Day four, shockingly, began with yet another roots-centered act, Corey Harris and the Rasta Blues Band. Harris (not be confused with the Corey Harris from Galactic), who was named a MacArthur Fellow and awarded a genius grant by the prestigious MacArthur Foundation, and his set of ragga-tinged blues was a pleasant enough way to begin the day. The rocking set from Devil Makes Three was proof that the magically great great musical institution known as the power trio has taken deep root in bluegrass country. Next was a short set from the Chris Jacobs Band, the new project from the former guitar player from The Bridge, which allowed Jacobs to highlight his eclectic song-writing style.
The final member of the Dead to return to Legend Valley was Mickey Hart who delivered a diverse set of music that completely eclipsed the contributions of his former bandmates. Hart, unlike Weir and Lesh, had the benefit of both a cache of new material to spice up his setlist and a now road seasoned band at his disposal and he exploited them to their fullest. Hart’s band delivered with both the new (a mesmerizing version of “Time Never Ends”) and the old (an almost grungy “Bertha”) material. But the true highlights came from the subtle re-working of a couple of Dead classics. The first gem was the slowed down version of “Brokedown Palace” a song that started as a sing-along until the audience slowly dropped away allowing the soft silky voice of Crystal Monee Hall to transfix them with a gospel lull-a-bye that rocked their souls. Freed from its marriage to Scarlet Begonias, the Hart penned Fire on the Mountain has also been reborn. Now with an extended build up, handled beautifully by guitarist Gawain Mathews, this Fire started as a mere ember that was fed slowly, carefully tended, allowed to grow naturally before being released volcanically to set the whole mountain ablaze.
With the promise of a seven hour drive ahead, departure was delayed just long enough for a final small dose of bluegrass, this one administered by Michigan’s Greensky Bluegrass. Culminating, at least for some, with Roosevelt Collier joining the pride of the mitten, for Paul Simon’s “I Know What I Know” no less, and engaging dobro player Anders Beck in a final slide duel that was the perfect cherry to top off a festival sundae.
As the promise of a shower and clean sheets beckoned, festival goers returned from whence they came. With them they took new stories and memories; stories and memories of a small Midwestern valley and the music that was made there. But stories and memories are the stuff that the best legends are made of and those who were there when the All Good Music Festival arrived in central Ohio should count themselves lucky to have been part of latest installment in this valley’s legendary history.