The music experience is a tremendous, fully involved, moment. Having as much to with the sounds as well as the visuals. The feel as well as the Vibe. The time as much as the place. It’s often said, almost as much as the frame has to do with the canvas. If the audio of the music experience is completely captivating but one aspect of the show not pertaining to the audio is off or not in sync with the audio, then that has the possibility to take away from the overall experience. This works adversely, experience, sights and sounds, can make a show better if the band is not to your liking. You get the illustration. Bottom line, we’ve had our moments of clarity when the band is on vibe and the night is firing on all pistons.
Festivals are in this world of everything all in one place. The surroundings, the music, the people, the smells, the entire spectrum; all infused into a moment or a weekend. For me, they are a true emotional and spiritual medicine. I find myself happy, free and truly inspired by the entire moment. I crave it when I’m away and more when I’m right in the middle of it. As my personal career in music and my life, in general, evolve; I notice my dependence on the connection music has with it’s people. Life is truly the journey and if we’re lucky enough, happiness, is the end result. However, the connections we create are what nurture us and feed our emotions, thus providing sustenance, to continue the fight. In a loose, esoteric illustration, Music is the nourishment and festivals are a vessel for everything on the menu. Depending on which festival you attend, you’ll get a wide variety of tastes to fulfill the spirit.
The good folks over at LOCKN in Arrington,VA were overly kind and gracious to allow me to attend their incredible festival this year. I can’t begin to say enough pleasant things about the energy and goodness surrounding this festival weekend. Top notch in every way. Established in 2013 by co-founders Peter Shapiro and David Frey, LOCKN has become the annual stop for all things “jam” or “improvisational” in all music genres. Groove to Blues, Funk to Rock, Gospel to Grass. Ultimately, all stops in between. Straight band sets, collaborations galore, artist sit ins, even some solo; with every act bringing nothing less than “A Game”. I knew after my peaceful trek to Arrington, that my weekend was going to be amazing and it truly felt like coming home, with this being my third year in attendance. The time of season is perfect, warm during the day, cool at night, and very little if any chance of precipitation. Check in for credentials was a breeze, Staff and Media camping was spacious and overlooked the main stage, which is always good. I wasn’t going to miss a thing. After a quick site set up, meet the neighbors (amazing photographers Josh Brick and Caitlin Moore), I made my way into the venue. Never one to settle on complacency, LOCKN is continually altering their landscape to be better in every way. After evaluating the changes and meeting up with old friends, I began to settle into the experience.
Then you meet Peter Shapiro, express your gratitude personally, and that sets the tone for the entire weekend. What a night.
First night highlights are hard to mention but given the fact that the main stage has an actual rotating table to allow for no breaks in between bands, I was certain to not miss anything. I certainly did not miss when bands, Lettuce and Umphrey’s McGee, stopped the stage rotation and played together for several minutes. Pretty amazing. Actually all the bands were amazing in their own ways. Widespread Panic, Dead & Company, Tedeschi Trucks, Agents Of Good Roots, Foundation Of Funk, Funkadelic, and so much more. LOCKN truly changes your spirit and I knew this year already topped the previous two. The next three days were packed full of true emotional nourishment. Each day beginning with a media allowed stroll over the farm. Calm and quiet. Staff slowly gathering to involve in duties. Sound staff getting dialed in. Vendors clamoring about to ready their services. I immediately befriended David Fafara of Shenandoah Joe Coffee out of Charlottesville, VA. My first and often last stop each day. David and his amazing crew took care of me all weekend and his quest for great coffee was overly interesting and his energy was truly infectious. One of the many connections the festival allowed me. Coffee in hand and my back to a tree, each morning I was able to truly survey and consume what the festival was providing and gifting everyone. Amazing music by incredible artists. true connections and interactions with like minded and spirited people, great energy and a tremendous view. The vendors and artisans were abundant and there was lots of action on Participation Row. Voter registration, animal advocates, clothing, artwork, sober living and meetings. All truly influential and beneficial. What better way to celebrate 13 years of sobriety than at midnight, at my home festival, telling my story in hopes to provide uplifting content to serve others. Pretty special to say the least. Days of sights and sounds, meeting new family, making plans, interviews, some food, some shade and lots of hydration continued. Speaking with festival security I learned that they loved the festival as much as me and respected the organizers, crew and the spirit of it all. Truly nice to hear since they all work so hard.
The LOCKN experience is so enriching and passionate. So much so, it’s truly challenging to put my experience into words. It’s positive and happy. Love is truly all around, it’s our own perspectives that blind us. Upon speaking with festival organizer Peter Shapiro briefly, sharing my honor and love for LOCKN, I said “thank you”. He paused and pounded his chest saying “thank YOU”, stressing the last syllable. It was brief, good and honest. It meant everything. Giving praise and gratitude is vital. Casey Cranford, sax player from festival performers BIG SOMETHING said it best, “LOCKN is quite the experience” and to that my friend Francis added, “Good music is good music”. Simple statements, that offer so much so eloquently about their love for music and the experience. To that, I added, about music and LOCKN, there is no expiration.
My deepest heartfelt thanks and gratitude go to Peter, David and the entire LOCKN crew and staff for your hospitality and kindness. I’m better because of it.
See you next year..
“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the easiest of times, and to the latest.”
– Henry David Thoreau