Tribute, Gov’t Mule, Widespread Panic highlights of Peach Fest on Saturday
SCRANTON — With the air still ringing from powerful performances by rockers My Morning Jacket and funk masters Lettuce, Saturday’s lineup at The Peach Music Festival at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain kept energy flowing and patrons dancing.
Performances by Chicago progressive rock outfit Umphrey’s McGee, hard blues-rockers Gov’t Mule, and Southern jam veterans Widespread Panic were among the highlights surrounding a guest-laden Peach Tribute to fallen Allman Brothers Band and Peach Festival founders Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks.
Playing two long sets separated by eight hours of downtime, Umphrey’s McGee was so charged in both slots, it was a wonder they took a break at all.
The Midwesterners gave a technical metal clinic on “Walletsworth” and worked into the prog composition “Similar Skin,” which culminated in a hair-raising guitar solo by ax man Jake Cinninger.
A gem of the set came when Cinninger — as announced by bandmate, fellow guitarist and lead vocalist Brendan Bayliss — dedicated a forceful version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Power Of Soul” to his father, who celebrated a birthday that day.
The evening set raised the bar.
The six-piece delivered an elevated “Nothing Too Fancy,” the cool reggae of “Higgins” and a cover of David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” wrapped in halves of fan favorite “All In Time,” which acted as the second song of the set and the finale to the encore.
The Peach Tribute to Allman and Trucks brought the most moving moments of the day as past Allman Brothers Band members Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, Jack Pearson, Oteil Burbridge, Marc Quinones and Chuck Leavell were joined by Pat Bergeson — who played with Trucks in Les Brers — on guitar, Duane Trucks — nephew to Butch Trucks and drummer for Widespread Panic — on the drum kit, Bruce Katz — who played piano in Les Brers and Gregg Allman & Friends — on the keys, and Lamar Williams Jr. — vocalist for Les Brers and son of former Allman Brothers Band bassist Lamar Williams.
They opened with a moving version “Statesboro Blues,” the Allman Brothers Band’s regular opener. Throughout a set of hits, guests included Devon Allman (Gregg’s son) for a stirring “One Way Out,” Jimmy Herring (Widespread Panic guitarist) for a three-guitar “Jessica” and Scott Sharrard (musical director of the Gregg Allman Band) for a crowd sourcing “Midnight Rider” that had every voice within earshot involved.
The set ended, fittingly, with former Allman Brothers guitarist and Gov’t Mule frontman Warren Haynes stepping out for an emotional “Whipping Post.”
Gov’t Mule followed on the main stage, getting political with “Stone Cold Rage” and “Revolution Come … Revolution Go” off of their latest album and showing off Haynes’ singer-songwriter side with the Southern-style ballad “Traveling Tune.”
Haynes’ anthem “Soulshine,” which he wrote as a member of the Allman Brother Band, contained a few bars of “Jessica,” a sweet, if only momentary nod to his fallen friends, and a version of Neil Young’s “Cortez The Killer” that featured Herring on guitar, elicited an awe-inspiring roar from the crowd.
Jam juggernaut Widespread Panic gave festival goers all they could handle during a prime-time set that was kicked off by Herring’s gritty guitar work on the dark blues number “Henry Parsons Died” and melded right into the grunge rock of “Love Tractor.”
Spot-on renditions of ZZ Top’s “Waiting for the Bus” and “Jesus Just Left Chicago” punctuated the set, but the addition of 14-year-old Brandon “Taz” Niederauer on guitar for an improvisational “Surprise Valley” that had the youngster keeping up with Herring and the audience wowed.
Blues phenom Joe Bonamassa and Phish bassist Mike Gordon were slated for big sets Sunday with Widespread Panic scheduled to close the festival with another headlining set.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @TimesLeaderMatt.