By Michael Lester
Photos by Jim Gavenus
SCRANTON — Seemingly inspired by their surroundings at the canopy-covered Toyota Pavilion on Montage Mountain, Royal Southern Brotherhood opened Day Three of the Peach Festival on the main stage by including a pair of classics during an hour-long set — a leisurely blues spin on the Grateful Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain” and a powerful facsimile of the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter.” RSB percussionist Cyril Neville lended his soulful vocals during both covers.
Music festivals always offer fertile ground for multi-band collaboration, experimentation and cover songs, and we saw some good ones over the weekend.
moe. fans catching the Floodwood show that immediately followed RSB may have been expecting the newgrass band featuring moe. guitarist Al Schnier and drummer Vinnie Amico to pepper their set with a tune or two from the Buffalo band’s catalog. Floodwood didn’t deliver a moe. song, per se, but “Magnolia Road” did include Al’s introductory riff from moe.’s “Tambourine,” with Schnier playing it on acoustic guitar. Perhaps the most intriguing portion of the Floodwood performance was the band, which includes Jason Barady on mandolin and Nick Piccininni on banjo and violin, pickin’ on Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way back Home” before launching into the actual setlist.
While they did not return to “Can’t Find My Way” during their Saturday afternoon performance, Floodwood did play traditional folk song and Grateful Dead staple “I Know You Rider,” the same song Bob Weir and Grace Potter wowed the crowd with hours earlier during Ratdog’s Friday night show.
Floodwood, which plans to release its debut album next month, returns to Northeast Pennsylvania Thursday, Sept. 12, at the River Street Jazz Cafe in Plains. And, moe.rons will get a chance to hear those moe. songs they were craving at Peach very soon. moe. returns to the Sherman Theater in Stroudsburg Sunday, Sept. 29.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, another band planning a fall album release, offered up a funky and sedated rendition of The Doors’ “Light My Fire,” with saxman Denson on vocals. That was as relaxed as KDTU’s high-energy show would get. The sextet had people dancing in the aisles under the canopy during their Saturday afternoon set.
The covers sparking the most post-Peach buzz, though, were Grace Potter’s “Cocaine” tribute to the late J.J. Cale and she and the Nocturnals’ delivery of Neil Young’s “Down by the River.” Potter also joined Bob Weir and Ratdog on stage for John Lennon’s “Dear Prudence,” a song that has become a staple of Ratdog shows of recent years.
But these all took a backseat to the weekend’s highlight — the Black Crowes’ borrowing Bob Dylan’s “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” to close the festival Sunday night with the help of Weir.