It started with a storm, and ended with a storm.
After a rogue thunderstorm pushed the opening of the LOCKN’ Festival back by a day, the festivities ended with a furious charity auction for a guitar signed by the festival’s headliners, including Robert Plant, Carlos Santana, and all four members of the Grateful Dead.
The guitar was also played by the Dead’s Bob Weir on stage during his Saturday evening performance with Billy & The Kids.
With just a few minutes to go in the charity auction organized by HeadCount, the bid was at $25,000 – already a record for LOCKN’. But then a live bidding session nearly tripled the rake for 22 charities that formed the Participation Row non-profit village. Hawaii resident Shawn Kroop came out on top.
Fans at LOCKN’ also took 5,392 separate socially-conscious actions at the various booths on a Participation Row, to enter a free raffle for another signed D’angelico guitar, this one an acoustic. It went to student Jonathan Cook.
Five days before, it almost looked like none of this would be possible. Last Wednesday a storm with high powered winds rolled through Arrington, Virginia and undid much of the prep work for the festival that had occurred earlier in the week. Despite the devastation, the incredible volunteers of HeadCount and other Participation Row orgs were unfazed. They woke up early on both Thursday and Friday to clean out the booths and put the finishing touches on the Row. By the time John Popper kicked off the festivities with a rendition of the national anthem on his harmonica on Friday, September 11th, Participation Row was as beautiful as ever. 22 matching banners gleaming in that hot Virginia sun anchored by the Qello Concerts Lounge where fans relaxed in between sets and watched videos of some of the greatest live performances of all time!
Friday was littered with incredible collaborations: The Doobie Incident, Jorma and Jack Celebrate 50 Years of Jefferson Airplane, and Mad Dogs & Englishmen (A Tribute to Joe Cocker ft. Tedeschi Trucks Band). As these once-in-a-lifetime lineups took the stage fans went from booth to booth taking actions. They signed petitions, registered themselves for donation lists, and of course, registered to vote!
All the while, the Legendary Lockn’ Guitars designed and donated by D’Angelico, were being passed around and signed by Rock and Roll royalty. Others putting their names on the guitar included Leon Russell, Rita Coolidge, Dave Mason, Warren Haynes, Jorma Kaukanen, Jack Cassidy, John Bell and Jimmy Herring of Widespread Panic, Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, and every member of String Cheese Incident and Umphrey’s McGee.
The musical highlight for HeadCount and the charities on Participation Row came on Saturday night.
During a Billy and the Kids set, legendary Weir picked up the signed Participation Row guitar and played it during Peggy-O!
Sunday was a crisp and clear day at Lockn’. All eyes were on Participation Row, as the Legendary Lockn’ Guitar auction and raffle were set to close at 7pm. The top bids steadily climbed through the day: Ten thousand dollars, then fifteen thousand dollars, then twenty thousand dollars. As 7pm approached the Row was filled with anxious excitement. Everyone wondered how much this legendary six-string would go for.
When the clock struck 7pm we declared a winner for the signed poster. The buyer spent a charitable $3,500 on a wonderful gift for her husband. But the guitar was not ready for sale; for there were two live bidders and the auction went from being Silent to a popcorn style. In a whirlwind of bidding the guitar’s price jumped all the way to $65,000. It was more than four times what the signed LOCKN’ guitar went for last year.
Beneficiaries of the Participation Row silent auction include: Love Hope Strength, FATE, Conscious Alliance, DanceSafe, Appalachian Voices, Computers4Kids, FeedRVA, Lynchburg Humane Society, Moms Clean Airforce, NORML, Nelson County Tourism, Blue Ridge Medical Center, North Branch School, Wild Virginia, Light House Studio, Park School, RecycleLife, United Plant Savers, Sonic Portal, Rockfish Valley Foundation and Thomas Jefferson Center.