If your Halloween wasn’t spent at Suwannee this year, you really missed out, the third annual Hulaween, in Live Oak, Florida was by far the best Hulaween to date, a complete success in every way. This year the festival topped all other festival attendance at the park to date breaching 21,000 freaky people!
The weather was breathtaking, compared to last year’s bone chilling nights, cloudy but in the upper 70’s for the duration of the weekend. It actually was a bit too humid during the day the 2nd half of the weekend but bearable.
The art installations, live paintings and decorations that are scattered throughout the park seem to get better each year, the creativity is unsurpassable. Spirit Lake is a treat in itself with the spectacular light show that lasts all night long, casting patterns of color onto the tall cypress trees and the long tangles of dangling Spanish moss and the adult playground in a Spirit lake area with its own stage, fire dancers, fire statures, swing sets, moving lights, mazes and mouths to sit in and pose with, landscape art and much more.
This year’s lineup was stacked, capable to suit all. Bluegrass, EDM, Jam rock, whatever you wanted, was only a stage away, at most times. With headliners String Cheese Incident (of course..7 sets), Railroad Earth, Pretty Lights, Primus, STS9, Slightly Stoopid, Lettuce, Elephant Revival, Papadosio, etc.
The Thursday night pre-party included 5 bands on the amphitheater stage. A relatively light crowd compared to the weekend, making a slightly more intimate setting. EOTO really got the party started, the duo made up of Jason Hann and Michael Travis of SCI, the dynamic drummer/percussion duo, paying their version of electronic jam.
Dumpstaphunk donned costumes and had an epic cover of Ramble On. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, arguably the best touring Grateful Dead “cover band” with an all-star cast super group of musicians, playing their own twist of Dead tunes, belted out a spectacular Estimated Prophet (SM) -> Eyes Of The World (TH) -> The Music Never Stopped -> Jam # -> The Music Never Stopped Reprise +-> Jam $ -> Help On The Way (TH) -> Myxomatosis Jam %+ -> Slipknot! -> China Cat Sunflower Jam +-> Jam ^ -> China Cat Sunflower to end the evening around camp fires, guitars and Spirit lake and stars.
Friday got started on the Main stage with Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds followed by Railroad Earth and then The String Cheese Incident. After just finishing up fall tour, The String Cheese Incident are absolutely on top of their game, pulling out rare treats, musicianship is top notch. Cheese started off Friday with ‘Song in my head’, followed by ‘Can’t wait another day’. Tim Carbone and Todd Sheaffer of Railroad Earth sat in for ‘Sometimes a River’, a song Keith Moseley and Todd Sheaffer co-wrote in 2005 in Colorado. It was clear the barefoot boys wanted to get those songs out of the way and get straight to the jam. The rarely played ‘Indian Creek’ had an appearance, as well as Kang’s rendition of the old tune, ‘red haired boy’: ‘Valley of the Jig’. ‘Round the wheel’ had some really psychedelic elements in the middle of the song that were really unique, as a huge fan, it’s most definitely my favorite version that I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. ‘On the road’ also had some killer jams added to its usual sound.
The second set started out strong with a funky ‘Colliding’. This set was packed full of fan favorites such as, ‘Restless Wind’, Joyful Sound, Mouna Bowa. Shantytown was a favorite of the night, for obvious reasons, it’s such a fitting song for Suwannee. We got a Zeppelin cover for the encore, ‘Ramble On’, an excellent way to end the first incident.
Primus and Pretty Lights closed out the night at the Amphitheater and Main stages, the grounds were peaking out, it was nearly overflowing onto the pavement at Primus and hard to see much if you didn’t get there early. Likewise at Pretty lights the field was completely packed like never before at this venue from stage to vendors and very difficult to traverse once it packed it. Both sets were amazing and full of energy. Primus played classics including Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver, American Life, My Name is Mud and Jerry was a Racecar Driver. Pretty Lights had a lot of very nice lights and tons of energy from the crowd. There was no stopping the tall flags and polls in the crowd at this show even though they were supposedly banned at this years festival. Jon Stickley and Friends played on the Spirit lake Stage until 4am, a great performance to close out the live music
Bluegrass started the day off at the main stage, first with the Jon Stickley trio beginning the dat as it had ended the night before. The the Sam Bush Band. With a Slightly Stupid detour to the Amphitheater Stage, it was SCI again for an epic Hulaween three set stand at the main stage. ‘Dudleys Kitchen’ (classic cheese instrumental) started things off and got everyone moving! The favorite from the first set was “XAI”, formerly known as “Skat”, another instrumental jam, with Kang heavy on the fiddle. Only the 3rd time played all tour, and only the 3rd time played in the last 10 years! Such a welcomed appearance. A first set ‘Rivertrance’ was also a nice Halloween treat. Michael Kang told us before walking off stage for a brief intermission, “I hope yall are wearing your fucking bell bottoms!”
Set 2, (the Halloween set), was a straight up disco, it was simply incredible. The boys came out dressed in their late 70’s-early 80’s attire, Afros and all. Along with a horn section and people professional dancers dancing on each side of the stage with RZA (from Wutang) as emcee. The crowd went nuts as the 1977 classic ‘Brick House’ began. The whole set was all songs from the disco era, that everyone whose anyone is familiar with, ‘Carwash’, ‘Dance to the music’, ‘Got to be real’, ‘I’m your boogie man’ a much different Halloween set than we’re used to seeing.
Set 3 began with the fiddle tune “Bollymunster”, waking everyone back up from the set break and it was all Gouda from there, ‘Desert Dawn’, ‘Best feeling’, ‘Exodus’, ‘Rosie’ this set was a heater. The encore was special, a ‘Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours’ followed by ‘We are family’
We closed the night with a set from the New Mastersounds at the Spirit lake Stage.
Sunday Last Day
Following a main stage opener Sunday morning from Elephant Revival, Billy Nershi announced to us that they were feeling “A little rough around the edges” as they took the stage on Sunday afternoon, and that this was the “hangover set.” But it was in every way one of the favorite parts of the festival, since it was a bluegrass hoedown! With guests Sam Bush, Railroad Earth, Elephant revival on nearly every song on the first set. The set list was out of this world, for a die-hard cheeser. Opening with a stellar version of a Flatt & Scruggs cover ‘Blue Ridge Cabin Home’.
‘Lester had a Coconut’ was dusted off, and it sounded great. It’s been years since they’ve pulled that one out of the bag. The hangover set was literally full of bluegrass favorites, ‘Catfish John’, 9 pound hammer’, ‘Will the circle be unbroken’.
They wrapped up their last set with a smaller but killer set, ‘Little Hands’, ‘Outside and Inside’, followed by ‘Windy Mountain’, ‘Bumpin Reel’ and ‘Colorado Bluebird Sky’, with a Bob Marley cover/encore ‘Could you be loved’. A perfect way to close their final act.
Lettuce played an stellar set at the amphitheater stage with some new songs off their latest album.
STS9 closed out the main stage as they had a the first Suwanee Hulaween three years before. With a new female bass player Alana Rocklin and Zach Velmer the drummer (arguably the hardest working band member and musician in general) along with tons of crowd energy and crazy awesome light show, played jam based electronic jam. Starting off with a favorite ‘Vapors’ and ‘Inspire Strikes Back’ and closing with ‘World Go Round’ and ‘Instantly’, the only thing wrong was it was just barely a warm up.
Once again, this was the best festival put on a Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and in a dead heat for best festival on land these days. We will all be back next year!
Roots-rockers Caleb Stine & The Brakemen will release their latest album, Time I Let It Go, Novemeber 7. The band will celebrate the release of the album with a show at the Mobtown Ballroom in their hometown of Baltimore, MD. Brooks Long & the Mad Dog No Good, and the Weisstronauts will open.
Time I Let It Go was recorded when the band decamped to Vermont over the winter. The recording process was captured by filmmaker Michael Patrick O’Leary and will be released as a documentary about the band and what it means to make music.
The new album showcases the band’s timeless style that is colored with deeply personal lyrics which lead one on a journey through the soul of American music. Time I Let It Go moves with ease from the foot-stomping funk of “Hey There Mister,” to the brooding intensity of “Edge of the Riverside,” to the unrestrained joy of simple pleasures in “Butter.” It is an album for all four seasons and every mood.
Track Listing for Time I Let It Go:
Hey There Mister
Edge of the Riverside
You Bet He Was My Friend
Eight Hour Haul
Baby’s Got the Business
Place You Used to Call Home
Time I Let It Go
Check out Honest Tune’s exclusive premiere of “Hey There Mister” from Time I Let It Go:
To elaborate, the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park is a 500+ acre, premier campground and music park located on the banks of the Suwannee river with accommodations for any type of camper, ranging from primitive sites for those who like to truly rough it, to rental cabins for those who like to camp with all of the modern creature comforts at hand. A campground of this nature provides a venue for even those who shiver in dread at the word ‘camping’ to enjoy a music festival. The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park does it’s level best to provide everything that a guest could need while camping, so that the guest can get on with the business of relaxing and enjoying the many musical offerings to be found on their four stages over the course of four days.
At around four in the afternoon on Thursday, the Florida-grown Lee Boys took the stage at the Amphitheater and kicked things off under a clear, blue Florida sky. Their unique, ‘sacred steel’ music is a form of Gospel music with deep roots in blues, but which also embraces and beautifully blends soul, funk, rock, jazz, country, and hip-hop. Their style of music was the perfect way to begin the festival as it faultlessly embraced the core message of Magnolia Fest; All Are Welcome. After the warm festy welcome by the Lee Boys eight more bands would keep the music flowing between the Amphitheater stage and the Porch stage; the Ivey West Band, Band of Heathens, Parker Urban Band, The Congress, The Corbitt Brothers, The Motet, Nikki Talley and Lake Street Dive until 1:30 in the morning.
By ten in the evening the temperatures had dropped thirty degrees from the daytime highs in the mid 80’s to the low to mid 50’s but did little diminish the enthusiasm of festival-goers as The Motet, a disco-funk revival band out of Colorado, laid down a sound that blew away any thoughts of being chilly and installed a single, musical imperative in their place: You Must Boogie! Children new to this sound danced alongside folks in their sixties and seventies who were remembering younger days in the Age of Funk and Disco as decades-old muscle-memory awakened within them and drove them to shake their aged-yet-still-funky booties. Joy suffused the faces of fans as The Motet put every effort into shaking the leaves from the trees of the outdoor theater with their mighty sound. Bass, two-piece brass, drums, keyboards, percussion, guitar, and vocals all came together flawlessly to create a modern tapestry of those musical elements that made the Disco-Funk era great, while leaving behind those elements that made it cringe-worthy.
Following The Motet, western North Carolinian Nikki Talley kept things rolling from eleven to midnight on the Porch Stage, offering a more intimate country duet set with herself and husband Jason Sharp playing and harmonizing sweetly, allowing guests to cool off without going cold.
At midnight, the final set of the night was performed by Lake Street Dive back at the Amphitheater Stage. The three-piece, four member band makes up for any possible lack of sound they might have compared to larger bands by adding their voices to the mix in precise harmonies that work to supplement and support the drums, double-bass, and guitar and/or trumpet, all of which work together to provide a framework for the strong lead vocals. Taken as a whole, the artists provide a cohesive sound where every part exists in a musical symbiosis and no element offers discord by trying to outshine its fellows. All fancy talk aside, Lake Street Dive laid down a sound big enough to keep festival-goers dancing until 1:30 in the morning.
By noon on Friday, the temperatures were back up in the 80’s where they would stay for the rest of the day, with the light clouds and mild breezes typical of a Florida fall day. The first full day of the festival was in swing as all of the park’s four stages came to life. Merchants and food vendors were fully operational and ready to greet ever increasing numbers of attendees who arrived throughout the day that hurriedly set up camp and then made their way to the main festival area. Here the festival-goers wandered back and forth between the three outdoor stages and the refreshingly dark and air-conditioned Music Hall, catching the bands that they had come to see as well as becoming fans of bands that had been, until now, unknown to them. With twenty-one bands playing on four stages in a thirteen-and-a-half hour time frame, it would be just as impossible to not find a band that tickled your fancy as it would be to see every single performance, though there were those who certainly made a valiant effort at doing the latter. Artists performing bluegrass, country, blues, rock and roll, Cajun, funk, and endless variations of all of the above could be found all day and night throughout the park.
Of the many great artists to be seen performing on Friday, one absolute, not-to-be-missed set was that of The Del McCoury Band. At 76 years of age, Del is the epitome of the classic, classy bluegrass performer. He and his band, including sons Ronnie and Rob, took the Meadow Stage at six in the evening. Dressed in suits and ties in spite of the 84 degree heat they played in the finest bluegrass tradition with the sun kissing their faces as it sank below the cypress.
More often than not, in spite of having the expanse of the massive Meadow Stage on which to perform, the band clustered closely together in a tight knot, singing into a single mic in much the same way as Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys did seventy years prior. To see Del perform is to see a man who appears to be the happiest man in music. In spite of the heat and the sun shining in his eyes and the gnats in his face – several of which he claims to have swallowed while singing, “…they went down pretty easy, though…” he complained not at all, but rather grinned his infectious grin and laughed like the possessor of the world’s funniest joke. Singing songs about being sad and blue while seemingly tickled pink at life, Del McCoury looks to be the living example of the person that we all wish that we could be: the person who has found the thing they love to do the most in the world, and then got paid to do it.
The sun set as the Del McCoury Band played the last songs of their set. The heat fell away while fans smiled and tapped their feet to the music or danced in happy abandon. The dust kicked up by feet mingled with the smoke of campfires while the evening mist of the cooling humid Florida air worked to soften the view of the meadow. Happy festy folk danced and smiled as dragon flies flew overhead while Del continued his set. Children and families played without care or concern, content to exist in the moment as night fell and Del and his band bowed and left the stage. There were moments throughout the weekend that perfectly crystallized the nature and intent of what Magnolia Fest was meant to be, and this was certainly one of them.
Though the Del McCoury Band set might seem like the perfect ending to a great day, there were still six and a half hours of shows left to be enjoyed, starting with The London Souls on the Porch Stage. The New York City based power-duo turned the page as day became night and their music filled the vending area with a massive sound that was surprising in its strength for having been made by only two men. Doyle Bramhall II took to the Meadow Stage and The Congress filled the Music Hall with their sound, each band doing their part to remind attendees that, though the sun was down, the day was far from over. Then the Amphitheater Stage was mounted by The Travelin’ McCourys with guest musicians, Roosevelt Collier (pedal steel) and Earl Walker (drums) of The Lee Boys as well as Ronnie McCoury’s eldest son, Evan, on guitar. As an additional special guest, Del McCoury took the stage in order to lend his talents to the performance of ‘My Love Will Not Change’.
After the Travelin’ McCoury’s, the Tedeschi Trucks Band took over the Meadow Stage for a two hour set. The twelve member band filled the night with their southern-style rock and Gospel sound. The superb skills of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks were generously supported by a fat brass section, a trio of backup singers, keyboards, bass, and, not one, but two drum kits, all orchestrated in such a way that never was the sound cacophonous or overwhelming, but always a perfect mix of the right sound in the right place.
By 11:30, many festival-goers thought themselves spent for the night and ready to return to their camps until The Motet began their second set of the weekend. People who thought themselves depleted of energy found themselves recharged and ready to shake to the funk for the next two hours. Finally, at 1:30 in the morning, the music on the main stages came to an end. As attendees made their way back to their campsites the gentle picking of Slopry Land would divert their attention and call to them to enjoy the late night festivals throughout the campground.
Saturday was another beautiful fall Florida day with highs in the low 80’s. Attendees marveled at how early noon comes when you stay up until the wee hours of the morning the night previous, but put on their happy faces and were present in respectable numbers when the first of twenty-two bands to play that day took their places on the stages. It would be another thirteen-and-a-half hour marathon with some bands like Berry Oakley’s Skylab, Col. Bruce Hampton, Steep Canyon Rangers and more giving repeat performances, much to the relief of many fans who had been forced to choose between seeing these bands and others who were only playing on Friday.
Fans that missed the performance of Steep Canyon Rangers on Friday were able to catch them on the Meadow Stage Saturday afternoon. The sextet thoroughly entertained the crowd with a modern bluegrass sound which is still firmly rooted in its ancestral soil. To the joy of many present, they invited Jeff Austin and two of his band members to join them on stage to play, demonstrating one of the key elements of bluegrass; a love of playing and picking with friends.
One of the most notable moments of the Steep Canyon Rangers’ set was when fiddle player, Nicky Sanders, left the stage to come down to play along the rail where he was given a bear-hug by an enthusiastic fan. Upon extracting himself, Sanders backed up and tripped over the stairs leading back up to the stage. Though stumbling, Sanders managed to keep his feet without doing himself an injury or dropping a single note in his furious fiddle playing.
Adding another musical element to the festival, the Rebirth Brass Band took the Meadow Stage and filled the evening air with a prime example of New Orleans jazz brass. Fans in the know danced energetically while waving hankies, scarves, bandanas, or just index and middle fingers held together in the air to signal their approval of the sounds this band of thirty-two years was laying down.
Jeff Austin Band returned to the stage with his band for his scheduled set at 7:30 pm, giving fans another example of solid, jam-grass. The thing that distinguishes Jeff Austin from so many other excellent bluegrass musicians is the obvious punk-rock soul that seems to seethe just beneath the surface and which influences both the lyrics and the beat of many of his songs. The overall feel of much of his music speaks of a vision of the world that is greyer and less ‘bright and shiny’ than traditional bluegrass and watching him perform is like watching a bluegrass version of Angus Young as he shreds on his mandolin. As always, it is an exhilarating performance.
The headliners of the night were The Avett Brothers with a much expanded lineup, taking the stage at 9:30 pm to the joy of their adoring fans. A crowd of smiling, upturned faces reflected stage light back at the band as music spilled across the meadow and drew the greatest number of fans for any performance of the weekend. In spite of chilly temperatures in the upper 50’s, fans in shorts and t-shirts would sooner have sawn off a limb than leave for warmer clothes and risk missing a single minute of the two hour set. Their love of the band would be enough to keep them warm.
Finally, rounding off the evening back at the Amphitheater Stage, Donna the Buffalo, a core band of Magnolia Fest, played their first set of the weekend. They lead festival-goers out of the last hours of Saturday and into the first hours of Sunday with their distinctive sound that had fans, as always, dancing almost nonstop.
Scattering outward into the darkness after the last notes of Donna The Buffalo had faded away, many a camper drifted back to their respective campsites to wind down before turning in, but no small number of people made their ways through the darkness to seek out the many islands of sound that drew them in back into Slopery Land like moths to an audible flame. Here, musical guests and festival attendees alike played long into the small hours of the morning, keeping the music going on a lower key, though with no less earnestness than any of the performances which had come before.
Sunday dawned cool and breezy and had a distinct, ‘the party is winding down’ feeling to it. It was the kind of morning that encouraged one to enjoy breakfast slowly and to linger over hot, fragrant coffee while mulling over the events of the preceding days and nights. Only a single stage, the Amphitheater Stage, would be in use by five bands for a piddling eight-and-a-half hour day of music. O, what luxurious and relaxing bliss does a lazy Sunday bring!
Looking out over the meadow where the now-silent Meadow Stage stood, one was given sight of yet another of those moments that perfectly crystallized the core notion that Magnolia Fest was founded on. Children laughed, played and giggled with the pure abandon that is the sole province of the innocence of youth, while adults looked on and smiled to see such beauty in the world. Here was a moment in time where the grinding concerns of life could be set aside momentarily and one could embrace the joy to be found in a world of music and the camaraderie one finds in the company of others in whose souls also dwells an appreciation for beauty in all its varied forms.
At noon the music started off with Big Cosmo, followed by Grandpa’s Cough Medicine and Jim Lauderdale, all of whom drew solid attendance and put out enough energy to keep exhausted festival-goers, if not dancing outright, smiling and tapping their feet at the very least. Unsurprisingly, the majority of those folks dancing on Sunday were aged roughly 12 and below, as they seem tapped into an energy source to which the rest of us have long since lost access.
By 4:00 in the late afternoon when Keller Williams’ Grateful Gospel took the stage, the batteries of most of the adults had recharged enough that they were able to dance along with the tireless children. The previously clear air of the day is now dissected by shafts of sunlight because of the amount of dust kicked into the air by happy feet. Bubbles float lazily overhead, hula-hoops are enthusiastically, if not always professionally, spun, little children are bounced on the shoulders of parents, hammocks rock, and fans sing along as Keller plays.
Last, but not least by any stretch, Donna The Buffalo takes the stage once again for the final set of the day, giving fans two more hours of music with which to enfold their spirits before taking their leave of the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and picking back up their burdens of daily life. Though the music of Magnolia Fest has come to an end for another year, the memory of the music and the joyful festival-goers and the perfect weather will linger on in our minds and, in times of need, hopefully be a balm to our souls when we are sometimes battered by the casual indifference of daily life. It is in the memory of joy and beauty that we find the strength to straighten our backs and smile when we might otherwise bow our heads and let the innumerable little burdens of life break us down. It is for those memories that Magnolia Fest exists, and we hope next year to see you there, so that next time, You, dear reader, are the one who can begin the story with, ‘Here’s what you missed…’
The 500+ plus acre campground of Spirit of the Suwannee provides one of the most unique festival experiences a festivarian can have. The beautiful wooded floodplain surrounded by upland pine woods and maturing hardwood forests draped in thick lush Spanish moss bestows one of the finest backdrops imaginable. The mystic of the antebellum era can be felt as one hikes through the 12 miles of trails.
Magnolia Fest will kick off on Thursday, October 15th with the American sacred steel ensemble, Lee Boys. The Florida based band’s unique sound has attracted musical such as Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Band, The Black Crowes, Los Lobos, Michelle Shocked, Gov’t Mule, Derek Trucks Band w/ Susan Tedeschi, The North Mississippi Allstars, Hill Country Revue, Umphrey’s McGee, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Oteil & Kofi Burbridge, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Toubab Krewe, Victor Wooten, The Del McCoury Band and The Travelin’ McCourys- all of whom have played with the Lee Boys and/or invited them to tour with them. The Amphitheater and Porch stage will host acts throughout the day from Ivey West Band, Band of Heathens, Parker Urban Band, The Congress, The Corbitt Brothers, The Motet (who will also close out the evening on Friday), Appalachian singer song writer Nikki Talley. The evening is set to close with Massachusetts based band, Lake Street Drive known for their split difference between Motown soul, sixties pop zip and British invasion swagger.
The lineup for Friday continues the introduction of some world’s finest performers in Americana, Roots Rock, Acoustic Blues, Singer/Songwriter, Bluegrass & Newgrass, Cajun/Zydeco with opening acts Grits and Soul and Bonnie Blue. Friday also sees the addition of two stages, an expansive Meadow Stage and the Music Hall. Performances will include Mojo Gurus, Applebutter Express, Berry Oakley’s Skylab. The Lee Boys, The Corbitt Brothers, Nikki Talley and The Congress will take to the stages once again for those who missed out on the Thursday sets. The lineup continues with Cedell Davis, Habanero Honeys, Lost Bayou Ramblers, Col. Bruce Hampton, Grammy award winning bluegrass favorites the Del MCoury Band, Quartermoon, The London Souls and Doyle Bramhall II whose been on tour with Tedeschi Trucks Band. The Travelin’ McCourys with the front man for the Lee Boys Roosevelt Collier will play a set before the headline for the evening Tedeschi Trucks Band. The Colorado impro funk band The Motet will wrap up the performances on the stages. Late night campfire pickin’ will continue into the wee hours of the morning by attendees and performers alike.
Saturday’s lineup packed to the gills with goodness will include Steve Pruett’s Back from the Brink, Bryce Alastair Band, This Frontier Needs Heroes, Quartermoon, Berry Oakley’s Skylab, The Corbitt Brothers, Flagship Romance, Whetherman, JacksonVegas, Col. Bruce Hampton, Steep Canyon Rangers, Sloppy Joe, Jerry Joseph and the Jackmormons, Quebe Sisters, Rebirth Brass Band, Grits and Soul, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Jeff Austin Band, Jim Lauderdale, New Orleans Suspects. The multi Grammy award winning Americana folk rock band, The Avett Brothers, will headline the Meadow Stage Saturday evening. Donna the Buffalo the amazing zydeco, folk rock band will close out the evening.
The low key Sunday schedule gives attendees the opportunity to explore the wonderful Spirit of the Suwanee Park. The shady banks of the historic Suwannee River provide an excellent picturesque paddling experience with canoe rentals or wandering the trails by bike or foot. The lineup for Sunday starts at noon on the Amphitheater stage with Big Cosmo, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Jim Lauderdale, Keller William’s Grateful Gospel and will close with a set from Donna the Buffalo.
Tickets are on sale in advance and at the gate. Tickets are $200 until October 14th; and $210 at gate. All weekend tickets are inclusive of all taxes and fees, and include 4 days of primitive camping and music. Kids under 12 are invited to join for free. Fans can also upgrade their experience with VIP tickets for $400 which includes dinner, discounts, VIP Lounge, festival poster, & other perks. Single day tickets are available. Student and Military tickets are $180 and $210 at the gate. The Live Oak Music And Arts Foundation (LOMAF) will have a booth with raffles to raise money for the local music and art programs in the area.
SOSMP is located between Jacksonville, Florida & Tallahassee, Florida about 30 minutes south of the Georgia State line, about 45 minutes north of Gainesville. For RV hook ups, cabin rentals and golf cart rentals, please visit the park’s web site at www.musicliveshere.com call SOSMP at (386)-364-1683. For further information and tickets, please visit →www.magnoliafest.com/tickets.
Resonance Music & Arts Festival 2015
9/24/15-9/26/15 at Legend Valley (Thornville, OH)
Featuring: Perpetual Groove, Nahk & Medicine for the People, Rising Appalachia, Tauk, The Main Squeeze, Keller Williams and more…
Keller Williams Trio (Featuring Rob Wasserman & Rodney Holmes)
The Vogue Theater
September 19, 2015
Writer/Photographer – Amber Jennings of Crowe Light Photography
On the night of September 19th, The Vogue Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana was half full when Keller Williams popped out on stage to announce the opening act for the evening, The Accidentals. The Alternative Acoustic Indie Folk band out of Traverse City Michigan consists of multi-instrumentalist, singer-song writers Katie Larson (bass, guitar, vocals), Savannah Buist (fiddle, guitar, vocals) and Michael Dause (percussion, vocals) . They opened their set with, “The Silence.” The quirky teenage band was quick to impress the crowd with incredible musical prowess and showmanship. Their set continued with “Epitaphs,” “The Sound a Watch Makes When Enveloped in Cotton,” “In The Morning,” “Memorial Day.” Keller Williams (guitar, vocals), Rob Wasserman (upright bass) joined the “orch dorks” (orchestra dorks per Katie Larson) for a favorite Keller Williams cover, “Pumped Up Kicks,” by Foster for the People. They continued their set with “The End,” a rendition of the Beatles tune, “Taxman,” into an incredibly executed cover of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer,” that featured Dause on vocals and drums. The set would wrap up with “Parking Lot,” and a mashup of Toss the Feathers (classic fiddle tune), Hysteria (by Muse), and Minor Swing (Django Reinhardt).
The Accidentals with KW and Rob Wasserman
After a nice warm up for the crowd from The Accidentals, the Keller Williams Trio would take the stage. As any Keller Williams fan knows, KW has a knack of putting together the most amazing ensembles to grace the jamband scene with each of his tours. This year’s tour would not disappoint with the addition of Rob Wasserman (upright bass) and Rodney Holmes (drums).
Keller Williams Trio featuring Rob Wasserman & Rodney Holmes
Grammy award winning upright bass player, Rob Wasserman, co-founded RadDog with Bob Weir from the Grateful Dead is also known for playing with a wide variety of musicians including Bruce Cockburn, Elvis Costello, Ani di Franco, Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, Rickie Lee Jones, Mark Morris, Van Morrison, Aaron Neville, Lou Reed, Pete Seeger, Jules Shear, Studs Terkel, Bob Weir, Brian Wilson, Chris Whitley, Neil Young, Jackson Browne, Laurie Anderson,Stephen Perkins Banyan, Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Rodney Holmes’ impressible background includes playing with Santana, Jim Weider, Steve Kimock as well as laying down the drum tracks on mega hit single, “Smooth” with Rob Thomas. Holmes current projects consist of “Rodney Holmes’ LITHIUM TREE”, with “Project Percolator”, “Randy Brecker Group.”
The trio would kick off their set with a two minute jam that set the stage for, “Off Time Chorus Line,” from Williams’ new album “Vape.” This heavy bass tune would entrance the crowd with Wasserman’s stick-slip phenomenon before slipping into, “Breathe” the jazzy layers of Holmes on percussion blended a new feel to the favorite Keller Williams Incident tune. “The Drop,” a wispy folk blend of dark bass notes with creamy vocals would slide the crowd down the face of a musical wave into a reggae fused, “Love Ninja.”
Holmes jazzy percussion carried the Trio into, “Buena,” from Williams’ album “Bass,” the slinky bluesy grove segued to a low-end loop filled “Victory Song.” Williams known for his acoustic dance music got the crowd on it’s feet with another one off his new album titled, “She Rolls” before slowing things down with his hamer-on rhythmic cascade of acoustic blissed, “Stargate.” The wide open drifty, “Above The Thunder,” seamlessly segued into beautiful, “Bird Song.” The Trio did not stop the set for a break but kept the night going with a surprise Phish cover, “Birds of a Feather.” The Virginia Psychedelic Excursion (Va.P.E.) , “Mantra” segued into a Williams classic, “Freeker By the Speaker.” Freeker would wind down into a stellar bass solo by Wasserman as Williams and Holmes exited the stage. The two would take stage again for another off of Vape, “Making it Rain” and “Apparition” off of the album 12. Hot Rod Holmes would dominate the stage solo for a crowd-wowing percussion showcase. Williams would return to the stage as Holmes ducked off the stage for an impressive KW solo. The trio would once again reunite on stage for another Keller Williams Incident island groovy, “Best Feeling” that segued into a slow gritty groove for, “Kiwi and the Apricot.” The trio encored the set with a Joe Walsh cover, “Life’s Been Good.” Williams finger dancing upstrokes ended the night on an incredibly good note.
Two minute jam > Off Time Chorus Line, Breathe > The Drop > Buena > Victory Song > She Rolls > Stargate > Above The Thunder > Bird Song > Birds Of A Feather* > Mantra > Freeker By The Speaker, Rob Wasserman solo, Making It Rain > Apparition > Hot Rod solo, KW solo, Best feeling > Kiwi And The Apricot, E: Life’s Been Good**
**Joe Walsh Cover
Future Keller William Tour Dates:
9/24 – 9/25 Keller Williams; Resonance Festival – Pataskala, OH
9/26 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes); The Tralf – Buffalo, NY
10/1 10/3 – Keller Williams; Homegrown Music Festival – Mebane, NC
10/4 Keller Williams and the Keels; Luna Light Festival – Darlington, MD
10/8 Keller Williams; Holston River Brewery – Bristol, TN
10/9 Keller Williams Emancipator Ensemble; Creatures of the Night Music & Arts Festival – Adams, TN
10/10 Keller Williams with More Than a Little; Mustang Music Festival – Corolla, NC –
10/18 Keller Williams Grateful Gospel featuring Stu Allen; Magnolia Music Festival – Live Oak, FL
10/23 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes) with special guests Cabinet; Aggie Theater, Fort Collins, CO
10/24 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes) with special guests Cabinet); Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom – Denver, CO
10/29 Keller Williams; Boulton Center – Bayshore, NY
11/5 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes) with special guests Old Shoe; Redstone Room – Davenport, IA
11/6 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes) with special guests Old Shoe; The Waiting Room Lounge – Omaha, NE
11/7 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes) with special guests Old Shoe; DG’S Tap House – Ames, IA
11/12 An Evening with Keller Williams and EOTO; Warehouse Live – Houston, TX –
11/13 An Evening with Keller Williams and EOTO; Trees – Dallas, TX
11/14 An Evening with Keller Williams and EOTO; Scoot Inn – Austin, TX
11/27 Keller Williams with Travis Book, Chris Pandolfi, Larry Keel, Jason Carter, and Jay Starling, special guest Cabinet, The National – Richmond, VA – “Thanksforgrassgiving”
11/28 Keller Williams with Travis Book, Chris Pandolfi, Larry Keel, Jason Carter, and Jay Starling, special guest Cabinet, 9:30 Club – Washington, D.C. – “Thanksforgrassgiving”
12/3 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes); V-Club – Huntington, WV
12/4 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes); State Theatre – State College, PA
12/5 Keller Williams Trio (featuring Rob Wasserman and Rodney Holmes); Mr. Small’s Theatre – Pittsburgh PA
1/6/16 – 1/11/16 Jam Cruise – Keller Williams with More Than a Little
Honest Tune caught up with Matt Butler, creator and conductor of the Everyone Orchestra before his upcoming shows this weekend in Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington as he takes his concept on the road with an all star bevy of talent. We get in depth about how he started this path, how the path itself has changed over the years, guest conductors and who he’s like to have sit in who hasn’t…yet. (Yeah, it’s Trey!) Enjoy!
Honest Tune ~ Let’s start at the beginning…do you remember when you first conceived the Everyone Orchestra?
Matt Butler ~ I conceived it in stages. It started when I was in India with my wife at a cross cultural open mic where we got to witness music being a universal language, bringing everybody together. I just Felt the communication in a really deep way. Then I thought, “Y’know, I bet there’s a different way I could create something that’s not really an open mic, but not really a band either.” It’s like this new musical experience, where people can have this feeling, the musicians can feel it differently, to be organized and brought together in a different way. At that point I was out of Jambay, my band of the nineties, and I had started to compose a lot. I was doing some singer song writer stuff, some film scores, and started thinking about heading in that direction fully, stepping out from behind the drum kit. I tell people “Everyone Orchestra is my singer songwriter project gone awry.” (Laughs)
HT ~ (Laughs)
MB ~ The process of working on my singer-songwriter project is where I made all these other discoveries. When I came back from my Indian experience I hosted an open mic, and there would be lots of jams, drum centered jams, multi-instrumental jams…global music jams and I was in deep experimentation stage with the concept from 1996 through 2001. It was also part of my experience working with Ken Kesey (Original “Merry Prankster” and author of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest) and how he was always trying to get the audience involved in unique and funky ways. He was often very blatant about it. He would hand out handbills before our shows where it would have instructions like “This is where you spin!” and “This is where you dance like a clown!” There were these very specific ways he was trying to get the audience to participate. The idea of breaking the fourth wall down, between me and the audience, became very interesting to me. It’s not that we had that much success with this back in the day…sometimes it worked, sometimes not. I just grew up in a really orchestral household where, my mom just last year retired after 48 years of playing in the Eugene (OR) symphony. I had the opportunity to grow up among really, really incredible musicians, and actual conductors were in my mom’s regular circle of friends. Marin Alsop, who’s the principal conductors for the Baltimore symphony and one of the most highly regarded female conductors in the world…I guess watch her…y’know, this was orchestral music so it was very different from what I was creating, but still, the dynamic of where a conductor could take a group of musicians…I was very inspire by that. I didn’t conduct for the first few years. I mean…I was the drummer! (Chuckles) I hired conductors. It didn’t dawn on me ’til 2005 to conduct , I still self-identified as a drummer. Once i started conducting, I realized the role of conductor was really important to making this different. It was crucial to tap into this as something truly unique within the scope of what a band is and what people expect when they go to a music performance. The idea of being a facilitator, like leading a drum circle, kinda impacted my thinking at that point to. Being a facilitator, you don’t know exactly what will happen, you just roll with the punches, and help direct and adjust as needed. So learning how to conduct without some master plan, musically, is kinda my specialty.
HT ~ The genius of the Everyone Orchestra is that it works for basically all genres and styles. Do you approach these radically different styles any differently?
MB ~ Not really. I would say I adjust more for personalities. When I have a bunch of more, say, bluegrass musicians I lean in a more down the line style. We do some themed EO shows from time to time, like bluegrass or funk, but even within those contexts there is always some eclecticism. For me, it’s about personalities, the alchemy between the talent that’s most exciting. Seeing what people do, in reaction to these other people. I think the sonic texture of what the instrumentation is, that takes care of any accommodating that I may do because of a genre, and it ends up just happening. But, no matter the instruments, it was still just”Funk in A!” (Laughs)
HT ~ You lead the band with notes and stuff on dry erase boards. I’ve seen “Love” written on there many times, what are some of your other directions?
MB ~ I’ll give keys…sometimes I write “Love” because I’m just feelin’ it. I’m feelin’ it from the musical energy, from the vibe in the room. There’s love all around us. Music is love. I’ll write lyrics sometimes, but that changes nightly. Sometimes I’ll write “Bass & Drums'” sometimes I’ll write “8 beats Chaos!” There’s a photo in our show poster, with five words…I really believe in the contrast, the light and dark and chaos that comes from it. The right mix of those two forces…that’s chaos. I’ll give any type of direction…a key, a style…a progression…but a lot of what I am doing is asking different people to lead. The broader idea of what I am doing is facilitating a group, working as a team to create music through the conductive influence. I do a lot of this by just asking someone to start something, and that will lead to a jumping off point. I have no idea what they are gonna play. They’ll play a progression of some kind, people will jump in and it just becomes something. And then someone else will come up with part “B” and i wait for someone to give me a wink or a sign thatb they have something, and then I’ll cut everyone else out and give them the lead. Everyone then has to stop and listen, figure out what the hell is going on and join in and develop their part. That becomes “Part B.” Then I say, “Let’s go back to “Part A.” And at that point we’ve created both of these sections kinda out of the air. And sure, sometimes somebody brings a riff or a premeditated change in, but even so…nobody else knows what it is. What the other people play is still from the spontaneous ether…this is my favorite thing to do right now. I’m trying to write songs, as a group, that include the audience as a chorus, that have some kind of meaning to the moment and that feature all the musicians in a way that is exciting and new.
HT ~ You keep it pretty wide open with your selections, but a few folks have become semi regulars. Does familiarity make the collaboration easier or harder?
MB ~ I try and have a mix of the old and the new. I will say that there are some professional players out there that are my really close friends that I just enjoy working with, musically. It’s just a fun hang, a good spirit and it’s fun to throw them in the mix. And, y’know, they’re well known players and that brings a little extra excitement to the audience and the promoters. To have them on-board, and to mix them up with new musicians…that’s one of my favorite things about the Everyone Orchestra. Getting to see musicians expand their comfort zones, try new things with unfamiliar players, to grow as musicians…It might get easier for veterans of the experience, they know what kinds of changes I may call for, but also know that there is not really anything NOT to expect. With the noobies often there is a bit of fear, a little hesitation as they wonder “Can I really improvise?” Sometimes I’ll invite people who are not really improvisers, and I’ll be like “This is different. You don’t have to be free jazz musician, you just have to be ego-less and try and have fun with it.” The music we’re making isn’t perfect, but the being together and making music…that IS perfect. For the noobies it’s just about getting past the initial hesitation. I think that once the music is going, old hand and new faces are equally challenged each time.
HT ~ You’ve actually let someone else lead the orchestra at least once, moe. guitarist al. Schnier. Did it feel weird handing off your baby?
MB ~ Anyone can give this a shot, as far as I am concerned. As I get older I am thinking about teaching more people how to play this game. I’m embracing this as a new instrument, and I think that what I’m doing with it is kinda a unique twist, and an eclectic combination of a lot of the different parts of what it’s like, actually being a musician. It’s kinda like a new role on a baseball field…as if…what if they found a new base to play? (Laughs) Y’know, not first, second or third or the outfield, but some totally new position. It was kinda exciting in a way. I hated missing that show. Sometimes it happens in this crazy life of travel. A really close friend had passed away and so I had to miss it. It’s better than the show not going on, and I think Al has a deeper respect for what I do now, after having done it. I think some musicians could get a lot out of the experience after trying it themselves. If somebody had to try it at the last minute, i’m glad it was him. I used to do a lot more of the guest conductor thing, but that was mostly before I took the helm. A few of the key musicians who were around me when I started this said “Look, I like all the people you are bringing in to conduct, but the way this concept is gonna work is that we’re here because of you, and you should be conducting…we trust YOU.” Some of the conductors got up there and they were just kinda fucking with people. And that can be interesting, but as a musician you don’t wanna feel like a puppet on a string. You don’t want to be told what to do again and again and again. There’s a fine line between direction and setting there clearing space so musicians have a floor under them and can explore, to be free. Having been conducted and then taking the conducting gig myself…Different styles of conducting were bringing different things out. I’m still in the place of figuring out what this thing is, and I didn’t wanna put other people in the place where they’re being told what to do by someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing. On the other hand, I’ve been developing a curriculum, so that other people can more easily do this.
HT ~ Franchising is where the money’s at! (Laughs)
MB ~ Who knows? (Laughs)
HT ~ Did you lend him the hat?
MB ~ NO! Fuck no! (Laughs)
HT ~ (LAUGHS) Ever have a musician try and slip you a couple of bucks to get more stage time?
MB ~ (Laughs) Only Fishman! (Laughs)
HT ~ Well, He can afford it! (Laughs)
MB ~ (Laughs) Yeah right? He’s desperate for face time! (Laughs) No, nope, so one’s ever done that.
HT ~ In the beginning it seems you just brought the EO concept to festivals, but now you’re bringing it to cities with a heavy musician populace, like Denver, New Orleans and Portland. Is it harder to pull together a city show?
MB ~ It’s different. It”s different budgets, it’s different energies…just different considerations all around. I couldn’t do this without a good team. I have a few people who help manage the logistics, do the booking, help build the line ups…do the publicity. i’m all about the art. At a festival I will build it from there. Really, the concept was built it to make it easier for musicians in the area to come and play together. As we get bigger and bigger draws it started making sense to bring in some of the regulars. It becomes feasible to say “Okay, let’s bring out Al for these shows.”
HT ~ You have strongly linked the Everyone Orchestra to some very worthwhile causes. How has your charitable activism informed your musical direction?
MB ~ It’s a big part of the development of what EO was, was to kind of bring these people around a cause, and making it extra intense. As the years have gone by it’s been more difficult to make each show affiliated with a different cause, difficult to pull off. But when I was starting this, it was a perfect time for this energy in my life. I wanna save the redwood trees, just help be part of bringing awareness to the troubles of the world. My cause related work with folks like Positive Vibration, Summer Camp, just to add a little meaning to the party, so to speak. Honestly, I’d like to do more of it. I’d like to get bigger in the industry, just to do more for the causes.
HT ~ I can’t think of any environment more perfect a fit for what you do than Jam Cruise. How hard is it to pick from the massive amount of talent on the boat?
MB ~ It’s definitely a first world problem. (Chuckles) It’s hard! That EO always ends up being really big because I try to be inclusive.
HT ~ Are there any artists you have your eye on who haven’t been a part of the Orchestra yet?
MB ~ There’s this guitarist named Trey Anastasio I’d like to get. I mean…I don’t know…he’s a busy guy…I just think he’d understand the process really fast and I think he’d enjoy it.
HT ~ If you had a time machine, who are some of your dream artists to have in the band?
MB ~ I don’t. I really don’t. Sorry to burst your bubble on that one. I just love so many musicians. I’ve loved each and every one of the line ups just the way they are.
HT ~ That’s a perfect note to end this on. Thanks for taking the time to talk to us sir. Look forward to seeing you soon!
MB ~ Looking forward to it as well!
The inaugural Great Folkgrass Happenstance will take place October 17 in Glen Rock, Pennsylvania. The festival will be held at Ruins Hall and will celebrate some of the region’s best folk and bluegrass musicians. Ruins Hall is shell of the historic Enterprise Manufacturing building, which after years of neglect, has found renewed life as a unique space for music, arts, and popular events.
Glen Rock is a historic mill town in southern York County, Pennsylvania and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The early industries of Glen Rock centered on woolen mills, iron foundries, machine shops, and distilleries. Glen Rock is located 30 minutes south of York, in an area that was a hotbed of musicians who traveled down to Baltimore in the early formative days of bluegrass. Topped by the Quimby Mountain Band and Caleb Stine, the line-up of the Great Folkgrass Happenstance will reflect that long, proud, tradition of the area. The rest of the line-up is filled out with some of the surrounding areas premier bands including Swamp Donkey Newgrass, Mountain Ride, Shine Delphi, Muddy Creek Railroad, and more.
In addition to the music the day will feature arts and crafts and a wide selection of food. Author Tim Newby will also be there signing his new book Bluegrass in Baltimore: The Hard Drivin’ Sound and its Legacy.
Firmly established as one of the Mid-Atlantic’s premier one-day music festivals, The Hot August Music Festival, returned for its 23rd installment with a diverse line-up that kept alive the deep tradition of musical greatness that first started 23 years ago in founder Brad Selko’s backyard.
The line-up this year tended towards a rootsy, bluegrassy sound with the Punch Brothers, Infamous Stringdusters, Railroad Earth, Cabinet, and the Sligo Creek Stompers all making appearances throughout the day. But as with Hot August Music Fest’s past, the line-up reflected a wide-range of musical tastes, allowing one to bounce between the three stages and satisfy all their musical desires and needs. Looking for some blustery-rock? Swing by the man stage for the guitar-thrash of Shakey Graves. Need some Electro-funk? Head over to the side-stage for the high-octane explosion of Pigeons Playing Ping-Pong. Trying to find some swampy-New Orleans soul? The Revivliasts are on right before the Stringdusters. Looking for some smooth blues? Find the stage in the woods and catch Jarekus Singleton’s scintillating set.
After all that the day ended with a nostalgic blast from The Counting Crows who showed that twenty-years on they still have it as they plowed through set that was chock-full of some of their greatest hits, “Rain King,” “Omaha,” “Long December,” and some choice covers, Bob Dylan’s “Ain’t Going Nowhere,” and The Velvet Underground’s “Elizabeth.”
With fourteen bands, spread over three stages at the picturesque setting of Oregon Park, Hot August Music Festival was quite simply a treat for the musical soul.
Click the thumbnail(s) for more images from the fest by Tim Newby…
Click the thumbnail(s) for more images from the fest by Russell Stoddard…