New Riders of The Purple Sage Ring In the New Year in Kempton, PA

By: Kaitlin Jersey Garlitz

Festivals are about family; the family you make by choice, the people you find to fill your time with, the faces you see again and again following the music and vibes you love. So for me, there was no better option to bring in the New Year than by following my festie family to Flagship Production’s New Year’s Eve celebration in Kempton, PA.

The venue was a hippie wonderland. Tie-dyed curtains, homemade candles, and beautifully made vibrant tapestries set the mood from the moment of arrival. Mountain Dew Tie Dyes, a small business from Tennessee, created the colorful tapestries that brightened the stage.

Upon arrival, we set up our home base with markers, candy, and bubbles – a fun, comforting environment for any trippy hippie. We hung a pretty mess of LED lights from the ceiling and waited for the festival to start.

As people started rolling in, the large open room for indoor camping quickly filled. The cement, gym-like room quickly grew soft and colorful with sleeping bags, tapestries, and smiling faces.

Pan opened up the show and warmed up the crowd with some danceable deady jams.

MiZ Band started off with a hoe-down jam and kept the energy up for over two and a half hours. MiZ has been profiled by Headspace before. The music is often described as folk, rock, bluegrass, blues, and everything in between, a truly eclectic mix of Americana. MiZ has toured with Mickey Hart Band, Railroad Earth, and many other great bands. Knowing the crowd they were playing for, MiZ played a Grateful Dead filled set, making star-eyed heads sway with love to Brown Eyed Women and Tangled up in Blue.

Buddy Cage, New Riders of the Purple Sage’s (NRPS) pedal steel player, joined MiZ’s set. He fills the spot originally held by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead in NRPS. To see him play Peggy-O with MiZ and hearing the beautiful sliding cry as his hand gently pet the petal steel was enough to bring tears to my eyes.

Mookie Siegal also joined MiZ on stage. Mookie is a keyboardist and singer who also rocked the accordion during the New Year’s Eve event. Siegal has toured with Bob Weir and Ratdog, Phil Lesh and Friends, and currently David Nelson Band and NRPS. His smile hinted at his obvious enjoyment to be playing and brightened up the whole room.

Both Cage and Siegal stayed on stage with headliners New Riders of the Purple Sage. The NRPS has been around since 1969 and they continue to jam in front of adoring fans. In the early 1970s, the NRPS toured extensively with the Grateful Dead, even playing the Trans-Canadian Festival Express with the Dead, Janis Joplin, and other legendary musicians.

At midnight, rainbow colored balloons fell from the ceiling and joined the dancing bodies to the New Riders of the Purple Sage to celebrate the New Year. For a flash second, the whole festival was celebrating the New Year with the Dead in true 70’s fashion. Champagne toasts and hugs were shared by all.

After ringing in the New Year with the New Riders, ScareKrow and DeLacey performed. ScareKrow is responsible for manning the sound board for the NRPS and has shared the stage with them and many other music greats. ScareKrow and DeLacey shared sweet loving with each other and the audience with pretty originals and Dead covers.

Mysterytrain closed up the evening, which was no small feat, especially following so many hours of great tunes. From 3:30-7:30 in the morning the band kept the energy up until the sun came up. Their sound can be best described as rocking, jammy, psychedelic funk, but Mystertrain is about so much more. They believe in fun, family, and making the audience move. Their musical experience reflects that philosophy. The band mingled and danced with the crowd until their set so by the time they played the audience felt like they were watching old friends jam. This allowed everyone to feel even more tapped into the musical energy.

Deric, Anthony, and Schon of Root 222 Crew performed live painting all night to a crowd watching both the New Year and a new painting come to life.

With so many kind, generous, grateful individuals in one place, it is no surprise that the New Year was brought in with good vibes and good deeds. Viola Lee Hoops collected canned food for Strangers Helping Strangers and a generous amount of cans were donated.

Flagship Productions worked closely with the Rex Foundation on this event and a percentage of the ticket sales were donated to Rex. The Rex Foundation’s mission is to provide a healthy environment which promotes the arts, assists the less fortunate, builds stronger communities, and educates children and adults. The foundation is a nonprofit charitable organization founded by the Grateful Dead and family.

With the New Riders, new experiences and new family, there is no question that the New Year started off with dreamlike bliss in the sleeping bag littered venue in Kempton, PA. Look back on the long, strange trip of 2012 and simply follow the people, vibes, and music that rocks your soul to continue to have a “grate” 2013.


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