Category: Concerts, Events
Photos by Melodie Yvonne Ramey Article by Melodie Yvonne Ramey with help from Jessica Bishop DSC_7220DAYTON, IN - Peaceful pink and purple cotton candy clouds swirled above the Dayton cemetery on Friday evening, September 25th. Many devout Hoon fans and volunteers gather early the day before the event every year to get ready, and this year the festivities began before some Hoosiers have even risen from bed for the final Vigil hosted by Nel Hoon, Shannon and Tim's mother. Groups of pre-vigil goers wandered down the meandering gravel path that winds through the trees leading further down into the cemetery. Everyone is greeted at the end of the path by a large yellow and white striped tent covering the grave of the late Richard Shannon Hoon, and his brother Tim Forkeotes. Shannon Hoon was the front man of Blind Melon, a neo-psychedelic alternative rock band formed in 1990. “Change”, off the self titled album released in 1992, played as people gathered underneath the large canvas. Their arms were wrapped around each other as they sang along or just simply gazed longingly upon the slick grey stone that marked the final resting place of Shannon. There were hushed conversations, laughter, and memories all being shared between the gathering. The other gravestones appeared to be looking along in reverence, and seemed to also quietly pay their respects to this beloved musician, poet, father, and son. There was an undeniable sense of unspoken unity between the crowd. Most were strangers but now somehow became family, bonded through the mutual love and respect of the music of one man. Each new person was greeted with a smile, whether they were vigil virgins or long time veterans, everyone was welcome with open arms. There was an overwhelming sense of calm and love throughout the day. Everyone payed their respects, and left to rest up for the day ahead. DSC_7382DSC_7349DSC_7522DSC_7343                 The following afternoon, the warm Saturday air was filled with a buzz as the vigil goers arrived at the cemetery, and strolled through the grounds in their knit beanies and flower headbands. Patchwork blankets and acoustic guitars were strewn across the lawn that, when combined with the cool emerald green grass, created a beautiful tapestry of color and texture. Melonheads discussed what their favorite Blind Melon song was, and talked about ways Shannon touched their lives, some even retelling stories of his various escapades. Nel Hoon, Travis Warren, and Christopher Thorn joined fans and loved ones throughout the day and night to share tales as well. They made time to greet each and every devotee, many of them parents bringing with them the next generation of Melonheads. Children of all ages, many bearing the namesake of the beloved Shannon Hoon, danced and played the day away helping to spread beautiful and pure love from young to old. A singular flowered “Happy Birthday” balloon danced in the wind above the gravestone. People lined up to pay homage to the melodious entrepreneur, some leaving presents underneath the triangular shaped bush that was adorned with roses, and grew at the foot of the grave. Tons of candles, fan art, flowers, stuffed animals, memorabilia, and ceramic bees, decorated the area all left in honor of Shannon’s birthday. There was even a visit from Mario Pereira, the owner of the famous muscle car that inspired "Galaxie", a song off of Blind Melon's Soup album. Mario allowed fans to explore the gorgeous automobile, even letting them sit inside and pose for photos well into dusk. As the day wore on candles were lit, and songs were sung. Just as the saying goes, though, time flies when fun is being had, so it wasn't too long before darkness set in, and the vigil family settled down for a candlelit Blind Melon sing along accompied by the legendary Christopher Thorn. Everyone joined in the melody making including Nel, and the harmonies flowed out of the tent into the night sky rising up to greet the giant moon and the heavens where Shannon and Tim were surely smiling down on all.DSC_7910DSC_8273DSC_7754             The last day of Vigilstock took place at the Knickerbocker Saloon where the line grew longer as people waited for the doors to open. It was an old building decorated with posters of all the greats in music along with various signed musical instruments and low lit sconces. Tables and booths lined each side of the small venue with a medium sized wooden stage at the front of the room. The crowd rushed in when the doors opened at 3:00 p.m. and took their seats. People sat cross-legged on the floor, as the chatter grew in anticipation of Christopher Thorn and Travis Warren taking the stage. Red and purple lighting gleamed upon the acoustic guitars which, when combined with the dim lit sconces, provided a warm and calming atmosphere. Thorn and Warren played a multitude of Melon songs, opening with "Skinned" from their most prodigious album, Soup, followed by "Paper Scratcher" off their self-titled debut, and “Pull” off of Nico which was named after Shannon's beautiful daughter. They continued playing passionately as the crowd clapped and sang along many with eyes closed, swaying back and forth with the music taking in every note. The atmosphere was less like a concert and more like a gathering of friends around a campfire with a couple of guitars, a couple of beers, and a love that was almost tangible in the air. Christopher Thorn shared stories of Shannon and some of the inspiration that led to their music. Many tears were shed as the duo played several other Blind Melon songs. Just as they anounced the end of their set Nico Hoon, Shannon Hoon’s daughter, joined them on stage to sing an emotion filled version of the song “Change” for the finale. Several more tears gleamed from the eyes of the Melonheads as she received a standing ovation, and the applause carried through the air following the three phenomenal performers off stage. DSC_8197DSC_8495DSC_8593             Joon Wolfsberg, who hailed all the way from Germany for this event, took the stage after Christopher and Travis. Her powerful voice, and passion for music was reminiscent of an early Joan Jett. She played a beautiful rendition of “Change”, and encouraged everyone to make it a tradition of the night. Next on stage was Just Dave. Jodie, Dave's girlfriend, made a guest appearance on stage, and provided vocals for their version of "Change", as well as a fantastically talented Jake Heidrich from Canyon Collected helping with some melody making accompaniment on the mandolin. A surprise visit from Travis Warren also blessed the crowd as he stepped up to help Dave perform "The Crossing", an original song by Travis. Jamie Shields followed next, which in the absence of a drum set, had the audience bang on the tables and stomp their feet, during her stunning performance of "Glitch" which continued the camp-fire vibe. Moe Dell preformed afterward, and played his self described “redneck shit and some Melon”. Annie Meyer stole the show when she featured her tranquil singing, and an original song called “The Day the Music Died in New Orleans” written about the day Shannon died, which she played while choking back tears. Bobby Herrold then brought his self-depreciating, but upbeat sense of humor in to lighten up the mood, and keep the audience laughing. Doozer McDooze continued this tradition with his fast paced, British punk-rock working class rebellion that really got the crowd riled up. Canyon Collected came on next performing a spectacularly impassioned rendition of "No Bidness", and by the end of the song every patron in the house was on their feet swirling to the downhome beats. DSC_8354DSC_8720DSC_8133                 As the moon outside the Knickerbocker disappeared behind the Earth's shadow, Mr. Uppercut eclipsed the sadness of the final moments of Vigilstock with their unparalleled delivery of Blind Melon melodies as they closed out the show. They are a tribute band formed through the Shannon Hoon Vigil many years ago. In the words of Mr. Uppercut's vocalist, Krissy Motley, "My husband and I have been playing Vigilstock for the past 13 years. It definitely wasn't easy but each year I would do whatever I had to, and play with whomever could play the songs just to make sure all the people that came there to celebrate Shannon, would actually get to hear his music. We have had an amazing time doing so, and met some of our greatest friends. It was a very emotional gig for me this time, knowing it was the end of an amazing era!" The most touching and phenomenal thing of the entire weekend was seeing just how many lives one man influenced. Every person there had a different journey. It didn’t matter how old they were, where they came from, or what they had been through, Shannon touched them on the deepest level possible. He touched that part in everyone's soul that can only be reached through music, and he will never be forgotten. He spoke to the world, and his words will live on in infinity. “I know we all can’t stay here forever, so I want to write my words on the face of today. And then they’ll paint it.” – Shannon Hoon September 26th 1967 - October 21st, 1995

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4 thoughts on “All That I Need is Vigilstock 2015

  1. I just loved this article! I was sad not to be able to make it there. I felt as if I was there because if the beautiful pictures and writing. Thank you for the amazing experience!

  2. What a beautiful article!! I’ve been a fan since 1993 and saw Blind Melon only one time at the Dock in Jackson, Mississippi the same year. I was in New Orleans to go to the Tipitinas show but sadly you know the rest of that story. To this day I still have that unused ticket. I was never able to make it to a Vigil. And that hurts me badly. But I will one day, hopefully next year make it to Dayton to pay my respects and thank Shannon personally for making my world a better place. But thank you for the pictures and beautifully described piece on this last vigil. I hope I get to meet Nel when I go. Thanks again for this amazing tribute. All my love

    1. I live and grew up in the area… word has it this year was the last year for it. Nel is getting too far along in her years to continue doing it is what the rumor mill says. I have also heard rumors that someone else may take up the reigns, or there may be an entirely different event pop up. But don’t be surprised if there isn’t an opportunity for “next year”.

  3. What a lovely article, I’m in the UK and never made it over there yet, still after all these years find it hard to accept Shannon has gone, such a loss to family, friends and fans. God bless you all and keep up the good work in remembering and celebrating this true talent and beautiful person, always missed, never forgotten, with love from the uk, Zoe xx

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