SCRANTON — For four blissful days, Scranton was the center of the jam-band universe as the second annual Peach Music Festival rocked the Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain from Thursday through Sunday.
The festival, hosted by the Allman Brothers Band, was held on three stages at the Toyota Pavilion and the adjacent Montage Mountain water park as more than 45 acts presented more than 39 hours of near continuous music. Festivities began Thursday evening at 6:45 as five bands played the free “kick-off party” and ended about 7:35 p.m. Sunday as The Black Crowes finished up its two-hour set.
In between, the crowd was treated to two sets each from the Allmans and Bob Weir and his band RatDog, plus a solo acoustic set by Weir, the former Grateful Dead guitarist and singer-songwriter, and performances by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Gov’t Mule, Greensky Bluegrass, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Railroad Earth, Tauk, Floodwood, and Royal Southern Brotherhood – and those were just the acts on the main stage.
Campsites at the facility were completely sold out and buses shuttled other concert-goers to nearby hotels.
Artistically, it featured many once-in-a-lifetime (at least in Scranton) collaborations between artists, including Potter joining RatDog for a gorgeous “Dear Prudence” and “I Know You Rider” on Friday, Weir joining the Allman Brothers Band on Saturday for “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” and Weir joining The Black Crowes on Sunday for a knockout rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues.”
In addition to their own songs, the artists also dug deeply into the catalogs of such artists as the aforementioned Beatles, Jimi Hendrix (the ABB did “1983…[A Merman I Should Turn To Be]” on Saturday), Traffic (Greensky Bluegrass did “Light Up or Leave Me Alone” and the Crowes did “Medicated Goo,” both on Sunday), and Elvis Presley (Potter and her band did “Mystery Train” on Friday, which happened to be the 36th anniversary of the King’s death).
After Potter and the Nocturnals wowed the crowd on Friday with tasty renditions of “Cocaine” and Neil Young’s “Down By The River” plus a few of its originals such as “Paris (Ooh La La),” Weir took the stage for the first time with a 15-minute version of “Easy Answers” and Grateful Dead favorites such as “Loose Lucy.” His set on Saturday was even better as he began with Dead staples “Jack Straw,” “West L.A. Fadeaway” and “Cassidy,” then wandered through some obscure RatDog tunes before finishing strongly with “Not Fade Away” as the crowd sang him off stage, playing that familiar Bo Diddley beat on the chair backs in unison.
The Allman Brothers Band were cooking both nights, hitting home runs on Friday with “Midnight Rider,” “Revival,” “Statesboro Blues,” “One Way Out” and a set-ending 30-minute rendition of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” The only negative Friday was the meandering, eight-minute drum solo in the middle of “Reed.”
Saturday’s set by the festival’s hosts dug a lot deeper into obscurities and covers, but also came up with great versions of ohe favorites.
Sunday’s highlights included Weir’s solo turn early in the day (“Brunch with Bobby”) on tunes such as the Grateful Dead’s “Playing in the Band” and the festival-capping set by The Black Crowes, who were on fire from the early minutes (“Sting Me”) through the band’s final run of an acoustic “She Talks To Angels,” followed by a long, trippy “Thorn In My Pride” and “Remedy.” The group then brought the whole shebang to a close with a triumphant romp through “Hard To Handle,” which segued nicely into Deep Purple’s “Hush.”
Artists with local ties were featured throughout the festival as Cabinet played a set on Thursday with guitarist Mike Mizwinski then again on Saturday, while Mizwinski and his band MiZ played Friday. Other locals such as Charles Havira, Coal Town Rounders and Panked! DJs also played sets on the satellite stages.