Why You Should Go to LOCKN' This Year

Why You Should Go to LOCKN' This Year

Here we are, smack in the middle of the summer music season. We've seen festivals big and small, local bands touring all over the country, and new artists from hip-hop to folk, funk to bluegrass, jam band to electro and everything in between. It's many people's favorite time of the year; a few months to travel the country, see new sights, hear new music, and cleanse your mind and spirit from the banalities of life in 2016 America.

As friends and fans debate which shows and festivals to line up on their calendars, one weekend continues to loom on the horizon and get my blood pumping more than anything else: LOCKN' Festival. It's built up quite a bit of buzz in the few short years of its existence thanks to the combination of a remote and gorgeous location, a focus on sustainability, truly unique lineups, and experienced management in festival creators Pete Shapiro and Dave Frey.

So why should you go to LOCKN' this year? Sit back and I'll tell you!

First of all, let's discuss this year's lineup. LOCKN' has always had a lineup that is easy to spot in a list of big summer fests, and this year is no exception. Headliners Phish and Ween will each play two nights (Ween plays immediately before Phish on Friday night!). Phish is known for generally playing their own festivals sans other bands, and Ween is in the middle of their triumphant reunion tour, so that will be a truly momentous Friday night. My Morning Jacket closes out the Saturday festivities in between with their earth-shaking psychedelic Americana. In addition, Phil Lesh and Friends was just added for two nights. LOCKN' has always been heavy on Grateful Dead members, and Phil's rotating Friends ensemble is always a delight. Fans everywhere are discussing who they'd like to see and who is actually most likely to join the Dead bassist for some mountain jams **UPDATE** Phil Lesh will be joined on Saturday by Page McConnell and Jon Fishman (keyboards and drums in Phish), Joe Russo (drums in Joe Russo's Almost Dead), the Infamous Stringdusters (incredible six-piece bluegrass group), and the fantastically bluesy Anders Osborne. On Sunday, Phil's Friends will be the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and modern blues hero Gary Clark, Jr.

The rest of the lineup is a varied, eclectic, but focused slew of talented musicians: the soulful horn-drenced Tedeschi Trucks Band, two late-night sets of Joe Russo's Almost Dead, late-night shows from Texas-based psychedelic surf trio Khruangbin and renowned funkmasters Lettuce, the blisteringly virtuosic White Denim, up-and-coming R&B/funk stars Vulfpeck (with an extra set added by popular demand!), nine-piece powerfunk group Turkuaz, Charles Bradley and his Extraordinaires, blues wizard Gary Clark, Jr., the legendary reggae of the Wailers, Americana supergroup Hard Working Americans, the shredfest of the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Keller Williams performing his Grateful Gospel and Grateful Grass, two nights of Twiddle, and more. Check out the rest of the lineup and schedule here: http://www.locknfestival.com/schedule. Oh, and one last thing about the bands: LOCKN' doesn't do overlapping sets, so you can see every single show if you're up for it. This year they've moved from two main stages to a turntable stage setup, which should provide a singular festival show experience.

So in addition to swimming in a sea of smiling faces and crunchy grooves, what else does LOCKN' have to offer? Only the natural beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains, juxtaposed against the rolling venue of Oak Ridge Farm. Nestled in Arrington, VA, there are hiking and bike trails galore, providing festival patrons ample opportunity to stretch their legs and explore the grounds. If you'd rather just be there for the music and then retreat to the comfort of a warm bed, there are lodging and travel/shuttle packages available as well. For all camping/lodging info, check it out here: http://www.locknfestival.com/lodging.

As far as sustainability goes, LOCKN' has a wonderful tradition of sourcing their craft food and beer from the local community, bolstering their economy and adding to the local feel of the fest. There are also numerous ways to recycle your goods, and merch can be bought with proceeds going to different charities; one example being Phish's fan-run Mockingbird Foundation, which helps supply funds for music education. There's just more of a feeling of a labor of love at LOCKN' than at other larger festivals.

I mentioned earlier the experience of the festival co-creators, Pete Shapiro and Dave Frey. These two are legendary in the festival music scene, Frey having helped started the H.O.R.D.E. festival back in the early 90s, and Shapiro being the publisher of Relix magazine in addition to promoting the Fare Thee Well shows last summer (he also owns Brooklyn Bowl, an incredible venue, and ran the famous Wetlands Preserve venue back in the day as well). They have built lasting relationships with bands from all over the scene, and they are proof of what dedication to what you love can accomplish.

Well, I hope I've at least made you consider heading out to Virginia for LOCKN' 2016. It's unlike anything I've ever seen, and with a superb lineup, local cuisine and craft brews, the natural beauty of the secluded setting, and the formidable expertise of the management, this year is shaping up to be the most spectacular yet. I hope to see you all out there, and as always, happy listening!

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