In 2013, Dave Frey and his partner, fellow music promoter Peter Shapiro, started the Lockn’ Festival, a multi-genre musical blowout that takes place in late summer on the sprawling Oak Ridge Farm in the Nelson County town of Arrington. Over the past four years the event has brought an array of heavyweight acts in roots, jam and classic rock, including Tom Petty, Phish, the Allman Brothers Band, John Fogerty and members of the Grateful Dead.
With Lockn’ in place as an annual happening, the organizers are expanding their ambitions for the festival site with Infinity Downs Farm. The new venue (briefly called Nelson County Preserve before being renamed this year) encompasses 387 acres adjacent to Oak Ridge and holds the Blue Ridge Bowl, a small amphitheater that’s used as a secondary stage during Lockn’. Frey and Shapiro purchased the land in 2014 and will use it to host a range of events, including concerts, day festivals and races.
Following important infrastructure investments—drilling wells, adding power sources and installing a 56,000-gallon water tank to have a reliable supply of clean water—the owners of Infinity Downs are opening the venue this weekend, starting with a show by New Orleans-based, soul-rock band The Revivalists on April 22.
“Once we got through the improvements, we took a breath and then started to plan the next phase, more programming,” says Frey. “Now we’re ready to get back to what we do, which is promoting shows. We also want to be ambitious and pair different things with music.”
Indeed, some creative plans are in the works for the new venue, which sits right off Route 29 about halfway between Charlottesville and Lynchburg, and, according to Frey, can be scaled to hold between 1,000 and 12,000 people. A week after the April 29 opening concert, the farm will be the site of A Day at the Downs, a uniquely paired Wine and Wildlife Festival. The day benefits the Arrington-based Wildlife Conservation Center, and will blend tastings from a variety of Virginia wineries with the opportunity to view rare and endangered animals like the bongo antelope. The musical offering comes from versatile piano ace Bruce Hornsby, along with opening sets from local artists Michael Coleman and Erin Lunsford.
More regional artists will play Infinity Downs on June 17 at Community Day, another day-long event that features local food vendors, family activities and the Rockn’ to Lockn’ band competition, with six independent Virginia bands competing for three open slots on the main stage at Lockn’, which is set to return on August 24-27.
“That’s something I’m really proud of,” says Frey. “There are so many great bands in Virginia, but few opportunities for those just starting out.”
Beyond the upcoming music-focused events on the Infinity Downs schedule, which includes The Festy Experience on October 5-8, the venue will also be the site of a new craft beer festival—the inaugural Brewmasters Ball on June 2 featuring Keller Williams—and a two-day Reebok Spartan Race on June 3-4. With plenty of open space, overnight camping will be offered at most events.
Frey says he wants to add more endurance races and organized outdoor activities in an effort to get more people on the property’s seven miles of onsite hiking and mountain biking trails, blazed with help from pro trail builder Dave King, who’s sculpted bike courses for the X Games and BMX.
Besides the seven events currently on the schedule, Frey says one or two more could potentially be added at Infinity Downs this year.
“This isn’t a place where we have to have 30 events a year,” he adds. “This will be a destination. We’re going to have special events that we can build over time and hopefully grow into evergreen events.”
Get down at the Downs
When you first hear about a band called The Revivalists from New Orleans, certain sounds come to mind. Jazz and funk? Sure, bits of both are in the mix, but this Crescent City septet is more focused on blending its influences into a well-rounded rock sound. Formed in 2007, the group found fast favor in the jam band world, after an endorsement from guitarist Warren Haynes and opening slots with Gov’t Mule.
But the band’s taut grooves—colored with horn blasts and spacey pedal steel fills—often give way to catchy pop-minded hooks. Case in point is the breakout single “Wish I Knew You” from the group’s latest album, Men Amongst Mountains. The tune, which cruises with an infectious, jangly strut, hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Adult Alternative Songs chart last fall, and the band performed it on “Conan” back in December.
The dynamic outfit gets a big boost from frontman Dave Shaw, a vocal powerhouse who delivers dance-ready earworms with an arena-ready soulful howl.