Marvin's Mountaintop set to host 14th annual All Good Music Festival
Bonnaroo 2010 is in the rear-view, but nearly 20,000 fans of live music from around the world are truckin' to West Virginia right now as the 14th annual All Good Music Festival, kicks off today, July 8, and runs through Sunday at Marvin's Mountaintop, in Masontown, W.Va., southeast of Morgantown.
With West Virginia's largest music festival ready to dial in four days of music, camping, glow-stick dancing and loving under the stars, we checked in with Tim Walther, of Walther Productions, which puts on the show, as well as All Good's spokesman and veteran music man, Dave Weissman. The fest features a who's who of the world's best live music acts including a four-hour Friday night set by Furthur featuring Phil Lesh and Bob Weir (of the Grateful Dead), Widespread Panic, Umphrey's McGee, Yonder Mountain String Band, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi Band, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dark Star Orchestra, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic, Keller Williams & the Added Bonus, and many more.
Call 800-594-TIXX or go online at www.allgoodfestival.com for more info.
LAVENDER: How many people were at the first All Good, and tell us a little bit about the growth here in Masontown as the festival came to West Virginia?
WALTHER: Well, we started back in 1996 with the first All Good that took place at Wilmer's Park in Brandywine, Md. Then we moved to Capon Bridge, W.Va., then to Fredericksburg, Va., then to Terra Alta, W.Va., then finally found our home at Marvin's Mountaintop...we were outgrowing each venue along the way. We ended up at Marvin's mostly due to the room to grow and the proximity to where we conduct our business year round in DC and Baltimore. It's just far enough away that you get away from the hustle and bustle, but not so far away to be a strain of a drive. On the first event, myself and my partner, Junipa Contento, were the only two on staff other than the one security guy that came with the rent. We were throwing a big party for our closest 945 friends. Since then we have taken a slow growth philosophy and enhanced the All Good experience on a year-by-year basis. Now in our 14th year we have a roster of the absolute best bands in this demographic, and some of the strongest and most seasoned festival personnel in the country. We are truly blessed to have made it this far and could not have done so without the support and understanding of the fans throughout the years.
LAVENDER: With a four-hour set by Furthur, how far away are folks coming for All Good this year, and any celebs coming to see them?
WEISSMAN: We've sold tickets in all corners of this fine nation -- from California to Maine; Washington state to Florida. No line yet on any celebrities coming -- and Furthur is Not 'The Dead' -- they've made it clear they're a unique group that is really taking that Grateful Dead music 'further.' But we've also sold tickets in a handful of other countries, so people are indeed coming from all over.
LAVENDER: I know some festivals like Rothbury are not putting on a fest on this year, and I know some summer tours have been canceled. What has caused All Good to thrive in spite of a still sluggish U.S. economy?
WALTHER: I like to say that we have the largest small festival going. We like to put on a large event, but still provide an intimate experience, even though there will be 18,000 to 20,000 in attendance, the fans will frequently run into their friends, they will have their own space and the crowd as a whole will come together as one living and flowing organism -- a mini-community joining together to revel in all good music and vibes in the great outdoors with camping, dancing and loving. Additionally, our prices are more than reasonable when comparing them with other events of our magnitude. So the entertainment value for the dollar is really hard to match, and we think people are being supremely conscious of that when choosing where to go for a weekend of music, camping and fun.
LAVENDER: I know you all put a limit on how many folks you'll allow on the Mountain, that seems like a great idea, what are some of the other things that you think makes All Good a great festival?
WALTHER: We look to strengthen our lineup each year to improve our production, and to improve the fan's experience by tweaking our operations and upgrading our services and amenities that we offer. This year we have 21 new artists out of 40 on our roster. We will have a better light show than ever. We will have LED screens for the first time. We are upgrading our port-a-john services. We will have more crowd performers than ever and will have many surprises that fans will have to come to experience. Another key thing that is in the fans' favor is that we offer no overlapping sets. The festival fan can see every minute of every band that he/she has paid to see for the most part without even moving from one space. Another would be that our number one goal is to provide the safest and most enjoyable experience for the fans. We realize that for a great deal of these folks that this is their summer vacation, and we want to make it a weekend to remember for years to come. We do our best with our staff to set the stage for the incredible vibe that takes place each year at our event. You arrive to the mountaintop and the rest of the world goes away, whether it takes a day or two, at some point everyone comes together within this community and there becomes this universal sense that every little things gonna be alright.
LAVENDER: Aside from Furthur, what do you think are the not-to-miss sets this year?
WEISSMAN: First time All Good bands such as George Clinton and P-Funk, Old Crow Medicine Show, Femi Kuti, Dr, Dog will also be a real treat. The action actually gets started super early in the campgrounds on Friday morning with an early morning wake up with Greensky Bluegrass; The Everyone Orchestra does sets on Friday and Saturday on the side stage and they mix it up with members of a bunch of different bands by making their entire set full improvisations 'conducted' by Matt Butler. These shows are really special since they involve the audience and really get them involved. The Pimps of Joytime are a band that will surprise everyone with their blend of upbeat East Coast funk, since they've not played too many festivals yet. But this is a tough question since all the bands are 'not-to-miss'!
LAVENDER: About how many folks does it take to put on All Good, counting vendors, staff and the WET or Work exchange team members?
WEISSMAN: We have 65 departments, over 600 staff, a huge production crew, and over 1,000 WET (volunteer/work exchange) members.