Thursday, January 31, 2008

Langerado proof is in the lineup

By Samantha Spector

I call Langerado “the little festival that could.” For years it has been overshadowed by Coachella and Bonnaroo, who boast twice the hype and (in this humble writer’s opinion) half the lineup. Last year raised the bar with headliners ranging from Trey Anastasio and moe. to Widespread Panic and Michael Franti and Spearhead (who are noticeably absent from most festivals this summer).

This year, that bar isn’t even in sight. I fully intend to look down and wave from cloud nine as I, along with the 15,000 other attendees, get down to a lineup that is sure to keep us movin’ and shakin’ in the sun for the now-four-day festival.

Langerado is billed as a “genre based festival.” While that’s true (and what festival isn’t?), the production team seems to have pushed hard to bring further diversity to a lineup stacked with our favorite jamband superstars.

The proof is in the lineup. We’ll start with some of the main stage headliners. R.E.M. is set to come out of hiding with a performance to kick off a media blitz in support of its fourteenth studio album, Accelerate. Beastie Boys, 311, festival staple Phil Lesh and Friends, Gov’t Mule and The Roots will also hit the main stage, along with Matisyahu, who returns after performing at Langerado a year ago.

But keep scrolling down, because the list certainly does not end there. Ani DiFranco, Ben Folds (minus the Five — sorry, had to go there), G. Love and the Special Sauce, Medeski, Scofield, Martin and Wood and Keller Williams are also on tap. Do not miss Grace Potter and The Nocturnals: If you haven't seen this band live, you’re missing out. Nobody out-wails Ms. Potter, who fronts one of the most cohesively precise rock ‘n’ roll bands on the road today.

I have to take a moment to meditate on what Umphrey’s McGee has become. Two years ago, they were bluesy alt-rock jammers thrown onto the bill with bands such as Galactic (nothing wrong with that whatsoever). Somewhere between then and now, they became mind-altering jam rock musicians — the kind crowds talk about for months, even years, after. I am personally curious as to exactly when and how that happened.

Let’s get back on track (sorry, a little gushing now and again never hurt anyone). The Wailers will add a reggae dimension, Robert Randolph and the Family Band will inject a shot of funk and Sam Bush will bring his down-home soul to the mostly rock lineup. I’m expecting late night sets from STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector 9) and Grateful Dead tribute Dark Star Orchestra. I’d like to see RAQ welcome the sun, and expect an explosive set from our favorite Philly boys, The Disco Biscuits.

Does that sum it up? No. We still haven’t talked about Citizen Cope, Thievery Corporation, the Benevento Russo Duo or Ozomatli. What is Blind Melon without Shannon Hoon? Is Golem as weirdly awesome live as they are on disc? And how exactly does Les Claypool see through that mask?

My curiosity might be peaked, but it’s no match for the excitement. See you in Florida!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Mountain Jam lineup announced

The fourth annual Mountain Jam, hosted as usual by guitarist Warren Haynes, rolled out the initial lineup for the May 30-June 1 festival to be held at Hunter Mountain in Hunter NY. Early bird tickets go on sale later this week.

The lineup is headed by one of Haynes' bands, Gov't Mule, which will close both nights. Other notable names include Levon Helm Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Drive By Truckers, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, The Greencards and lots more.

The word is that this is a well-run event and a great festival experience that is less than two hours from New York City.