2019 LOCKN’ Music Festival 8/22 – 25/19, Arrington, VA

Our annual rolling thunder review of the ever-brilliant fest continues year after year, and 2019 was the proverbial banner year. Past coverage: 2018 Lockn’, 2017 Lockn’, 2015 Lockn’, 2014 Lockn’.

Text by Courtney Wheeler / Photography by Willa Stein

With so many music festivals to choose from, why LOCKN’? Let’s just say there is not enough time to list all of the reasons. Here are just a few of them.

The site: Oak Ridge Farm, nestled just south of Charlottesville in beautiful Arrington, VA in a stunning backdrop for this annual homecoming. The mountains, the vantages, the revolving stage & light show and for 2019, with the exception of an initial rainstorm, the weather on Oak Ridge Farm could not have been nicer!

The set-up: The ease of driving in and camping on site is one of the biggest selling points of LOCKN’ given the size of the farm. Car camping is a luxury for a lot of folks and LOCKN’ makes it easy. Once you are on site, you have at least a dozen food vendors to choose from and any number of beverage choices just steps away from world-class, one-of-a-kind music collaborations.

The people: The staff, even as they are searching your belongings make you feel welcome, from picking up your credentials, to coming through the gate, to the merchandise vendors, lost and found and information folks, LOCKN’ staff make you feel safe and at home. And more importantly, they make you feel like family. And of course, your fellow music lovers are right alongside you feeling the love and radiating love of their own! There is a special gift you get attending music festivals, they take you away from the worries of the world and allow you to enjoy life to the fullest, LOCKN’ does this well.

 

The music: Holy smokes the music. There were rumblings about no Widespread Panic and other LOCKN’ staples, but this year’s musical collaborations were, one-of-a-kind. From the incredible Neal Casal who we lost just after LOCKN’ and far too soon sitting in with Oteil & Friends featuring Bob Weir alongside Duane Betts & Melvin Seals, to the crazy talented Marcus King sitting in with Steel Pulse, or the Tedeschi Trucks Band collaboration with Trey Anastasio, the musical collaborations were off the charts special. And how can anyone forget the many times Bob Weir showed up on stage, earning himself an award for the most sets ever played from Peter Shapiro, one of the founders of LOCKN’ and chairman of Head Count, the non-profit organization that works with musicians to promote participation in democracy, with a focus on registering voters at live music events. These musical memories are ones that will not soon be forgotten.

The special touches: Every festival has something special that sets it apart from the rest and LOCKN’ is no exception. Planners have paid special attention to making the festival accessible to folks of all abilities by controlling the things they can. There is an entrance for folks with disabilities along with onsite parking, making getting in and out of the festival easier, and folks can request services and accommodations on sight at the LOCKN’ Access Tent. To that end, seeing American Sign Language (ASL) at the main stage every evening was a beautiful sight.

The festival footprint is huge and Paramedics were on sight and quick to respond to calls! I saw them in action first hand, administering first aid to cuts and assisting patrons with sprains. Enough cannot be said about the magnitude of the job they face and how expertly they handle it year after year.

The misting stations were a welcome relief and water refill stations made it possible to stay hydrated all weekend without breaking the bank for bottled water, not to mention keeping plastic bottles out of our landfills.

LOCKN’ pays attention to details and it shows throughout the festival footprint and 2019 was one for the books. Please enjoy this photo gallery and reminisce on the power of music.

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