From the Sunday ‘LOCKN’ Times’: Keep on Growing

John Patrick Gatta on August 25, 2019
From the Sunday ‘LOCKN’ Times’: Keep on Growing

photo by Jay Blakesberg

After two days of starts and stops, the good vibes at LOCKN’ were finally met with good weather.

Much of Saturday was filled with booty shakin’, then Tedeschi Trucks Band finished the day with a headlining set that was soul-stirrin’.

After Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi sat in with Trey Anastasio during TAB’s headlining performance on Friday, Anastasio returned the favor and joined TTB on Saturday.

Anastasio, along with Doyle Bramhall II gave LOCKN’ a special, first time ever TTB recreation of the album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs by Derek and the Dominos, a record that features a collaboration between Duane Allman and Eric Clapton. Trucks represents a nexus between these two artists as he played in the Allman Brothers Band and also toured with Clapton (as did Bramhall).

This is the second time TTB performed a full album at LOCKN’. In 2015 the band recreated Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs & Englishmen, along with the help of original members, including Leon Russell and Rita Coolidge and friends such as Chris Robinson and John Bell.

Longtime fans have heard TTB play Layla tracks “Keep On Growing,” “Anyway,” Key To the Highway” and “Tell the Truth” but never the full album. (The original version of “Thorn Tree in the Garden” the last song of the record, played on the PA after “Layla” closed the set in climatic fashion.)

Anastasio handled vocals on “Bell Bottom Blues” and shared lead with Alecia Chakour on a stirring “Little Wing.” Mike Mattison traded verses with Tedeschi on “Anyday” and sang “I Am Yours” with keyboardist Gabe Dixon.  Bramhall moved to the front on vocals and guitar during “Key to the Highway.”

“Have You Ever Loved a Woman” found Tedeschi delivering some stinging leads on guitar before digging in on vocals. Trucks and Anastasio traded nasty blues licks to finish “Tell the Truth” while Trucks concluded “Keep On Growing” and “Layla” with mesmerizing work on slide.

Some of the hottest solos during the opening set came from Tedeschi. She ripped through “I Pity the Fool” with a ferociousness both in her vocals and on her guitar, that was heightened after an adlibbed line about “children in cages” brought the song to another emotional level.

Vulfpeck got the party started and ran it down to burning embers in an energetic 90 minute set that made true believers out of anyone at LOCKN’ who had never previously seen the band. Highlights included “1612,” “Back Pocket,” “Beastly,” covers of Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and Rufus and Chaka Kahn’s “Tell Me Something Good.” “Christmas in L.A.” featured an audience sing-along that switched the title to “Christmas in VA.”

In a non-musical moment that was equally inspiring and hilarious, Jack Stratton gave a “keynote speech” that addressed the wonderfulness of LOCKN’. It included the catchphrase, “Down the middle solves the riddle,” which simultaneously described the advantage of having a split circular rotating stage and an approach to life. 

Happy Birthday Oteil ©Jay Blakesberg

Oteil (Burbridge) and Friends featuring Bob Weir included Eric Krasno, Wolf Bros. Jay Lane, Neal Casal (Circles Around the Sun), Melvin Seals and Jason Crosby, TAB’s horn section (Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman and James Casey), Lamar Williams Jr. (who’s on the next New Mastersounds album) and TTB’s Kebbi Williams.

Krasno wore a t-shirt in tribute to keyboardist Kofi Burbridge, Oteil’s brother and TTB keyboardist, who died earlier this year.

The 12-song set featured selections from the catalogs of the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia, Allman Brothers Band, as well as classic rock and soul.

“Run for the Roses” opened with Burbridge on lead vocals. Casal sang lead on “Cats Under the Stars.”

Weir joined for “Weather Report Suite” > ”Let It Grow” > ”Cassidy.” He later returned to the stage for an encore of sorts, to join in singing “Happy Birthday” to Oteil who mentioned that it was the second time he celebrated it at Infinity Downs (he was on site in 2018 prior to Dead & Company’s performance).  

Duane Betts joined in during “Cassidy,” then led the group on versions of the ABB’s “Dreams” and “Jessica.” The smile on Oteil’s face affirmed his positive feelings in revisiting these tunes from his previous band.

Alfreda Gerald sang the final two numbers, “How Sweet It Is” and “Piece of My Heart,” with Krasno letting loose with a scorching guitar solo during the final song. 

John Popper with Twiddle photo by Dean Budnick

During a day that featured lots of dance grooves, Twiddle brought old-school jamband improv to life. So, it made sense when John Popper of Blues Traveler joined the quartet for seven songs including covers of BT’s “But Anyway,” “Hook” and “Mountains Win Again.” Popper was also on hand when Bob Weir and Eric Krasno joined Twiddle for a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World.”

Preservation Hall Jazz Band merged the Big Easy brand of funk and blues with flavors from its visit to Cuba, captured in the new documentary A Tuba to Cuba. Pres Hall performed as a six-piece, offering lots of room for solos on saxophone, trombone, trumpet and piano. While most of the selections were instrumentals, Branden Lewis sang lead on “If I Had a Hammer.” The Cuban influence was particularly noticeable on the irresistible “Santiago” and “I Am,” the latter of which appears on the accompanying A Tuba to Cuba soundtrack.

Cory Henry started his day with a Piano on the Porch session in the morning and then finished it on the main stage leading his band, the Funk Apostles, on a set that moved from furiously-paced to slow, grooving funk. 

Nashville’s Liz Cooper & the Stampede transitioned from simmering rock to psychedelic bursts that found the three members treating the music like crashing waves of sound.

Charlottesville’s Free Union started Saturday’s lineup with a half hour of blessed-out soul. The 11 members added to their ranks by kindly inviting members of the Audacity Brass Band to join them since that band’s set was rained out on Thursday.

Free Union frontman Michael Coleman commented that it “Feels so good to be here.” After a day of so many special, once-in-a-lifetime performances, it certainly does.