Show Reviews

    Sunday Peach Festival 2017

    Peach Festival Montage Mountain Scranton PA August 13 2017
    by Ryan O’Malley

    Photos by Eric J Simon

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    After three days of nonstop running between three stage, Sunday was a blessing at Peach as only the Grove and Peach stages were running, saving thousands of people the walk up the steep hill to get to the Mushroom Stage (in reality, if that’s your biggest complaint about Peach Fest, you still had a great weekend). As was the case Saturday, another tribute to the late Butch Trucks was an easy highlight as Trucks’ side band, Les Brers, delivered what is advertised as its final performance.

    From the video channel of Sean Roche

    The core band consisted of Chuck Leavell on keys and vocals, Jaimoe on percussion, Jack Pearson on guitar and vocals, Pat Bergeson on guitar, Oteil Burbridge on bass, Marc Quinones on percussion, Duane Trucks on drums, Bruce Katz on keys, and Lamar Williams Jr. on vocals, kicked off the festivities with powerful runs through the Allman Brothers Band staples “Hot ‘Lanta,” and “Trouble No More.”

    Much like Saturday, the flawless interplay between Pearson and Bergeson was a sight to see as the two axe men made the music sound as good as it has in years. Even though many people thought it would be part of Saturday’s tribute, the ABB instrumental “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” finally made its way to Peach, complete with a pounding three man drum solo spliced in between.

    After an introduction from Pearson, Berry Oakley Jr. made his way to the stage to play bass on the final two cuts, another frantic “Whipping Post,” and a soft “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” If it was indeed the final performance by Les Brers, it was a great closure to a short but great career, as everyone on stage looked to be having a blast, and the crowd reciprocated that same feeling.

    Fresh off a 13 night “Bakers Dozen” run with his full time band Phish, bassist Mike Gordon brought his namesake band to the Peach for a spacey 90 minute set. Augmented by Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski, keyboardist Robert Walter, percussionist Craig Myers, and drummer John Kimock, Gordon chose to deliver some cuts from his soon-to-be-released new album “OGOGO” including “Whirlwind,” “Marissa,” and Crazy Sometimes.”

    The Turkuaz horn section, who were artists at large for all of Peach Fest, came out to lend support to the band on “Face” and “Victim 3D,” which brought the frenzied set to a close. From the video channel of Sean Roche Joe Bonamassa, a modern blues shredder, made his Peach debut on Sunday and delivered one of the loudest sets of the weekend.

    Over the last two decades, Bonamassa has solidified himself as a master bluesman and has shared the stage with many of the heavyweight guitarists of our generation including Eric Clapton and the late B.B. King. While the music might have been a unique change from the typical jam bands that define Peach Fest, Bonamassa’s mastery on the guitar had the crowd mesmerized.

    The opening segues of “This Train,” “Mountain Climbing,” and “Blues of Desperation” featured some of the best guitar work of the weekend from the flashy front man. Paying homage to one of 20th century’s best guitarists, Bonamassa ripped through the Albert King gems “Breaking Up Somebody’s Home,” “I Get Evil,” and “Angel of Mercy,” before  tackling the deep Led Zeppelin number “Boogie With Stu.” Following “Last Kiss,” Bonamassa received some of the biggest applause of the weekend from the crowd who respected the fine musicianship they just witnessed.

    From the video channel of Sean Roche

    For their second and final appearance of the weekend, Widespread Panic relied more on their own material rather than the heavy covers of the previous night. “Blackout Blues” was an early highlight featuring some nice slide guitar work from John Bell. A tribal “Bears Gone Fishing” bled into a slow and jammed out “Second Skin.” A driving “Greta” showcased how fluent Jimmy Herring can be on guitar, with an extended solo in the middle of the song. “Driving Song” was a testimony to how in tune the band is with each other, as the complex tempo  changes of the song were pulled off with precision and flawless timing.

    The slower “Saint Ex” served as the perfect lead in to the bands final cut of the weekend, a bouncy “Ain’t Life Grand,” which had the crowd dancing and featured some solid piano from John “JoJo” Hermann. After two nights of dancing and nonstop smiles, Widespread Panic made its Peach debut a memorable one and undoubtedly made itself many new fans. In its sixth year, the Peach Music Festival broke away from the standard festival protocol and experimented with some acts that weren’t familiar to the Scranton, Pa. market.

    It was a move that caught many Peach veterans by surprise, but after four days of fun and celebrating everything good about music, few complaints could be found while exiting the festival. The only real complaint to be found is having to wait another year to party down with the Peach fans that have become family to each other. If that’s the worst that can be said, this year was another success.

    To submit a review or story for consideration hit us at

    Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.

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