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Return of LOCKN', after a year off and a festival revamp, proves to be a soggy musical treat
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Return of LOCKN', after a year off and a festival revamp, proves to be a soggy musical treat

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For campers on the first day of this year’s LOCKN’ performances in Nelson County who were hanging on to their tents through high winds and pounding rain, their determination to stick it out and not have another LOCKN’ experience taken from them — as was last year’s — was admirable and thoroughly relatable.

After LOCKN’ had run for seven straight years in Arrington as a four-day festival, last year’s shows were canceled because of COVID-19. With the pandemic rolling into 2021, LOCKN’ was restructured this year as LOCKN’ Farm, with mini-fests held over three consecutive weekends, beginning on Friday, Aug. 13, and wrapping up on Sunday, Aug. 29.

Though smaller than years past, LOCKN' brings a familiar feeling to Nelson County

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead was slated to bring their take on the music of the Grateful Dead as the headliner for the opening weekend’s three nights, but storm concerns led to the cancellation of JRAD's Friday performance after opener The Slip wrapped up their fine set.

The weather did allow for an unscheduled Saturday afternoon performance by JRAD, which included a set of Pink Floyd covers, but the night performance was canceled because of more storms. The band made up for lost time Sunday by playing for more than four hours, including a set devoted to the Allman Brothers Band.

The second weekend, dubbed "FRED the Festival" by Saturday/Sunday headliner Goose, gave festivalgoers much more to celebrate. Goose's profile has risen considerably over the past two years, and crowd anticipation was high. Judging by the audience's ecstatic reaction, the band did not disappoint.

The improvisational rock band's two Saturday sets, with songs such as “Yeti” and “Drive,” sometimes rose to jaw-dropping crescendos, and a dynamic lighting arrangement further increased the excitement. And with a signature LOCKN’ experience being the intermingling of artists onstage, members of Dawes joined Goose to ride out their Saturday appearance.

The night before, Dawes fired up the audience with a full performance of Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid” album. Their entire Saturday set, coming after well-received performances by Cory Wong and Sammy Rae & The Friends, played like someone’s classic rock, as confirmed by the enthusiasm of those in attendance.

“We’re glad to be playing songs our again,” said Dawes singer/guitarist Taylor Goldsmith, thanking Goose for the invite.

The last of the three weekends was highlighted by Tedeschi Trucks Band's seventh appearance at LOCKN' — and the group's first full-band performances since March 2020.

“This was one band that we knew we wanted to have,” announced LOCKN’ co-founder Peter Shapiro on the final Saturday, before this year’s largest LOCKN’ audience.

A full dozen members of Tedeschi Trucks Band took to the stage and provided one highlight after another. The set included a moving “It’s So Heavy” and “The Letter,” with the latter serving as a nod toward TTB’s performance of Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs & Englishmen” album at LOCKN’ in 2015.

Representing the band's recently released “Layla Revisited (Live at LOCKN’)," which was recorded at the festival in 2019, TTB's Saturday set included “Bell Bottom Blues” and “Why Does Love Got to Be So Sad?” Unfortunately, even more threatening weather brought down the curtain early on Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Saturday show, but the band was able to play a full performance the next day as scheduled.

Earlier Saturday, the crowd swelled considerably as Marcus King and his band further lit up the hot afternoon.

“Still feeling good?” King asked. “Staying nice and hydrated?”

With the punch of a two-man brass section, King connected as much with his soulful vocals as with his amazing guitar playing.

Whether running through Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson's “Good Hearted Woman” or his own solid originals, King effectively drove his guitar through various musical styles, with a crowd that cheered him on throughout. A fine take on “When a Man Loves a Woman” included one of King’s best solos of the day and saw dozens of cellphones (and one walking cane) go aloft.

Even with the disappointing weather conditions, seeing the return of LOCKN’ was a highlight in itself, and those in attendance were treated by artists who clearly were glad to share the experience.

Contact Hays Davis at haysdavis101@gmail.com.

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