When we woke up at the hotel Sunday morning it was raining hard. It looked like it had been raining all night. When we left the festival the previous evening things were really muddy, and we figured it was going to be even worse today. We checked the schedule and saw that things were getting started a little later at the Moonshine stage. Moe. was performing an acoustic set over at the Starshine stage at 3:30pm, but I wanted to see North Mississippi Allstars at Moonshine. The area in front of the stage was a mess. Camp maintenance teams had been working all morning trying to suck up all the standing water and cover the area with hay. This helped a little. Security had closed off that section of the park while the maintenance work was being done, and the rain had stopped, so maybe things were looking up.
The North Mississippi Allstars came out and as expected, they played hard. Today the band consisted of Luther Dickinson on guitar, Cody Dickinson on drums and Lightnin’ Malcolm on bass. I didn’t get the setlist, but they played Sitting on Top of the Work and Shake What Yo Mama Gave You, with a little Sly Stone’s Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin). A couple songs into the set, Luther put down his guitar and picked up a bass drum, dancing around the stage beating the drum. And to close the set off, Cody donned his electric washboard and Luther took over on the drum kit. Joel Cummins from Umphrey’s came out and played keys. It was a very cool collaboration.
Not wanting to trudge through the slop, I decided to hang at the Moonshine Stage and catch Lettuce, who was up next. Being an old-school funk band, the rhythm section is key, and consists of Adam Deitch on drums and Erick Coomes on bass. On guitar was Adam Smirnoff and Neal Evans was on keys. James Casey, currently touring with Trey Anastasio’s band played Sax , Ryan Zoidis also on Sax and Erick Bloom on trumpet. I had never seen Lettuce before, but they were great. It’s like an allstar funk band. I left before the set ended to make my way over to the Sunshine Stage for the Avett Brothers, but I did see Natalie Cressman, who plays trombone for The Trey Anastasio Band and Van Ghost milling about backstage with horn in hand. She may have sat in with Lettuce, but I can’t confirm that.
I made my way through the mud over to the Sunshine Stage. Even though it hadn’t rained for a few hours, the slop was getting deeper; it was all but impassable. In spite of the weather, the crowd was pumped up for the Avetts. They played some covers, such as The Cuckoo Song, Old Joe Clark and Reno Lament, as well as some of their favorites, like Laundry Room, Paranoia in B Flat Major, Live and Die, Head Full of Doubt, Kick Drum Heart and I and Love and You. About half way through their set, the rain started, and before long it was coming down hard.
To escape from the deluge, we headed over to the VIP tent and listened to the Ragbirds. These guys are great, and it was a pleasant surprise to be able to relax and wait out the rain while listening to this folk-rock-Celtic music with Erin Zindle on the fiddle. We hung here for about an hour, and then after surveying the parking area, made the decision to bail. Many cars were getting stuck in the mud, and it wasn’t going to improve. We checked the weather radar maps on our iPhones and realized that we had only experienced the leading edge of a big storm cell; much more violent weather was coming. We packed up and got out of there, wondering all the way back to the hotel if we’d made the right decision. While we sat down for a nice dinner, the skies opened up and the thunder and lightning started. We felt pity for the SCAMPers still at Three Sisters Park, but felt validated for our decision to leave. We heard Trey Anastasio played his first set, but later that evening the decision was made by SCAMP Leadership to pull the plug on the outdoor shows. So, that meant that Trey’s second set was cancelled as was moe.’s late set.
I’ve been reading a lot of negative comments on the interwebs about the decision to cancel the final shows. I don’t think that anyone, from the bands, to the fans, to the festival promoters wanted to end the music. But, with the lightning and the heavy winds, they had no choice. It’s an act of God, folks, and if you’re not ready to accept that, stick to the indoor venues. Next year everyone will be a little more prepared. And if Jay and Ian Goldberg are listening, maybe next year have a plan B or C that involves a lot more hay, mulch and sand. I think a few well established “roads” or paths would keep people a little safer, cleaner and happier.