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All Good Music Festival

The time has come again for the annual All Good Music Festival, taking place at Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, West Virginia, July 13-15. 

The time has come again for the annual All Good Music Festival, taking place at Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, West Virginia, July 13-15.  Smack at the height of summer’s humid and smoldering hours, All Good remains one of the biggest festivals still rotating around musicians jamming out for endless sessions, getting lost with the audience in their music, floating around as one large mass in the heavy summer air.  It’s 20,000 or more people getting together, having a good time, listening to some cool music, and forgetting about the toils of Reality for a few days.

Being as isolated from the rest of the world as it is, the only way to enjoy All Good is to camp out on the mountainside.  Last year, things were all sorts of chaotic as I tried to make my way from Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio to Pittsburgh, where I’d meet up with some friends and journey down to the Festival.  It was a happy time indeed, too happy in fact- because by the time we actually made it to our campsite, I was too pumped up to see Les Claypool rock out to settle in properly.  I knew I had to get my pop-up tent up and ready before it got too dark and my soul became too consumed by the festival spirit, so I erected the thing in a hurry, and tore off for the stage.

Claypool- who’s returning to All Good again this year- plays like none other.  All the bends and wails that come out of his bass can resemble mating whales and intergalactic warfare at the very same time.  Accompanied on stage by his Fancy Band, the super dynamic Gabby Lala came close at points to stealing the show from Claypool.  Maybe she was just giving the man a break for a spell.

By the end of the performance, all the vibrations from the music had taken a physical state, rippling wavy shades of joy and giddy laughter, and a bit of uncertainty through the crowd.  The timing was perfect for Ween to take the stage.

Their show at first seemed like a regular band, not the Ween of the utterly depraved days of Pure Guava.  After tuning up, they starting jamming “Exactly Where I’m At,” followed by a reprise of “She Wanted to Leave.”  In talking to some of the folks around me, I found that they’d never heard of Ween.  “Reminds me of Blues Traveler,” one fella from Wheeling said. 

His accidental truth sent me into a peak.  What is going on here?  This does sound like typical “jam band” music…

Then they played that ole classic “Spinal Meningitis,” and I burst out into a hysterical laughter as the crowd began to sink into horror upon hearing, “Am I gonna see God, Mommy?  Am I gonna die?  It really hurts, Mommy!”  They were not prepared for this.  They came for Trey Anastasio, some hippy happiness, and now this Scotchguard junkie on stage is moaning about “it’s really got me down.”

Life is beautiful.

By the time Ween ended their 21-song set with “Someday,” I had no clue where I was.  I knew I was safe, but my friends had gone…wait a minute, did they even come with me?  In my haste to see Les Claypool, I had taken off into the twilight alone, with glee running through my veins and a head full of joy and laughter.  I had giggles coming out of my pockets by the time Ween finished up.

I eventually made it back to the campsite around 1am, and figured I should get some rest for the next day.  This is when I found out that it really is important to make sure you secure your tent to the ground in some way, especially when you’re plotted on the side of a mountain.  The storm that roared through that night made sure I learned this lesson, but as I lay in the tent, with the wind whipping it all around, I was still laughing.  The mountains here are more hillsides anyway, with gradual slopes that, at the worst, I’d end up rolling down, as opposed to suddenly dropping off a cliff.

It takes something very unnatural to keep me from sleep, and this evening was no exception.  After 8 hours of rock slumber, I dragged myself out of the tent, and into Saturday.  Bands played all throughout the day, beginning with Raq, later on Railroad Earth played, as did Galactic.  But this was a long day, so I just explored around, checking out the different vendors, and just talking to people.  I wasn’t in a rush to do anything, and quite frankly sitting at our site with the music drifting from the stage over the hill and dumping onto the camping area was pretty ideal for a summer afternoon.

There was also a second, smaller stage, the Magic Hat Stage that was closer to the campground.  Cats like Gary Jules, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, and Daniella Cotton played there, adding a nice backdrop to come home to when wandering away from the main stage.

In the end, you don’t journey to Masontown, WV on this weekend for some hardcore, extreme, hyper-vicious scene.  That’s why they call it the All Good Festival: because everyone there, despite their differences- from the preppy kids, to the ravers hitting everyone up for something, to the long-haired hippies playing guitar on the side of the dirt road- are all there for the same reason.  And we all end up smelling like garbage, but it’s all good.

The 2007 festival has yet another wicked roster, with Bob Weir, Keller & the Keels, and STS9 playing on Friday, the almighty Les Claypool, Michael Franti and Spearhead, moe., and something called the All Good all-star jam playing on Saturday, and much, much more.  If you’re going, you should already have your tickets, but for more information check out their website: www.allgoodfestival.com.

LES CLAYPOOL

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