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Bear Creek Music And Arts Festival 2014 Get On Up and Get Down, Get Down!


Bear Creek Music And Art Festival 2014
Words and photography by Rex Thomson

Chris Robinson
Chris Robinson




If you’re looking for the most dedicated fans of funky music, look no further than The Spirit Of The Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida every November at the annual Bear Creek Music And Arts Festival. Thousands and thousands of people flock to the park for the show, disregarding the uncertainty of camping in the winter months for a chance to see one of a kind jams such as Chris Robinson fronting an all-star version of Soulive, Dumpstaphunk hosting their traditional, nigh legendary super jam, Roosevelt Collier and O’teil Burbridge putting a parade of special guests through their paces, an artist at large program that boasts bassist George Porter JR., sax man Pee Wee Ellis, beat master Bernard Purdie, guitarist Grant Green Jr., the horned one Skerik, trumpeter Jennifer Hartswick and many others, jam band superstars Umphreys McGee, a rock solid line up of the funkiest touring bands in the nation like Orgone, The New Mastersounds and Lettuce with up and comers The Nth Power, St.Paul and the Broken Bones, Locos Por Juana and Yojimbo representing the future. Okay…that was a pretty long sentence, but it’s truly difficult to capture the magic of Bear Creek in mere words. Lucky us…we get to use pictures too!

Yojimbo's Carley Meyers
Yojimbo’s Carley Meyers
Grant Green Jr.'s Orchestra At Large
Grant Green Jr.’s Orchestra At Large


Roosevelt Collier and Oteil Burbridge
Roosevelt Collier and Oteil Burbridge


George Porter Jr.
George Porter Jr.

The Spirit Of Suwannee Park is the home of over a dozen concert events a year, effectively launching the outdoor season with the Aura Music Festival, then wrapping it up with the epic dance party that is Bear Creek. While the line up IS funk heavy, the true purpose of Bear Creek is to bring the music that makes folks get up and moving, and year in, year out that’s exactly what happens. So while you may hear some jazz, some crunchy rock jams or even some unclassifiable hyper insanity you will feel the urge to boogie…and there is simply no fighting it. But for once you don’t have to take my word for it…you can judge for yourself!



Before we go any farther, I want to give a shout out to Jebb Long, for his amazing work taping seemingly the entire festival and sharing it with all of us! Concert tapers are true documentarians, selflessly buying insanely expensive audio gear, getting to shows super early, defending their rigs from errant beach balls, glow sticks and loud talkers…then sharing the fruits of their labors with everyone for no charge! Thanks to their efforts, these moments of musical bliss aren’t lost to the sands of time but preserved forever in sharable digital glory.



Dirk Quinn Band
Dirk Quinn Band


Locos Por Juana
Locos Por Juana


Though I recommend downloading the entire weekend’s music and turning it up on the loudest device you have access to, I do want to steer you folks toward some of the musical highlights from the weekend, starting with my favorite new discovery, Locos Por Juana. With a core of musicians from or descended from Columbia, the band mixes Latin rhythms, world music flourishes and a rock and roll aggression into a new whole. Their high energy set and diverse line up of percussion and horn fills and sit ins made their sets some of the most dynamic of the weekend. Speaking of dynamism, no act raised the stakes higher than Yojimblo, the New Orleans trio that buried the madness needle in the far red and never looked back. Fronted by trombonist Carly Meyers as if she had the bomb from Speed strapped to her person, primed to explode if she went less than fifty miles an hour the band is a melodic assault, only rarely slowing down to feature Meyers surprisingly sweet crooning. While she whirls like a dervish, drummer Adam Gertner and keyboard player Doc Sharp both add to the cacophony and ground it at the same time, allowing Meyers all the room she needs for her flights of fancy. It’s nice to see new acts bringing such energy and confidence to the stages of Bear Creek…it lets us know the future is in good hands.


The Nth Power, Brainchild of drummer Nikki Glaspie, formerly of Dumpstaphunk and Beyonce herself’s road band, unites herself, Nigel hall and a cadre of hand picked musicians may be a new band in name, the combined years of experience among the players clearly defines their pedigree. In the year since I last saw them perform they seem to have settled into their own groove. Their two sets on the main stage might have looked puzzling to someone not in the know about their membership, but just the slightest sampling of their combined talents showed them to be a force for reckoning. Thunderous beats gave way to delicate grooves, party line refrains transitioned into soulful singing while the grooves never seemed anything but as tight and as natural as they could be. It’s very impressive to see how fast they have gelled together, and the surety which they commanded the crowds attention spoke volumes about how far this band has come and just how high they can yet climb.

The Nth Power
The Nth Power


At the other end of the spectrum are the returning mainstays, Lettuce, Dumpstaphunk and The New Mastersounds. Having been a part of the festival since before it even WAS Bear Creek, these bands sounds are hard wired into the very DNA of the annual funk out and they always come ready to play, never holding anything back. Lettuce and The New Mastersounds welcomed guests like Alecia Shakour, Jennifer Hartswick, Bernard Purdie and 10 year old guitar phenom Brandon “Taz” Niederauer while Dumpstaphunk used one of their two sets to host the nigh legendary “Dumpstajam” which has evolved into a “Don’t miss” slice of swirling organs, bass duels and slinky, squealing guitar rampages. While in some cases the adage “Familiarity breeds contempt” could ring true, such is not the case at Bear Creek. Even if the bands didn’t take great pains to vary their set lists from year to year, almost every song seems to receive a transformative moment brought on by the fresh faces joining in on the fun. Florida’s own Rosevelt Collier teamed with Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge were joined by The Nth Power’s Nigel hall to bring a helping of Southern soul to the proceedings, mixing sacred steel gospel with down home jamming, seemingly enjoying the show themselves as much as the audience they performed for.

Lettuce with Alecia Chakour
Lettuce with Alecia Chakour
The New Mastersounds with Jennifer Hartswick
The New Mastersounds with Jennifer Hartswick


Dumpstajam with Taz and Tony Hall
Dumpstajam with Taz and Tony Hall
Nigel Hall with Roosevelt Collier and Oteil Burbridge
Nigel Hall with Roosevelt Collier and Oteil Burbridge

These collaborations aren’t limited to the regulars…this year we were treated to a head lining turn by Chris Robinson, who found his way to the amphitheater stage through his friendship with Eric Krasno of Lettuce and Soulive. The blues rock founder of the Black Crowes now fronts the Chris Robinson Brotherhood and was lured to the festival by the chance to play with not only Soulive, but some of the greats of of music like George Porter Jr. and Bernard Purdie. Purdie has appeared on more studio recordings than most anyone alive, and his drumming can literally be called “The Backbone of Funk.”

Chris Robinson, George Porter Jr., Eric Krasno and Ian Neville
Chris Robinson, George Porter Jr., Eric Krasno and Ian Neville

From studio sessions on James Brown, Aretha Franklin and many more to leading his own bands, Purdie is rightly revered in the industry and near deified in the funk community. George Porter Jr., himself a father of the form with his band the Meters bowed to Purdie onstage and was openly giddy about the opportunity to to play with him. Lettuce and Break Science drummer Adam Deitch was so honored to meet the man who had so influenced his development as a player he asked me to snap a shot of him with his hero…and honestly I was a bit awestruck in snapping the shot. Some moments you don’t want to miss…

Bernard Purdie and Adam Deitch
Bernard Purdie and Adam Deitch



Umphreys McGee's Jake Cinninger
Umphreys McGee’s Jake Cinninger


Returning for their third time headlining the festival, Umphreys McGee is riding a wave of love from their dedicated fan base, who turned their newest release, “Similar Skin”, into one of the fastest selling Jam band records in recent memory. The bands eclectic influences show in their lightning fast in song stylistic changes and their far reaching cover tune choices, with even the most experienced of audiences having no idea which way they’ll head next. Their sound is aggressive, heavy and yet still harmonic and melodic enough to capture the more laid back among the crowd. While their inclusion on a funk festival line up may look odd on paper, in practice they work perfectly for the underlying dynamic of the overall festival spirit…their fans never stop moving and grooving to the music, no matter which direction the band chooses to go at any given second. Known for their visual presentation as much as their musical direction, there’s an element of near sensory overload that blends the auditory and visual components into a coherent whole that can literally leave an audience dumbfounded…exhausted and joyous at the experience. Their enjoyment at headlining the main stage two days straight was obvious, and a concerted effort was made to ensure that no fan left the show wishing for more. That sort of dedication, commitment, just plain love for their listeners is a pleasure to see and I truly wish there were more acts that followed this philosophy.

Umphreys McGee's Brendon Baylis
Umphreys McGee’s Brendan Bayliss


Bear Creek attracts a wide variety of people from the neophytes ready for their first camping experience to the die hardiest, the fans who simply refuse to let the festival season end. These are the kind of people who build home made, battery powered air conditioners to survive the summer festivals, who have check lists that have been honed from years of practice that are meticulously followed….cars packed days in advance, costumes bought and made months before hand. The Spirit Of The Suwannee is a year round camp ground, with its beautiful trails and river views to it’s well worn and laid out camping areas, and, as such, they are ready for everyone. A general store onsite breaks the mold of festival vending by not only having everything you could need, from food and beverages to emergency camping supplies all the way to musical instruments and fire wood! The park also boasts a restaurant that serves an all you can eat southern styled breakfast buffet that will help replenish the lost energy from the previous nights craziness. One of the best parts about visiting a venue that hosts as many events as they do is, quite simply, the fact that practice makes perfect. At this point they’ve seen and done it all, and most importantly, they are prepared for any contingency. Nothing…not rain, nor snow nor sleet or hail shall keep this park from it’s appointed duty…to host the best outdoor events in the country year round!


Camp  Funknjam
Camp Funknjam

4J7A8596_edited-1As I said earlier in the article, Bear Creek is a haven for special collaborations that fans have only dreamt of…and these moments aren’t born of chance or happenstance, it’s all part of the grand design, and the weaver of that web is Bear Creek talent buyer Paul Levine.


Eric Krasno and Paul Levine
Eric Krasno and Paul Levine

The music scene is actually smaller than most people would think, and the players are all just as much fans as anyone in the crowd…some might say even more so. There’s a glee in the eyes of everyone wandering around backstage, seeing friends and other players who they respect and admire…keeping instruments handy, ready to join in at any moment with any band, just for the joy of playing. it’ what separates festivals from concerts…the sheer amount of talented individuals on hand and the chance interactions that can spawn lasting friendships and collaborations. Big Gigantic, though not on the bill, is a fine example of musicians meeting, finding much in common and creating something that could evolve into a musical juggernaut. Though not every sit in is destined to spawn a national touring act, each can inspire a new train of thought, a new outlook or simply an idea in the mind of the players that could eventually grow into a song, a style or a genre all it’s own. Or it could just be a wicked nasty guitar face off that melts the minds of all withing earshot. Either way…it’s pretty sweet.

Dumpstajam with George Porter Jr. and Tony Hall
Dumpstajam with George Porter Jr. and Tony Hall
Chris Robinson and Eric Krasno
Chris Robinson and Eric Krasno

Over the years Bear Creek has shown a savvy in it’s bookings that is truly inspired, and at it’s core is the Orchestra At Large set, a special last day treat, this year curated by Grant Green Jr. With legends like Purdie, Porter and Pee Wee Ellis, the later of whom played sax on most of James Browns early hits and worked a number of different roles in many famous acts, even serving as Van Morrison’s band leader and arranger during his hey day to call on as well as Taz, Roosevelt, the ladies of horn Jennifer Hartswick and Carley Meyers, New Orleans sax man Khrys Royal, Green had the easiest job in the world. After finding enough songs the players knew collectively he simply set back and let the pros do what they do…and reveled in the eye of the musical storm of which he found himself.


Grant Green Jr.
Grant Green Jr.
Orchestra At Large
Orchestra At Large

There was even a moment when the diminutive Taz and the elder green shared a moment, as all barriers of age fell away and music united the two in a way nothing else could.


That, to me is the highest point of Bear Creek mystique, seeing the players, young and old, lose themselves in the joy of connecting on a level so far beyond the verbal…moving into the spiritual planes. After three days of multiple stages of music, Sunday slows the pace down to alternating stages, with the second sets of The Nth Power, Dumpstaphunk, The New Mastersounds and Lettuce closing everything out. Though worn from days of musical fie sparking them long into the night, the fans don’t sneak out early at this festival…they stay til the echoes from the last note have long faded…excitedly swapping stories and wondering “What could possibly top this year?”

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While the music plays and the lights dance, however, the work goes on behind the scenes. A dedicated recycling crew works to make their program a model of efficiency, doing what they can to leave this picturesque park as they found it when they arrived days earlier. This year incentive programs offered attendees a chance to win prizes, including tickets to next years festival for helping collect and separate recycling waste. It’s a fine way to motivate and inspire fans, and having enthusiastic crew members like Michelle Lee, Lindsey Bradley Brown and Chase Walks made the weekend more like fun than work.


Bean Spence
Bean Spence

As it says in the name, Bear Creek is an ART festival, and that is not simply lip service to the community, but a true commitment on every level from the promoters to increase awareness and show case the talents of the artists who make our world a brighter place. Boasting a robust artist alley, a “Live Painter” program with a dozen artists and a open submission contest to create the annual festival poster.

Bridget Adams


This years winner, Evan Warren, claimed the honor and seemed genuinely moved accepting his prize and the company he was in, with past artists including Ralph Steadman, illustrator and collaborator of the late Hunter S. Thompson. Lyle Williams, Bear Creek promoter enjoys the contest, seeing it as chance to give artists a chance to share their visions with the world and secure memorable works of art that stand out from the crowd.


Lyle Williams presenting Evan with his prize package
Lyle Williams presenting Evan Warren with his prize package


Evan Warren giving thanks.


The sense of community that pervades the Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival extends from the grounds of it’s home the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park to the stages themselves. For years the Purple Hatters stage stood in the music field, named for a fallen member of the park’s family, Rachel Hoffman prized head gear. Tragically, this year the other two stages were named as two more of the parks long time crew, Derek “DC” Corner and Robert “Buffalo” Roffe. “DC” worked festivals around the country, helping lead security teams and keeping their presence to a helpful background, while Buffalo made sure the lights stayed lit, the sound stayed loud and the love kept flowing. I knew both men, and was lucky enough to call them both friend. Seeing the stages listed as “DC’s Forest Stage” and “The Buffalo Amphitheater” brought my heart to my throat when I first opened the program. It was a fitting tribute to those who work is going best when they are unseen by the average festival attendee, but without whose efforts the show simply wouldn’t happen.

Derek "DC" Conner
Derek “DC” Corner
Robert "Buffalo" Roffe and friend
Robert “Buffalo” Roffe and friend

It’s easy to forget the sheer amount of logistical planning, scheduling wizardry, stage building, sound and light rigging, audio and visual design, catering, cleaning, trash removal and the thousand other jobs that go into putting on a music festival. Luckily, the Spirit Of The Suwannee and it’s many events has a tight knit crew of regulars that make these many gigantic parties go off without a hitch. Over the past few years I’ve come to know most all of them, from the owner of the park and his parents who founded this music playground to the men and women who live and work on the site year round to the aforementioned production crew that brings the stages to life so many times a year. On a personal note, I’m proud to count myself among them, serving as a staff photographer for the event as well as reviewing the party, and was this year privileged to take the staff photo.

Hardest working folks in the biz!
Hardest working folks in the biz!

There are numerous faces missing as the break down was in full swing, and no faces are missed more than DC’s and Buffalo’s. But, as in the name of the park itself, their spirits were there watching over us, as they did in life. They were missed, but I know they would have wanted everyone to live up to the oldest of showbiz credos…”The show must go on!” And so it went. Times change, faces change, but love…love is forever. See you next year Bear Creek!


Dave and Kristy
Dave and Kristy
Big Ginger
Big Ginger

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Sister Sparrow with Roosevelt Collier and Bernard Purdie
Sister Sparrow with Roosevelt Collier and Bernard Purdie
The Wizad and the warriors
The Wizad and the warriors



4J7A8829_edited-1 4J7A8871

Lettuce's Adam Smirnoff
Lettuce’s Adam Smirnoff
Khrys Royal
Khrys Royal
Jennifer Hartswick
Jennifer Hartswick
Dumpstaphunk's Tony Hall
Dumpstaphunk’s Tony Hall

4J7A9414 4J7A9603 4J7A9646 4J7A9797


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Suwannee Hulaween Thriller Nights

Suwannee Hulaween
October 30th – November 2nd 2014
The Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park
Live Oak, Florida

Photographer/Writer: Amber Jennings

Suwannee Hulaween Thriller Nights

The Suwannee Hulaween Festival presented by Silver Wrapper and Purple Hat Productions transformed the Suwannee Valley into an amazement of fantasy where mystic lurked throughout the cypress forest and the collective mind-boggling art installations transmogrified the Spirit Lake to a spooktacular afterlife themed arena that was nothing short of grandiose. The host of the event, The String Cheese Incident, would for a second year in a row give fans an experience to remember for a lifetime with seven sets of music that an included an explosive Suwannee Hulaween extravaganza set on Friday evening.


Festival goers would experience very little wait for wristbands and schedules before entering the campgrounds when Suwannee Hulaween opened it’s gates for a pre-party event Thursday, October 30th that included MZG, Modern Measure, Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band, Particle and Electron on the Amphitheater stage. As festival goer’s met up with their respected tribes to set up camp the sun slowly began to sink behind the giant cypress’ and temperatures dropped to a mild chilly level. The Amphitheater stage located between the Main Stage and Spirit Lake was nestled in the cypress forest, the kinetic art festooned from the stage into the tall trees and billowed over the crowd. The yellowy haze from the setting sun pulsed through the Spanish moss as Florida based DJ twins, MZG, formerly known as Monozygotik kicked off the event on the Amphitheater stage. The hybrid electronica project, Modern Measure would take the stage next. Kyle Holly added a layer of organic mixture to the electronica with live drums during the set.


By the time Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band hit the stage the sun had kissed the Florida sky goodbye, strands of lights draped through the cypress’ and up to the vendor booths lit up and lighting designs inundated the trees with hues of yellow, green and magenta’s indulging the spectators with the first glimpse of the twilight magic that would unfold. The funk infused ensemble emerged and Mary Frances “Mama Funk” purred out powerhouse vocals on “Wake Yo’Self” while bass player Al Al “Sweet Nasty” Ingram’s idiosyncrasy for dropping bass bombs had the crowd pumped. Derrick “Dr. Ock” Johnson’s trombone slid the band into “Quick-E” the set continued with JP “Smoke Machine” Miller on guitar and Lee “Insta Funk” Allen on drums for “North Carolina” “Sunday Afternoon” “24/7” “Nah Brah.” They covered Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nothing But a G Thang” into “Funk Life” before ripping out a Dirty Dozen Brass Band tune “Ain’t Nothing But a Party.” The set concluded with “Livin’ the Dream” and “Trunk Fallin’ Off.”


LA based band Particle continued to rage the pre-party show. The livetronica, electrofunk band opened with the Kill Bill theme song “A Battle Without Honor or Humanity.” The set continued with a segue of tunes Triple Threat> Organ Chords> I’m Awake> Launchpad. Aaron Magner and Jason Hann joined the band for “Knee Knocker” and they closed the set with a Beck cover “E-Pro.” Electron closed the event on the Amphitheater stage, the super-group from Philly covered rock sensation Pink Floyd tunes “Comfortably Numb” and “Brain Damage.”


As the crowd dispersed following the late night show, it would prove to be an impossible feet for the curious to preview the Spirit Lake. The Teeth Portal would beckon to the inquisitive but stern security guards held their ground to keep the Spirit Lake a surprise for the next day’s festivities. Those that wandered to the campground side of the lake watched in awe as the lights from the guarded and enigmatic psychedelic wonderland teased from across the water.


Suwannee Hulaween would kick off the first official festival day on Friday, October 31st. The Spirit Lake stage would host the first band of the day, Post Pluto. As people entered the Spirit Lake area through the Teeth Portal to catch the opening act they would be mesmerized by the play land that stretched out before them. The Spirit Lake stage would grab the festy goer’s attention off to the left, with its plush red curtains and Day of the Dead paintings adorning the top of the stage. The platforms on either side of the stage congregated with hula hoop artists, fire and belly dancers along with the aerial performers would enchant many.


Sprawled out in front of the Spirit Lake the Natural Mandala Art, Sonic Forest, JellyDome along with several other art instillations would captivate those not lost in ecstasy by the Spirit Lake stage.  If this wasn’t enough eye candy that comes under the direction of Art Director and longtime String Cheese Incident Lighting designer, Andrew Carroll, the Infinite Infant and all of his toys would be sure to blow your mind. The history of the Infinite Infant is something of note, the motorized metal sculpture 16-20’ tall x 8-10’ wide x 10-12’ long was designed by Charlie Smith. Its massive cauldron and the cauldron’s of all its toys would provide fiery comfort to all over the weekend as temperatures dropped below freezing. The three fire cauldrons celebrate the history, intention and symbolic meanings of our past, present and future existence. The Infinite Infant brings 10 ft. tall “Hot Mama” – the earth mother, 12 ft. tall “Mr. Nice Guy” the corporate suit, along with these fiery cauldrons two more could be found between the Spirit Lake stage and the Spirit Lake. Alongside the fiery installations was another hypnotizing installation, Dillon Endico’s,“Because of the Lotus.” The projection mapping on paintings would transfix onlookers at night through the combination of traditional painting and projection mapping making the paintings seem to come to life and morph into different phases as light cast upon them in varying ways. In total nearly 100 artists and performers filled the Spirit Lake area with color, creativity and gave a community vibe that made it an all day and night spectacle not to be missed.


Judah & the Lion’s set on the Amphitheater stage would start shortly after Post Pluto. The migration from one stage to the next flowed nicely, as one band would wrap up the next stage over would begin their set. The first act on the Main stage would be Kalamazoo, Michigan’s Greensky Bluegrass. Dressed as angels they had the crowd stirring up dust as they danced to the hellishly fierce pickin’ the band was throwing down. Emancipator took stage on the Amphitheater stage while the dust was still filtering through the air from the Greensky’s performance.  The electronica, trip-hop artists opened with “Old Devil” and preluding to the dropping temperatures to come included “Soon it will be Cold Enough to Build” and “Fires.”


To the excitement and anticipation of all 8,000 attendees the hosts, The String Cheese Incident took the main stage for the first of their six performances. The attendees decked out in magnificent customs ranging from the afterlife, zombies, day of the dead to fairytale characters gave the band a warm welcome the band teased a Friday the 13th jam before Kyle Hollingsworth keys zipped through the night to unfurl, “Restless Winds.” The set continued to the delight of everyone with Keith Mosely on vocals for “Joyful Sound” his fast bass run exploding through the night. A slinky salsa “Pygmy Pony” was a nice ride with Jason Hann and Michael Travis softly keeping rhythm as Billy Nershi and Michael Kang swayed the crowd with their strings, they segued into Piece of Mine > Give Me the Love. They ripped into “Valley of the Jig” the electric jam with its ferocity melting the crowd in euphoria and smiles spread as everyone lost themselves in the moment. They closed the set with “Can’t Wait Another Day.” As the Main stage cleared to prep for the thrilling second Cheese set the crowd dispersed for ferris wheel rides, partake in some grub and beverages and catch DJ Shpongle on the Amphitheater stage.


When the String Cheese Incident sauntered back on stage they were dressed in white suits with white top hats, their faces had been painted white with black paint across their eyes. Nershi and Mosely wore long white wigs. Joining them on stage was Rhonda Thomas and Tony White on vocals, Antibalas Horns included Martin Perna (Baritone Sax, Flute), Jas Walton (Tenor), Jordan McLean (Trumpet), Jeff Pierce (Trumpet, Trombone). They opened the set with a Rolling Stones cover “Sympathy for the Devil” Mosely on vocals while Nershi shredded out the riffs. They segued into “Ghostbusters” Tony White on vocals with the Antibalas brass blasting away while giant air filled ghosts shot up from the front of the stage and waved and swayed to the song.  Kang took lead vocals for Bob Marley’s “Time Will Tell” before passing vocals to Rhonda Thomas for a Paul McCartney cover “Live and Let Die.” Enormous sized skull balloons were released into the crowd, confetti was shot out from the stage and pyrotechnics burst from the stage in massive explosions. Nershi took Acapulco on “Just Passing Through” and they continued the set with a Blue Oyster Cult cover “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and segued into a Doors cover “Break on Through” and Led Zeppelin cover “Stairway to Heaven.” Kyle sang lead for “Heaven” a slow Talking Heads cover before reprising back into “Live and Let Die.” The monster finale was a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Behind the stage a monstrous sized rendition of Michael Jackson emerged with hands that reached out over the stage, dancers dressed as zombies danced on the sides of the stage, it was a killer, thriller night!


The third set for the night had monster jams, the Cheese opened with “Miss Brown’s Teahouse” and went into a Kool and the Gang cover “Hollywood Swingin.” They continued the set with You’ve Got The World, Hotel Window > Rosie > Zombie > Rosie, Way Back Home > Just One Story and they encored with “Superstition.”


The night would continue on with Beats Antique on the Amphitheater stage and Thievery Corporation back on the Main stage. By the time Thievery took the stage the temps had dropped to below freezing and the winds had started to pick up. After Thievery everyone rushed to Spirit Lake for Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Billy Gilmore’s Jam and the amazing art instillation’s that morphed into a cosmic pulse of colors and textures. The cauldrons warmed chilled bodies while fire performers danced through Spirit Lake.


Saturday would prove to be just as fun as the day before with everyone surviving the 60 mph winds and the sun popping out behind the clouds. The three stages would bounce to and fro with a few conflicting schedules, Strung Like a Horse, Beartoe, Cope, The Heavy Pets, Shane Pruitt Band and Nahko and Medicine for the People would all take turns in competing for the masses. Keller Williams and Friends which included Reed Matthis from Marco Benevento and Nicky Sanders of Steep Canyon Rangers on the Main stage had everyone in smiles. They opened with “Kidney” and continued with favorites like “Doobie in My Pocket” “Samson and Delilah” “Scarlet Begonias” “Wish You Were Here” and “Born to be Wild.”


The second night of the String Cheese Incident would ratify even larger jams then the night before and they would outdo themselves in the magnitude of music. The first set opened with Search > Lost > Mouna Bowa. Nicky Sanders from Steep Canyon Rangers sat in for “Don’t It Make You Wanna Dance.” Keller Williams joined Nicky and the String Cheese for “Resume Man” and “Pack it Up.” Keller took lead vocals for one of his songs “Alligator Alley” and a Grateful Dead cover “Franklins Tower.” The second set was a space-meld of psychedelic dank jams with “Let’s Go Outside” opening into “Black Clouds” they found the “Sweet Spot” and had Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic set in for “Birdland.”  They rolled into Sirens > Rivertrance > Drums > Swamp > Rivertrance and encored with a super heady “Bollymunster.”


Suwannee Hulaween would continue into the early morning hours with the New Deal, Kung Fu, Big Gigantic, Applebutter Express.


Sunday was magic as the temperatures climbed and people started to warm up as the sun rose above the campground. Most festival goers still sported their costumes from the first night of the festival whether from the weather being too cold to change or just the sheer enjoyment of wearing a costume for three days it didn’t matter it just made it easier to spot newly made friends in a crowd. The day would kick off with Ghost Owl on the Main stage and Suenalo on the Spirit Stage. The Soul Rebels would offer a chance to see a set on the Amphitheater stage with little conflict in scheduling. North Carolina’s Asheville goddess, Rising Appalachia, would perform on the Main stage. The beautiful sisters seemed to call out the sun as their rich powerful message resounded through the campgrounds. Their set included, Mississippi, Scaledown, Filthy Dirty, Fly Around, Downtown, Pretty Lil Foot, Cuarto de Tula, Stromboli, Tiny Fish Lungs, Medicine, Honey Baby. The Dean Ween Group was sandwiched between Rising Appalachia and the String Cheese would include favorites “Dickie Betts” “Transdermal Celebration” “Ghost of the Frontier” and “Sweet Jan.”


The String Cheese would wrap up hosting the Suwannee Hulaween with as much bravado as one could imagine. The first set opened with “Sometimes A River” into Close Your Eyes > How Mountain Girls Can Love, a “MLT” and Love Is Like A Train > So Far From Home > ‘Round The Wheel. The second set pushed the jams to even greater levels of joy. They opened with Colliding > Late In The Evening, Look At Where We Are, Song In My Head > This Must Be The Place > On The Road, Bumpin’ Reel. They ended their Incident with a big bold “Texas.”


Future Rock would hold fans over on the Amphitheater stage between major schedule conflict EOTO on the Main stage and Van Ghost on Spirit Lake. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead would close out the festival with Truckin> Uncle John’s Band> No Quarter Jam> Uncle John’s Band> Let It Grow> Crazy Fingers> Help On The Way> Slipknot!> Franklin’s Tower.


As the stages cleared most found their way back to their campsites or wandered one last time through the mystical play land of the Spirit Lake. The last of the firewood was dumped into the Infinite Infant and his cauldron toys as temperatures once again plummeted below freezing. Those left huddled around the cauldrons for warmth buzzed of chatter focused on what a great event Suwannee Hulaween and how much they were looking forward to next year’s Suwannee Hulaween these words would echo through the morning as campers packed up to head home.


Jeff Austin ~ The Art Of The Pause

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It’s safe to say this has been the most eventful year of Jeff Austin’s life.  The birth of a daughter, the recording of a new album…he bought a couple new Metalocalypse T-Shirts…Oh…and he left Yonder Mountain String Band after 18 some odd years.  The band parting ways with Austin created something of a uproar earlier this year, with fans choosing sides and drawing lines.  Rather than add fuel to the fire Austin retreated from the spotlight, and has only now begun returning to the public eye, taking his new group out on the road to rave reviews and sold out shows.  We caught up with Jeff in Portland, Oregon last week for a quick chat about his new band, his reactions to the media frenzy and life as a new dad.



To check out the EPIC “Rag Doll” and the rest of the Jeff Austin Band’s late night Hangtown Halloween Ball set, click HERE

Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #6, Jake or Brendan?, cargo-shorts, and “White Room”

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.   This week Rob Compa comes to us after a string of shows opening for Umphrey’s McGee.



Hey everybody! I’m sitting in the van headed home for a night before we meet up for rehearsal, and I thought I’d check in. We just finished up a two night run at one of our favorite venues to play, the Spot Underground in Providence RI, and I realized that the route back to where we were going to rehearse goes right by the exit for my apartment. I’m super excited to get a night home with my lady, my cat, and my dog before we meet up to get some tricks and treats together for our Halloween show next week. Should be a good time. But LOTS of stuff happened this week, so let me start from the beginning.


We arrived at the House of Blues in Cleveland filled with excitement to be opening for Umphrey’s McGee. I’ve been listening to that band for the last ten years of my life, so getting to play some shows with them is a real “pinch me” kind of moment. We arrived just in time to catch Umphrey’s rehearsing some tunes during their sound check. Even watching them sound check is a seriously inspiring experience. It’s cool to see a band that’s been doing it for so long who still works so hard and gives everything they have every night.




The band walked offstage and I immediately threw myself into awkward Rob mode by shaking Brendan Bayliss’ hand and accidentally calling him Jake. Shit. What are you gonna do, huh? Oh well, onward and upward. Regardless of that, all the UM band and crew members made us feel right at home, which was a good feeling.



Our set was pretty standard procedure, but what can you expect when you’re playing a 45 minute opening set? It was definitely an adjustment for us to give people an idea what we’re all about in such a short time frame. As an improvising band, I think time is a really important factor into making a nice tasty improv casserole, so to speak. It needs time to bake, and then cool off and coagulate. And although 45 minutes is enough time to make some good moments happen, we definitely had to keep a careful eye on the clock and it was a little distracting at times. Even still, I think we got the point across. Mission accomplished, IMO.


[Check out the full show from the House of Blues]



jumanjiThe next day we pulled into Niagara Falls (the U.S. side) to open for Umphrey’s again at the Rapids Theatre. The town itself was pretty desolate. You know in the movie Jumanji (RIP Robin Williams) when he finally gets out of the game and walks around his town and everything’s boarded up and covered in graffiti and the movie theater has been turned into a porno theater? It was kind of like that. Except that this theater wasn’t a porno theater, it was absolutely beautiful and giant inside. It gave us a nice warm and fuzzy feeling to play in such a nice joint. Also, my Mom made the trip from Rochester to see the show, so it was nice to have her see us perform in a nice big place in front of a big fat crowd.


The set was pretty much the same vibe as the night before. Pretty standard and short. Knowing that two guitarists who I’ve grown up listening to could potentially be watching somewhere in the room was a little scary, and I think it made me play a little differently. Not to say in a better or worse way, but I think I played a little more showy than usual, and felt a little less focused on melodies or motif-y types of approaches. Whatever the case, though, I think I played some stuff I might not have played under normal circumstances, and in this line of work anything different is good.


20141024-_DSC0816The next day we arrived at Stage AE in Pittsburgh to open for Umphrey’s yet again. The AE in the aforementioned venue’s name stands for “American Eagle.” I figured we would all get short haircuts with spiked up bangs and frosted tips like a 90’s middle-schooler, and maybe wear some brand new but somehow pre-tattered and worn in Cargo shorts, but alas it was not to be. Anyhow, the venue was HUGE. I couldn’t even believe it. It may have been the biggest indoor venue we’ve played to date. I felt much more comfortable during our set than I had the previous two nights. I guess I had finally adjusted to playing a shorter set. I think it’s important to be a patient improviser, but it’s super important to know how to say what you need to say without unnecessary bullshit if needs be, too; definitely something to keep in mind.


[Check out the full show from Stage AE]


Check out Honest Tune’s photo gallery of Umphrey’s McGee’s show at Stage AE



I was truly excited to play the next two nights at the Spot Underground. We’ve been playing there for years, and its run by some Jack Brucereally great people who always make us feel right at home. And the crowd is always super energetic, without fail. Besides that, I was excited to get back to our normal two set format for a couple nights.


For the first night, we decided to pay tribute to Cream’s bassist Jack Bruce who had passed away that morning by covering “White Room.” We all listened to it at sound check and gave it a quick run through. It went over really well, and the rest of the set contained some fun Cream teases in a few jams. We really took our time and had some good moments. And the crowd was just nuts man. People always get rowdy at the Spot. I had a couple drinks in me for the second set, which made me feel a little loopy, but hey man, that’s rock and roll.


[Check out night 1 from the Spot]


Thanks to the two night run, we got to enjoy the rare and wonderful experience of not having to pack up any of our gear after the set, and not have to set any of it up the next morning. It was bliss man. We pretty much just hung at the hotel all day and then went to the venue and made sure everything still worked. The first set was a little mellow to me, but I dug it because of that. It had a little bit more of a grown up vibe, and it seemed appropriate for a Sunday. The second set, on the other hand, was much more aggressive and adventurous. Really good times. My only issue was that my amplifier was messed up and kind of sounded like crap. Oh well. Sometimes ya gotta roll with what you’ve got.


[Check out night 2 from the Spot]


Anyhow, that’s it for now. Halloween looms ahead of us like a giant jack o lantern with an evil grin beckoning us, so I should have some good stories the next time I get in touch with whoever is reading this. Til next time!

“Rock-Rock”: The Lasting Legacy of the Allman Brothers Band



Forty-years ago, a younger brother went to visit his older sibling who was home sick. The younger brother had brought a few gifts along to help cheer up his ailing brother – a bottle of Coricidin pills and bluesman Taj Mahal’s first album.


The Allman Brothers Band 8-1-12 at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta Ga. Keel2012A few hours after dropping off his gifts, the younger brother received an excited phone call from his older brother imploring him to come back over and see what he had done. Gregg Allman rushed back to his Brother Duane’s side, and discovered that he had emptied out the pills from the Coricidin bottle and was using it as a slide to play “Statesboro Blues,” an old Blind Willie McTell tune that Mahal covered on his album. Using the empty Coricidin bottle, Duane was emulating the slide playing that gave the old blues standard its distinct feel.


It was from that moment of discovery, on that day over forty years ago, that the seeds of what would become the defining sound of a band and style was first born.


Gregg Allman once said, “Rock n’ Roll was pretty much born in the south, so was the blues, or at least a certain kind of blues. So saying Southern Rock is like saying Rock- Rock.”


IMG_8476While there were deep southern rock based roots before the Allman Brothers Band existed, and bands that toyed around with that roots-rock sound (Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band), that feeling, that spirit, that soul that we associate with that Southern Rock or Rock-Rock sound was born in the heat and humidity of Florida and Georgia. As the newly formed Allman Brothers Band looked to find their place in the musical landscape, they incorporated the sounds they found around them in their home in the south – blues, country music, and rock n’ roll – but added an edge and attitude to it that gave it an aggressive sheen. They also looked to influences outside their region and combined it with their love of playing live. Drummer Butch Trucks recalls, “The way we evolved was instrumentally with the jams. We would do a lot of jamming. We would set up and play, and play, and play. And then we would listen to what he had done, and then go listen to Miles Davis and John Coltrane and all the old blues cats, Robert Johnson and those guys. That’s where it came from.”


The Allman Brothers Band formed shortly after that day when a bed-ridden Duane Allman first played “Statesboro Blues” with a Coricidin bottle. The band went on to reinvent rock ‘n’ roll around their own Southern roots – bringing elements of country music, blues, and rock and channeling it through Duane’s guitar. This new sound came to define a region, and provide an identity to many other bands that followed on the wide path that the Allman Brothers Band blazed. The Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Charlie Daniels, The Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, .38 Special, and many others carried the Southern Rock torch brightly through the 1970s and into the 80s.


IMG_7843The Allmans rose to fame with the release of the career-defining live album At Fillmore East and Eat a Peach, only to see it nearly come to a premature end with the untimely death of Duane and bassist Berry Oakley, both in motorcycle accidents a year apart in the same neighborhood, mere blocks from each other.


The band soldiered on despite their loss for the next decade – breaking up and reuniting multiple times. Through this time they had moments of pure greatness – the Dickey Betts-dominated Brothers & Sisters, “High Falls” from Win, Lose, or Draw, “Crazy Love” from Enlightened Rogues, but they also had some painfully low moments.


The band eventually dissolved amidst infighting and mistrust for good in 1982. Both Allman and Betts formed solo bands and headed out on the road. They each achieved moderate success, but nothing compared to what they had done together.


In 1986 they got back together to play a benefit show for Bill Graham. This proved to be the catalyst for the rebirth of the Allmans. Allman and Betts’ solo bands toured together over the next year. At each show both bands would play a set, followed by a night ending set of both bands playing Allman Brothers’ songs together.


img_8023Eventually they decided to reform. The surviving members of the original line-up returned intact, with the addition of a young guitar player from Betts’ solo band, Warren Haynes, and Allen Woody on bass rounding out the line-up. It was this line-up that would return the Brothers back to the level of greatness that was expected from them.


This new line-up marked the start of a new-found interest in the band. With a burgeoning jam-scene that looked to the Allmans as a founding father, The Allman Brothers Band found a new lease on life and released a trio of albums to start the 1990s that could stand shoulder to shoulder with their classic albums from the past.


Over the course of the next decade, they went through a series of line-up changes before settling on the current line-up of founding members Allman (keys), Butch Trucks (drums), Jaimoe (drums), joined by Haynes (guitar), Oteil Burbridge (bass), Marc Quinones (percussion), and Trucks’ nephew, guitar prodigy Derek Trucks who seems to channel the spirit and playing of Duane’s distinct slide guitar. This current line-up brings new life and energy to the band, yet at the same time plays in a way that recalls and remembers those past greats they have lost.


When the Allman Brothers broke up for a brief period during the 80s, so did it seem that the torch of Southern Rock started to dim. But soon a fresh crop of Georgia bands, including Widespread Panic, Bloodkin, Drivin’ ‘n Cryin’, and the Black Crowes, rekindled the still smoldering embers with their fresh, youthful approach to the Rock-Rock sound. The Allman Brothers reformed around the same time and a rebirth of Southern Rock was well under way. This revival saw the birth of Gov’t Mule, the North Mississippi All-Stars, the Drive by Truckers, and a slew of other like-minded young bands that led a wave of new southern talent that harkened back to the soul and spirit of the Allman Brothers.


The Allman Brothers Band 8-1-12 at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta Ga. Keel2012For every band that has twin lead guitars, adds a bit of country to their rock n’ roll, or has Georgia clay between their toes, they can trace their musical heritage back to the Allman Brothers. The Allmans have been blazing their path for forty-years, playing what Gregg Allman called “rock-rock”, and many have followed in their huge footsteps.


As the last notes of the double encore of “Whipping Post,” and “Trouble No More,” (the first song the Allmans ever played together) rang through the hallowed halls of the Beacon Theatre for the last time last night – marking the end of the over four-decade plus run of the legendary innovators of Southern Rock – a legion of bands inspired by the incomparable sound that the Allman Brothers created gave thanks for the wide trail they blazed. It is a trail that allowed every band with a twang in their voice and a soulful edge in every guitar solo to follow in their lead and prove that the flame the Allman Brothers Band ignited so many years ago still burns brightly.

The Allman Brothers Band 8-1-12 at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta Ga. Keel2012

Forty Years of Unrelenting Music: Bands and Musicians share their memories of the Allman Brothers Band

The Allman Brothers Band 8-1-12 at Chastain Park Amphitheatre in Atlanta Ga. Keel2012

This article originally appeared in March 2009 as part of Honest Tune’s coverage celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Allman Brothers Band.  As the band prepares to play their final show ever at the Beacon Theatre we thought it would be a great time to revisit this piece.  We asked some of our favorite bands to share their thoughts, memories, and importance of the Allman Brothers Band.  So put on your copy of At Fillmore East, dim the lights, and dig in.


ColbruceCol. Bruce Hampton (Aquarium Rescue Unit)

Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“Statesboro Blues,” because of Duane’s playing.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

September 1969(?) at Piedmont Park, Atlanta, Georgia.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Forty years of unrelenting music.

 marcoMarco Benevento (Benevento/Russo Duo)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” It was one of the first songs I had to wait to hear the end of. I remember I was like 8 and my Mom and I had gone to my Grandmothers for dinner and when we got there it was on the radio and I was like I am not going in until this is over. I have to know who it is and then waiting in the car until the song was over. And when they said it was the Allman Brothers, I was like that was awesome I didn’t know the ABB did instrumentals.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

First time I took acid was at an Allman Brothers show. It was at Garden States Art Center in New Jersey – now called PNC Bank Arts Center. I don’t remember when that was maybe 94 or earlier than that.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Something about “Liz Reed.” There are no lyrics, no story, no person telling a story with words, but the way they compose an instrumental song as a rock band and still make music that is captivating and almost sound like it has lyrics so that you can hum is great.


 pearsonJack Pearson (Jack Pearson Band, Allman Brothers Band)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

At Fillmore East is one of my favorites, I spent a lot of time listening and learning that record.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

I wouldn’t be able to single out one show, I thought we had a lot of good nights when everyone was listening to each other and taking the music somewhere.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

I listened to their early records a lot. I always liked the sound that the original lineup had. To me, it sounded like they played with a lot of dynamics. The singing, playing, good grooves, lots of interplay, it was very creative. Getting to hear Gregg sing in the kitchen or hotel room while we’re writing a song is very special to me. Playing with Dickey in his living room. I have a lot of wonderful memories.


 ericmartinezEric Martinez (Bloodkin)

1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

Eat a Peach without a doubt. The songs are timeless and the guitar slinging that goes on is off the charts. Plus a lot of the songs are cuts from live shows and the record still has a cohesive feel. And if you are lucky enough to find a copy of the double fold out vinyl you get a really cool drawing in the fold out.

As far as my favorite Allman’s song goes, I really dig a lot of their songs, so here are a few favorites, “Les Brers In A Minor,” “Back Where It All Begins,” “Desdemona,” “Southbound,” “Mountain Jam,” and the list goes on.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

My first show was at the Nissan Pavilion in Fairfax, VA in ’95 or ’96 and I had no idea who was playing with them at that time. Well it turned out to be Warren Haynes and Allen Woody, both of whom I had never heard play. I had never seen or heard any musician manhandle instruments like they did and every time Warren or Dickey would take a solo they would get a close up of their hands on the big screen. It was like a three hour guitar schooling. What a show!

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Back in 1992 after learning to play guitar from listening to the heavy metal bands of the 80’s my good buddy Dan showed up at my house with Eat A Peach. He showed me the major scale tuned on “Blue Sky” and I have never been the same since.



i-mZNBMfh-LRob Barraco (Dark Star Orchestra)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers song or album?

My favorite album is At Fillmore East. It opened my eyes to jamming possibilities even before I ever heard of the Dead.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

 Favorite moment was sitting in with the Brothers at the Beacon and sharing Gregg’s organ bench.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

I believe the first answer covers the third question.



drewDrew Heller (Toubab Krewe)

1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“Dreams” is without a doubt my favorite Allman Brothers song. One of those ones I’ve always rewound and listened to again after it plays. Just about everything I love about music is happening in “Dreams.” It is swampy and beautiful. It takes its time to unfold and even as it does there’s something abstract about the time of the song itself. The guitar lines kind of slowly drifting through clouds of organ, walking bass, cymbals and snare drums fluttering softly, and then there’s that pause with the drum fills at 5:46 on the studio recording. So, so nice.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

About 15 years ago, having just gotten our driver’s licenses, some friends and I in Asheville got in a car and took what I think was my first road trip to go see live music in a different city. It was the Allman Brothers. Rock and Roll and the highway are inseparably good friends, and in my own life it was then that the two met. (Jazz Fest in New Orleans a couple of years back was my most recent show and an amazing one too.)

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

They are still impacting me so I am not sure exactly what to make of it.



billyiusoBilly Iuso (Restless Natives)

1.) Favorite Allman Brothers Album/ Song? Why?

Eat a Peach – love the cover art. I’m old enough to have had the ALBUM. As for song – “Melissa,” My sister was named after it. My Dad is a big fan also.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

All. They have never disappointed me live …But of course Jazz Fest a few years back was sweet…

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Gregg’s voice and the intensity of his voice – I’ve tried to mimic him over the years…always felt comfortable singing Gregg’s parts. I also used one of Duane’s Stratocasters that producer Johnny Sandlin had during the recording the first Brides of Jesus record.


 georgeGeorge Sluppick (City Champs, Mofro, Robert Walter’s 20th Congress)

1.) Favorite Allman Brothers Album/ Song? Why?

I would have to say, without hesitation is “Midnight Rider” and here’s why…it’s the first one I heard and I was instantly a fan. The groove, the lyrics and Gregg’s voice are so killin on this tune. It was on an album that my dad bought me, back in the 70’s, a compilation called The South’s Greatest Hits that also had Wet Willie, Elvin Bishop, The Charlie Daniels Band, Marshall Tucker Band, Dr. John, Lynyrd Skynyrd and several others. What a great record and I wore the hell out of ABB. I was probably ten at that point and had been playing drums for a while already, maybe five years. I loved westerns too and this tune definitely has that cowboy theme to it. What a classic. Favorite album is Eat a Peach. Definitely.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

Well, when I was touring with JJ Grey & MOFRO, we were given the opportunity to open for ABB on several shows and it was amazing to get to sit in the wings and watch the masters at work. Derek is a peer and we’ve known one another for several years, ever since my days in Robert Walter’s 20th Congress and he’s easily one of my favorite musicians in the world, in addition to being one of the sweetest, most genuine folks you’ll ever meet. I think that he and Warren together are a perfect match and really complement one another so well. Of course, as a fellow drummer, Butch and Jaimoe are so killer and really fun to watch.

My favorite live moment was during a show in Virginia Beach, at the Verizon Wireless Ampitheatre on August 12th, 2007. I was sitting backstage during their sound check and noticed some crew members putting a lot of chairs on the stage, on either side of the band, and then later that night was told that the folks sitting in those chairs were mostly family members and close friends. My respect for them was increased ten-fold and I thought it was so kind of them to share with people like that and I just prayed that I would one day be able to attain that level of generosity. Those folks seemed to be having the time of their lives sitting there on that stage, so close to the band and the music. What a time!

 3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

I have the utmost respect for them and hold them in the highest regard. They have proven to the world that patience, perseverance and humility are good things to live by and most definitely keys to longevity in this business of music. They are my heroes. Rock on fellas! Much love and respect to y’all.



jessJess Franklin (Tishamingo)

1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“Dreams.” Gregg’s voice, Duane’s slide. Not to mention one of the most moving songs to me in there whole catalog. For the original record, and original cut, they sound weathered (in a great way) beyond their years!

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

Live show at High-Fi Buys Amphitheater (at that time Lakewood) with Justin Brogdon, Evan Sheward, Jeff Davis and lots of other great friends in 2000 or 20001. Not long after Derek was with them (maybe a few years). They did a “Mountain Jam” into “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’,” as I remember it. Having shared the stage with Derek before, I realized at 20 or 21, he had once again surpassed any other guitar player I knew, in a style derived from Duane, but so very much his own!

 3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Gregg’s vocals, all of the guitar players (Duane, Dickey, Jack Pearson, Jimmy Herring, Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes – obviously in no order), Chuck Leavell and Gregg on keys and organ, Oteil and all of the other great players that the Allman’s have surrounded themselves with over the years.

Most of all, I love the song writing. Drawing lines perfectly between Soul, Rock, Blues, and Country. Basically inventing or at least co-inventing a style of music I can’t live without. SOUTHERN ROCK!!


bird dogJeff “Bird Dog” Lane (Outformation)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

Favorite song – “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Reason: The first time I really “heard” this song was when I was 20 yrs old. I was crossing the Sea of Cortez on a 12-hour, overbooked ferry ride from La Paz to Mazatlan. I found a restricted staircase that led up to the roof. I sat in the very middle and all I could see around me was infinite blue horizons in every direction. I put on my Sony Walkman tape player (the old yellow one, remember?) and it was the first song to play. I listened to it over and over for about the next 12 hours in complete solitude, I’ll never forget it.

Favorite album – At Fillmore East. In high school I heard tales of how this show ended at sunrise. I still don’t know how true it is [ED: it is true], but I remember thinking, “Wow! How cool would that be to jam with your band till sunrise?” True or not, 15 years later, every time my band does it I think about this album. I also like the stories behind the album cover shots.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

Allman Brothers Band at World’s Fair Park, Knoxville, TN in 1995. I was 20. “Nobody Left To Run With Anymore.” I had just lost a good friend and this song brought me to my knees sobbing. Nothing had ever moved me like that at a concert before, although I was so sad, it was beautiful.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

As a percussionist the question is how haven’t they influenced me? Mark Quinones plays some of the most brilliant conga patterns and rhythms I’ve ever heard. Bringing that drumming element to the table of southern rock/jam is what really floats my boat. The sound jumps out at me and makes me (as a younger, aspiring musician); strive to be that tasteful and simple. A good example is “Back Where It All Begins.” I don’t care how many times I hear that song, the percussion always makes me smile. I love it.

Long live the Allman Brothers Band!! Thanks for everything!!



johnnyJohnny Zvolensky (Old Union)

1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” It was the first song that my band in college tried to cover from the ABB. It might as well have been an educational music class to me at the time. It taught me of those classic guitar harmonies, learning to execute those intricate sections of the song properly as well as diving into the improvised solos but making sure that you can lead the band back to the musical signposts within the song. I learned a lot from that song being a freshly imported “Northern Boy” in Southern territory. It was an essential “class” for anyone wanting to play Southern rock music.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

My favorite ABB live show was at the Nautica Stage in Cleveland, OH, in the summer of 1998. I was up in Cleveland working for the summer and was attending Middle Tennessee State University during the school year. I had been highly influenced at the time by a local Murfreesboro blues band, The Nationals, especially by the guitarist, Jack Pearson. His playing was so inspiring that I would run home after seeing him and immediately had to play the guitar.

Anyways, I had not known that Jack had joined the Allmans for that tour and I couldn’t believe it when I saw him on stage. I tried telling my friends that I saw his band every other Wednesday at The Boro Bar and Grill, but nobody believed me. It turned out to be a wonderful show and made me appreciate Tennessee and the talent that is immersed in the culture. Through recent years, we have come to be friends with Jack and had the honor of playing on stage with him, so I guess it comes full circle for me.

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

If it weren’t for the ABB, then it is hard to say that Old Union would be doing what we do. They are an influence to all the members in the band. Guitar harmonies, rhythm and lead switching between Spotty and I, are some important techniques to Old Union and what many of our fans love to hear. They are directly influenced by the ABB and others like The Charlie Daniels Band and Skynyrd. Oh, and everybody thinks Chuck Foster (lead vocalist, keys) looks like a young Greg Allman, so I guess we wouldn’t have that going for us.



Jesse HammockJesse Hammock (Shady Deal, Powder Mill)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or Song?

The greatest Allman Brothers Band record has got to be At Fillmore East. There are ABB records I listen to more these days, but this one got me hook, line and sinker in about 9th grade. I don’t think this record would have been possible without Tom Dowd’s revolutionary live recording techniques. The music itself showed the diversity of the Brothers with their mix of jazz, classical, hard rock, and blues. This album also had the original lineup of Sky Dog and Dickey. Often over looked is the stellar musicians sitting in at the live show including Thom Doucette on harp, Steve Miller on piano, Randolph Carter on sax, and even Elvin Bishop doing some vocal work. This record paved the way for bands to produce/edit/release live records.

 2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

“Elizabeth Reed” w/ Dickey Betts and Duane Allman.

 3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

The ABB has not influenced my music per say because I have never played with musicians that can pull off what they do. Gregg Allman’s delivery and soul-filled voice has influenced my singing. But they are musicians I prefer to listen to and not imitate. Plainly said, they are just too damn good to try and imitate. The Southern aspect of their music has influenced the direction in which I have taken my music, but a lot of that comes from where you grow up. And growing up….I listened to the ABB



luke millerLuke Miller (Lotus)

1.) Favorite Allman Brothers Album/ Song? Why?

My introduction to the Allman Brothers was the song “Jessica.” It had that joyful, open road, wind-in-your-hair feel that came to epitomize my high school years. My friend and I labored over a mix tape called Cruisin’ which was kind of our personal soundtrack of all the greatest driving songs. “Jessica” closed out the first side.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment (in audience or on stage w/ them)?

I grew up just down the road from Red Rocks. Seeing the Allmans there was a beautiful thing

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

In Lotus we do some harmonized guitar lead stuff, and that has been influenced by The Allman Brothers. And some of our major-keyed songs like “Umbilical Moonrise,” “Shimmer and Out,” and “Sunrain” are influenced by songs like “Blue Sky,” “Jessica,” and “Melissa.”



edanderson Ed Anderson (Backyard Tire Fire)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album/ song?

My favorite Allman Brothers studio album would have to be Eat a Peach. Favorite tune, “Blue Sky.” I feel like I could listen to that song for hours and not get tired of it. Dickey’s playing is on fire. It just makes me happy instantly when I hear it.

 2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

Favorite Brothers live stuff is that 1970 Ludlow Garage “Mountain Jam.” It’s an entire disc, forty-some odd minutes of instrumental bliss. It’s not quite as polished as the Fillmore, but it has a certain charm. Berry Oakley has an exceptional evening. That man was a force of nature on bass, as was Duane on guitar.

Favorite live moment for me was seeing them for the first time in the early 90s with Allen Woody and Warren and Dickey. That was a nasty line up.

 3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

They’ve influenced me in numerous ways. First, hearing the Fillmore stuff was huge. That was like a bible for guitar playing. And Gregg’s vocals at that age, amazing. He’s still kicking as, as are the Brothers. That’s the other thing. They’re still doing it. And doing it well. It’s admirable. Long live the Allman Brothers Band!



 Sam holtSam Holt (Sam Holt Band, Outformation)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

Tough one. I’d have to say “Come and Go Blues.” There’s something about hearing Gregg and that acoustic tuned to open G that speaks to me.

2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

 The first time I saw them was Lakewood in the fall of ’90. I was very young and very high and we were up close. Allen Woody blew my head off and I’ll never forget it. It was one of those ‘before and after’ experiences.

 3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

When I was working for Widespread Panic and we lost Mike [Houser] there was somewhat of a parallel with the tragedies that the ABB endured. They persevered and triumphed after such a tremendous loss. When I hear “Aint Wastin’ Time No More”, it reminds me that playing music is probably the most important thing I can do.



Jeff MillerJeff Miller (New Monsoon)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers Album/ Song?

Well, this is a multi-faceted answer for me. “Whipping Post” was definitely the song that hooked me when I was a kid. My mom had At Fillmore East on vinyl and let me play it REALLY loud! Thanks Mom. As I got older, different songs have had different significance in my life. “Dreams” recently has been my quintessential tune. The vibe and guitar tones of the original studio version give me chills every time…And then there are all the other tunes I love.

 2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

I saw them in Boston years ago with Dickey and Warren on guitar and the version of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” just slayed me.

Another moment was when we were playing at their fest at the Suwannee grounds in Florida and got to stand on stage during the show. I was watching Gregg from about 10 feet away!

3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

It’s hard to qualify exactly how the ABB’s music has impacted my/our music, other than to say that I grew up with it and it seeped in. When you are a kid, you gravitate to sounds, sights, etc that make you happy or feel something that you can’t explain, but you like it. As I got older and learned guitar, my appreciation for the guitar playing just furthered my love of the music. Now, having covered several different tunes of theirs live, I can say that they set the bar. I just try to show what I’ve learned!


 chrisChris Combs (Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” from At Fillmore East. The dual guitar work is totally classic. They were listening to Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue non-stop at that time and you can really hear that album’s influence in this track.

 2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

At Fillmore East is my favorite live Allman Brothers

 3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

Duane Allman’s and Derek Trucks’ slide work has been a huge influence on me. The original lineup is really my favorite. I love how languid and expressive their improvisations were. I definitely feel and attempt to channel Duane’s influence when I play lap steel.



seth walkerSeth Walker

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More.” Gregg and Duane’s last stand. It’s lyrically connected and the groove is a ten foot ditch!

 2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

The At Fillmore East album is as good as it gets.

 3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

The ABB has affected my music deeply. I lived in Jacksonville for a while and once you know that region of the country, you can’t help but hear the heat and humidity and attitude of the place in their sound. On a more literal level, they took the blues to a new place with melody, space and groove.



bryanBryan Rahija (Bombadil)

 1.) Favorite Allman Brothers album or song?

“Blue Sky.” I haven’t listened to this song for probably five years, but I bet I could still sing the entire guitar solo down to the last note. I used to listen to this song on repeat cruising through the Orange County (North Carolina) countryside after school.

 2.) Favorite Allman Brothers live show or live moment?

Seeing the Allman Brothers Band was actually my very first rock and roll concert. I lucked into a ticket after my friend’s Australian exchange student backed out. It was a great show, they played at Raleigh’s outdoor amphitheater and I remember wondering if that was what Woodstock was like. The shirt I bought is still two sizes too big and is to this day the most expensive t-shirt I own. Personal favorite moment of the show was, of course, hearing “Blue Sky.”

 3.) How has the Allman Brothers music influenced your music or impacted you?

“Little Martha” was one of the first finger-picking songs I learned to play on the guitar.   Other than that, they helped me gain an appreciation for live performance, because this band that I loved had released all these live records and were able to create these great environments for concert-going, it made me take live shows very seriously.


Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #5, “Flying,” Dirty Hotels, and Michigan

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.  This time around Rob Compa comes to us after finishing a run of shows through the Midwest.



15423570792_6219bf1c92_oAhoy!!! Ahoy… Did you guys know that the term “Ahoy” was the word that Alexander Graham Bell (ya know that old dead dude that invented the telephone) originally wanted use as the universal greeting when someone picked up the phone? Apparently Thomas Edison (that other dead guy) changed it to the hello that we know and love today. I just learned that today. I always thought that was just some shit pirates or sailors said to each other. Whadya know?


Alright, on to business.


After leaving the beautiful state of Colorado, we headed to Omaha Nebraska for a Tuesday show at The Waiting Room. The show started off fine, but a couple minutes into the second tune Eli and I completely lost power on stage. After years of playing shows, I’ve learned that the worst thing you can do in situation like that is stop having fun. You just have to roll with it and take whatever the rock gods throw your way. That being said, I had a hard time shaking my frustration for the next couple tunes. I finally was brought out of my funk when we brought Matt from Tauk up to play some guitar on one of our newer songs, “Dracula’s Monk.” I had a great time playing music with him, and it was definitely the highlight of my night.

The next day we headed to The Bottleneck in Lawrence, KS. Early in the day, I settled down to restring my guitar and watch the Orioles and Royals ALCS game. I was an Orioles fan when I was a kid, so it would’ve been cool to see them win, but I also enjoy rooting for the underdog, so I was happy to see the Royals win. Very cool. {editor’s note: The Honest Tune editor of this piece is from Baltimore and does not find this very cool.} As for the rest of my day, I can’t really say that anything else too noteworthy happened. The show was a good time, for sure, but after so many shows I can’t necessarily remember details from every single one.


We arrived in St. Louis on Thursday to discover that 13 bands had had their trailers broken into just that month in that same neighborhood. Yikes! That’s not exactly news we’re happy to get. Anyway, we appreciated the heads up and took some extra precautions. Before show time, I got some chicken and vegetable Tikka Masala that totally blew my mind. Best meal I’ve had this tour. The show went well and I personally felt really good about my playing that night. I felt like I had a lot to say and my hands were letting me say it.


15420739531_b171874a07_oBecause of all the theft problems in St. Louis, we drove for a couple hours to get out of town. By the time we got to the hotel, it was somewhere around 5 AM. As Luke (our lighting designer) and I walked into our hotel room to finally get some Z’s, we discovered that our bed had been slept in, and our toilet was filled with old shit and it wouldn’t flush. I personally would’ve preferred a mint on my pillow or something. Well anyways, we quickly got a new room and got what sleep we could manage.


We all woke up the next morning needing way, way more sleep than we had actually gotten, which isn’t at all abnormal. We arrived in Chicago the next morning fatigued, but stoked to play one of our favorite cities. The set contained some really great improvising. We even found ourselves playing an impromptu covers of “Flying” by the Beatles and “Brain Stew” by Green Day. Ya gotta love finding yourself in some cover that you’ve never played or talked about before, just via improvisation. We had a great time.

The next day was a little bittersweet for us because our long time manager, Jason Gibbs, flew out that morning to finally get off the road with us and become our, well, just plain manager -that means not touring with us anymore. I’m gonna miss my Pep Pep. He’s a good Pep Pep and I’ll miss sitting on his lap and hearing whimsical bed time stories about settlement, back end deals, and radius clauses. But luckily, our buddy Aaron Hagele took over the duties of road management, and has since then been doing a great job for us. Thanks Aaron!


I arrived to the Mousetrap in Indianapolis filled with excitement, not because of the show so much as the anticipation of eating the delicious beef stew that the venue regularly serves. I look forward to it every time we tour in the Midwest. The Mousetrap is a tiny little place, but the crowd there always goes nuts, which we just love. This time was no different. It felt great to play our songs and see people singing the words along with us, and it made our day to start a song and see people in the crowd cheer with glee because they got to hear the one song they were hoping we would play. We even had one dude crowd surfing! Good times.


Grand-Rapids-MIAnd finally, we ended our run in Grand Rapids, Michigan, at the Stache. After our sound check, we all headed to the Founders Brewery down the street to grab a bite and try some good beer. Gotta love Michigan’s abundance of beer. The show was a good time, but that old feeling of playing the sixth show in row was definitely apparent to all four of us, so the next two days were spent at our good friends Rick and Pam VandeKerkhoff in Rockford. We make sure to spend a few days with Rick and Pam every time we’re in town. They’re the parents of one of our good friends from Berklee, Kyle, and they’re two of the coolest people on the planet. We’ve spent the last two days filling our bellies with beer, whiskey, chorizo strata, seven layer dip, and meatloaf sandwiches. It just doesn’t get any better.


Anyhow, that concludes our journey for now! Tomorrow we’ll embark on three shows with one of our favorite bands, Umphrey’s Mcgee, so I’m sure I’ll have some good road stories for all of you lovely folks. Later!

Yonder Mountain Harvest Fest 2014~ Blue Skies And Bluegrass

Yonder Mountain Harvest Fest 2014

Words and pictures by Rex Thomson




The Yonder Mountain Harvest Festival brought a magical, musical celebration of the circle of life to the picturesque Ozark Mountains of Arkansas last weekend. Mulberry Mountain once again hosted the event and though smaller than the resorts other party, Wakarusa, in sheer numbers, the stars in the sky and on the stages shined as bright as anywhere in the world. From the hosts Yonder Mountain String Band giving many of their attending fans a first exciting look at their likely soon to be new permanent line up, to Grammy winners the Carolina Chocolate Drops spreading knowledge, returning heroes Elephant Revival, Split Lip Rayfield and Tyrannosaurus Chicken delighting long time and brand new attendees and new bands like the Shook Twins, Grampa’s Cough Medicine and Red Eye Gravy gave Americana and bluegrass fans all they could ever want in a weekend of music. In the name of diversity they even had a nearly full day of funk acts on Saturday, kicking off with the a Honey Island Swamp Band, then getting down and dirty with Big Sam’s Funky Nation, Lettuce and Dumpstaphunk, along with the unclassifiable sounds of That 1 Guy.





Starting on Wednesday, the festivals beloved “Backwoods” stage, an eye pleasing low profile stage had Dumptruck Butterlips kicked off the party with a rowdy set, that, along with music from Florida’s Grampa’s Cough Medicine, blew the leaves off the surrounding trees and got the early arrivers pumped for the fun to come! The small Roost Stage gave exposure all weekend long to up and coming acts like Red Eye Gravy, Tauk, and Old Shoe, as well as hosting workshops and picking contests. It even gave Ben Kaufmann a chance to walk the silly walk and talk the silly talk as he did a reading, in character appropriate goofy voices no less, of his favorite Monty Python sketches.

IMG_9828012Some bands come to define the sound of their area, and in a perfect world when future historians speak of the “Arkansas sound” they will be referring to Tyrannosaurus Chicken. This duo out of Fort Smith has been drawing larger and larger crowds everywhere they go, and it’s easy to understand why. Featuring a grinding, industrial blues sound and producing a wall of music that most ten piece bands would be happy to achieve this pair of multi-instrumentalists filled the Harvest Tent with delirious fans shaking their tail feathers. That’s what a Tyrannosaurus Chicken would have right…tail feathers? I’m really asking here…I slept through a lot of my history classes. Whatever you do, don’t miss any chance you get to see them as they start touring the nation in earnest next year.



Another set of local heroes, Mountain Sprout brought authentic mountain music to the mountain itself, with their tongue in cheek lyrics belying a whip smart instrumentalization that had boots stomping in every direction.


Missouri’s Samantha Fish used the joy she had from her beloved Royals upcoming World Series appearance to guide her bluesy three piece through a wicked selection of originals and a blistering cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”


The Oh Hellos could easily be classified as an orchestra, with what seemed like seventy member army, all expending enough kinetic energy to power the stage through their intensity alone. The main stage at the Mulberry Mountain Harvest Festival is an imposing structure, a permanent platform with a towering barn like roof. As a photographer it can be a bit of a challenge to shoot acts there without primarily focusing on studies of inner nostrils, but a as aficionado of daredevil stunts I was amazed to see one of their members take a flying leap off the stage, clearing the massive ground speakers. Seriously…he jumped about ten feet off a fifteen foot high stage, landed on his feet and popped up playing. Even if their music wasn’t as good as it was I would still be lauding them on the sheer bad assery of that move!


Closing out the main stage was an impressive set of tunes from legends The Jayhawks, who have put together a catalog of idiosyncratic tunes that evoke a lonesome spirit and an introspective lyrical point of view rarely found in modern music. In a world of copycats and trend followers, The Jayhawks lead by example.


Though previous years fests had been defined by some rather tumultuous weather, this years welcomed picture perfect weather was only a blip compared the big story, the departure of Jeff Austin from Yonder, and the arrival of all but official new members Allie Kral and Jake Joliff. Earlier this year the announcement of Austin’s departure from the band sent shock waves through the music community in general and the bands diehard fan base, known as the Kinfolk specifically. In any long term relationship their will be tension, and life on the road can easily exacerbate these issues into divides that can simply no longer be bridged. Faced with replacing one of their most dynamic members, the band has toured with a variety of special guests while searching for new blood to fill the void.




Yonder quickly seemed to settle on Joliff and Kral, bringing them out on the road as frequently as schedules allowed and showing a quickly growing chemistry with the pair. Joliff’s precise, lightning fast picking style serves as an audio buzz saw, while his vocals blend smoothly with the rest of the band during harmonies and his solo turns at the mic showed an ease that belies his years. Growing up in a musical family, Joliff spent his formative years learning his craft from his father and gaining a reputation at an early age as a player destined to make some noise.


Allie Kral is no stranger to Yonder, having sat in with the band nearly every time she was in the same place at the same time. Her brand of fiery fiddling has become legendary on the jam scene, and her ferocious energy and stage presence give Yonder back the “Danger” factor they were missing. Kral commented that she was humbled and grateful for the opportunity and couldn’t wait for the chance to not only continue spreading shock and awe with her fiddle, but to explore and expand her newest instrument, a powerful and sultry singing voice.



Yonder bassist Ben Kaufmann noted that while negotiations with the pair hadn’t been finalized, he was truly hoping to spend the rest of his life playing music with the new dynamic duo. Having seen this configuration earlier this year at the Northwest String Summit, I was interested to see how a couple months on the road together had affected the players, and during their opening night closing late night set I was amazed at the results. Guitarist Adam Aijala seemed the most affected musically, with Kral’s drawn out chords and notes freeing him to leave more space in his leads and rhythm work, while banjo picker Dave Jonston has quickly found a middle ground between his and Joliff’s percussive styles. Kaufmann’s face said more than any words he spoke, as he beamed smiles visible to the back rows as his new stage mates showed off their chops. From new takes on Yonder classics like “Pockets” to trance heavy middle eastern flavored “Robots” to Allie’s passionate rendition of “Jolene” the late night tent was packed with happily dancing Yonder fans who were completely won over and ready to follow their heroes into the future.


Friday morning started out with blue skies as far as the eye could see and the sounds of children at play. As the fest itself is a celebration of the changing of seasons and the traditions of farming life, the family family unit is an important part of the fun at hand. Face painting, games and even roaming giant sized puppets helped ensure the next generation of music fans have safe, fun experiences that will turn into cherished memories as the years pass.


Fresh on the heels of the previous nights mayhem, Old Shoe and Dirtfoot got the energy cranked back to speed, and the festival never looked back. Having formed scant miles from Mulberry Mountain, the earthy and ethereal Elephant Revival took the main stage to a packed crowd of fans, family and the soon to be initiated. This quartet produces a sound and an energy that infects the soul through their lilting harmonies and melodies, freezing listeners in place during whispered passages and causing frenzied twirling dancers during their moments of wild abandon. Having played every Harvest Festival since it’s beginnings, Elephant Revival has grown as the years have gone by, with international acclaim and a following that can sing every song as if the words were written in the language of their souls. It’s been awe inspiring to see them progress, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for them.


Earlier in this review we talked about transitions, and Allie Kral’s joining Yonder. Her previous band, Chicago’s own Cornmeal brought their new fiddle player, Phillip Roach, with them, joining founder Chris Gangi and long time banjo player Wavy Dave Burlingame and other recent editions drummer Drew Littel and Scott for a blistering set under the tent. Taking the time to search out just the right sound to fill the fiddle gap, Cornmeal sounded invigorated, delivering bombastic takes on fan favorites like “The Road.” As an original “Cornstalker” I was highly anticipating the show, having not seen the band, one of my favorites, in over a year, and let me say…any misgivings I may have had were blown away by the furious fret work, bass pops and drum beats. Can’t wait for my next helping of Cornmeal, and I recommend you try them again, or even for the first time. You won’t be disappointed.


Its been years since the tragic death of Kirk Rundstrom, and though Split Lip Rayfield doesn’t tour much, the musical chemistry shared between the three remaining members is a wonder to behold. As transitions marked the overall spirit of the festival itself, in some cases a loss is to be honored rather than replaced and forgotten. Soldiering on and playing all the harder to do right by their fallen friend, Split Lip’s breakneck speed leaves the audience as well as the band gasping for air. Plus…the bass player uses a strung up truck gasoline tank, which is exactly as bad ass as it sounds!



Next up on the main stage the Carolina Chocolate Drops brought their high brow take on the traditional black instruments and songs of American musical history. More than just a musical showcase of forgotten and under appreciated classics, the Grammy winners try to educate and enlighten as they entertain. From gospel to jazz, traditional work songs to earnest originals the band expanded the musical horizons of those lucky enough to be within earshot.



After turning in a stellar set with his band earlier in the day, dobro legend Jerry Douglas brought his passion and precision to the Yonder Mountain String Band’s set as a special bonus guest for the duration of the weekend. Having filled in on some of the shows earlier in the year on Yonders tour, Douglas was readily familiar with the bands material and was ready to add yet another element to the already increasingly diverse sound the band has found. From the opening number, a cover of the “Game Of Thrones” theme that literally boggled the minds of the shows fans in the crowd, Douglas and Yonder showed again their new comfort with each other, nodding to each other in turn and trust. “Traffic Jam,” “Criminal” and a comical “Polka were some of the highlights of a extra long evening that sent exhausted fans looking for a little respite before carrying on into the night with sets from Railroad Earth, Tea Leaf Green and Mountain Sprout who rocked out til the wee hours of the morning.



As always, the last day of any festival is a bittersweet enterprise, as it’s the apex of the building love meets the encroaching dread of the inevitable return to reality. To get the day off to a proper start, Portland, Oregon’s own Americana-Folk tinged band The Shook Twins brought their rocking energy to the main stage, starting out with a powerfully simple acapella duet between the twin sisters before being joined by the rest of their five piece band. Showcasing a refreshingly genuine feminine energy, The Shook Twins have enjoyed a steady rise in popularity and are poised for big things. Pitching in during their set as they had done on the Twins most recent album Elephant Revival’s Bonnie Paine and Bridget Law helped display the power of women speaking their minds musically.


Zach Deputy brought his one man, feel good show to the Backwoods Stage, bringing the party as he always does. It seems to be physically impossible to have a bad time at a Zach Deputy show, and any attempt to fight the urge to get down is doomed from the start.

4J7A8445The Mulberry Mountain Harvest Festival has always tried to provide a bit of diversity for those wanting to dance to a different beat from time to time, and this year they decided to get funky on Saturday. From New Orleans we had the Honey Island Swamp Band and Big Sam’s Funky Nation blasting bass, blowing horns and giving the ladies a little love for letting it all hang out. In a soon to be seen interview for Honest Tune, Sam shared how much he enjoys playing festivals outside his usual genre, seeing the bluegrass fans get won over by the infectious, high energy slabs of jam he and his band lay down.


While the main stage got funked up as well with a down and dirty set from New York’s Lettuce, Dumpstaphunk showcased new drummer Alvin Ford Jr., and let maestro Ivan Neville tear down the walls of division, with guitarists Tony Hall and Ian Neville cutting heads and the often imitated, never duplicated Nick Daniels the third laying down the deepest grooves heard all weekend.



Elephant Revival’s second set of the weekend was their traditional outing on the Backwoods Stage seemed to be the last trip to the wooded edge of the fest, as they have grown to popular to fit all their fans in such an enclosed space. The band kindly ceded a portion of their set for a heart warming moment, a proposal from a couple that had met at the festival years earlier.



Drawing cheers and tears from the fans and the band alike, the energy was set and banjo player Sage Cook delivered one if the bands signature tunes, “Go On,” an ode to pursuing your dreams,not letting life slip away from you and appreciating the sacred covenant of the act of living. Railroad Earth’s Tim Carbone sat in with the band, trading licks with fiddler Bridget Law, while Bonnie Paine made the evening a family affair by bringing up her sister and brother on separate songs. Guitarist Daniel Rodriguez showed his quiet vocal strength on a couple of tunes, and even pitched in on percussion! As always, Dango Rose held down the bottom on bass, and even took a turn at the microphone himself. Blessed with an abundance of gifted songwriters and talent on every instrument, every show they play leaves fans begging for more.


There seemed to be a concerted effort by the Yonder Mountain String Band to use their sets at Mulberry to introduce their 2.0 line-up, as they avoided the usual parade of guest stars the festival has been during their sets in the past, outside of Jerry Douglas’s presence and a brief appearance of Tim Carbone just prior to Saturday’s set break. The positive chemistry between the old guard and the new arrivals was a joy to behold. While Kaufmann used his times at the microphone to extol their virtues and gush enthusiastically, guitarist Aijala summed up his reaction with just one word, uttered as he stared slack jawed while Allie Kral finished up a monster solo…”Damn!” With Joliff proving to be not only an amazing fiddle player but a fine singer as well, the band now has five different voices….but they are all learning to speak and share the space as one. It’s impossible to say where the dates will take Yonder over the next few years, but if these first steps are any indication, it’s a path they’ll have entry of smiling company along the way.




Closing out my weekend, I knew where I had to be…seeing the dynamic genius Matt Butler and his brainchild, the Everyone Orchestra. Taking an ever changing, one time only gathering line up from the pool of players at any given festival or in any city, Butler coaxes and shapes a shared musical creation, completely in the moment and shared it with the audience. Urging the listeners to join in, Butler uses messages scrawled on dry erase boards to direct the bands in keys and tempos, while also passing lyrical messages to the crowd. Joined by special guest and drop steel super star Anders Beck of Greensky Bluegrass who flew in for the occasion, the Orchestra featured as star studded a line up as I have ever seen them field. With Ivan Neville in the organ, his new Dumpstaphunk band mate on drums, Railroad Earth’s fiddler Tim Carbone and bassist. , the Shook Twins on backing vocals (and beat box!), Zach Deputy and Lettuce’s Adam Smirnoff on guitar and the Shady Horns on…well…horns, Butler has an amazing wealth of talents to draw from for his project. Seeing the players from all the different genres come together as one to make something truly unique gave all in attendance an auditory example of how life could be if we all worked together. In urging the crowd to sing along, and having the join their voices to the song Matt Butler truly created an Everyone Orchestra.


The sun rise on Sunday morning saw friends and families packing up and preparing to return to jobs and school, with hugs and promises to return all around. As I shut the door and started my engine I had a brief pang of regret that it was all done…then I remembered the lesson I had learned over the weekend. Change is good…and as long as the love is there the future holds nothing to be afraid of…only the promise of more fun to come next year on Mulberry Mountain.

IMG_0516 IMG_0459 021 019 4J7A8979 4J7A8849 4J7A8649 4J7A8645 4J7A86354J7A82874J7A8313

Super City: A Glorious Assault

Pilgrim Profiles: Your guide to the freshest faces in grass-roots music. 


Super City 2Band: Super City ( Super City – FB Page)

Hometown: Baltimore, MD

Members:  Dan Ryan (vocals & guitar), Greg Wellham (vocals & guitar), Jon Birkholz (keyboards), Brian Brunsman (bass), Mike Gambone (drums)

Sounds Like: A glorious assault of thundering guitar-driven indie-pop full of catchy hooks and sing-able melodies.

For Fans Of:  Wye Oak, Spoon, Surfer Blood, Cloud Nothings

Bio:  Super City formed in 2013 around the song-writing duo of Greg Wellham and Dan Ryan while they were attending Towson University.  The pair had known each other and jammed occasionally since first meeting in high-school, but had never actually been in a band together until forming Super City.  They recruited Jon Birkholz, Brian Brunsman, and former Bridge drummer Mike Gambome to round out the line-up.  Due to the the prolific song-writing of Wellham and Ryan – which benefits from the friendly competitiveness between the two which helps fuel the bands’ fast-growing catalog – Super City released its self-titled EP shortly after forming and is working on their full-length debut which will be released early 2015.

Albums: Super City EP (2014)

Key Tracks:

What They Do Live:





Dopa-Blog: The Road Journal of Dopapod – #4, Breaking Bad, Charlie Parker, Clowns with Scissors

As Dopapod hits the road in anticipation of their upcoming album, Never Odd or Even, (due out November 11), they have agreed to be our eyes and ears on the front-line of Rock-n-Roll and report to Honest Tune about what life on the road is really like for a touring band.  The band will periodically be checking in and delivering their thoughts and musings from the road.  Rob Compa checks in this time from Denver, C0lorado after finishing Season 1 of Breaking Bad.


15423916345_19455a4e41_oHey guys! Blog number 4 for your reading pleasure here, straight from the Double Tree Inn in beautiful Denver, CO. Get it while it’s hot. I think I may have made the mistake of waiting a little too long to start a new blog entry, so there may a little too much information to sort out. But I’ll do my best. Get cozy and be ready for a long read!


Let’s see. Well according to my previous entry, I left you guys hanging while we were on our way to Columbia, Missouri for our first time. The venue was a fun little bar called Mojo’s, although the stage’s small size presented a bit of a challenge as far as fitting a light rig, all our equipment, and all of Tauk’s equipment. But in four years of touring, we’ve yet to encounter a situation that we couldn’t make work, so I knew we’d figure it out. Also, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love playing small venues. It’s just so easy to hear every little detail, so we can interact with each other way more and be more adventurous in our improvisation. Honestly, it was some of my favorite playing we’ve done so far on this tour. Not only that, but considering it was our first time even playing in the state of Missouri, we had a really great crowd. We definitely appreciated it. When we’re in a market for the first time, we’re happy if 2 people show up as long they have a good time, so we were more than happy with the turnout.


Breaking-Bad-Season-51The next day was spent entirely in the van, which was pretty uneventful, with the one exception being that we stumbled upon the most epic DVD store we’ve ever encountered. I opted to get something I’d never seen before, so I bought Stargate and the first season of Breaking Bad. I feel like I might be the only person in the western hemisphere who hasn’t seen Breaking Bad, so I figured it was about time to get educated. Great shit so far, its way better than The Mummy.

After a full twelve hour day of travel, we were all chomping at the bit to get to Hodi’s Half Note in Fort Collins. Before the show started, myself and Tauk’s guitarist, Matt, spent a little time jamming on Charlie Parker’s classic jazz tune “Donna Lee.” If any of you don’t know much about jazz music, “Donna Lee” is sort of the jazz standard equivalent of Van Halen’s “Eruption.” It’s really challenging, but a lot of fun to play, and is sort of an essential tune to have in your back pocket if you want to have some jazz vocabulary in your playing. Anyhow, I’m always eager for a great player to shed with, and Matt is certainly an amazing guitarist. We had a great time trading solos and trying not to mess up the melody and chord changes; definitely a great way to warm up before the show.

The show was easily twice as packed as the last time we were in Fort Collins. Sometimes a packed show results in us playing a little more safely, I think because we’re just more inclined to play a solid, entertaining show. This night, however, was a nice example of us having our cake and eating it, too. The room was packed out, yet we still played as if no one was paying any attention to us and we didn’t have a care or inhibition in the world. I want to feel like that on stage every night; definitely a great time.


American Horror StoryThe next day we drove over to Denver to play the first of two nights at Cervantes’ Masterpiece Ballroom as part of Sonic Blossom, which is a sort of indoor festival thrown by the same folks that put on Sonic Bloom every summer. Our set wasn’t until 12:30 A.M., so I passed the time by downloading the season premiere of American Horror Story: Freak Show. If you’re not cool with being scared, don’t watch it. There’s a clown who kills people scissors. Really fucking scary.


At the stroke of midnight, it was officially my 28th birthday. Not only that, but it was also the one year anniversary of Scotty’s first show with us. And what better birthday/anniversary present than a sold out crowd of 1200 people waiting to for us to walk on stage! I can’t really put into words how excited I was. The show went great. My personal goal for the evening was to take as many major key melodies as I could think of and play them in minor key jams. It was a fun experiment, and I think I did it with “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and “Happy Birthday.” Lately, I’ve been really into the chords and melody for “When You Wish Upon a Star.” Check out the solo guitar version by one of my favorite guitarists of all time, Jim Campilongo. It’s really beautiful.

It felt grew to wake up on my birthday already in the city I was gonna play in that night. We woke up and got a bite, then headed over the venue to sound check. Once were finished, we headed out to a Thai restaurant to get some grub and some Sake. Afterward we headed over to the Ogden Theatre to catch some of Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. I hope I don’t offend any deadheads here, but I’ve gotta be honest: I don’t know jack shit about the Grateful Dead, but I know I really enjoyed the show. The whole band looked like they were having a great time, and Tom Hamilton, the guitarist, really sounded fantastic. I actually saw Tom with his other band, Brother’s Past, years ago when they were opening for Umphrey’s Mcgee at the Avalon in Boston, and I really dug what he did back then, too.


We had to head back to the venue much sooner than I would’ve hoped, but hey man, duty calls. We arrived to behold another sold out crowd, which was obviously not bad news at all. The only down side of a sold out crowd is that walking around the venue is a nightmare. But that’s a small price to pay to play for a packed room.

image002The show started off fine, albeit a little standard at first. Things really picked up once we brought out a good friend of ours, Jaden Carlson, to play guitar with us. Jaden’s an amazing player; incredibly mature phrasing, great tone, awesome chops, all while being a humble, down to earth person… oh, and she’s only thirteen years old. I couldn’t believe the playing that I was hearing coming out of this tiny, unassuming kid. She’s got a bright future ahead of her!


The rest of the set really picked up after that. I had a really good time. Afterwards, though, I was so exhausted that I immediately fell asleep on the couch in the green room. You know you’re truly wiped out when you can sleep soundly even with twenty people partying in the same room. I guess I’ve just reached that inevitable point of the tour when my body realizes how much shit its being put through. Oh well. Luckily I’ve got the day off in a nice, cushy hotel room. Maybe I can take a walk and track down season 2 of Breaking Bad. I literally just finished the last episode of season 1 while I was typing this paragraph, and I’m feeling a strange, empty feeling knowing that it’s over. Dammit.


Anyhow, It’s been a pleasure rambling about nonsense to all you beautiful people, as always! Stay safe. Over and out.