THORNVILLE, Ohio - They don't call it Legend Valley for nothing.
Nestled in the last ripple of rolling hills before you reach the greater Columbus on Interstate 70 West, Legend Valley Music Center has lived up to it's name for decades now. Generations of music lovers have shared fond memories of this outdoor concert venue, listening to live performances by rock'n'roll legends in the shadow of the property's iconic row of majestic pines.
From its roots in the late '70s and early '80s - when it was first known as Legend Valley - to its busiest seasons in the late '80s to mid '90s as the more commercially operated Buckeye Lake Music Center, the venue had remained relatively quiet for several summer seasons since then ... until recent years.
T-L File Photos/ERIC AYRES
LEGEND VALLEY’S concert venue and campground is sure to draw music lovers from near and far this season, with blockbuster, multi-day music festivals on tap for 2012.
The rebirth of Legend Valley has been a gradual process that has picked up steam in recent years. The upcoming season for 2012 promises to be the biggest year the beloved concert venue has seen since it's heyday.
This year Legend Valley will be home to one of the biggest and most widely respected annual music festivals in the nation and will also host three more of the biggest music festivals in the state of Ohio this season, as well.
The 16th Annual All Good Music Festival will make its debut in Ohio this year at Legend Valley in July. First held in 1997 in Brandywine, Md., this annual music festival has grown by leaps and bounds over the years. All Good has made its home at Marvin's Mountaintop near Masontown, W.Va. (located southeast of Morgantown) for the past nine years, growing each year to attract the biggest names in the music business and die-hard fans from all across the nation. The last two years were considered "sell out" crowds, with tens of thousands of people in attendance.
This year's All Good Music Festival and Campout will bring scores of the nation's finest touring acts, including the legendary Allman Brothers Band, The Flaming Lips, Grateful Dead members Phil Lesh, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart with their respective bands, and many more.
In addition to All Good, the 2012 season at Legend Valley will also bring the return of Spring Hookahville featuring Ohio's top veteran jam band ekoostik hookah, Gov't Mule and many more on Memorial Day weekend.
Also hailing from Ohio, The Werks has become one of the fastest growing bands on the national music festival scene in recent years. Their namesake festival - The Werk Out Music Festival - is also relocating this year, bringing its third annual event to Legend Valley for three nights of music by The Werks, along with the likes of Rusted Root and many more bands in September.
On Labor Day weekend, the venue will play host to a brand new festival featuring the nation's No. 1 Grateful Dead tribute band, Dark Star Orchestra. For years, DSO has established its reputation as the quintessential Grateful Dead cover band, recreating entire live shows from the legendary band's enormous concert catalog.
The Dark Star Jubilee will feature three full shows by DSO, along with an array of great acts, including bands featuring Grateful Dead member Mickey Hart, Bill Krutzmann and Donna Jean Godchaux.
Today's music festival scene was born thanks in large part to the Grateful Dead. Following the death of frontman Jerry Garcia in August of 1995, a huge void was left among their adoring fans. The concept of offering multi-day music festivals with camping on-site continued to grow over the years since then, and people influenced by the Grateful Dead and that counterculture scene are among the folks who today perform in some of the top bands and promote some of the biggest shows.
Legend Valley (or Buckeye Lake Music Center) played host to some renowned performances by the Grateful Dead, which appeared there with opening acts Bruce Hornsby & The Range in 1988, with the Violent Femmes in 1991, with the Steve Miller Band in 1992, with Sting (of The Police) in 1993 and with a reunited Traffic in 1994.
While the surviving members of the Grateful Dead have not announced any plans to reunite, they are all touring separately with their own bands, and they are all scheduled to perform at one time or another this season at Legend Valley, as are a number of other Rock'n'Roll Hall of Famers. For many veteran rockers and fans alike, a visit to "the farm" will surely conjure up some great memories.
Over the years, Legend Valley has welcomed performances by many other heavy hitters in the music business - from the Charlie Daniels Band to Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings to Ted Nugent, Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and the Scorpions. Lollapalooza '93 featuring Alice In Chains, Primus, Tool, Rage Against The Machine and many more took place on a hot summer day there, as did Lollapalooza '96, which brought Metallica, Soundgarden and a host of others to the site.
Jimmy Buffet and the Coral Reefer Band, Aerosmith, Guns N' Roses, Def Leppard, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many more all made stops at the venue during big summer concert tours of the past.
Before new ownership had changed the name to Buckeye Lake Music Center, the original Legend Valley was known as a place where attendees could bring their coolers and pack a picnic lunch to go check out some good music in the great outdoors. Since its rebirth as Legend Valley, property owner and show promoter Steve Trickle of Trickle Productions has made an effort to bring this tradition back.
In 2003, he was able to re-obtain the venue's camping license and get it in his name, and parking issues that had lingered from the years that followed the Buckeye Lake Music Center days have since been ironed out.
So the table is set for the music festival/camp out season for 2012, and in Ohio, the Legend Valley concert venue is truly ready to put the Buckeye State back on the map.
Legend Valley is located off Interstate 70 exit 132 near Thornville, Ohio, just about 25 miles east of Columbus. For more information about the venue or this season's upcoming shows, visit www.legendvalley.net.
Ayres can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.