Though the LOCKN' Festival had been in the works for more than six months, the event taking place about 40 minutes from Charlottesville, Virginia, will now serve as an uplifting moment for the city following its racially charged rally that left one dead and others injured.
Festival co-founder Peter Shapiro said the four-day event, which kicks off Thursday in Arrington, will bring positive vibes "to a place that needs to lift the energy." The Aug. 12 protest by white supremacists in Charlottesville left one counterprotester dead and dozens of others injured.
"I think the energy will be lifted. People want to be lifted right now," Shapiro said. "They're going to be open souls and open hearted and ready to be lifted, like a congregation. It's like a church."
Bob Weir, Phil Lesh, John Fogerty, the Avett Brothers, Jim James, Gov't Mule and Margo Price are part of the lineup at the festival, which is in its fifth year. It takes place at Infinity Downs Farms at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
"The times lend itself for LOCKN' to be coming this weekend. ... A lot of people are like, `Oh man, you're the next big event in Charlottesville, aren't you nervous, scared?' No, this is why we do what we do," Shapiro said.
Weir, formerly of the Grateful Dead, said "the times really demand that we embrace each other."
"The feeling I think we will have is that we will regard everyone with equal love, even the people who caused all that trouble. In that particular instance, our regard for them will be tinged with a bit of pity for their unfortunate views and the circumstances that they bring on themselves," he said.
The festival will be livestreamed on Relix.com and is raising funds to support the organization, Charlottesville Area Community Foundation.
LOCKN', unlike other festivals with multiple stages, features one rotating stage so that fans can watch all of the performers on the bill. Others set to perform include Brandi Carlile, the Revivalists, JJ Grey & Mofro, the Record Company, Blackberry Smoke and Umprey's McGee.
"I think you going to find that the folks who attend the festival and the folks who play the festival are all of one solid opinion in regard to what happened in Charlottesville," Weir said. "I would expect there would be some attention given to that issue, but it will probably ... come with the song selection."
Shapiro echoed Weir's thoughts.
"We're going to show that there's many more people on the side of positive energy and get things back on the right road, and there's many more who want to be on that road," he said. "There are small ways you can ... try to do your own effort to flip the energy. This is our effort."