were next with the liquid silver sound of Derek Trucks’ slide guitar and the warm-honey vocals of Susan Tedeschi. The big band played many tracks from their albums Bound For Glory and Made Up Mind, including “Midnight in Harlem,” which featured a solo by Derek that got a big crowd response. Likwise, Susan’s take on “The Sky Is Crying” proved a very popular cover, as was Derek and the Dominoes’ “Keep On Growing.”
This was the tenth Saturday night to feature Gov’t Mule, consisting of Warren Haynes, Matt Abts, Danny Louis and Jorgen Carlson. The band has always turned in long, unique sets that frequently include unexpected cover songs and guest jammers. This year was no different, with a fast version of “St. Stephen” yielding to “Beautifully Broken,” which morphed into Tom Petty’s “Breakdown.” “I feel that this must be my lucky day,” Warren sang, and followed with “Banks of the Deep End,” a track written for original Mule bassist Allen Woody.
Derek Trucks came out for a steaming “(Where’s My) Mule.” The band quoted “Relayer” by Yes, before the sole reference to “First There Is a Mountain” (better known as “Mountain Jam”). The Mule’s new album Shout! was represented next by “How Could You Stoop So Low?” and later in the second set with “Funny Little Tragedy,” which finished with a quote from the Police’s “Message in a Bottle.”
Real fireworks were shot from up the mountain between sets, and then the Mule’s second set saw more guests, including Eric Krasno, Susan Tedeschi and Kofi Burrbridge. During a jam on “Tell Me Something Good,” Warren sang through a bullhorn, the symbol on the cover of the new Mule album.
Sometime later, following “Soulshine” and a cover of “Creep,” Jackie Greene came out for a jam on “Sugaree.” The Tedeschi Trucks horns appeared at the start of a set-closing Doors medley of “People Are Strange,” “Five to One” and “Break On Through.”
And stay tuned for Stanley Johnson’s review and photographs of Day Three…