SCRANTON — With a cloudless sky smiling over Montage Mountain on Thursday, lovers of live music made a pilgrimage, in droves, to attend the opening day of the sixth annual Peach Music Festival.
Thousands of festival-goers, many with camping gear in hand, patiently waited in lines as early as 11 a.m. and negotiated heat and hills to set up their temporary homes for the four-day event, which takes place at The Pavilion at Montage Mountain and adjoining venue areas, including the inviting water park.
More than 50 acts are scheduled to perform through Sunday, spread across three festival stages and touching on a wide spectrum of musical genres and styles. Among featured acts are rockers My Morning Jacket, Americana ensemble Greensky Bluegrass, jam veterans Widespread Panic and a Peach Tribute to late festival founders and Allman Brothers Band members Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks, who both died earlier this year.
Jon Haggert, of Bally, was on a solo mission to set up camp before his friend, who was hours behind him, arrived.
Returning to the festival for the third time, Haggert was looking forward to seeing Grateful Dead tribute Dark Star Orchestra, an act he’d seen nearly 20 times, and the rock and electronic fusing Dopapod Orchestra, which he’d heard was “amazing.”
“It’s nice to just get away from the stress of my job and listen to music for four days and enjoy the people around me,” Haggert said. “People seem pretty cool here.”
Russell Herndon, of Leominster, Mass., and Jess Myers, of New London, Conn., finished setting up for the vendor that employs them, Mr. B’s Festival Needs General Store, as patrons began to explore the festival fare and crafts for sale along vendor row.
“The proprietor started this business 10 years ago out of his backpack,” Myers said of the mobile business that stocks sunscreen, flip-flops, toiletries and even over-the-counter medications.
“If you forgot it, we brought it. That’s the motto,” Herndon added.
Experiencing his first Peach Festival, Jadon Norton, of Allmond, N.Y., said he was most excited for the My Morning Jacket performance.
“It’s always a good show,” he said.
“I was also told to check out Cabinet,” he added, showing that Northeastern Pennsylvania’s own sons of experimental bluegrass continue to grow in reputation.
Norton’s friend, Josh Bishop, of Rochester, N.Y., was in attendance for his fourth Peach Fest.
“I really want to see Joe Russo’s Almost Dead,” Bishop said of the all-star Grateful Dead tribute which consists of drummer Russo, keyboardist Marco Benevento, celebrated guitar slingers Scott Metzger and Tom Hamilton and bassist Dave Dreivitz.
“They’re going to do that ‘Eat A Peach’ set,” Bishop continued, noting the scheduled performance of the Allman Brothers Band’s iconic 1972 release by tribute outfit Pink Talking Fish.
In the wake of the deaths of Allman and Trucks, the festival promises to be laden with homage and sentiment for the fallen fathers. Bishop said the atmosphere should be beyond unique.
“I think special is not the word,” he said. “It should be top notch, for sure.”
Megan Koury and Dan Mazurowski, both of Buffalo, N.Y., made their journey to see My Morning Jacket, although Mazurowski expected to hear a lot of Allman Brothers covers as well.
“This is my first time (seeing My Morning Jacket),” Koury said. “We listen to their vinyls at home. I also want to see The Record Company. They’re just starting to get big, so they got a cool spot (on the billing).”
Music kicked off at 4:30 p.m. as Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad treated the gathering Mushroom Stage crowd to their head-bobbing reggae stylings that drew on elements of funk and psychedelic rock as well as traditional Jamaican sounds.
The seven-piece ensemble got the accumulating festival crowd moving their feet, treating longtime fans to a vibrating version of “Missing You More” off their 2005 album “Slow Down.”
Cabinet, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and the Dopapod Orchestra were scheduled to round out the rest of the evening.