Songwriters, jam bands hallmarks of Friday’s Peach Music Festival performances
SCRANTON — Songwriters and jam bands were among the musical acts that kept crowds pleased Friday at the Peach Music Festival. The Pavilion at Montage Mountain filled early, around noon, on a day that saw the sea of festival-goers thicken.
Songsmiths Anders Osborne and Jackie Greene were among the day’s highlights as were reggae fusion outfit Michael Franti & Spearhead, guest-laden orchestra Twiddle & Friends and jam icons moe..
Osborne & Greene acted as the mountain’s wake-up call, bringing their adroit blend of thoughtful lyricism and rootsy song structure to the main stage.
The pair took turns singing their songs, with Greene taking the microphone first. His percussive and moody “I Don’t Live In a Dream” brought early commentary to the day with its line, “I don’t have no faith in politicians,” and Osborne’s emotive guitar work reminded the Peach crowd that he is just as home as a lead instrumentalist as he is as an acoustic songwriter.
A highlight from Osborne was “Flat Earth Song,” which, he noted, his daughter named. The tune is a bright folk-rock hop addressing the importance of self-reflection and perspective and the pitfalls of technology with lyrics like “We all have perfect lives inside our phones/No wonder everybody feels so alone.”
Throughout the set, Greene embodied the term “multi-instrumentalist” by playing guitar, piano, banjo and harmonica.
Michael Franti & Spearhead were a glowing spotlight on an already bright day, offering their blend of reggae, hip-hop and pop rock and preaching their message of love and understanding.
Fueled by Franti’s optimistic lyrics, uplifters included “Once A Day,” a reminder that “everybody oughta hug somebody, at least once a day;” “Sound of Sunshine,” and “Just To Say I Love You.”
Franti reached as many audience members as he could, running from the main stage to the rock wall at the bottom of the lawn, the soundboard and back into the lawn to sing and dance with people as he led the mountain-wide dance party.
A poignant moment came when Franti and co-writer Victoria Canal performed their ode to active peace, “Flower In The Gun,” a hopeful soul-pop ballad.
Twiddle & Friends offered a cover-heavy set, with the Vermont-based jam band inviting members of Turkuaz, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band and more onstage. The ensemble, Turkuaz horns participating, started with the reggae romp, “Lost In The Cold,” a Twiddle original, before performing a high-energy version of Bob Marley’s “Iron, Lion, Zion.”
The uptempo funk of Pigeons guitarist Jeremy Schon was a welcome instrumental lead on Twiddle’s “Every Soul,” and Grateful Dead founder Phil Lesh, son Graham and fellow Terrapin Family bandmate Elliot Peck joined the band for memorable versions of Dead staples “Bertha” and “Eyes of the World.”
Progressive jam-rock veterans moe. played one of the most unrelentingly powerful sets of the day, starting fast with the dark funk of “Brent Black,” and playing straight through their originals “Billy Goat,” “The Pit,” “Tubing The River Styx,” “George” and “Downboy” before taking a break. The medley was a fine display of peculiar prog-funk and psych-rock that had sweet moments of rootsy rock ‘n’ roll to warm it up.
The fluid improv outfit played two relatively new songs in “Who You Calling Scared?” and “New Hope For The New Year” — giving fans a taste of the strange and satisfying experimental rock to come — in a set that also featured a cover of The Band’s “Ophelia,” Turkuaz horns back in action, and Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.”
Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band took the stage for a primetime set, where they played Dead classics “Mr. Charlie,” “Tennessee Jed,” “Throwing Stones,” “Samson and Delilah” and “Sugaree” among others.
Saturday’s performances included sets by Blackberry Smoke, Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Nicki Bluhm and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead.
Reach Matt Mattei at 570-991-6651 or on Twitter @RMatthewMattei.