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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

For those of you who enjoyed the post about “a music festival everyone can afford,” this post will serve as a conclusion and review piece (with lots of pictures!).

The Mighty High Music Festival jammed on this past Saturday in Vasa Park, putting smiles on the faces of many old and young hippies. This summer marked the second annual concert in the series.

As I had mentioned in my last post about this Festival, the setting for the concert is absolutely amazing. Vasa Park is not only one of my new favorite places to see a show, but it’s suitable for anyone and everyone. The entire park is covered with shady trees, cool grass to lay in, and a wide area to do it all on. But yet, the shows there always remain cozy — not too big or too small.

Donna Godchaux at the Mighty High Music Festival. (7.18.09.)

Donna Godchaux at the Mighty High Music Festival. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

The Donna Godchaux Band kicked things off in a most happenin’ way. After all those years touring with the Grateful Dead, Ms. Donna sure hasn’t lost her voice — not even a smidgen of it. She was belting out harmonies and high notes like it was nobody’s business.

Accompanied by her band, she really made it sound like a Grateful Dead show. After a few songs with just the band, Lisa Mackey of Dark Star Orchestra joined in the performance, making the sound full and strong. It was amazing to see Donna, an original member of GD, with Lisa, a performer who sings her parts in a GD tribute band, together on stage!

The final song of their set together was (appropriately) “Mighty High.”

Then came my personal favorite: Keller Williams. I was so happy to see that he was on his own this time. Lately, he has been touring with Wesley, Droll, and Sipe. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great, but there’s nothing like seeing Keller solo when he can perform his looping of sounds and different instruments.

He ran all around that stage, picking a few notes here and there on his bass, which he had propped up on a stand, and strumming some chords on his guitar. All the while, he was hopping on over to his keyboard and synthesizers, making crazy sounds that the crowd was loving.

Keller Williams strums to his fans.

Keller Williams strums to his fans. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Keller played some of his traditional tunes, including “Freeker by the Speaker” and also some obscure covers, like “Word Up” by Cameo. My favorite parts were when he just jammed out. He walked right up to the front of the stage and let his fans have it.

Which reminds me — if you ever go see Keller, make sure you get a spot right next to the stage. It’s a completely different experience seeing him up close than it is from the back of a venue. You really capture the essence of what he is trying to do with his many instruments.

Last came Dark Star Orchestra. These guys completely tore up the scene at Vasa Park. Not only were they the headliners of the festival, but they played two sets. Fans had the pleasure of listening to them long into the afternoon.

Dark Star Orchestra brings it on home. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Dark Star Orchestra brings it on home. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

They played tons of Grateful Dead hits, including “Cassidy,” “Scarlet Begonias,” and even ended the show with a peaceful, love-your-neighbor performance of “Ripple.” As always, they didn’t let down their fans.

Rob Eaton plays the role of Bob Weir in DSO. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Rob Eaton plays the role of Bob Weir in DSO. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

To see Dark Star Orchestra is very much like seeing an actual live Dead show. It’s incredible how much the musicians in the band sound like the original Grateful Dead.

The audience grooved and glided together to the tunes of GD. It was interesting to see young and old deadheads come together for a little relaxin,’ tokin,’ and dancin.’ (By this time in the festival, almost everyone in my group was a little toasty, but it made for some great grooving, especially with other fans. That’s just the mentality of the crowd.)

At the very end of the show, Keller Williams came back out on stage to perform a few songs with Dark Star. What bliss to see such an amazing group of performers together!

Let’s hope for another Mighty High Festival just as good as this one next summer. I’m already lined up and ready to buy my ticket.

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