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Festival Report—2015 All Good Music Festival and Camp Out

 The "Welcome To All Good" signs at the venue. Original photo taken by David Wilder.

The "Welcome To All Good" signs at the venue. Original photo taken by David Wilder.

The 2015 All Good Music Festival and Camp Out took place from July 9-11 at Berry Hill Farm in Summit Point, West Virginia. Headliners included Primus, moe., Cake, Thievery Corporation, Lotus, SOJA, and STS9. The full artist lineup for this year's festival can be found here.

Lineup and Performances

All Good Festival always offers a superb mix of genres, featuring jam bands, funk, rock, bluegrass, jazz, hip hop, and electronic—there's something for nearly everyone to enjoy. As usual, I was more-than-thrilled with the lineup this year. There were plenty of my favorite acts from previous All Good Festivals that I have attended: Yonder Mountain String Band, Dark Star Orchestra, Primus, STS9, Lotus, moe., SOJA, Lettuce, John Butler Trio, The Bridge, etc. There were some bands that I had seen before, but not at All Good: TAUK, Turkuaz, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, and Keller Williams. And there were a few bands that I had never seen before that I was really looking forward to: Twiddle, The Motet, Antibalas, Thievery Corporation, Joe Russo's Almost Dead, Cake, BoomBox, and Big Something.

Out of all the bands that I had the privilege to see, I thought Primus put on the most entertaining show, really captivating the crowd with some hilarious anecdotes and outrageous antics from bassist Les Claypool, in-your-face rock 'n roll, and psychedelic visuals (complete with two larger-than-life amanita muscaria mushrooms that framed the stage). Claypool told a story about a woman who shot her television while her children were watching Primus videos and how Nancy Grace from Fox News found fault in not the woman's act, but in Primus for coming up with a song named "My Name is Mud". Naturally, the band launched into the song immediately after the story—to worshipful applause from the audience.

Other highlights included Big Something, Turkuaz, The Motet, Antibalas, and Dark Star Orchestra. I wish I could say that I saw all the bands that I wanted to see, but as usual, it wasn't feasible to make it to all of them during the course of the weekend.

Location

This was my fifth consecutive All Good Festival, my first being back in 2010 at Marvin's Mountaintop in Masontown, West Virginia. The festival took a hiatus last year in an effort to find a more permanent location, after spending two years (2012-2013) at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio. A lot of folks didn't care for the Legend Valley location, which most likely led to All Good's decision to take the year off and move back to West Virginia. Many attendees I spoke to preferred Marvin's Mountaintop over any other location the festival has experimented with, but most were generally favorable about the new location in Summit Point.

Berry Hill Farm is flatter than Marvin's Mountaintop, and much smaller than both of the aforementioned festival grounds. There was not an actively-trafficked road to cross on the walk from the campgrounds to the venue, which was an oft-cited complaint I heard from festival attendees that followed All Good to Legend Valley, but crossing the road to get to the venue didn't bother me. Overall, I found the festival grounds at Berry Hill Farm to be nice. It is small enough to be cozy and run into the same people over and over again, but not so tiny that it became cramped with the roughly 12,000 people in attendance. 

Vendors

There were some solid vendors selling clothing, artwork, memorabilia, musical instruments, and food. Although all I purchased was an official festival t-shirt, there were some pretty impressive items for sale. I considered purchasing a hand drum, but was shocked at the price and decided against it. My campsite group brought a ton of food, but we were lucky to find a local vegan tent that had a scrumptious falafel pita sandwich with tempeh bacon, which we enjoyed several times throughout the weekend.

Weather

Aside from a brief, yet violent, rainstorm on the first day of the festival (which occurred shortly after—and not while—we set up our campsite, thank goodness!), the weather was pretty reasonable this year. It was hot, but it wasn't so unbearable that you couldn't make it from the campsite to the venue if you had the proper motivation. The fact that the walk from campsite to venue wasn't very long helped!

Overall Conclusion

I had a pretty good time at this year's All Good Festival. It wasn't my favorite year (that would be 2012), but that wasn't the festival's fault—it was mostly due to to how my group approached the festival this year and some uncontrollable events that occurred. I feel like I spent more time at the campsite than usual, mainly to stay out of the heat or just to rest. If I had to do it all over again, I'd make myself go out to the venue more often, even if all I could do was lie down and listen to the music by myself. I'm not sure if I'll go back again next year, but I'm not ruling it out. I would definitely recommend All Good Festival to anyone who is interested in listening to a lot of great music and hanging out with interesting people. Since attending All Good Festival 2010 (which was my first music festival), it has been a big part of my life and I am grateful for the opportunity to have gone to the ones that I did. Thanks to the festival organizers for putting on yet another solid event this year, and maybe I will see you back at the farm next year!

Grateful Dead's Final "Fare The Well" Tour

  Image by  Kevin Schraer , courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Kevin Schraer, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

My favorite band, the Grateful Dead, is in the middle of saying goodbye to its fans with a final five-night "Fare Thee Well" tour that is taking place in Santa Clara, CA and Chicago, IL. I wanted to share my personal story about how the band has affected me over the years as well as provide some information about the tour for anyone interested in attending a show or live streaming the tour.

From what I can remember, I was first introduced to the Grateful Dead in 2000 when my mother gave me the "What A Long Strange Trip It's Been: The Best of the Grateful Dead" compilation. I may have heard some Grateful Dead tunes before receiving that album, but that was the first Dead album that I listened to all the way through, multiple times. Although I enjoyed the album at the time, it wasn't until I went off to university that I really immersed myself in the music and the culture.

According to Deadhead standards, I am a quite a latecomer to the scene—many fans have been going to Dead shows for decades! I went to my first big outdoor venue show in 2008, where Phil Lesh and Friends and Allman Brothers Band put on an amazing performance at Walnut Creek Amphitheatre in Raleigh, NC. I was completely enamored  with the music and vibes of the crowd, and ended up seeing many more reincarnations of the Dead over the years—The Dead, Furthur, Bob Weir and Bruce Hornsby featuring Branford Marsalis, Mickey Hart BandBill Kreutzmann's Lockstep Allstars, etc. I've also seen some of the Grateful Dead tribute bands like Dark Star Orchestra, Cosmic Charlie, and Keller Williams' Grateful Grass.

There's something indescribable about the music and the people that attend Grateful Dead shows—the Deadheads—but when I first saw Phil Lesh and Friends play live, I knew that I was a Deadhead at heart. When I'm at a show or a festival, I feel like I am at "home" with my closest family and friends. Although I didn't have the opportunity to see Grateful Dead play live with Jerry Garcia, I have cherished the moments when I have seen the remaining members of the band play live.

Over 15 years, more than tie dye t-shirts, meeting hundreds of fellow Deadheads, listening to countless hours, and several unforgettable experiences later, I am still a Deadhead. In fact, I consider myself to be more of a Deadhead every day. It has become such a big part of my life that I still dedicate several hours a week to listening to recordings of old Grateful Dead shows on podcasts like Dead Show of the Month and Deadpod.

The Grateful Dead brought us 50 years of music, thousands of shows and original songs, and a sense of community among the counter-culture. If you are interested in live streaming or attending the "Fare The Well" tour, I encourage you to check out Dead50.net. The Santa Clara shows happened last weekend, and they were both amazing. The final three shows are happening in Chicago this weekend (July 3rd, 4th, and 5th), and I hope you'll join the rest of the worldwide community in checking them out.

I need to end this post with a big "Thank you!" to the members of the Grateful Dead and the fellow Deadheads in the community that have been so kind to me and my friends. Although this tour marks the official end of the band, the music will carry on for a long time to come.

Sometimes the light's all shinin' on me,
Other times I can barely see.
Lately it occurs to me—what a long, strange trip it's been.

"Truckin'" by the Grateful Dead

Race Report - 2015 Cary Water for People 5K

2015CaryWaterForPeople5K.jpg

Last Saturday, I ran the Water for People 5K in Cary, North Carolina. To be blunt, it was the worst race I have ran and resulted in my worst finishing time for the 5K distance as well. However, I have a confession to make–I have been slacking on my running routine during the past couple months since the 2015 Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon.

I'm not too surprised about it, since I experienced the same issue following my first half-marathon in 2013. It's easy to stop running once you have achieved a large race goal that required a lot of long-term training. I'm not too worried about it, because I am determined to get back on track soon.

In addition to a lack of training preparation leading up to the race, I didn't give myself adequate sleep the night before the race and I have been fighting a throat infection. But I wanted to give the race a shot anyway. After all, I had already paid the entry fee, and it was an excuse to make myself get out and go for a run!

The course wasn't new to me, as it is a fairly common 5K course in Cary, NC–the WakeMed Soccer Park. I first ran on this course in 2012 in my very first 5K, the Phi Mu Alpha Rockin' and Runnin' 5K. It's a fairly easy looping course, with a combination of dirt, pavement, and grass running surfaces. It does include a fairly long hill at the end of the loop, but it isn't much of a problem if you've been doing some hill work during your training!

Hopefully my next 5K time will be faster, but I'm glad that I pushed myself to get out and run that day. Until next time, see you on the trails!

Race Results
Time - 33:18
Pace - 10:43 per mile
2 out of 3 in my age/gender group

Race Report - 2015 Duke Forest Pine Cone Pacer 5K

  Image by  Kai Schreiber , courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by Kai Schreiber, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Last Saturday I ran the sixth-annual Duke Forest Pine Cone Pacer 5K in Durham, North Carolina with my girlfriend and one of my colleagues. Until late last week, I wasn't sure I'd be able to run the race due to some overtraining/running gear injuries that I experienced during my recent half-marathon training, so I skipped the pre-registration period for this race. 

We left Raleigh for Durham early Saturday morning and got lost on the way to the race. The race didn't provide an address for us to aim for, so we had to get close to the general vicinity and go the wrong way on a few roads before we started to notice signs for the race. Luckily, we allowed ourselves plenty of time and were able to register before the race started. They were out of 2015 race t-shirts in my size by the time we got there, but my girlfriend got one and my colleague and I snagged 2011 race t-shirts instead.

There were only 110 runners at the race, which gave it a nice intimate feel. Although the first part of the race was mostly uphill, the terrain wasn't too challenging overall. The most difficult part was probably running on gravel for long stretches at a time, which made it difficult to gain traction. But it is a beautiful course and it was nice to run somewhere completely new.

The weather was not too hot but fairly humid from some rain that we have been experiencing recently. I didn't get overheated or have any issues with the weather, but I definitely worked up a good sweat!

Since I wasn't shooting for a PR on this race, I am pretty happy with my time of 31:34 (Pace 10:10) and finishing 47th out of 110. It's not my worst 5K time, nor is it my best, but I am glad that we were able to get out and run a new race! I'm not sure when my next race will be, as I have taken a little bit of time off from running and need to get motivated to start being more consistent again. Until next time, I hope I'll see you on the trail!

Race Results
Time - 31:34
Pace - 10:10 per mile

Race Report - 2015 Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon

  Image by  chuddlesworth , courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

Image by chuddlesworth, courtesy of Creative Commons licensing.

As an avid runner, I thought it might be fun to include some race reports on Think Wilder. I have been running regularly since August 2011 and consider myself to be a strong mid-packer. I am by no means an elite athlete but I get a lot of enjoyment from running. From the meditative aspect, achieving personal goals, pushing myself further, and testing my limits, I have learned a lot from running.

Last weekend my girlfriend and I ran the 2015 Raleigh Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon. This was my second half-marathon (my first was the 2013 City of Oaks Rex Healthcare Half-Marathon) and second Rock 'n' Roll race (my first was the 2013 Brooklyn Rock 'n' Roll 10K). It was my girlfriend's first half-marathon and first Rock 'n' Roll event.

After the 2014 City of Oaks Rex Healthcare 10K and a few months of maintaining a solid running foundation, we began training in earnest for last weekend's race in mid-January. I wanted to beat my half-marathon personal record (PR) of 2:29:20, so we embarked on a more difficult training plan than what I used the last time, which was the Hal Higdon Novice 1 Training Plan. Being a Nike+ iPhone app user, we decided to try to use the beginner Nike+ Coach plan embedded in the app.

Even though it has "beginner" in its name, the Nike+ Coach app had us running further and more frequently than the Hal Higdon training plan. I also committed to sticking to the cross-training plans and speed work that was recommended. At the time, I believed that a more challenging training plan would result in a new PR.

At first the training plan wasn't too rough. The first three weeks involved four days of running per week and two cross-training days. Starting in the fourth week, one of the cross-training days became a running day, which meant five days on the trail each week. Both of us kept up our commitment, even running in ice and snow in painstakingly-boring quarter-mile loops on our property during some inclement winter weather in February. I used a stationary bike and practiced yoga for my cross-training.

Everything was going really well until week ten's long run, which was a grueling 12-mile run on our local Neuse River Trail. (The trail, by the way, is a great place to run long runs, since it is 28 miles long and follows the Neuse River through some nice natural settings.) After that long run, I had some really intense pain in the outer arch of both my feet. My Brooks PureConnect 2's had about 350 miles on them and were fairly worn out, so I think that combined with overtraining did me in.

I went to the doctor and was assured that I didn't have a stress fracture, but that I needed to cool it on the intense training. It was painful enough and I was concerned, so I heeded that advice and only ran thrice more in the three weeks remaining that led up to the run. I wasn't even sure if I'd be able to attempt the run until a few days before race day, but I decided to forge on and give it a go with a brand new pair of Asics Gel Kayano 20's. After all, if I really needed to drop out due to injury, there was no shame in that. In my mind, it would be worse to not even give it a shot. And I realize that it isn't usually a good idea to run with a new pair of shoes, but after a short training run in the Kayanos I felt like my feet would be better supported and have less chance of injury than with the PureConnects.

We went to bed early the night before the race and prepped everything that we would need to bring with us, including stashing a cooler bag with coconut water, fruit, and nuts with my family for them to hold onto until after the race was over. I woke up at 3AM the next morning, hydrated myself, filled our hydration packs, and made a small breakfast. We got to the parking deck by 5AM and spent some time walking to get coffee and tea and getting warmed up for the race. 

Our corral was pretty far back, because we were both anticipating to finish around three hours. So although the starting gun was shot at 7AM, we didn't cross the start line until about 7:40AM. I was careful to not make the same mistake I made in my first half-marathon, which was to run the first mile way too fast. So we started slow, and I sped up after about three miles.

I realized around mile six that my body was feeling more fatigued than it should. Was it because of the extremely hilly course, my new shoes, or the fact that I hadn't been running as much as I would've liked during the last three weeks of training? I was feeling good but tried to slow down a little bit to save some gas in my tank for the last few miles of the race.

However, around mile eleven, the hills got to me so bad that I had to walk about 60 percent of the last two miles. I've never walked in a race, but I couldn't keep running any longer. I ended up finishing strong in the last quarter-mile and clocked in with a time of 2:35:09. That time was way better than the three-hour time that I expected, but shy of a PR by about six minutes. I think if I had paced myself better between miles three and nine I would've been able to tackle the last two miles of hills and possibly beat my record. My girlfriend clocked in just over three hours, which we were both really proud of.

Although I was pretty beat up for a couple days after the race, we are both considering attempting a full marathon by the end of the year. One of my personal goals for 2015 was to complete two half-marathons, because I didn't think I would be ready to tackle a full marathon. But I think with the right training plan and enough rest that we could complete a full 26.2 miles. Our next race will be tomorrow, at the Duke Forest Pine Cone Pacer 5K in Durham, North Carolina. The goal is just to have fun, because I'm not in shape to set a new 5K PR.  I just want to get a feel for the distance again because my last 5K was two years ago.

I hope you have enjoyed this race report. I look forward to writing more to share my progress and give local runners a report of our local races. Until next time, I'll see you on the trail! 

Race Results
Time - 2:35:09
Pace - 11:51 per mile
213 out of 252 in my age/gender group