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Peach Festival at Montage Mountain- Scranton, PA

peach festival 2017

The Peach Music Festival was founded by the Allman Brothers in 2012 and this was the second time I attended. This year the lineup was stellar and I couldn’t resist. Adding to the excitement of the band lineup was the incredible crew of folk who have migrated from amazing festival known as, Gathering of the Vibes. Similar to Vibes, Peach is more family-friendly and generally tamer than some festivals. The demographic skews older (partly due to Widespread Panic and Gov’t Mule on the bill) and more seasoned in the ways of camping and festing. Peach is held at Montage Mountain in Scranton, Pennsylvania where I attended Camp Bisco a few weeks prior. News came through that this would be the last year Bisco would be allowed on the mountain. Apparently, the arrest and emergency tolls were too high. Adding further contrast to the scene, Peach seemed to draw half the number of attendees. This made the entire weekend pleasant in every way. Lots of room to camp, short lines for food, and space to dance. Similar to last year and Bisco, the weather can be unpredictable and inhospitable. It is safest to prepare for rain and this weekend it came and went at opportune times.

We drove close the night before to sleep at Hair Tie’s weekend home so we could get on the mountain early in the morning. I anticipated a rush of people but we got on the mountain quickly and found a cozy spot in the woods close to the entrance. We made camp in time to hear Cabinet play next to the wave pool. It wasn’t a full day of music but what we heard was great. Cabinet lead into 2 sets of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead (JRAD) followed by a late night Dopapod extravaganza.

Friday started late but found me perfectly relaxed at the feet of Holly Bowling’s terrific solo piano set. Things got funky from there on. Greensky Bluegrass and The Hip Abduction followed by Pigeons Playing Ping Pong kept us dancing enough to feel okay about taking a break to welcome the rest of our crew to the mountain.

As the rain started and began to fall heavier, we tried to direct everyone to our site. I missed seeing My Morning Jacket in the process but was grateful to have the whole crew together. We caught up as the rain slowed; production delays served us well and we were able to catch the beginning of Lettuce with Chaka Khan. This seemed like a strange item on the list of acts but I knew she’d be awesome and she was. I only wish I had more energy to dance. We stayed a while, caught some hits and she dopplered away as we walked back to camp.

Saturday involved an extended float on the lazy river. We sang happy birthday to every lifeguard we passed and had everyone singing along. We dried off in time for Umphrey’s first set at 3 pm. It is odd seeing them in daylight. Their light show is great and something about the music makes it strange surrounded by daylight. The openness of the venue was strange for Umphrey’s as well. The last time I saw them was Summer Stage but I was only listening from the outside. I feel their music holds more power when in a confined space; it builds a pressure and tension that I look to them for. Anyone else?

Next up was an all-star tribute to Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks. I’m not a huge, die-hard Allmans fan but the performance was solid and with the added weight of their recent death, it was hard not to get that much deeper into the tunes.

The evening was spent watching bubbles in front

Bubbles at peach fest
of Spafford at the small stage before Galactic, Papadosio, and a final Cabinet set before bed. I skipped the Peach tradition of wagon races. At 4:20 am. If you’re unfamiliar, imagine dozens of spun out kids sitting in the wagons they used to haul their gear for the weekend, facing downhill, and charging forth with only bruises (at least) for a trophy.

 

Sunday was the highlight. I caught a bit of the final Les Beres performance before heading to see Hayley Jane and the Primates. This was their first time at Peach and hopefully the organizers will know to put them on a bigger stage next time. People were crying, I saw goosebumps, and heard comments like, “new favorite band; hands down,” “Why isn’t this on the main stage?” “I should have skipped Mike Gordon,” and “I’m in love.” Most people who saw me were reminded to check out this set and they were not let down. It was probably the best set I’ve seen them do. The new songs are great and the energy was off the chain.



 

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