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All Good Music Festival: Jam Bands Rock and Roll in the Mountains of West Virginia

Published by Brent Arey

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This past weekend, July 13-15, over 20,000 people converged on Marvin’s Mountaintop just outside Masontown, West Virginia, to attend the 11th annual All Good Music Festival.

Why It’s Good

Perhaps the most outstanding aspect of this festival is the incredible, natural beauty of West Virginia. There was a brief rainstorm on Friday afternoon and again Sunday afternoon, but Saturday was a gorgeous summer day to walk around, listen to music, and watch the endless sea of interesting and colorful folks. The lush green forest and fields provided endless hills and hollers for the multitudes of campers.

The Music and Who Rocked

On Friday, the highlight was a nostalgic set of Grateful Dead songs by Bob Weir and Ratdog, sounding uncannily like…the Grateful Dead. Tie-dye gypsies and white guys with dreadlocks did not disappoint to bring back patchouli-filled flashbacks of halcyon hippie days.

Saturday delivered non-stop music from 12 noon to 4am. The Drive-By Truckers rocked the house with a hefty dose of southern rock designed to break up the jam bandness that presided. Grace Potter (and the Nocturnals) belted out one of the best performances of the day in this otherwise testosterone-heavy musical lineup.

Perhaps the highlight of the day was seeing Michael Franti perform on the smaller Ropeadope stage where he came off as a musical energizer bunny, leaping from the stage to dance with people in the audience. Franti and Spearhead provided an exhausting performance, where Franti comes off as new age cheerleader as much as rapping rastafarian.

Sunday became a bit soggy but included the non-damp performances of Leftover Salmon, Soulive and Sam Bush.

What About Non-Music stuff?

Beside the musical fare, the All Good Festival had a good selection of healthy food as well from felafel, shish-kabob and gyros, to less healthy pizza and waffles. (Not together, separately. 😉 Magic Hat Brewing Company provided excellent beer and there were pina coladas and daiquiris as well.

A mini-village of vendors provided shopping for cool t-shirts, head shop essentials, and left-leaning bumper stickers. There were representatives of various non-profits including the Conscious Alliance and Head Count. There was even token representation from the Hari Krishnas, who are starting to have as much street cred as Mormons these days.

So was the All Good Music Festival all good? There was a lot of trash generated at this event and having a 4-wheel drive vehicle was almost necessary to get to the mountaintop. Extra bright lights for dazed campers provided too much light pollution for really awesome stargazing. And who thought 8 showers would be enough for 20,000 people? Also, because of the rough terrain, the band’s use of expletives, and the dense pot smoke, this is not necessarily a family friendly event.

Other than a few glitches, All Good was a fun and festive weekend that provided an endless sea of color and music for all to enjoy.

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