Freedom Weekend Aloft 2014
By: Joshua Lowe
Every year the skies of Simpsonville are filled on Memorial Day Weekend with beautiful Hot Air Balloons from all over the region for the Freedom Weekend Aloft Festival (AKA: Aloft). Families pack the hill at Simpsonville’s Charter Amphitheater to watch the launch all weekend, and some even spend the extra money and take a ride in one and this year was no different. Though the rains came in, they did not stay long and allowed for a great weekend of music, rides and ballons. The highlight of the weekend for me though would have to be able to see 2 of my favorite bands from the 90’s, Spin Doctors and Blues Traveler.
Spin Doctors played on Sunday on the main stage right after the bottom fell out of the sky, but that didn’t keep the crowd away nor did it keep these guys from totaly rocking the stage. The band played a combination of tracks from their first record, “Pocket full of Kryptonite” and their latest release “If the River Was Whiskey”, kicking off their set with the high energy track “What Time is It.” Guitarist Eric Schenkmen was the first to hit the stage, playing that oh so familiar guitar riff, followed lead singer Chris Barron, rocking the bow tie and all. From the moment the band took the poured out a high energy performance from start to finish. At song 5 the band played a song off their latest record entitled “Some other man instead”. This song has the soul of a blues track but a heart of a rock song. With catchy blues riffs and rock solos. Spin Doctors followed a new track with an oldie but goodie, “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues” AKA Pocket Full of Kryptonite. The highlight of Spin Doctors’ set was near the end when Blue’s Traveler vocialist John Popper joined the band on stage for “Two Princes”. For those of you who don’t know, John Popper and Chris Baroon grew up together and Popper at one point was in Spin Doctors (before they went by the name Spin Doctors) before he left to focus on Blues Traveler. During this joint jam John Popper and Spin Doctor guitarist Eric Schenkmen did a pretty sweet Guitar/Harmonica battle, similar to the track “Crash Burn” from Blues Traveler.
Shortly after the sun had gone down Spin Doctors finished up, then Blues Traveler took to the stage. Blues Traveler is one of those bands that I’ve just always been drawn too. As a kid I remember hearing John Popper play the harmonica and wishing I was able to play like that. That may have had something to do with my Dad, who is a HUGE blues fan and loves the harmonica. I want bore you with the band played this song or that song, cause we know that when you’ve been playing together as long Blue’s Traveler, the fans except you to play Hook and Run Around and all the other famous singles you’ve released over the last 20 years. What I will tell you though is one of the highlights of the evening came close to the end, when John Popper brings out Spin Doctor, guitarist Eric Schenkmen and vocalist Chris Barron and they play their version of ZZ Top’s “La Grange”. The add of the harmonica parts John Popper added to that song was amazing. You would think with a band like ZZ Top, you couldn’t top the original track, well this is extremely close. The only thing that would have made it any better, would have had ZZ Top themselves, come play on the track. Another highlight of the evening would be during the encore Blue’s Traveler covering “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” Again, it’s not better than the orgianal, but Charlie Daniels would be proud.
In conclusion seeing Spin Doctors and Blues Traveler all on the same bill will easly be in my top 10 concerts that I seen/covered. An I would recommend that if either of these band is in your area that you make it to the show.