With the inception of a dream, Sam Shear, founder of POTM, set forth on the adventure of a lifetime to create a Midwest festival that would house a community of talented musicians, artists, healers and beautiful people. It would take two years for his dream to come to fruition, teaming with his father, Barry Shear and Artist in Residence David Gans the team set forth to create the inaugural Phases of the Moon Music and Art Festival. The festival would kick off on Thursday, September 11th and go through Sunday, September 14th in the majestic 3000 acre Kennekuk County Park in Danville, IL. The kick off would share in its own roller coaster of setbacks and challenges testing the teams intuitive resolve to create a unique experience.
With less than a month before gates would open, POTM would face a huge challenge with the cancellation of festival headliner Bob Weir and RatDog. The announcement came as a shock to the jamband community and all sent their well wishes and good vibes to Bobby Weir. Within days POTM released the announcement that Grace Potter and the Nocturnals and a second set of the String Cheese Incident would be added to the festival lineup. Another challenge arose the night before the festival was scheduled to open its gates to the public as torrential rains and flash floods covered Kennekuk County. The rain flooded the campgrounds while the wind whipped up a high velocity of issues for the POTM team. To protect the stages, several already completed structures were partially taken down. Several of the performance artists and healers had to seek shelter in the historical buildings on the property. As the rains subsided around 2:00 in the morning the POTM team begun to implement the necessary actions. They made the decision to close the park until 12:00 PM on Thursday, September 11th to “allow crews to perform maintenance and make necessary adjustments to ensure all roads and public areas were safe and easily accessible for all to enjoy during the next four days.”
As production crews and media rolled in on Thursday, September 11th before the gates were opened to the general public the shared concern was how would Phasers be able to access the soggy site and how would the team protect the park that at this time was in sections sunk in mud. Gravel trucks had already begun unloading truckloads of gravel as soon as the rain subsided the night before and to help dry the fields a helicopter could be found flying low, using the huge blades as a giant fan to help dry the grass. It was awe inspiring moment to see the diligence of all those involved trying to get the site up and running before the gates were to open at noon. As the moments ticked into hours the anxiety began to build and the music was pushed back an hour. Inside the staging area crews rushed to re-rig giant cloth projection screens next to the stages, several bobcats could be seen hauling in mulch in giant buckets and tilling the mulch into the ground, their speedy synchronized earth moving dance would be a foreshadowing of the dances to come.
David Gans and the Rumpke Mountain Boys would kick off the music to a small handful of people who made it into the festival on the Harvest Moon Stage. The trash-grass bluegrass filled the festival with twinkles of banjo and provided hope that all would be in place. As the early evening approached the California Honeydrops took the main stage, the bobcats were still busy laying mulch in front of the stages. A group of close to 50-100 people filled in the stands by the soundboard of the Full Moon Stage and they danced and cheered as the band began to play. The Honeydrops known to jump off stage to parade through the crowd did not hesitate; they jumped from the stage midway through their set and jumped the rail to walk through the now spongy mulch filled area. The Honeydrops reached the stands to the cheers of their fans and performed there for several minutes, dancing and singing. As the band made their way back to the stage, the audience followed…the Honeydrops became the Pied Piper of Phases leading the dancing feet of the crowd into the now amazingly dry area in front of the stage.
The Full Moon and the New Moon stages were set up to not overlap schedules and were close enough to each other to allow Phasers enough time to wander to and fro and not miss any music. After the California Honeydrops wrapped up their set the Revivalists would take the New Moon Stage. The funky southern New Orleans root based rock band warmed up the evening and the horns would meld into the night air.
Chris Robinson Brotherhood took the Full Moon Stage by storm. They kicked off the set with Let’s Go, Let’s go, Let’s Go, their rhythm and rhyme never falling out of time, they wove their set through psychedelic tunes centered on astrological scenes and good vibrations. They closed their set with Rosalee.
The New Moon stage was once again filled with horns by the New Orleans funk based band Galactic. By the time the set was finished several hundred people had made their way into the campgrounds and stage area. The lines outside of festival were stacking up as people waited patiently to get into the campgrounds. The multiple entrance lines originally set up had been closed due to the flooding and mud and the lines were condensed to a single line making it a slow process. The POTM team worked with local law enforcement and the message was sent out that those wishing to walk into the festival and leave their cars would be allowed to do so. The line of cars some five miles deep seemed an impossible feet to get moved into the festival on time for the first set to be performed by the String Cheese Incident. Several diehard SCI fans would do just that, abandon their car and haul their gear in so they would not miss the act they longed to see. For those that made it in, they would not be disappointed by the set SCI would perform that night. The opening SCI set was filled with an amazement of tunes including Desert Dawn, Mouna Bowa, Big Shoes and Betray the Dark. They closed their set with an 18 minute Howard into Let’s Go Outside. The late night sets and Performance artists would continue into the wee hours of the night as people continued to fill in the venue.
Friday morning folks who weathered through the mud would awake to the surprise of a completely dried out venue. Overnight straw had been laid, the bobcats had continued their synchronized dance of mulch tilling, the transformation was nothing short miraculous. The Sanctuary, greeted the day with morning family yoga. The structure built in a geometric shape with shade infrastructure designed by Guildworks and installations by Nature Dreamweaver and Symbiotic Creations was filled with healers. The collaboration of talented healers was led by Sanctuary Producer, Danny Goldberg and the assistance of Naomi Charanpal, the two have put together energy festivals on the west coast, I AM HEALING and Lucidity Festival LLC. One of the goals Sam Shear had for the festival was to create an atmosphere to foster the idea that there is something bigger than me; he wanted to give people the chance to tap into something greater than self. The Sanctuary provided such an opportunity, healers from all over the states specializing in a range of energy work would offer their services all weekend by simple donation.
David Gans would introduce the Town Square Stage to a morning of light picking while Dumpstaphunk would pick up the pace on the New Moon Stage. Jackie Green would fill the air with his folk art numbers reflecting the sounds of the Grateful Dead on the Full Moon Stage. Anders Osborne would fill in the afternoon before JJ Grey and MOFRO assembled onto the Full Moon Stage. By the time JJ Grey took the stage around 5:30 in the evening, the venue was fi