5th Annual Eastbound Throwdown Rocks Washington County

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The Irwin Family Farm in Salem, NY was awash in the energy and sounds of live music this past weekend, as musicians from across New York and New England took to two stages hidden between verdant hills. The Festival, which was headlined and organized by Greenwich local band, Eastbound Jesus, celebrated its fifth year and welcomed its largest crowds to date.

The weekend festival drew a diverse audience that ranged in age and interest, brought together by a common love of live music and the energy that goes along with it. As Un Petit Cochon caterer Meghan Phalen remarked, “It’s laid back, kind of like a giant neighborhood barbeque with really great live music.” The vibe was convivial and grew in intensity as the shadows grew longer and daylight waned. Conceived in 2015, the Eastbound Throwdown was first launched in the shadow of the Elks Lodge baseball field in Greenwich, NY. It has since relocated to a larger venue with plenty of room for future growth. The two-stage set-up allowed for the uninterupted musical enjoyment of guests as performances were alternated between the main stage and pond stage. If a band wasn’t quite ready to go on, the other stage held the reins a bit longer.

Gates opened around midday on Friday, September 6 and guests slowly trickled in, eager to leave the workweek behind and celebrate the in the crisp fall air. C.K. and the Rising Tide took to the main stage at 3 to open the show, followed by Rebel Darling, Zan and the Winter Folk, Tigerman WOAH, Saints & Liars, The Ghost of Paul Revere, Eastbound Jesus, Turf n Turf, and Bellas Bartok closed out the day taking to the stage at 11pm. The earlier performers were met with a fairly reserved crowd, a few dedicated music lovers gathered in front of the small stage. As dusk fell, the hill facing the two stages was adorned by a patchwork of blankets, tent canopies, and chairs and the flat open area in front of the stages filled in with bopping heads and stomping feet. By the time Eastbound Jesus took the stage at 9, a plethora of local fans had arrived to greet them, ready to dance and party until the wee hours of the morning. The evening rounded out with a very theatrical and exciting performance by Bellas Bartok, who gathered the momentum from previous northern rock and bluegrass performances and introduced polka and other theatrical components to keep the audience revved, encouraging audience participation as they passed out pool noodles to the crowd.

Day 2 of the Throwdown kicked off at 11:30 with solo performer Dan Johnson, followed by local jam band, Green. Eddie Award Solo Performer of the Year, Girl Blue took to the main stage at 1:30, quickly garnering the attention of the audience with her sultry voice and feminist poetic lyrics. As the day marched on, the music continued to slowly lure concert-goers from their tents, shake off the cobwebs from the night before and absorb the new wave of sound as they made their way to the viewing area. The predominantly Blue Grass and Folk mix seemed to lure more and more people in from the surrounding countryside.  At the entrance to the festival, a new wave of concert goers started to arrive just in time to see the much-anticipated debut of Union Grits, a new string project lead by Eastbound Jesus lead singer and guitarist Adam Brockway. Blind Crow, J. Floyd, Eastbound Jesus, Band of Rustlers, and Yarn rounded out the afternoon’s performances and as night fell Driftwood took to the stage, promoting their recently produced vinyl and electrifying the stage with on their sharp vocals and matching string harmonies. The Blind Owl Band took to the pond stage plucking strings under the light of a waxing moon, maintaining the joyful exuberance of the crowd and throwing in comedic anecdotes as needed.

The Mallett Brothers Band and Eastbound Jesus rounded out the weekend, borrowing musicians from one another as needed and achieving peak flow state in the process. The appreciation and admiration between the members of the two bands was impossible to ignore and the crowd mirrored the energy on stage as the entire farm reached a crescendo when EBJ, The Mallet Brothers, Blind Owl Band, and Lowell from Lucid took to the stage all at once. The audience was dancin’, hootin’ and hollerin’ up until the very end at about 2am, at which point the party was moved from the mains stage to the campfire, and numerous tents and campers across the venue.

At one point in all of this excitement, an enamored observer turned to me and remarked, “Not bad for a bunch of local boys.”

No, not bad at all.

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