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Laid Back Festival 2017

The Laid Back Festival Closes Out The 2017 Jones Beach Concert Series In Style Wantagh

When I hear the word festival I imagine large grounds to roam, multiple stages, vendors all about and lots and lots of people. Well here at the Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY it was just a little bit different, but yet in some ways the same. The large roaming grounds was actually the huge parking lot that they opened at 11am to allow for all kinds of tailgating fun, and by the time I arrived at 3:30, the time the doors opened, the lot was chock full and the smell of barbecue filled the air.

Once inside the venue there was the main stage, where all the summer concerts take place, and to the side of the concession area was an entryway to the big lot where the tour buses and tractor-trailers usually park. This time however this area was converted into another stage area, The Low Country Stage and was outlined with food and local beer and wine vendors. So I found all the usual festival fare, just in a condensed area.

The event was very well put together and the set times were very closely adhered too in order to keep the flow of the day going smoothly. At promptly 4:45 the Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band took to the side stage and a big crowd was there to greet them. Led by legendary drummer, Jaimoe, a former member of the Allman Brothers Band, they played for a full hour and of course included a few Allman Brothers songs.


Then it was time for everyone to find his or her seats as the next act was on the main stage, it was Peter Wolf. Wolf, well known for his work as front man for the J. Geils Band, has a thriving solo career and during his hour long set he played a mix of the two including, “Long Line” and “I Don’t Wanna Know” as well as “Must Of Got Lost,” “Start All Over Again” and the sing along, “Love Stinks.” Not only were he and his band having a blast on the stage but they also had the audience dancing in the isles.


As soon as Peter Wolf put down his mic, it was time to shuffle back over to the side stage to catch Garland Jeffreys. Jefferys’ set was only a half hour but they packed it tight with his original rock, soul, and reggae style of music they are so well known for. It seemed that everyone in attendance packed tight into the space they provided for this side stage and they were having the greatest time swaying and bopping along to the music.


In light of the fact that I mentioned the area between the stages was not that far apart, it was a good thing since as soon as Jeffreys was done it was time to go back to the seats to catch Steve Winwood on the main stage. Winwood now had an hour and fifteen minutes to try to play as many songs as they could from his impressive library of not only his solo work but also his time with The Spencer Davis Group and Traffic. And I have to add they did an incredible job of doing so.


Some of the songs they played included, “Fly,” “Higher Love,” “The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys,” “Empty Pages,” “Dear Mr. Fantasy,” “Gimme Some Lovin’” and “I’m a Man.” His fans were very tentative and singing along to every song, at times they were up and dancing in the isles too.


With one more time to visit the side stage, Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band closed out the night on The Low Country Stage. Sharrard started his half hour set talking about his relationship with Gregg Allman and how they shared the main stage together the previous year, it was evident that he touched the hearts of many who were at last year’s festival and remembered those moments. He then played for them his original music and had everyone’s eyes glued to him during his amazing guitar solos, something everyone that was there to witness clearly enjoyed.


Now it was time to catch the final act of the night on the main stage, Jackson Browne. Unfortunately we were only able to grab some cell phone shots for his set! Browne was given a full hour and a half to close the day’s festival and he took full advantage of attempting to play as many songs as he could in that time. The only cover he played was in honor of Gregg Allman when they did “Melissa.” And some might say he did another cover song, but since I am a long time fan of Browne’s I know that “Take It Easy” is not actually an Eagles cover, as Browne was the main writer of the song. He also released it on his 1973 album, For Everyman, one year after the Eagles released their version.

The bulk of his set included “The Barricades of Heaven,” “You Love the Thunder,” “Fountain of Sorrow,” “The Long Way Around,” “I’m Alive,” “For Everyman,” “Looking East,” “Doctor My Eyes,” “These Days,” “Rock Me on the Water,” “Running on Empty” and “Our Lady of the Well.” And sadly time ran out, as he was not able to go over the 10:30pm cut off, and he did not play The Pretender. But that did not damper the fact that after all these years I finally got to witness Browne perform live.

In the spirit of the late great Gregg Allman, The Laid Back Festival truly paid tribute to the man who came up with the concept of this festival back in 2015. Every performer took time to honor him in their own way, as they all knew him personally. But I thought Jackson Browne said it best, “We all feel the sadness of his loss but he will forever live on in the music he made for us. So whenever you need him, he will always be there.”

There are only two more dates for this year’s festival, October 7th in Texas and October 14th in Georgia. Both featuring different lineups but both headlined by Lynyrd Skynyrd, making each festival experience unique. I was very happy to be able to attend the one closest to me and I hope that the Laid Back Festival will continue on into the coming years.


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Laid Back Festival History:

Photographer/writer: Diane Woodcheke


Performances by: Jackson Browne


Steve Winwood


Peter Wolf


Jaimoes Jasssz Band


Garland Jeffreys


Scott Sharrard & The Brickyard Band




See full gallery of the night here.

Diane Woodcheke has had her eye on a camera viewfinder since she was very young. She specializes in Fine Art, Event and Concert Photography. She is also a writer of concert and album reviews, as well as contributing to blogs. For more information please visit her website at

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