Wanee Festival 2010

“A southern rock extravaganza” best describes this weekend at the the beautiful Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park near Live Oak Florida.

wcrowdThursday April 15th 2010

Spirit of the SuwanneeMusic Park has become one of the premier music spots in the southeast; snuggled on the shady banks of the historic Suwannee River, this park includes 800 acres of exquisite land. Its unbelievable how much there is to do at the park like hiking, canoeing, putt-putt, disc golf, a honey bee observation exhibit, the world's largest bat house, and a great arts and crafts village. It would be a great place to visit when there wasn't so much great music to be seen.  Arriving and checking in the park was a breeze, I could already see the overwhelming amount of people that had arrived early, with campers and RV's lined up at least a mile away from the venue and it was only Thursday. I have been to Suwannee many times before and never have I seen people camping so far away. Pulling in I decided to camp near some stables with lots of unique live stock. I was in the company of a breathtaking peacock, a very hungry emu, a couple of goats and one of the loudest birds that screeched all weekend long uggh. Getting there on Thursday I was bummed that I missed my good friends Crazy Fingers who played the pre-party on Wednesday night. Crazy Fingers are one of the best Grateful Dead cover bands in the south, with over 20 years under their belt; Crazy Fingers immortalize the essence of the Dead. After setting up camp I was ready to take on The Spirit of the Suwannee.  Walking to the stages, grey dreary moss ColBrucewas all over the place hanging from every tree around. My first stop was the Mushroom Stage Amphitheatre and wow was it packed.  I am so used to being able to chill and listen to the music in one of the many hammocks throughout, but not this weekend! Col. Bruce Hampton & The Quark Alliance was on when I got there ripping out some soulful southern lyrics accompanied by some hardcore shredding.  He might be a little old but he lives so young through his timeless music which is intertwined with some great memorable riffs. Soon after Col. Bruce was one of the black sheep of the festival, Particle.  Being a mostly southern rock festival, Particle seemed a little out of place especially not playing a late night set, none the less they killed it. {Launchpad > Young Lust (Pink Floyd) > Simulator > Golden Gator > National Anthem (Radio Head) > Ed and Molly > Other Cities > Sun Mar 11.}  The start was out of this world with Launchpad into Pink Floyd's Young Lust and the set just got more intense with some great improvisations which stretched and warped many different genres into fresh progressive funktronic jams. After such a high energy set it was time for the legendary king of clintonfunk George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.  Starting off the set was Garry Shider best known as diaper-man who graced the stage in (you guessed it) some really huge diapers dancing and frolicking on stage like nobody's business. With him were about 15 others who make up the rest of Parliament Funkadelic. I actually tried to figure out who was doing what which was very comical. There were 4-5 singers, 3-4 guitarists, 2-3 keyboard players, a couple of bass players, some horns to boot, and a slew of dancers. Along with all this diapers, dancers, and drugs on stage another guy in a very interesting getup came on and started rapping wearing some crazy white fur-like pants, a white mink-like coat and one hell of a hat. If that isn't enough entertainment I don't know what is. After a couple of songs Dr. Funkenstein George Clinton finally came on and started conducting and singing some of his timeless favorites like Maggot Brain, One Nation Under Funk and Atomic Dog as an encore. The set seemed a bit much with a little more screeching guitar than I thought was necessary, but it was definitely a funk party.

maliFriday April 16th 2010

The Day started out to be a beautiful spring day in Northern Florida; I missed out on Bobby Lee Rodgers set because I knew he was playing again on Saturday morning.  The first act I witnessed was the 7 Walkers featuring Bill Kreutzmann and Papa Mali on the main stage better known as the Peach Stage. The set list was an awesome mix of great dead tunes and some downright nasty blues tunes {Jam-Sugaree > Bottle Up and Go > 7 Walkers > Junco Partner > Sue From Bogaloosa > Wharf Rat > Deal > Bertha}Starting off with Sugaree, Papa Mali added wailerssome nice bluesy tones to the song as well as adding some soulful vocals to Wharf Rat and Deal, the closer was icing on the cake with Bertha.  Listening to Bill whale on those drums was conformation that he still has it going on after all these years. Next up were the ever popular The Wailers. Continuing on with the spirit of Bob Marley, The Wailers did not disappoint playing some fantastic reggae favorites like No Woman, No Cry and One Love. Before the set was over I had to run over to the Mushroom Stage to see The Lee Boys with Oteil and Kofi Burbridge. The Burbridge brothers put on a stellar performance that maintained a steady gospel feel. Roosevelt Collier added that perfect slide giving the set super high energy. Having the sets overlap was tough because I really wanted to see all of each show but I knew I couldn't. In midday I had the pleasure of seeing some of the Stephen Stills set who is best known for his role in Crosby, Stills & Nash and was ranked 28th out of the top 100 guitarist of all time.  His set was filled with timeless classics like Southern Cross, Dear Mr. Fantasy, and Bluebird. This 65 year old veteran hasn't skipped a beat.  After a short glimpse of Stephen I was off to see The North Mississippi Allstars.  Now it was time to get your southern rock dancing shoes on because they brought down the house. Luther Dickinson laid it on the line with his soulful southern rock'n blues playing, the lead singer of Hill Country Revue and Roosevelt Collier came out for a few as well. Soon after it was time for Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman, & Jay Lane Are Scaring the Children.  {Maggie's Farm > Me and my Uncle > Friend of the Devil > A Hard Rain's a Gonna Fall > Loose Lucy > Days Between > When I Paint My Masterpiece > Tomorrow Never Knows > Even So > October Queen > Not Fade Away} Classic Dead is all I can say with Bob Weir's vocals and the versatile playing of Wasserman messing together harmoniously. On the other stage playing JJGreyat the same time was JJ Grey & Mofro who was throwing down some dirty southern roots. Luckily the stages were not so far apart where I would miss much of either band playing. {Ybor City, Air, Hoochie Coochie Man, A Woman, Dirt Floor Cracker, Ho Cake, Lochloosa WYLF, Sweetest Thing, Fireflies, Orange Blossoms, On Fire, Brighter Days} I think JJ Grey said it best when he said "Every act was a headliner, like a kid in a candy store." And he was right. The highlight for me was Lochloosa when JJ pulled out his harmonica and acoustic, it was so heartfelt it sent chills down my spine.  Before I knew it, Panic time had arrived. Widespread Panic brought the heat with Jimmy Herring's blistering guitar shredding. {Give >Tall Boy >Chilly Water > wspPleas > Chilly Water > Blue Indian, Party at Your Mama's House > Ribs and Whiskey > Bowlegged Woman > Holden Oversoul > Stop-Go > Diner > You Should Be Glad > Protein Drink/Sewing Machine.} After a stunning "Give", JB Summoned the Holy Ghost from the battlefield in a stellar "Tall Boy" into getting soaked by some "Chilly Water" which felt really good after such a hot day. Jo Jo really opened up the pipes after that. Other highlights were "Diner" and "You Should Be Glad" into a good Vic Chestnutt Closer. There were so many people around it was really hard to go see Hot Tuna so I decided to stay put for The Allman Brothers. {Mountain Jam > abb3Don't Keep Me Wonderin' > Trouble No More > Rockin' Horse > Blind Willie McTell > You Don't Love Me > Every Hungry Woman > All My Friends > I Walk On Gilded Splinters > Same Thing > Statesboro Blues > That's What Love Will Make You Do > Black Hearted Woman > Other One Jam >Melissa > One Way Out} 2 1/2 hours of pure southern soul. The star-studded cast kept me up even when I was about to fall over from exhaustion. JB and Sonny came out during "I Walk On Gilded Splinters" Then Luther Dickinson / Danny Louis came out and full on raged it during "Same ABBThing" and "Statesboro Blues." The night was on fire when Jimmy Herring graced the stage for "That's What Love Can Do" The staple was definitely the encore "Melissa."  Whew! After that I ready to call it a night after running from stage to stage all day.  I really wanted to check out the set from Gov't Mule but I couldn't hang, I did however get to listen to it from my camp. {One Of These Days > Fearless > Ain't No Sunshine > Blind Man In The Dark > Steppin' Lightly >  Any Open Window > Inside Outside Woman Blues > Feel Like Breakin' Up Somebody's Home > Trane > Eternity Breath > St. Stephen Jam > Sad and Deep As You> Broke Down On The Brazos > Mule > Whole Lotta Love > Les Brers In A Minor Jam > Whole Lotta Love > Mule > Soulshine} It started off with 2 really sick Pink Floyd covers "One Of These Days" into "Fearless" I thought for a min that they were going to pull an all Pink Floyd set but then "Ain't No Sunshine" broke that dream and it was back to full throttle Mule. I just love when Mule does covers, so I was thrilled to hear the "St. Stephen Jam" and "Whole Lotta Love" and of course what's a Mule show without the infamous "Soulshine" to end the night.

Saturday April 17th 2010

I woke up early this morning so I could one check out all the great vendors around and two see Bobby Lee Rodgers whom I had missed yesterday.  The vendors were of plenty, there must have been at least 50+ vendors between the two stages and lining the road into the camping area.  There was everything you wanted as far as food goes and of course Home Grown Music Network was there with the full spread band CD's, DVDs, stickers and shirts.  The arts and crafts vendors were out in full force as well. 10:30am quickly approached and it was time to start the last day of music with Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio on the Peach Stage. The trio ended up being a quartet because Kofi Burbridge sat in with his flute and organ.  This was a nice way to start off the day. The acoustics of hcrBobby filled the air with songs like "Going Back to Lima" and "California." Hill Country Revue and Bonobos Convergence came on next; I ended up staying for the Hill Country Revue show and seeing a filthy performance! They played the best stuff off their "Make A Move" album, as well as songs from an upcoming album, and a cover, "Goin' Down". Luther Dickinson and Chris Chew joined the band halfway through the set. Cody was ripping it on the washboard which was what did it for me. {Hill Country Revue > Alice Mae > Stand Up and Raise Your Right Hand > You Took My Woman > Ramblin' > Georgia Woman > You Can Make It > Dirty Shirt > Won't Give Up > Goin' Down.} The legendary Dr John was next on the Peach Stage and The Saturday funk party was on the Mushroom with Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk "A Family Affair."  Now I've seen Dumpstaphunk a few times and they blew it up but I was unaware of what A Family Affair was going to be.  It was a tribute to Sly and the Family Stone which I thought was amazing. {I Cannot Make It > Dance To The Music > Stand > Everybody Is A Star > Sly Rant > If You Want Me To Stay > Back On The Right Track > Everyday People > In Time > Family Affair > Let Me Have It All > Que Sera Sera > Sing A Simple Song > Thank You > I Want To Take You Higher}Ivan Neville added new life and a modern day funk to these classic from1965. On the Peach Stage was an amazing line up of Allstars, The Word who brightened the day for everyone there. Those of you not familiar with The Word it consist of Robert Randolph - steel pedal guitar, John Medeski - Organ, Luther Dickinson - Guitar, Cody Dickinson- Drums, and Chris Chew - Bass.  I give a great deal of respect to this super group who rarely play together but make it seem so effortless. Having such great musicians you can just imagine the amount of energy that over took the audience. After that I had heard that Sharron Jones and The Dap-Kings were not able to make it due to the volcano eruption in Iceland. Boo! I had heard at the Dumpstaphunk set that they were going to do a Super Jam porterNew Orleans style in her place but I had to take a breather until the Black Keys stormed the Peach Stage. I really wish now that I had gone to see it because I heard that everyone got up and jammed like Jo Jo, George Porter, Ivan and Ian Neville, The Dickinson Brothers, The Burbridge Brothers and Matt Grondin all graced the stage. The Black Keys were amazing; this drum and guitar duo has so much depth with their brutal, primal rock. After their set I was able to catch the tail end of The Funky Meters, lead by none other than the man himself George Porter Jr., the set was full of some downright dirty southern funk. The time had finally come for the second night of Widespread Panic. They saved the best for last, this set was epic {Ain't Life Grand > Pigeons > All Time Low > City of Dreams > Fishwater > Angels On High > Papa's Home > Drums > Papa's Home > Jack > Bust It Big > Driving Song > Love Tractor > Driving Song > Slippin' Into Darkness > North.}Busting right out of the gate with "Ain't Life Grand" Started a frenzy of craziness, with a sea of people as far as the eye could see everyone was up and pushing their way closer to the stage.  Hearing "Driving Song" into "Love Tractor" back into "Driving Song" was the biggest treat. Luther Dickinson came out for a dirty "Slippin' into Darkness" and Warren Haynes hopped up for the Encore of "North." After the set in was impossible to move anywhere being close to the front so I decided against going to see Johnny Winter.  Staying put for the Allman Brothers I believe was the right thing to do because there was no way that I was ever going to get back to where I was with so ABB2many chairs and people on the lawn.  The Allman Brothers last set was just as fiery as the Panic set. {Don't Want You No More > It's Not My Cross To Bear > Ain't Wastin' Time No More > Leave My Blues At Home > Hot Lanta > The Sky Is Crying > Ain't No Love In The Heart Of The City > No One To Run With > And It Stoned Me > Good Morning Little School Girl > Dreams > In Memory of Elizabeth Reed > JaMaBuBu > Whipping Post > Midnight Rider > Mountain Jam > Dazed and Confused > Mountain Jam.}I did get to see Johnny Winter come up and whale during The Sky Is Crying which was good to see that he still has it going on, JB also come up dtstand soulfully sang and great Van Morrison song And It Stoned Me.  Dave Schools also got up there and showed up Oteil (not really, hehe) during Dreams. The Encore was fire with a very long jam.  The closer was The Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band who gave everyone a treat with Susan's soulful bluesy vocals and Derek's lead.  Also in the band were Kofi and Oteil Burbridge adding an uplifting joyful sound that I wish could have gone on all night. {Love Has Something Else To Say > Hate To See You Go > Midnight In Harlem > Give It Up or Let Me Go > Time Machine > Come And See About Me > Corinna > Nobody's Free > Don't Drift Away > Comin' Home > Look Around > Too Late > Vusi Mahlasela > Serve It Up > I've Got A Feeling > Woman's Gotta Have It > I Believe In Music > Space Captain.} What an incredible way to end such a night. 

Wanee 2010 had some of the most talented artist on the scene today, my hats off to the promoters and Live Nation for putting together such a great festival that would rival any out there today.  Perfect weather, people and music made this one for the history books.

- by Brad Winecoff

- photos by Shea Jarman-Cravens