Monday, March 22, 2010

Rothbury Festival Review & Photos

In 2009, the Rothbury Festival was the biggest festival with an intimate experience.  Held in the forests and fields of Northern Michigan near the town of Rothbury, the July 4th weekend festival was the place to be to take in a 18 hours a day of live music while beating the summer heat.   
 Bob WeirThe 4 day event featured The Dead’s only summer performance in 2009.  The four remaining members of the Grateful Dead: Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart were joined by Jeff Chimenti and Warren Haynes as The Dead.  This was the last time the 4 remaining members of the Grateful Dead performed together as The Dead to date.  Phil Lesh and Bob Weir have now rejoined as Furthur and are starting a new winter tour in February after a marathon run of open rehearsals in Mill Valley preceding their New Year’s Eve run in San Francisco and well-reviewed Northeast tour.
Willie Nelson bared the blazing full sun to perform an energetic set to a packed field of music fans on Sunday.  Willie was joined by his sister Bobbie Nelson on piano and the rest of his family band.  Toots Hibbert of Toots and the Maytals joined Wille Nelson onstage to perform “Still is Still Moving to Me” after Wille told the crowd he meant to save another song he played earlier to sing with Toots.  Willie Nelson and Toots Hibbert recorded the song, “Still is Still Moving to Me” together and it is on Toot’s album, True Love.

Madison House Publicity, the events organizers, strived to make every effort to make the festival an environmentally friendly event and to set and example on how to run a green festival.  Carpooling and mass transit networking, composting, reducing trash generation, carbon-offsetting and utilizing clean energy were some of the steps Rothbury took to raise the bar of environmentally friendly practices.  To raise awareness inside the festival, folks were invited to take part powering a pedal-powered stage and people who purchased the wax laminated cardboard E-Coolers were allowed to bring their own drinks into the festival center.  The E-Cooler did seem to be a great product and great idea to replace the disposable and easily-cracked Styrofoam coolers that tend to litter trash piles at the end of festivals.

Damian Marley (Jr. Gong) and Nas (Nasir Nas Jones), put on a wicked set.  The joining of forces between Reggae and Rap superstars is a welcomed combination of musical talents and genres.  Damian Marley and Nas have recorded an LP (soon to be released) titled “Distant Relative”.  Nas and Damian Marley have just released the first single from this album, “As We Enter”.
Another highlight of the festival was the Sherwood Forest.  The corridor connected several open field areas which held stages as well as food and craft booths.  Inside the forest, various large decorations hanging in the trees were glowing neon from recessed blacklights.  Other areas of the forest had different glowing and lit effects.  There was a gong therapy area in the forest where people could lay immersed in acoustic vibrations coming in from all directions.  Music at Rothbury went on till sunrise each night with the latest bands taking to the stage between 2am-3am.  Rows of trees separating the adjacent fields holding stages did a good job to keep the music from overlapping to listeners in the outer fields.  On one path, there was just a few feet distance from where one stage’s sound died off and another became audibly focused.  Phil Lesh joined former Phil Lesh & Friends member Jackie Greene during his July 4th set.

Warren Haynes, besides performing with The Dead, also ripped with his band Gov’t Mule on Sunday joined by Scott Tournet and Grace Potter.  The Statuesque Grace Potter performed with her band Grace Potter and the Nocturnals earlier that afternoon pouring soul out of every pore.

The 2010 Rothbury Festival has been unfortunately canceled.  Citing conflicts with bands’ touring and recording schedules that they were intending on bringing in, festival organizers have explained that this has prevented them from arraigning the quality and array of talent they were hoping to compile for 2010.  Rothbury organizers are determined to work on toward holding the next Rothbury Festival in 2011.

Professional Concert Photographer David Oppenheimer has spent the last two weeks editing hundreds of photographs from the 2009 Rothbury Festival.  Stock Live Music Concert Photography Archives & Services – David’s website.

Links to David’s Rothbury Festival photography galleries:

Bob Dylan at Rothbury                       

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