Tim Walther is the founder of the All Good Festival. He also runs his own promotion company – Walther Productions – and manages Dark Star Orchestra, who we’ve covered here, and will also be playing All Good this year.
The jam band phenomenon (and the festivals that support it) has grown and evolved over fifteen years now, and All Good was at the beginning of it. We put together some questions for Tim about the evolution of All Good and this year’s event (July 8 – 11), which he kindly answered through an email exchange.
What was the original impetus for the first All Good festival?
We wanted to bring the bands and fans together in a harmonious setting for the purpose of self exploration and community spirit.
Why Marvin’s Mountaintop? Why West Virginia?
We started at Wilmer’s Park in Brandywine, MD in 1996, then moved to Capon Bridge, WV, then to Fredericksburg, VA, then to Tera Alta, WV, then finally found our home at Marvin’s Mountaintop…we were outgrowing each venue along the way. We ended up at Marvin’s mostly due to the room to grow and the proximity to where we conduct our business year round in DC and Baltimore….it’s just far enough away that you get away from the hustle and bustle, but not so far away to be a strain of a drive.
This is the 14th All Good festival. What has changed over the years?
Well, we started back in 1996 with the first All Good that took place at Wilmer’s Park in Brandywine, MD. My self and my partner, Junipa Contento, were the only two on staff other than the one security guy that came with the rent…we were throwing a big party for our closest 945 friends. Since then we have taken a slow growth philosophy and enhanced the All Good experience on a year by year basis. Now in our 14th year we have 65 departments, over 600 staff, a huge production, a roster of the absolute best bands in this demographic, and some of the strongest and most seasoned festival personnel in the country. We are truly blessed to have made it this far and could not have done so without the support and understanding of the fans throughout the years.
Is the summer festival space getting more crowded as the years go by?
Sure, we used to be one of the only camping events of this type in the country, now it seems like there are like festivals in every state in the US.
Is it getting harder or easier to book bands?
It has become easier as we have proven to be a consistent festival that takes great care of the artists and the fans.
What’s the best thing about All Good for you?
We work on this year round, the best part for me is from when I show up on site a week before the event, through the festival until I start heading back. Many people such as Junipa, my partner, work tireless hours all year long and the payoff is seeing it all come together on site and witnessing thousands of fans having the time of their lives.
What’s the hardest thing?
The details, I am not a detail person and I am blessed to be surrounded by folks who are, such as Junipa.
What’s the taping policy? Do you get many tapers?
We allow folks to tape, but we cannot hook them up with a board feed..it seems to have remained about the same amount of folks…perhaps 50 for All Good.
What is most exciting about this year’s All Good festival?
Hosting Furthur as well as some other new bands to our scene such as Old Crow Medicine Show, Femi Kuti, George Clinton and Dr. Dog.
In an effort to take the production on Thursday night to another level, we are moving the festivities to the main concert bowl and the bands will be playing the main stage….this will offer a much bigger stage, better sound, an incredible light show and more room for fans to shake their bones. We will also be using Giant LED Screens for the first time, so the video will be off the hook. Beyond that we will be offering a water station in the concert venue to allow fans to fill up containers for free. We have many other additions to the fest that we will save for those who join us.
What sets All Good apart from other summer music festivals?
The obvious one is that we offer no overlapping sets…the fan can see every minute of every band that he/she has paid to see for the most part without even moving from one space. Another would be that our number one goal is to provide the safest and most enjoyable experience for the fans. We realize that for a great deal of these folks, that this is their summer vacation and we want to make it a weekend to remember for years to come. We do our best with our staff to set the stage for the incredible vibe that takes place each year at our event. You arrive to the mountaintop and the rest of the world goes away whether it takes a day or two, at some point everyone comes together within this community and there becomes this universal sense that “every little thing’s gonna be alright.”
[Ed note: The GLONO team is looking forward to covering All Good for you directly from Marvin’s Mountaintop. Look back for regular updates from the festival grounds!]