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Thursday, September 20

Festival Review: Jomeokee: A Hidden Treasure - 9/14-16/12- Pinnacle, NC

From the first note of The Heritage’s funk rock opening set to the last note of Love Canon’s bluegrass set(which entailed a plethora of 80’s covers), the Jomeokee campground was crackling with love, joy, and an essence of desolate escape from the common man’s daily grind. The first day was jam packed with amazing bluegrass with a few funky interludes in between.  Aside from the indescribable synergy between the sounds soaring from the stage and ecstatically grinning audience, the sky was blue as Robert Johnson, and the sun was a-shinin’ like it was its last stand. 

 A series of bluegrassers took the stage from mid afternoon to sunset including Larry Keel, Patterson Hood, and Keller with the Travelin’ McCourys, followed by the Jimmy Herring Band (jazzically trained to rock your socks off) and Stephen Marley.  
 After Stephen and his boys were done skunkin’, the party leveled up Yonder style.  When Jeff and the rest of the gang strutted onto the stage, a roar of excitement enveloped the crowd that I haven’t heard since the world found out that Cher was done making music.  The hour and a half that followed was a cosmic carnival of epic proportions.  To say the least, the quartet powerhouse known as Yonder Mountain String Band absolutely took it home.

After an epic after party and just enough sleep to dance like it’s 1999, Saturday morning was at hand.  The day began with the Jamtronica sounds of Broadcast which immediately got everybody back on their feet.  A few more people rolled in as well, and the official crowd of Jomeokee had been distinguished.  One of the most touching parts of the festival was the multitude of children dancing like they were all seeds of James Brown.  Being one of the most family festivals I’ve ever experienced, it’s easy to say if you’re looking for a wook-free, light-heartedly pure festy, Jomeokee is the place for you.  After Broadcast, we were given the pickin’ and grinnin’ of Al Schniers’(of moe.) bluegrass side project, Floodwood, followed by the jamtron wizards, The Mantras(who got everybody’s space face smiling away), and then the dub reggae jive of Midnite. 

Afterwards, as dusk began to ease its way into the evening, everybody had one thing to say: “Del, yeah!”.  Del and his boys took the stage for a bouncing set of foot thumping bluegrass that showed all the young bloods there how it’s done.  

After a weekend that had given us an eclectic mix of bluegrass, jamtronica, and reggae, everybody wanted one thing… the FUNK… And out of the generosity of their hearts, the steezy boys from Lettuce gladly gave it to us.  As the sun began to set, the collective consciousness of the crowd had perpetuated into one thought: “How could this weekend get any better?”

If the previous night wasn't enough, YMSB returned to the stage for one last hurrah to gladly answer that question.  An amazing set highlighted by a cover of the Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense, the twirlin’ and psychedelically swirlin’ crowd was taken home once again.  Afterwards, we were given the treat of a flawlessly epic bluegrass all-star jam composed of the Yonder boys, Bill Nershi, and Drew Emmitt.  

As the minds of all who witnessed seemed to construct into a structure of epic proportions, there was one last piece to complete the beautifully designed structure we call our musical fulfillment:  Matt Butler and his interstellar circus known as the Everyone Orchestra.  This specific line-up was one of the best I’ve ever seen him put together, composing of Jimmy Herring, Al Schnier, Melvin Seals, George Porter Jr., Jeff Sipe, Michael Kang, Vinnie Amico, and Jennifer Hartswick.  

A powerhouse of musicians wielding their wizard staffs of sheer improvisational magic, this was an explosion of jam perfection.  Every musician on board was smiling from ear to ear through the entire hour and a half of impromptu musical bliss, and it was apparent that they were getting hit with the “It” factor just as hard as the bug-eyed crowd who blissfully danced their way through the set.  It was everything one could possibly long for in improvisational rock and roll, and if there’s ever been a generation where that desolate branch of musical reality has shined, it is the inner melody of the inescapable and golden present.  
After we were done hootin’ and hollerin’ through the night, everyone was longing for one more Saturday night… But surrounding the laughter and love that had soaked the weekend, it was time to lay down and take our rest.  After dreaming of the crystallized moments of the weekend, everyone woke up to go to church…  With ol’ Del preachin’ and pickin’ like the Holy Ghost just boogied its way into his guitar and voice as the pastor of the morn’.  Afterwards, the Danberrys and Love Canon gave us two final sets and sealed out Jomeokee Festival 2012 as one for the books.  
I can honestly say that after experiencing the intimacy and desolation of a small family festival like Jomeokee, I will pursue as many as possible from this point forward.  So start saving your money friends because anyone whose anyone should drop their plans for next Fall and make their way to the immaculate and ecstatic dream of a jiggle fest that is Jomeokee.
Words: Tyler Easterday
Photos: Jason Newton

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