As overcast skies made their way over The Peach Music Festival on Saturday morning, music fans refused to let their sunny dispositions fade. After two days of legendary performers and unreal collaborations, their third day on Montage Mountain was primed to be a memorable one.
“It’s an honor and a pleasure to be at Peach Fest this year,” Blackberry Smoke frontman Charlie Starr told the early-afternoon crowd at the main stage. Following the Devon Allman Project feat. Duane Betts, Blackberry Smoke continued to channel the southern rock energy that has permeated the festival since its founding in 2012. Even a Beatles tune like “Come Together” had a certain southern twang on the Blackberry Smoke stage. The band also dedicated “Free On The Wing,” to their “brother Gregg Allman,” who appeared on the original studio version of the song. Later, in one of the most talked about moments of the day, guitar phenom Brandon “Taz” Niederauer jumped onstage to add some riffs to Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away.”
Next up on the Peach Stage was Chris Robinson Brotherhood. As newer acts like Aqueous and Ghost Light rocked out on the Mushroom Stage, the CRB played a nine-song set that spanned from their newer material – like Barefoot in the Head opener “Good To Know” – to unexpected covers – like “Rare Birds” by friend and frequent collaborator Jonathan Wilson. Vamping for the “people of Peach,” Chris Robinson proved his status as one of the best frontmen in rock and roll. He belted out “Ain’t It Hard But Fair,” a cut that feels like a spiritual sibling to CRB offshoot Circles Around the Sun (the side project of guitarist Neal Casal and keyboardist Adam MacDougall), and closed with CRB’s version of the late-’50s tune “I’m a Hog For You.”
By the time moe. and Little Feat were prepared to take the stage, the rain started to come down harder and harder. That being said, fans didn’t seem to mind as they grooved along to a setlist that pulled mostly from Little Feat’s 1978 magnum opus Waiting For Columbus. At times, the number of musicians on stage swelled to 15, and the Turkuaz horns felt right at home taking the place of the legendary Tower of Power brass section. The collective opened with “Join The Band,” followed by “Fat Man in the Bathtub,” and as fans squeezed under the pavillion overhang seeking shelter from the rain, they sang along to favorites like “Oh Atlanta” and “Dixie Chicken.” Moe. and Little Feat bid farewell to their captive audience with Waiting For Columbus’ final track “Feats Don’t Fail Me.”
After a quick turnover on the Peach Stage, the Deadheads in attendance were ready for two sets of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. The jam quintet kicked off their first set with 20+ minute version of Jerry Garcia’s “Cats Under the Stars,” and they continued by jamming their way through pensive tracks like “Row Jimmy” and “Loser” as well as rollicking favorites like “Playing in the Band.” Picking up on the party atmosphere in the crowd, JRAD kept the energy up in their second set, opening with “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodleloo” and closing with the appropriate “One More Saturday Night.”
As the clock struck midnight, dark, cloudy skies and howling winds contributed to the ambiance of Gov’t Mule’s Pink Floyd-infused “Dark Side of the Mule” set. The band opened with the slow-burning “Echoes,” and welcomed a slew of special guests including keyboardist Torbjörn “T-Bone” Andersson and saxophonist Ron Holloway as well as vocalists Machan Taylor, Mini Carlsson and Sophia Ramos. The trio of singers made their mark on the epic, mid-set “Great Gig in the Sky” and the crowd was carried into the early morning hours of Sunday with Mule’s final number: an emotional, sweeping “Wish You Were Here.”
The Peach Music Festival will continue on Sunday July 22, with performances by Dickey Betts, Oteil and Friends and more.
For more information visit thepeachmusicfestival.com