Jam Central Station 9.29.12: The Werk Out Festival - 9.20.12-9.23.12 - Legend Valley - Thornville, OH
Posted by Jeff Modzelewski on 09.29.2012
The third annual Werk Out has a new venue, but the same great music!
Hey everyone! I'm just about recovered from the final festival of the season. Had a great time at the Werk Out, despite the cold temperatures and damp tent. Sometimes you just gotta keep plowing through though (and sometimes you have to be happy you brought a partner to help with the review!) Anyways, check out the review!
Last year I made my first trip to the Werk Out festival. It had a great, small, regional feel to it while still having some big bands to draw the crowds. It was a lot of fun, and I looked at that festival as a solid template for what a regional fest should be. This year, The Werks decided to expand their Werk Out festival by moving it to Legend Valley, a much larger venue and the site of this year's All Good festival. To go along with the larger venue they brought in some bigger artists to participate. While 2011 still felt like a regional festival thrown by a regional band, the 2012 Werk Out appeared to be more of a "coming out" party for the band. They now have national representation, they've been touring around the country, and they brought in some major players to pump up this year's event. They took a big risk, and I have to say that the risk paid off.
The festival took on the same format as 2011, with the Thursday Early Bird being a major night for the festival. I arrived in time to have our camp set up and organized well before any of the big names of the day played. The first band I was able to check out was Cosby Sweater, a solid electronic/funk act out of Indiana. Their inclusion of a saxophone reminded me of Big Gigantic, although their funky style was very unique. Papadosio followed on the main stageThis was my first opportunity to see the native Ohio band, and I was extremely impressed. While electronic music typically isn't my thing, Papadosio used a live band setup without relying too heavily on computers to put together an exciting hour and a half set. The band has a good relationship with the headliners of the weekend as well, so it was pretty clear that this wouldn't be the only time we saw Papadosio. This was a set that made me want to see more of the band, however, so in pretty much any respect it was a success.
Dr. Fameus, a side project featuring Allen Aucoin from the Disco Biscuits, followed on the side stage. I'm about 50/50 on the Disco Biscuits, and Dr. Fameus was more electronic and less song-oriented than tDB, so I took that as an opportunity to explore the rest of the venue. The event organizers took advantage of the much larger venue to include bigger vendors, more stages, and some other unique features to keep the crowd entertained. This included stilt walkers, various fire performances, and even a walk through a forest area with lights and artwork that was reminiscent of a very scaled-down Sherwood Forest from Rothbury. The attention to detail was major plus for the festival.
We made it back to the main stage to see the first set from The Werks for the weekend. The band truly knows how to keep their fans wanting more. Their first set of the weekend was just under two hours, and included plenty of guesting from Papadosio. The band is extremely high energy and does a great job of mixing in extended jams into their songs. They went on multiple long instrumental runs throughout the weekend, including a couple of extended jams on Thursday. I haven't seen the band since Werk Out 2011, and I'm definitely not familiar with their music, but they have some loyal fans and they certainly know how to put on a show. The closed the set with a Werkadosio run, and Don and I headed up the hill to catch some more music. We ended up spending some time exploring the grounds and the artwork before catching most of EarthCry, a side project of Anthony Throgmartin from Papadosio, focused on using musical frequencies for meditation purposes. The music itself was electronic and very chill, and Throgmartin explained before each song what frequency he was focusing on and what that was supposed to help with. It was a very cool effect, and something that I'd say would be worth exploring further.
Saturday got started with Soul Rebels out of Dayton. This eclectic group mixed rock, reggae, funk, and jam to wake the crowd up. Although they're still a local up and coming act, they had a nice little crowd and certainly won new fans with their set. The next set we caught was the progressive bluegrass of Greensky Bluegrass. In a lineup dominated by electronic music, Greensky Bluegrass felt a little out of place at this festival. That didn't stop them from putting on a solid set. They played plenty of songs off of their recent Handguns album as well as a solid bluegrass cover of Prince's "When Doves Cry." One thing that I love about the jam band crowd is their willingness to accept new music, and this was a good example of that. Despite being far removed from the electronic music scene, the crowd seemed to thoroughly enjoy Greensky Bluegrass, and they certainly put on a great performance.
EOTO came out to get the crowd going again with their unique improvisational electronic talent. Given the fact that their music is 100% improvisational, it obviously takes a lot of talent and a huge level of familiarity for Hahn and Travis to successfully pull off their shows night after night. 2011's Werk Out was the best EOTO set that I'd seen, so I was hoping for more of the same. Unfortunately this year's set didn't quite reach those same heights, as it seemed like Hahn and Travis weren't as in sync as they typically are, resulting in a handful of minor miscues and drops that didn't quite seem to work. Hahn also took some liberties with his vocals, spending much too long rapping during the set. Again, given the improvisational nature of the set, it's not surprising that sometimes things just don't work all that well, and I think this was one of those examples.
Luckily The Werks came out with another extremely solid set. The band ripped through another nearly two hour set that included plenty of jamming and guests. This led up to the highlight of the weekend, a performance by Matt Butler's Everyone Orchestra. Instead of featuring a String Cheese Incident heavy lineup this year, the Orchestra got funky with members of The Werks (obviously) the funky Kung Fu, a couple of guys from Greensky Bluegrass, Johnny Dreadlocks from Soul Rebels, Todd Stoops from RAQ, and Rob Somerville from Deep Banana Blackout. While it wasn't as star studded as 2012, it was a whole lot funkier. The Everyone Orchestra went for well over an hour, with Butler guiding the ever changing set of musicians the entire way. The fact that Butler is able to organize such a diverse set of musicians and keep them all pointed in the same direction takes incredible talent, and the fact that these musicians can somehow make a set work is very impressive. The Everyone Orchestra is simply always a highlight.
Sunday was a jam-packed day for music. I caught a couple of early bands while hanging out with friends at their campsite. Both The Heavy Pets and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong put on solid sets, and Chris Houser from The Werks guested with Pigeons. Rusted Root brought a little 90's nostalgia with them, playing their unique style of world music. The band only features a couple of original members, and they had some speaker problems mid set, but they closed out with their hits "Ecstacy" and "Send Me On My Way," which is all you can really ask for from those guys. One of the most interesting lineup choices played next. ekoostik hookah are Ohio jam band legends, and Legend Valley has been their stomping ground for many years. It was a pretty big deal for relative newcomers like The Werks to be holding their festival at Legend Valley, but it was an even bigger deal for them to get hookah to play. The band put on a solid set, focusing mainly on their upbeat rock jams and allowing guitarist Steve Sweney to show his stuff for much of the set. Houser came out again to guest with the band in what seemed to be a "passing of the torch" moment. Houser certainly held his own on stage with the band, and he showed plenty of deference to the great Sweney.
The electronic jam band Lotus was next. Lotus has been steadily on the rise at festivals, and, other than The Werks, it would be safe to say that they were the de facto headliners for the weekend. The band certainly played as if they were, bringing out a great 2 set that was one huge party for the crowd. They were almost non-stop energy, and the stage area was absolutely packed for the band. Break Science followed on the side stage. They were definitely solid, but following Lotus is not an easy task. They did a decent job of keeping the crowd engaged between sets, however. The Werks closed out the weekend with a massive set that lasted well into the morning. The band played over 6 hours of music during the weekend and still managed to stay fresh throughout. They certainly keep to their jamtronic-friendly style, but they mix it up enough to stay engaging. It's impressive that this band, which is a band absolutely on the rise, can put together such a great weekend of music for both their hardcore fans and for new listeners.
The 2012 Werk Out was very different from 2011. The Werks mainly focused on bringing in bands that would complement their sound, with a few exceptions for diversity. They truly have stepped into their role as a major player, not only in Ohio, but across the country. They brought in bands that were more established around the country and proved that they belong to be on the same stage. Along with the music, they put together a festival that had plenty to do other than the main stages of music. There were 5 separate stages of music that went until sunrise each morning. There were live artists, performers, and plenty of workshops for fans to attend if they chose. And the vibe of the festival was great. The electronic/jamtronic music fans get a bit of a bad reputation from others, but I didn't see anybody that was too out of control or acting out of line. There were certainly plenty of partiers at the fest, but I didn't see any major problem. The Werk Out Festival has gone a long way to establish itself as a top notch regional festival, and I'm already guessing that I'll be back next year.
String Cheese Incident announce NYE plans
The String Cheese Incident will be heading to their home state for New Years. The band will be playing a three night run at the 1stBank Center in Broomfield, CO on December 29, 30, and 31. This is the first New Years Eve run that the band has done since 2006.
STS9 New Years plans
Provided the world doesn't actually end with the Mayan Calendar, STS9 will be headlining a three night run in Denver for New Years. They'll be playing The Fillmore for a string of concerts that they're calling Time Within Evolving Living Vehicle Earth.
Greensky Bluegrass on New Years
Greensky Bluegrass will be headlining The Majestic in Detroit for New Years. They'll be relying on their home state fans to help them put together a party. The band will be joined by fellow Michiganders Frontier Ruckus.
Phil Lesh & Friends announce dates
Phil Lesh & Friends will play a handful of dates at three venues in November. The group will include Lesh, Jackie Greene, Joe Russo, Jeff Chimentinwell, John Kadlecik, and, for half the tour, Adam MacDougall.
November 7-9 Montclair, NJ—The Wellmont Theatre
November 11-13 New York, NY—Roseland Ballroom
November 15-18 Port Chester, NY—Capitol Theatre
Sam Bush and Del McCoury to tour together
Legendary bluegrass masters Del McCoury and Sam Bush will tour as a duo for a handful of dates starting in November. The pair have been busy with their own bands but have been looking for an opportunity to tour together for some time.
November 15th Peekskill, NY—The Paramount
November 16th Norwalk, CT—Norwalk Concert Hall
November 17th Derry, NH—Stockbridge Theater at Pinkerton
November 18th Alexandria, VA—The Birchmere
November 19th New York, NY—The City Winery
December 1st Chicago, IL—Old Town School of Folk Music
Love for Levon
October 3, 2012
East Rutherford, NJ
This one-night event will raise money for the Levon Helm estate. Performers include Gregg Allman, My Morning Jacket, Roger Waters, Joe Walsh, Bruce Hornsby, Warren Haynes, Levon Helm Band, John Mayer, Ray LaMontagne, and many others.
October 5-6, 2012
Mann Music Center
Performers include: The Disco Biscuits, Diplo, A-Trak, RJD2, Paper Diamond, Papadosio, and many others.
The Festy Experience
October 5-7, 2012
Nelson County, VA
Performers include: The Infamous Stringdusters, Trampled by Turtles, Leftover Salmon, Keller & The Keels, Rubblebucket, Elephant Revival, and many others.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
San Francisco, CA
Performers include: Elvis Costello, Emmylou Harris, ALO, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and many others
Harvest Music Festival
October 11-13, 2012
Yonder Mountain String Band will host the event and perform multiple sets. More artists will be announced later.
Austin City Limits
October 12-14, 2012
Performers include: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, The Black Keys, Jack White, Florence + The Machine, The Avett Brothers, Umphrey's McGee, Big Gigantic, Bassnectar, The Roots, Gotye, Weezer, Thievery Corp., and many others.
Bridge School Benefit
October 20-21, 2012
Mountain View, CA
Performers include: Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Jack White, Guns 'n Roses, The Flaming Lips, Sarah McLachlin, Gary Clark Jr., and many others.
Southern Ground Food & Music Festival
Performers include: Zac Brown Band (both nights), The Avett Brothers, Grace Potter & The Nocturnals, The Charlie Daniels Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, The Wailers, Jerry Douglas, and many others
Hangtown Halloween Ball
October 26-28, 2012
El Dorado County Fairgrounds
Performers include: Railroad Earth (3 shows), The Del McCoury Band, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe performing a Beastie Boys tribute, Blind Pilot, The Travelin' McCoury's featuring Keller Williams, Emmitt-Nershi Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Greensky Bluegrass, and many more.
Voodoo Music and Arts Festival
October 26-28, 2012
New Orleans, LA
Performers include: Green Day, Neil Young & Crazy Horse, Jack White, Avett Brothers, Skrillex, Coheed & Cambria, Nas, Gary Clark Jr., and many others
With Your Friends Festival
October 26-27, 2012
Performers include: Pretty Lights, Skrillex, Santigold, Nas, 12th Planet, Michael Menart, and many others.
November 8-11, 2012
Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park
Live Oaks, FL
Performers include: Umphrey's McGee, Soulive, Lotus, Perpetual Groove, Break Science, The Heavy Pets, and many others.
Strings & Sol
December 12-16, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Yonder Mountain String Band will perform 3 shows, and Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, and The Infamous Stringdusters will each be performing 2 shows.
December 16-19, 2012 (Bahamas)
December 19-23, 2012 (Jamaica)
Departing from Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Performers include: Pulp, Hot Chip, Yeasayer, Girl Talk, James Murphy, Sleigh Bells, and many others.
December 17-21, 2012
Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa
Umphrey's McGee, The Disco Biscuits, and STS9 will each perform two shows. STS9 will also perform a special midnight set commemorating the beginning of the new Great Cycle of the Mayan Calendar.
Island Exodus IV
January 16-20, 2013
Gov't Mule will host the event and perform multiple sets. No word on other performers.
Panic En La Playa Dos
January 27-31, 2013
Hard Rock HOoel & Casino
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
This event will be the return of Widespread Panic to the stage after a year-long hiatus. Tickets go on sale August 24.
Jam in the Sand
March 1-5, 2013
Breezes Grand Resort
Dark Star Orchestra's first Jamaican event. This event will feature multiple DSO shows as well as three Keller Williams sets and other activities
April 12-14, 2013
April 19-21, 2013
Governors Ball Music Festival
June 8-9, 2013
New York City, NY
Newport Folk Festival
July 27-28, 2013
Newport Jazz Festival
Austin City Limits
October 4-6, 2013
October 11-13, 2013
Sadly, for the second year in a row the Werk Out marks the final festival of the season. It was an amazing year, and I'm hoping I can top it next year! Be sure to check out more Jam Central Station on FacebookTwitter. Until next week, Jam On!