Day three began with more rootsy music, this time from Larry Keel and Natural Bridge. Keel’s flat-picking wizardry provided a gentle eye-opener for those who awoke early following the previous day’s unending musical barrage. The next main stage set, from Conspirator, offered those in the know the rare chance to see that fabled festival creature the normally nocturnal wild spunion in the daylight. Even the band noted the strange timing of their set while introducing a new song by noting “this is only the second time we’ve played this, the first time was 2 this morning and we haven’t slept since.” But the odd timing did have the benefit of allowing a whole new group of festival goers to get their dance groove on early.
Tea Leaf Green and then Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons were next up and provided back to back rocking sets that provided the crowd with more typical afternoon festival fare. They were followed by the bluegrass offerings of Railroad Earth who delighted the crowd with a fantastic set which showcased their picking prowess as a back drop to Todd Sheaffer’s silver-toned vocals. Next was the second attempt at reggae with Passafire taking the second stage, but their efforts were no better than the previous day’s attempt to bring an island flair to the festival.
The Dead-based entertainment for the day was provided by Dark Star Orchestra who will be hosting their inaugural Dark Star Jubilee this Labor Day at the same venue. They deftly re-kindled the Grateful Dead spirit with a lively set of tunes taken from the entirety of the Dead’s catalog. The band’s take on the rarely heard Pigpen chestnut “Alligator” was a particularly special treat that no doubt had many fans looking forward to DSO’s own festival.
The Dead spirit continued with the Rex Jam, another Matt Butler led improvised musical extravaganza, but for this jam the spirit of the Dead was not from their music alone but also from their charitable endeavors. Named for the Dead’s Rex Foundation, the jam was a benefit for the local high school’s music program. With a musical core of Tim Carbone, Reed Mathis, Trevor Garrod, Larry Keel and Roosevelt Collier, Butler orchestrated another musical memory. A law needs to be passed requiring Butler to cast his magic spell over every festival.
The second strangely timed set of the day was played by normally late-night denizens Big Gigantic, who quickly established a dance groove that chased the sun over the horizon. From atop of their lighted podia, the Lalli-Salken duo crafted a particularly tight set that clearly demonstrated why they are a band on the rise. The short reunion set from The Bridge was deeply heartfelt and moved several of their loyal fans to shed a tear in remembrance of a band that is no more.
For a while, it seemed that it just might not be the Allman Brothers’ night. Their set opened slowly and was lacking in musical magic until more than halfway through the set when Roosevelt Collier joined the band for the Allman classic One Way Out. Collier’s slidework, which had both Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes sneaking across the stage to get a closer look, established a momentum which the band quickly matched and set the tone for the rest of the set. After Collier departed, the band shifted into a trio of dirty blues tunes (Leave My Blues at Home, Worried Down with the Blues and Statesboro Blues) before closing the set with a titanic version of In Memory of Elizabeth Reed. Returning to the stage to a thunderous ovation, the band encored with an exceptionally fierce Whipping Post that saw Haynes and Trucks teach a master class in slide dexterity and left the crowd whistling for more.