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13 Best Things We Saw at Peach Fest 2015

From Willie Nelson to founding father Gregg Allman, the 13 most noteworthy moments of the annual rock, jam and country fest

Willie Nelson Peach Fest

Willie Nelson performs at the Peach Music Festival in Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Derek McCabe

Ironically, the first time the Peach Music Festival — founded by the Allman Brothers in 2012 — was held without its signature band in the lineup is the year the eclectic gathering found its identity. While Gregg Allman represented the seminal Southern-rock jam band at the fest on Friday night, it's no longer defined as "the Allmans' festival" — now, it's simply "The Peach." This weekend, artists from rock, country and bluegrass performed over three stages for 64,000 fans at the Montage Mountain ski resort and waterpark near Scranton, Pennsylvania. From Willie Nelson's hero's welcome to Old Crow Medicine Show's Live at the Apollo-worthy stage presence, here are the 13 best things we saw.

Australian Pink Floyd

Derek McCabe

Best Natural Fireworks: Australian Pink Floyd

The late set on Friday night at the main stage became a walk among the stars, as one of the most revered and well-reviewed tribute bands in the game brought a powerful performance with help from the recently peaked Perseid meteor shower. With haunting performances of "Welcome to the Machine" and "Time," the Australian Pink Floyd had the crowd in a dreamlike state of ecstasy. When they moved into the orchestral intro to their rendition of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond" — written by Roger Waters, Richard Wright and David Gilmour as a tribute to fallen Pink Floyd founder Syd Barrett — the sky above the amphitheater lawn offered brilliant yellow streaks. Combined with the Australian Floyd's own trippy light show, it made for a spectacular bit of pyrotechnics.


Josh Brasted/FilmMagic

Best Family Tree: Dumpstaphunk

Cousins and descendants of the Neville family, Ivan and Ian Neville brought old-school funk to the festival early and often. Taking a side stage Saturday afternoon to small crowd, they played as if there were 50,000 standing in front of them. Ivan churned out delightfully raunchy melodies from behind the organ, while Ian's silky, sexy guitar style delivered tasteful rhythms and masterful fills. A rhythm section that included two bass players playing in unison and trading solo riffs kept time with Swiss precision, while the Steeltown Horns from Pittsburgh were equally on point. Still, they brought the funk, and tracks like "I Know You Know" and "Meanwhile" made for the dirtiest juke-joint dance party of the whole weekend.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Bob Weir

Derek McCabe

Best History Lesson: Preservation Hall Jazz Band

In 1969, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band of New Orleans opened three shows for the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore West in San Francisco. A handbill from that year shows an early incarnation of the jazz band in their first decade of existence. Forty-six years later, the most current assembly of the critically acclaimed group stepped on stage at the Peach Festival and snapped the crowd — who had been listening to noodled jams all weekend — back to life with a refreshingly crisp jazz set. When Bob Weir joined them for a rendition of "Iko Iko," the traditionally jazzy, New Orleans tune that the Dead often covered, it was a perfect nod to the groups' shared history.

Bruce Hornsby

Derek McCabe

Best Big Pharma Dis: Bruce Hornsby

Ivory tickler Bruce Hornsby has long shed his identity as simply "The Way It Is" singer — he doesn't always include that 1986 Number One in his gigs — and his Saturday afternoon performance was far from a greatest hits set. Instead, Hornsby and his masterful band the Noisemakers offered a tour of American music, from bluegrass and jazz to Celtic-inspired acoustic fare. At one point, Hornsby ditched his trusty piano altogether for an Appalachian dulcimer and led a deliciously intimate jam at the front of the stage. But it was the fan favorite "Life in the Psychotropics" that elicited the most whoops. With Hornsby singing about the ups and downs of mood stabilizers — and cleverly noting in the lyrics that Xanax is a palindrome — he all but tore down the prescription drug industry.

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