Interstate 70 in Eastern Ohio next week will become the home stretch for tens of thousands of rabid music fans eager to kick off their annual mid-summer retreat from the daily grind.
While country music fans from across the nation and beyond will be flocking to Jamboree In The Hills near Morristown, an entirely different set of music lovers from near and far will be gathering in mass just a short jaunt down the highway in Thornville, Ohio, at a venue that boasts an equally deep history.
Legend Valley - one of Ohio's most storied outdoor concert venues - will play host to the 17th annual All Good Music Festival and Campout July 18-21. The festival will mark its second year at Legend Valley, making its debut in the Buckeye State last year with The Allman Brothers Band, members of the Grateful Dead and scores of other acts.
Bob Weir and Phil Lesh of Furthur
Embracing the opposite end of the musical spectrum from commercial country, All Good attracts a crowd more interested in wearing tie-dye than cowboy hats. More than 40 bands on the All Good roster represent a diverse smorgasbord of musical genres, from rock to jazz, bluegrass to funk, electronica to reggae and everything in between.
This year's lineup includes the return of Furthur featuring the Grateful Dead's Phil Lesh and Bob Weir, in addition to Primus, Pretty Lights, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Beats Antique, Leftover Salmon, the John Scofield Uberjam Band and more than 40 other jam-centric artists.
Formerly known as the Buckeye Lake Music Center in the mid-'80s through late 1990s, Legend Valley began welcoming fans to see the nation's biggest musical acts in 1978. The venue's natural setting nestled in Ohio's gently rolling hills and its convenient proximity to I-70 about 30 minutes east of Columbus are among the many reasons Walther Productions moved the event to Ohio last year after spending nearly a decade in Masontown, W.Va.
"There's just such a great history behind Legend Valley," Tim Walther, founder and organizer of the All Good Music Festival, said. "It has a beautiful, natural amphitheater and easy access in and out from the highway. After spending nine years at Marvin's Mountaintop (in West Virginia), it was nice to build on what we've already established and evolve at a new location. There's a strong infrastructure in place, and we all worked together as a team to pull off this move. We were thrilled with the way things turned out last year. I think we really nailed it."
Planning an event of this magnitude is no easy task, and tackling the relocation was an undertaking that offered a whole new set of logistical challenges, Walther said. The four-day festival and campout offers nearly around-the-clock live performances on three different stages with no overlapping sets - something no other major music festival in the nation promises. Tens of thousands of fans from across the country descend on All Good, prompting the need to transform sprawling open fields into a full-functioning village with campgrounds, parking lots, vending areas, ATM machines, rest rooms, showers, security and information booths, amusement rides and everything patrons will need without having to leave the grounds over the course of four days. It takes many months to plan, and in the summer days leading up to the big event, Walther said he has become accustomed to 70-hour work weeks in the hustle and bustle anticipating the big launch.
"We have a staff of over 1,500 people in 25 different departments," Walther said, adding that the event's crew has worked closely with the Ohio Department of Transportation, the local sheriff's office, area schools and charitable organizations and other entities to help make sure the operation runs as smoothly and as safely as possible.
With one festival already in the books at the new location, Walther indicated that All Good is settling into its new Ohio home this year. Reflecting on last year's debut at Legend Valley, Walther and crew have been focused on tweaking security procedures, traffic flows and other dynamics of the event to help bring some improvements to this year's festival.
Once all the cogs are officially turning, it's all about the music, Walther said.
"I'm always excited about the lineup," he noted, explaining that he personally selects the artists on the bill and painstakingly arranges the order of their performances so that the energy of each day builds into a dramatic crescendo basked in a state-of-the-art light show at night.
"It's not just a concert," Walther said. "Everyone there can feel that they're one with the people around them and that they're all a part of the event. For a lot of people, it's a life-changing experience."
This year, two-day and three-day passes are being made available for those who cannot attend all four days of the festival. For tickets and additional information about the 17th annual All Good Music Festival, visit online at www.allgoodfestival.com.
17TH ANNUAL ALL GOOD MUSIC FESTIVAL LINEUP:
Furthur featuring Bob Weir and Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead
Yonder Mountain String Band
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals
John Butler Trio
Keller Willaims with The Travelin' McCourys
Dark Star Orchestra
Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue
North Mississippi Allstars
John Scofield Uberjam Band
The Infamous Stringdusters
MarchFourth Marching Band
The Soul Rebels
The Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band
The Bright Light Social Hour
Digital Tape Machine featuring Kris Myers and Joel Cummins of Umphrey's McGee
Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad
Fear Nuttin Band
Nahko And Medicine For The People
The Rex Jam