Luna Light Festival 2016 in Review
Photography by Steven Philips, Words by Maggie Jaskolka
The LunaLight Music and Arts Festival was held from October 13-16, 2016 at Camp Ramblewood in Darlington, MD. The organizers of this festival have taken great care in providing not only great music to all attendees but also a beautiful environment with performance artists and live painting from the many artists from the Tribe 13 Gallery and visionary & interdimensional artwork by Kurt Redecker of Knew Consciousness. I have become a particular fan of Redecker’s art work using geometric shapes & lights which is a perfect complement to this festival celebrating the light of the moon and our harmonic inter-relationships. Perfect weather was also arranged for the weekend with nice days and cool, clear nights to appreciate the beautiful full moon and light exhibitions. The fest goers, both new and veteran, all seemed in sync with one another and I heard multiple times that with some of the things going on in our world that this was a welcome and needed replenishment of their spirit.
Music was presented at four different venues throughout the weekend and deciding when to leave your current location and which band to see next was the most difficult decision of the weekend. There were no disappointing choices but there were some regrets for sets that were missed. The Thursday Early Entry Kick Off Party was a fantastic start to the weekend for all VIP ticket holders. Cocktail Hour with Holly Bowling, catered dinner by Han Dynasty with Marco Benevento, champagne toast, DJ set by Ichisan followed by Tom Hamilton’s American Babies featuring Aaron Magner (Disco Biscuits) doing a tribute to Bruce Springsteen. The food was good, the company was great and the music set the tone for an amazing weekend!
My musical day on Friday began with Lespecial and I loved them; fun & energetic, the dancing started for the day. It was fun to learn that Luke (their amazing bass player) was going to do a DJ set at midnight – one more thing to look forward to and try to fit into the schedule! He also took on any and all challengers on the ping pong table, and was an impressive player. I enjoyed Space Bacon & Choppy Oppy as I explored the festival grounds and from my campsite. Everyone looked happy and energized as they left these sets. Indobox was my next event & I was thrilled to have caught them. They have such diverse influences and their music appeals to my varied tastes. They are also a blast to dance to and I loved watching Joey Zarick and Mike Carter on guitar. I was able to catch a bit of the VIP Happy Hour with Risky Disko and Elvin Tibideaux and was glad that I did because they certainly added “Happy” to the Happy Hour. I now need to find them again and hear more.
Tom Hamilton’s American Babies was a priority for me and they did not disappoint. At various times they were joined by Holly Bowling and Marco Benevento (fellow bandmate with JRAD), Aron Magner (of the Disco Biscuits) and the Snarky Puppy Horns (all were Artists at Large so they were found collaborating with artists throughout the weekend!). They seemed to be having fun playing together and their energy was infectious. The crowd was dancing and completely engaged in their performance. I was able to talk with Tom for a hot minute after the show and his response echoed our perception that they were having a blast. As an audience member I find that to be a key element to my enjoyment of a show and I came away with the distinct feeling that we had all had a very special experience. Flux Capacitor has become a festival favorite of mine & I gladly trotted down to the Earth Stage to see them before running back to the Overview Stage to see Electron. Electron also featured an amazing collaboration of artists sitting in. The venue was packed with people completely immersed in the music and the mood was utterly infectious. Their rendition of Pink Floyd’s Brain Damage followed by Eclipse completely rocked the audience. They not only loved the songs but loved the shout out to the moon. After a brief break for dinner, on to Luke Bemand of Lespecial doing a DJ set (not to be missed) & then Dopapod! Their mix of spacy electronica & dancy beats kept the party going until the early hours of the morning. I was able to make it just long enough to catch Mike Greenfield, drummer extraordinaire, doing Fat Boy Slim. The fog was settling over Camp Ramblewood as I forced myself back to my campsite to the mantra of, “This is a marathon, not a sprint; there is more music tomorrow!”
After waking far too early, taking a walk, stumbling upon the still smoldering bonfire & making a few new friends while discussing yesterday’s music and today’s plans, I was satisfied that I had my musical plans in order & took another nap so I could be somewhat rested for the rest of the day’s & night’s music. One of my personal highlights of the day was Marco Benevento’s Booze & Blues set. It was a great selection of music and having the opportunity to watch him “up close & personal” with his modified acoustic piano and his signature black and white and rainbow striped jacket, pants and top hat was not only fun but enlightening to see how he modifies the piano in conjunction with the various electronica & non-traditional instrumentation. Pigeons Playing Ping Pong started slightly after Benevento’s set so, while difficult to do, it was a worthwhile endeavor to change venues and see “Pigeons”. They are so fun and danceable that it was worthwhile trying to catch at least part of their set and I’m thankful that I did (it required a bit of encouragement from my friends too and I’m glad that they did)! A brief visit to see Tweed on the Earth Stage found the venue packed with happy dancing fans moving to Tweed’s unique style of funk, rock & electronica. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see Tweed before they are incredibly deft at blending these elements and making them their own. Fun, energetic and very danceable! The New Deal was next and their energy mixed with the enthusiasm of the crowd was positively exhilarating. Then a brief detour back to the campsite to get something to eat and to cool off before the dancing begins anew. As we returned to the Overview Stage for Tipper, it was clear that there was going to be a wait before anyone else was permitted to enter. A suggestion was made to try another entrance and because all our crew held either VIP or media credentials, we were able to gain admission. (Important tip for any future Tipper shows – be early!) The venue was packed but everyone handled the warmth & personal proximity with understanding, good humor, & most importantly, a shared passion for Tipper’s amazing music. The stage itself was arranged so that the audience could watch the artists paint, draw and create from the dance floor. The words used to describe Tipper’s music are inadequate to communicate the driving yet ethereal qualities that transport you, your body and your mind to places of harmonious resonance all the while dancing like the little girl in the fairy tale about the Red Shoes.
Ott and the All-Seeing I carried me forth with a very similar, passionate and intense blend, of electronica with the occasional reggae rhythm thrown in just to make me smile.
The end result of this amazing evening was a combination of exhaustion and exhilaration, so the evening couldn’t end yet, & I was off to the Indobox Live from ’85 set! I enjoyed them when I saw them earlier and they were amazing in this set of 80’s covers. They even dressed the part – 80’s hair and garb included! Fun music and amazing performers! By the time their set ended, the fog had settled over the campground and the moon was about to dip behind the treetops in preparation for its 7:36AM moonset.
A very peaceful and lovely start to the Sunday festivities included the Jazz Brunch w/ MJ Project (another one of the really lovely VIP perks!) and the always cuddly for a sleepy Sunday morning, Bearly Dead. Pink Talking Fish never fails to excite with their unique melding of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish. Marco Benevento and his band played Sunday evening to a very excited crowd which was immediately followed by Medeski, Martin, Benevento and Russo who carried us into Monday morning with their jazzy rhythms. Ichisan at the Incendiary Stage was my last hurrah. Other friends could not tear themselves away and stayed until the the absolute end of last song, at 6 am.
Check out this slideshow of performers and attendees at the fabulous 2016 Luna Light Music and Arts Festival. Click on the first photo and then use the “next” button to scroll through the rest. Enjoy! #ThatsWhatsUp!