Luna Light Music and Art festival

Sunday night jazz jam with Medeski Martin Benevento Russo plus the Snarky Puppy Horns and Holly Bowling

Darlington Maryland

October 14-16 2016

 by Dwayne from Delaware (D. Todd)


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Luna Light is a different sort of music festival. If you go to see a Grateful Dead family like festival, you’re be in the wrong place. I saw no kids in three days. If you think this a fist pumping, jersey shore beer contest,  you again would be off the mark. It’s not three days of your friend’s roommate from college doing singer-songwriter exercises either. Luna Light is actually a pretty original scene. It was heavy in EDM, though also had the likes of Marco Benevento playing ragtime at the VIP lounge. There were several cover bands ( some that were not so great), and yet very original acts like Tweed were there. Tweed, coming off of a national tour, had just released an EP on iTunes. They were excellent. The New Deal was in excellent shape, playing hard and long like I haven’t seen in years. DJ Tipper was the Saturday night headliner.

From the youtube channel of Christian Maldonado


The last three bands on Saturday was awesome music. It was John Medeski and Billy Martin playing heavy, Avant Garde jazz the likes of which they must’ve been hiding. I have seen MMW LOTS of times, and I would have to go back to their McCarter Center show in Princeton, NJ to reference something on par with this performance. I’m not sure if they played a recorded song, so improvisational was the set. That said, I missed Chris Wood not being there. Get well soon. Then, Marco Benevento played a zany set of oscillating piano riffs and whimsical lyrics. Very original music, both in date and

What happens after all this EDM festival turned acid jazz? Medeski, Martin, Benevento, and Russo play a long set with Snarky Puppy Horns. It turned into 1974 electric fusion jazz. I swear, it sounded like Keith Jarret was in the room. That said, it was neither John Medeski nor Marco Benevento that was playing the Miles Davis affiliated master’s licks. They were playing completely different voices to the point that a “third voice” appeared. It was the reason for music, a truly mystical outcome, all the while Billy Martin and Joe Russo thumped out great indigenous beats without ever stepping on each other’s feet.

I was amazed. This was the best improvisational music I had seen at a music festival in years. ALMOST nothing could’ve ruined it. Then a cast of characters from earlier music arrive on the scene. The Snarky Puppy horns should never attempt anything like this again until they go study Miles Davis and Marshall Allen. Why? Why would a horn player try to lay bars over such great art as was happening at that moment? These guys showed their age, searching thru the music for “what key it’s in”, instead of just screaming over it with banshee like prowess.

I wish I could’ve frozen MMBR with a magic wand, flew to Philly by helicopter, and then flew back with Marshall Allen. Every time one of those college kids started into a chromatic scale, I wanted to hurl a glow stick at them.

The Snarky Puppy Horns were far too structured. And Holly Bowling? She knows her way around the keys, though again her playing is limited to structure and feigned combos of firsts and fifths that seem like improvisation. To see her standing in Marco’s way, trying to play psychedelic chop sticks, while he struggled to take back control of the ship? Oh my. It was worse than Gibson’s Mr. Christian. A mutiny on the jazz improvisation. This went on for 20 minutes longer than it should have. Benevento was cringing while Medeski looked on in sinister fashion.

So the moral is, there should be a Miles Davis skill test before padawans are allowed to share the stage with such musical giants. That, and Luna Light should hire more great jazz acts like these. If 2017 is at least like this year’s, I will being going back for more.



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