by Frank Lewis
Some 13 years ago, Tim Walther founded the All Good Festival with aspirations of attracting 10,000 people to the three-day concert festival. He met those goals about six years ago and has since exceeded them, moving the festival to a spacious, 20,000-capacity West Virginia mountaintop seven years ago. “I had goals for myself, like I wanted to do about 10,000 people by the year 2000,” Walther says. “That didn’t happen until 2003. But it’s really been about keeping the Grateful Dead spirit alive. That’s why I got into the business in the first place. That’s what I’m trying to maintain. For me, I get closer to that energy with All Good than with anything else.”
For this year’s festival, which returns to Marvin’s Mountaintop in Masontown, West Virginia, from July 10-12, Walther has booked about 30 bands, including Bob Weir & Ratdog, moe., Umphrey’s McGee, STS9, Dark Star Orchestra, Robert Randolph & the Family Band, Yonder Mountain String Band, Les Claypool, Keller Williams, Galactic, Lotus, Tea Leaf Green, Buckethead, The Bridge, SOJA, Bassnectar, Steve Kimock, Crazy Engine, Donna the Buffalo, BK3 featuring Bill Kreutzmann, Oteil Burbridge & Scott Murawski, The New Mastersounds, Todd Snider, BoomBox, Jackie Greene, AOD, Jeff Austin and Brendan Bayliss, Lake Trout, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Hill Country Revue, Cornmeal, Trombone Shorty & Orleans Ave, That 1 Guy and the Fear Nuttin' Band. Some acts will also play special late-night shows, and performances are staggered so they don’t overlap.
“I’m excited about working with Ben Harper for the first time,” Walther says of this year’s line-up. “He’s got this new rocking project. There are some naysayers out there who don’t think it’s the straight-up jam band and not worthwhile. I think he’ll blow those guys away. I love working with Bob Weir since he’s started the whole thing. I love working with moe. They’ve been out there like five times. We have most of the top acts on the scene all in one place. We’re on the top of a mountain and the way the topography is laid out, there’s all these different sections and elevations. From any given place on the site, you can see the rest of the site. You have to be there to experience it, really. It makes for a good situation. You can feel like you’re part of what’s going on.”
Advanced tickets are available for $139 and the price includes camping, music and parking from Friday through Sunday. More information can be found at allgoodfestival.com. According to Walther, the bad economy hasn’t hindered advance sales one bit.
“We are further ahead than we’ve ever been,” he says. “With good weather, we’ll have our biggest festival yet. People can’t afford the more expensive trip, so for $139 you can get four days of camping on top of a mountain. It cost you that much just to go camping at some places.” — Jeff Niesel