In and Out of the Garden We Go returned to Snipes Farm this past weekend for the festival’s 7th anniversary, celebrating the music and culture of The Grateful Dead. From the moment we drove into Snipes Farm, the CSA non-profit farm just off of Route 13 in Morrsiville Pa, we knew we were in for a treat. Everything about Snipes Farm embodies the peace, love, and community that surround celebrating the music of The Grateful Dead. It felt like a throwback to where it all began; good people, good food, late night campfire, and great jams, without all the hustle and bustle and dent in your wallet you would have from a weekend at Bonnaroo. The overall convenience factors at In and Out of the Garden were through the roof; from our campsite being a mere 150 yards from the main stage, to the festival being completely BYOB and picnic friendly, all contributing to the true essence and community that surround the music of The Grateful Dead.
The jams then shifted to the festival’s main stage, but stayed in the realm of ‘1960’s San Francisco’ as the band, Jersey Pearl took the stage, playing tribute to the rocking blues queen Janis Joplin. The Joplin look alike took on Janis’s signature howl, and closed their set out with everyones’ favorite “Me and Bobby McGee”.
Up next was the band, Bear’s Choice, veteran’s to In and Out of the Garden who embodied a classic Dead tribute band; just a group of guys who love to get together and play the music they love. Their set showcased a series of 70’s era Grateful Dead fan favorites from “Brown Eyed Women”, to a seamless “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo”. By this time the crowd of Deadheads, both young and old, was growing in size as more attendees flooded the front stage area, and all eyes and ears lit up as band played a soothing “He’s Gone” into a lengthy “The Other One” jam.
After Bear’s Choice the jams slowed down and turned to an event for the kids (but no only for kids) as Bobby Beatcup led a set of song and dance originals that got the kids and old folks moving and groovin’.
Following on the main stage was The Glimmer Grass Band, who took a classic lineup of string instruments featuring: a stand up bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar, fiddle, a dobro, banjo, and an old-time style drum set, playing their own bluegrass versions of Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band classics. The band picked their strings and jammed out to traditional American roots Dead staples with highlights like, “Deep Ellum Blues” and the classic Dylan tune, “When I paint my masterpiece”.
Up next was a newcomer to the In and Out of The Garden Stage, Reverend Jefferson, playing the electric bluesy rock of the Dead’s San Francisco counterpart, Jefferson Airplane. The band took you right back to the late 1960’s San Francisco counterculture era providing deep jams, alternating between their male and female singers, and closed out their set with Jefferson Airplane psychedelic rock jams with “Somebody To Love” and “White Rabbit”.
After a short break the Dead jams returned to the main stage with the band, Steal Your Face , who led off their set with a very soulful and energetic, “Hard To Handle” , taking a page right out of an early 70’s/late 60’s Ron “Pigpen” McKernan classic. From there, they slowed down and transitioned into the beautifully melodic Jerry ballad “Loser”, then Paul Barrol put on his best Bob Weir impersonation (minus forgetting the lyrics) and belted out a “Looks Like Rain”. But arguably the highlight of the set, and of all the performances thus far was the band’s funky take on the late 70’s disco dead classic “Shakedown Street”, which got the whole crowd boppin and grooving and asking for more. They closed out the set with a series of classic Garcia and Weir tunes reminiscent of a late 70’s set including taking “Drums”, “The Other One”, “Wharf Rat”, “Throwin Stones”, and closed out with a groovy “Deal”.
Next the band, Blackhand graced the small stage, who opened their set with several of they’re own Americana inspired, folk rock originals. Front man Dave “ZigZag” Isaacson, a veteran to the East Cost Jam-Band scene, addressed the crowd, “there’s no erasing this-this is fun! giving a true small show”, as if we we were thrown into an old dive bar as they churned out favorites such a “Iko Iko” and “I know You Rider”.
Just as the sun was coming down, the festival’s headliner, Reflections took the main stage, whose vast catalogue of both Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band songs have earned the respect of Deadheads nationwide. They opened their set with a series of Jerry Garcia Band tunes including a trip to the islands for melodic reggae influenced “Catfish John” into a rumbling “Mystery Train”, which kept the crowd jumping, dancing and singing along. After closing out the first set with a beautiful take on Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue”, in true Jerry Garcia Band fashion they announced to the crowd, “we’ll return in a few and play some Grateful Dead songs”. The band returned displaying their diversity in celebrating the music of Jerry Garcia and finished out the festival’s main stage with a set including, “Feel Like a Stranger”, “Foolish Heart”, and topped off with a heavy “St. Stephan” that everyone, (including myself) was waiting to hear the whole day.
As the kids went to bed, the late night crowd transitioned to the small stage as the band Only footprints closed out the day with a set that truly embodied the whole Deadhead community vibe. Due to the venue’s late night noise constraints and the younger family’s going settling into their tent’s, the band turned down their amp’s and strummed classic acoustic jams bringing on the late night campfire feel. Heads were bobbin’, feet were stompin’ and grin’s were ear to ear as the band churned out melodic Dead favorites such as “Ramble On Rose”, “Viola Lee Blues” and had the late night crowd groovin’ out to the late night campfire drum circles with a “Hey Pocky Way”,” Iko Iko”, and topped off by a jumpin’ “Loose Lucy”.
Overall In and Out of the Garden had me wondering why I had never gone to Snipes Farm for this Dead filled festival before, and confirmed the fact that I will definitely be back for In and Out of the Garden every year. The Festival had everything you’d want in a summer festival experience, from homemade taco’s, arts and craft’s, friendly people, and even a late night campfire! What it didn’t have that I can live without is the long bathroom lines, 15$ shitty beer; and In and Out of the Garden setting is the beautiful non-profit CSA farm that is Snipes Farm and Education Center. What more could you ask?