Virginia craft breweries such as Apocalypse provide great beer to go with the music at Lock 'n Festival

Virginia craft breweries such as Apocalypse provide great beer to go with the music at Lock ‘n Festival

Words and Photos by Diane Catanzaro and Chris Jones


Where in Virginia can you lounge on the grass, listen or dance to a line-up of over forty live musical acts and sip freely from a red solo cup filled with your choice of over two dozen craft beers?  In your dreams, right?

Most concerts, music venues, and festivals have a limited range of overpriced brews, heavy on the corporate suds. Some festivals make you drink your beer in a ‘beer garden’ and don’t permit you to leave the designated drinking area with your beer. While the organizers intend to increase family-friendliness, this means you wind up chug-a-lugging to finish quickly when you want to go watch the band. Or you wind up sneaking your beer out of the tent, perhaps precariously perched in a bag or poured into a soda pop can. I’m sorry, but once you have reached the ripe old age of 21, much less 51, it seems you should not have to sneak your legally purchased beer past a Checkpoint Charlie to sit near the stage to watch the performers you’ve paid a lot of money to see.

Some festivals, like Bonnaroo, have great music and great beer, but Bonnaroo is in Tennessee, 460 miles from the center of Virginia. Perhaps you’d like to let your freak flag fly a bit closer to home, in the sweet Virginia breeze of the Old Dominion?

May we suggest you check out the great beer and music at Lockn’, the Interlocking Music Festival, from September 10-13, in Arrington, Virginia? The stages are interlocking…when one band completes their set the next band is already plugged in and ready to rock on the adjoining stage. The relationships are interlocking….Lockn’ features partnerships and collaborations among diverse artists.

For example, Widespread Panic with guest Jimmy Cliff, Phil Lesh with Carlos Santana, a String Cheese Incident-Doobie Brothers hybrid, a Mad Dogs and Englishmen tribute to Joe Cocker, featuring the Tedeschi Trucks Band, Leon Russell, Dave Mason, Rita Coolidge, Chris Robinson, and Doyle Bramhall II. Robert Plant and his new band the Sensational Shape Shifters, Bill Kreutzmann and the Kids, Virginia native Steve Earle, Little Feat, the North Mississippi All Stars, Trombone Shorty and more artists provide four days of peace, love, music, and something very important that Woodstock lacked, which is great selection of craft beer. (They also lacked ample porta-potties at Woodstock, and that won’t be a problem at Lockn’ either. Vital, considering the plethora of beer you’ll be sipping, or shall we say renting?)

Hot Tuna legends Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady will play an acoustic set at Lockn’, but also something extra special: on Friday they will perform a “50 Year Tribute” to a band they co-founded, perhaps you’ve heard of it? Jefferson Airplane. How, you ask, does all this relate to beer?

Well, Hot Tuna is steeped in the blues and beer. They often perform an old Reverend Gary Davis song, which reveals a certain set of priorities regarding relationships. “Don’t you leave me here, don’t you leave me here, now pretty baby if you go, leave me a dime for beer.” They do a Jelly Roll Morton song, Candyman, with lyrics “Run up to the corner get the baby some beer, wish I was in New Orleans sittin’ on a candy stand.” This explains why old blues guys tend to make poor babysitters. And a classic Jefferson Airplane song, Lather, was ostensibly about a young man who was what today would be called neuroatypical or divergent. But, Lather could be about a tasty beer head foaming over the brim of your red solo cup. So you see, beer and Hot Tuna go together like yin and yang.

So, what is the beer scene going to be like at Lockn’? There isn’t just a beer tent; there is a “beer village” with a super sweet selection of craft beer. From the home team of Virginia, expect to see breweries like Three Notch’d, Blue Mountain, South Street, Legend, Devil’s Backbone, Strangeways, Champion, Bold Rock, Sweetwater, and Apocalypse, pouring several brews each. Last year’s Lockn’ featured several out of state breweries, including Lagunitas, Breckenridge, and Sierra Nevada. The lineup was still being finalized at press time, but you can expect a wide range of breweries and beer styles to be represented. Each brewery is likely to bring several different styles, so there will be two to three dozen beers to choose from. You are sure to find several beers you want to wet your whistle with.

Most of the “beertenders” at Lockn’ are people who work for the brewery or are suds-savvy brewery friends, so they can tell you about what they’re pouring. Many festivals are staffed with volunteers who don’t know a kolsch from a kebab.  Several brewery owners and brewers were in attendance at last year’s festival, hanging around the beer village and easy to chat with. The festival also features an “Edible Stage” (not to be confused with the Freudian Oedipal stage), with tastings and seminars on beer and food topics.

Speaking of edibles, there are so many food stands at Lockn’ that whether you are a junk food junkie or a virtuous vegan, you will find tasty options. From Thai to savory pie, falafel to Phat Daddies, toast to tacos, kombucha to kale, you will eat well at Lockn’. There will be vendors selling hippie threads, handmade soaps and crafty goods, tables where nonprofits raise consciousness about environmental and other issues, and fun people-watching, so you won’t be bored for a minute. And oh yes, lots of delicious craft beer.

Please note that this festival is a four-day affair, Thursday through Sunday, and the performance schedules differ each day. Check the Lockn’ website to see who and what is happening each day. While at press time only the full-festival four-day tickets are available, ($245, $200 students and military). As the date gets closer single-day tickets should appear. If you can do three days, though, the four-day pass is the better deal. There are VIP tickets which provide benefits such as special viewing stands, an air conditioned lounge and bathroom facility, a special campground area, catered Sunday brunch, and more.

Where to stay? The large rural festival site in Arrington is 45 minutes southwest of Charlottesville, and 35 minutes northeast of Lynchburg. You can camp on site in your own tent or RV, or you can “glamp” and let these well-organized festival pros provide twin or queen beds with real mattresses, linens, and “the works” in a private onsite deluxe tent. Prefer to stay off-premises? Stay at Wintergreen and ride the shuttle to and from the festival. Details to plan your weekend-after-Labor-Day vacation are at