Few festivals last 25 years, even fewer last that long with as a committed devotion to excellence and the independent streak that has been their defining principles since their first days. As the Hot August Music Festival returns for its 25th year on August 19, 2017, once again to Oregon Ridge Park in Cockeysville, Maryland that devotion will be on full display with a lineup that runs the musical gamut. Continue reading Hot August Music Festival prepares to celebrate 25 years→
4th Annual Suwannee Hulaween – Stringier Things
October 28th – 30th, 2016
Photographer/Writer: Brad Kuntz
It’s almost time for the 4th Suwannee Hulaween. The past three years Suwannee Hulaween has hosted some of the best music, scenery and good times many have experienced at a music festival. This year will no doubt be a grand time, with seven sets of The String Cheese Incident spread out over the three-day main event and a pre-party with EOTO on Thursday. Last year’s Hulaween attendance broke records at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, but this year, tickets are limited to only 20,000.
The art installations, live paintings and decorations that are scattered throughout the park seem to get better each year, the creativity is unsurpassed. Spirit Lake is a treat in itself with the spectacular light show that lasts all night long, casting patterns of color onto the tall cypress trees and the long tangles of dangling Spanish moss and the adult playground in a Spirit lake area with its own stage, fire dancers, fire statues, swing sets, moving lights, mazes, and mouths to sit in and pose with, landscape art and much more.
The costume theme is “Stringier Things”, which will celebrate vintage 1980s supernatural horror / pop culture, inspired by the Netflix TV Show “Stranger Things”. We can’t wait to see what kind of creatively kooky costumes are on display!
If your Halloween wasn’t spent at Suwannee this year, you really missed out, the third annual Hulaween, in Live Oak, Florida was by far the best Hulaween to date, a complete success in every way. This year the festival topped all other festival attendance at the park to date breaching 21,000 freaky people!
The weather was breathtaking, compared to last year’s bone chilling nights, cloudy but in the upper 70’s for the duration of the weekend. It actually was a bit too humid during the day the 2nd half of the weekend but bearable.
The art installations, live paintings and decorations that are scattered throughout the park seem to get better each year, the creativity is unsurpassable. Spirit Lake is a treat in itself with the spectacular light show that lasts all night long, casting patterns of color onto the tall cypress trees and the long tangles of dangling Spanish moss and the adult playground in a Spirit lake area with its own stage, fire dancers, fire statures, swing sets, moving lights, mazes and mouths to sit in and pose with, landscape art and much more.
This year’s lineup was stacked, capable to suit all. Bluegrass, EDM, Jam rock, whatever you wanted, was only a stage away, at most times. With headliners String Cheese Incident (of course..7 sets), Railroad Earth, Pretty Lights, Primus, STS9, Slightly Stoopid, Lettuce, Elephant Revival, Papadosio, etc.
The Thursday night pre-party included 5 bands on the amphitheater stage. A relatively light crowd compared to the weekend, making a slightly more intimate setting. EOTO really got the party started, the duo made up of Jason Hann and Michael Travis of SCI, the dynamic drummer/percussion duo, paying their version of electronic jam.
Dumpstaphunk donned costumes and had an epic cover of Ramble On. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, arguably the best touring Grateful Dead “cover band” with an all-star cast super group of musicians, playing their own twist of Dead tunes, belted out a spectacular Estimated Prophet (SM) -> Eyes Of The World (TH) -> The Music Never Stopped -> Jam # -> The Music Never Stopped Reprise +-> Jam $ -> Help On The Way (TH) -> Myxomatosis Jam %+ -> Slipknot! -> China Cat Sunflower Jam +-> Jam ^ -> China Cat Sunflower to end the evening around camp fires, guitars and Spirit lake and stars.
Friday got started on the Main stage with Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds followed by Railroad Earth and then The String Cheese Incident. After just finishing up fall tour, The String Cheese Incident are absolutely on top of their game, pulling out rare treats, musicianship is top notch. Cheese started off Friday with ‘Song in my head’, followed by ‘Can’t wait another day’. Tim Carbone and Todd Sheaffer of Railroad Earth sat in for ‘Sometimes a River’, a song Keith Moseley and Todd Sheaffer co-wrote in 2005 in Colorado. It was clear the barefoot boys wanted to get those songs out of the way and get straight to the jam. The rarely played ‘Indian Creek’ had an appearance, as well as Kang’s rendition of the old tune, ‘red haired boy’: ‘Valley of the Jig’. ‘Round the wheel’ had some really psychedelic elements in the middle of the song that were really unique, as a huge fan, it’s most definitely my favorite version that I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. ‘On the road’ also had some killer jams added to its usual sound.
The second set started out strong with a funky ‘Colliding’. This set was packed full of fan favorites such as, ‘Restless Wind’, Joyful Sound, Mouna Bowa. Shantytown was a favorite of the night, for obvious reasons, it’s such a fitting song for Suwannee. We got a Zeppelin cover for the encore, ‘Ramble On’, an excellent way to end the first incident.
Primus and Pretty Lights closed out the night at the Amphitheater and Main stages, the grounds were peaking out, it was nearly overflowing onto the pavement at Primus and hard to see much if you didn’t get there early. Likewise at Pretty lights the field was completely packed like never before at this venue from stage to vendors and very difficult to traverse once it packed it. Both sets were amazing and full of energy. Primus played classics including Wynona’s Big Brown Beaver, American Life, My Name is Mud and Jerry was a Racecar Driver. Pretty Lights had a lot of very nice lights and tons of energy from the crowd. There was no stopping the tall flags and polls in the crowd at this show even though they were supposedly banned at this years festival. Jon Stickley and Friends played on the Spirit lake Stage until 4am, a great performance to close out the live music
Bluegrass started the day off at the main stage, first with the Jon Stickley trio beginning the dat as it had ended the night before. The the Sam Bush Band. With a Slightly Stupid detour to the Amphitheater Stage, it was SCI again for an epic Hulaween three set stand at the main stage. ‘Dudleys Kitchen’ (classic cheese instrumental) started things off and got everyone moving! The favorite from the first set was “XAI”, formerly known as “Skat”, another instrumental jam, with Kang heavy on the fiddle. Only the 3rd time played all tour, and only the 3rd time played in the last 10 years! Such a welcomed appearance. A first set ‘Rivertrance’ was also a nice Halloween treat. Michael Kang told us before walking off stage for a brief intermission, “I hope yall are wearing your fucking bell bottoms!”
Set 2, (the Halloween set), was a straight up disco, it was simply incredible. The boys came out dressed in their late 70’s-early 80’s attire, Afros and all. Along with a horn section and people professional dancers dancing on each side of the stage with RZA (from Wutang) as emcee. The crowd went nuts as the 1977 classic ‘Brick House’ began. The whole set was all songs from the disco era, that everyone whose anyone is familiar with, ‘Carwash’, ‘Dance to the music’, ‘Got to be real’, ‘I’m your boogie man’ a much different Halloween set than we’re used to seeing.
Set 3 began with the fiddle tune “Bollymunster”, waking everyone back up from the set break and it was all Gouda from there, ‘Desert Dawn’, ‘Best feeling’, ‘Exodus’, ‘Rosie’ this set was a heater. The encore was special, a ‘Signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours’ followed by ‘We are family’
We closed the night with a set from the New Mastersounds at the Spirit lake Stage.
Sunday Last Day
Following a main stage opener Sunday morning from Elephant Revival, Billy Nershi announced to us that they were feeling “A little rough around the edges” as they took the stage on Sunday afternoon, and that this was the “hangover set.” But it was in every way one of the favorite parts of the festival, since it was a bluegrass hoedown! With guests Sam Bush, Railroad Earth, Elephant revival on nearly every song on the first set. The set list was out of this world, for a die-hard cheeser. Opening with a stellar version of a Flatt & Scruggs cover ‘Blue Ridge Cabin Home’.
‘Lester had a Coconut’ was dusted off, and it sounded great. It’s been years since they’ve pulled that one out of the bag. The hangover set was literally full of bluegrass favorites, ‘Catfish John’, 9 pound hammer’, ‘Will the circle be unbroken’.
They wrapped up their last set with a smaller but killer set, ‘Little Hands’, ‘Outside and Inside’, followed by ‘Windy Mountain’, ‘Bumpin Reel’ and ‘Colorado Bluebird Sky’, with a Bob Marley cover/encore ‘Could you be loved’. A perfect way to close their final act.
Lettuce played an stellar set at the amphitheater stage with some new songs off their latest album.
STS9 closed out the main stage as they had a the first Suwanee Hulaween three years before. With a new female bass player Alana Rocklin and Zach Velmer the drummer (arguably the hardest working band member and musician in general) along with tons of crowd energy and crazy awesome light show, played jam based electronic jam. Starting off with a favorite ‘Vapors’ and ‘Inspire Strikes Back’ and closing with ‘World Go Round’ and ‘Instantly’, the only thing wrong was it was just barely a warm up.
Once again, this was the best festival put on a Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and in a dead heat for best festival on land these days. We will all be back next year!
Returning to Legend Valley on August 6-8, The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival features three nights of music from host band The Werks, two nights of Papadosio, and special guests Lettuce, Dopapod and many more, including a main headliner still to be announced!
Creating their own “psychedelic dance rock,” The Werks fuses shredding guitar with the screaming organ of jam and classic rock, the slap bass of funk and the more modern sounds of synthesizers and dance beats. Coming off of a monumental 2014, the host band has two new releases with their new album, Mr. Smalls Sessions and their live recording of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (performed at last year’s Werk Out Festival with help from members of Papadosio and Dopapod).
Papadosio has amassed a dedicated following of thousands through their melding progressive rock with psychedelia, folk with electronica, and dance music with jam. The band completed their innovative Night & Day(Live) series late last summer, where they posted on Youtube new songs they recorded live.
2015’s full lineup includes:
The Werks (three nights)
+ an additional headliner TBA March 30
Papadosio (two nights)
Dopapod (two nights)
The Nth Power
The Main Squeeze
Pgrass (featuring Brock Butler of Perpetual Groove)
…and more to be announced!
Formerly known as Buckeye Lake Music Center, the sprawling festival grounds of Legend Valley have played host to some of Ohio’s most memorable live performances of the past five decades including half a dozen Grateful Dead concerts as well as tour stops from Lollapalooza, AC/DC, WOMAD, The Allman Brothers Band, and numerous other large events.
Each day, whether we want it to or not, life has something to teach us. The lesson plan for last weekend”s Purple Hatters Ball music festival was one of responsibility to each other, the dangers of the abuse of power and what we can all do together when motivated by love. Beyond the traditional combination of music, mirth and good natured mayhem the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park hosted more than the festival, it hosted the spirit and legacy of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman. Hoffman, a 23 year old college graduate, chose to work as an undercover informant for the Tallahassee police department in hopes of receiving lenient treatment on a narcotics arrest. Through a series of easily avoidable mistakes, she was murdered in the course of a botched sting operation. Though Rachel”s life may have been tragically cut short in a senseless instance of violence while working under the auspices of Florida police, her death served as an impetus for a positive legacy to be born.
Mourning the loss of a daughter and friend, parents Margie Weiss and Irv Hoffman and Rachel”s friends channeled their fury into trying to make sure no other families experienced the same pain they were going through dealing with burying a child. Irv contacted state senator Mike Fasano, and introduced and promoted the measure that would come to be known, appropriately, as “Rachel”s Law.” Simply put, the new law requires officers to receive training in working with informants and protects the informant by making it mandatory that they not only be informed that their sentences may, in fact not be reduced as well as allow said informants to speak with their lawyers prior to working with police. Added to this, the civil suit was recently settled and the Tallahassee Police were forced to admit, financially at least, that they were wrong. These victories don”t bring back Rachel, or truly make up for the hole left in the lives of her friends and loved ones, certainly, but do ensure that her legacy becomes a positive change for society itself.
The departed Ms. Hoffman was a fixture in the Florida concert scene, and regular visitor to Spirit of Suwannee Music Park and the owners and promoters who host and throw the nearly dozen major events yearly decided that they needed to honor the loss of one of their own, and so the Purple Hatters Ball was born. A non profit charity has been founded in her name, The Rachel Morningstar FoundationÂ and a festival was born to honor her with the bands and music she loved in life. Many of the regional bands she loved, such as Dubconscious and the rollicking Catfish Alliance shared the stages with major acts like England”s The New Mastersounds and the funk enclave Lettuce. The park itself is a favorite destination of music aficionados and lovers of the great outdoors and the staff of regulars who keep the production running smoothly were more than happy to pitch in and make this a weekend not only to remember but to inspire as well. An art gallery displayed works like those Hoffman herself enjoyed, vendors plied their trade selling beautiful hand made and in some cases wearable objects of art, and food that would do well on the finest of restaurants tables was prepared for the hungry attendees.
Suwannee”s two permanent stages were joined by a third stage erected in front of the park”s signature lake, surrounded on all sides by the forest of Spanish moss-dappled Cyprus trees. The porch stage had a fun mixture of music throughout the weekend, from DJ acts like Sir Charles, jamtronica acts like Greenhouse Lounge and Chroma, while the Crunchay Lake Stage had a strong focus on Dj and electronica acts like T3AM, S.P.O.R.E. and Trillucination, with Dj”s Bobby Newport, Kevin Velarde and Ellofunk kept the discs spinning and more traditional acts like Shoes and Laces and the Savi Fernandez Band rocked the appreciative crowds into a frenzy. The beloved amphitheater are, with it”s signature terraced rings of hammock hung trees and sun dappled was host to some of the most impressive performances of the weekend, from the aforementioned headliners to a couple of inspiring one off sets.
On Friday, the brit flavored band The New Mastersounds played their brand of intricate, energetic funk to a appreciative audience. With sit ins ranging from the sublime, soaring drop steel guitarist and artist at large Roosevelt Collier and a stunningly brazen cover of “Jungle Boogie” featuring Catfish Alliance”s hype man/force of nature Big E-A.K.A. the Sexual Manatee complementing their deep catalog of tight originals, their set capped off a fun first day of music and dancing in the sun and under the stars. Drummer Simon Allen amused the crowd with his patter and stunned them directly after with a precision that was awe inspiring on his kit, while organist Joe Tatton hypnotized the crowd with his melodic drones and snapped them awake with his rollicking flourishes.
Saturday night saw headliner Lettuce lay down a deeply orchestral approach to the funk aesthetic, with guitarist Eric Krasno and Adam Smirnoff trading licks back and forth as seamlessly as has been done on a stage, both somehow managing to shine as individuals and blend perfectly as a unit at the same time. Soulful singer Nigel Hall played organ counterpoint to Alan Ivans ivory work on the opposite side of the stage, whil Adam Dietch kept the beats on the money and infectious to any feet not already moving. The Shady Horns provided a pop and snap to each sting and refrain, while bass madman Jesus Coomes prowled the stage, each step and motion of his body and extension of the thumping rhythm he was laying down. After such and earth shattering close to the night, it was appropriate that we began the next morning with a recharge of the mind and the body with the very special sunday morning church inspired gospel set featuring Nigel Hall and Roosevelt Collier, who has always brought a touch of the holy to his music, both in his solo work and his regular gig with The Lee Boys. Joining them was a hodge podge of band mates and guests from the rest of the fest, such as at one point or another most of Lettuce and Mastersounds bassist Pete Shand, though Shand gave his spot up to the appropriately named Jesus to finish off the gospel showcase.
Before the gospel supergroup took a well deserved encore, Margie Weiss and promoter Paul Levine took the stage for an emotional Mothers Day tribute to Rachel. Distributing a collection of butterflies for release, Weiss made a moving speech to the early risers about her feelings on the passing of time, and the act of keeping her love alive for her daughter and her spirit. Weiss was wearing, as she had not just all weekend but at each of the previous festivals and at many, many events honoring her daughter the trademark wide brimmed, giant fuzzy purple hat for which the festival was named. Her words barely finished, promoter Levine took the opportunity to dedicate the moment to a few other losses, such as that of his own mother, the recent passing of Smirnoff”s mother and others. He spoke of keeping their love alive, and using this examples of friendship to strengthen us in the dark times with eyes welling with tears, moving the crowd into a mixture of silent reverence and joyful affirmation before those gathered onstage released the gathered monarch butterflies back into the world, bring a flutter of color and dash of hope to the blue skies surrounding all. Seeming to find their troubles released along with the butterflies, Weiss and Levine exited the stage arm-in-arm, mission accomplished.
New Mastersounds guitarist Eddie Roberts has been exploring America and making new music along the way. A project started out of his temporary residency in San Francisco, Eddie Roberts West Coast Sounds featured not only a stunning display of intense guitar picking from Roberts but also an amazing dedication to fashion, as he and his suit braved the blazing sun in a open defiance of the heat. A consummate professional, he led the band through a dozen tunes that varied in tempo but not quality. As the music moved to the indoors for a seven hour dance party inside the cavernous onsite Music Hall, a gesture occured that summed up not only the spirit of the weekend, but the park itself. A craw-fish boil, a bayou tradition of feasting on the shellfish, boiled alongside potatoes, corn and andouie sausage was brought in to celebrate a graduation and feed the artists and staff who made this amazing display of caring possible. Upon realizing that there was more food than could possibly be consumed by the crowd backstage, Paul Levine gathered up a table, the requisite newspaper and a large amount of the food and drove to the center of the park with the bounty, and set it out for any and all to consume. Hungry music fans swarmed in, and enjoyed the fellowship of the boil. Even the food vendors, rather than be offended at the competition to their wares, left their booths and partook in the spread.
The opportunities to give, to share, and to brighten the lives of others are available to us all each and every minute of every day. Even if you don”t have a treasure trove of succulent food to present to a hungry crowd, you can still crack a joke, hold a door and find a way to simply help someone and make their journeys shorter, easier and more enjoyable. In her life Rachel Hoffman, from all reports by friends and family alike, spread smiles and happiness wherever she went and her example in life has resonated on long after her death. It should be the greatest desire of all who live to leave the world a better place, and to shine a light for others to follow and magnify through good deeds of their own. Rachel Morningstar Hoffman managed to do not only that, but inspired others to take steps to prevent her fate from befalling any others. Though she left the world in pain, the light of her life has only grown in the years she”s been gone… a true star showing us the way to a better morning for all.
Lettuce w/ The London Souls ft. Eric Krasno
Cervantes’ Masterpiece Denver, Colorado June 1, 2013
Many things happened in 1992.Â It was a year when Nirvana kicked Michael Jackson out of the number one Billboard slot and the people of the United States elected the first of two Bushes into the Oval Office.
But ’92 wasn’t all about flannel and oil prospecting. Over at Berklee College of Music, a group of young musicians met Jesus… in the form ofÂ Â Erick â€œJesusâ€ Coomes.
That was June and what would transpire would be what the funk and jam scenes have come to know as Lettuce, the Royal ensemble featuring Coomes (bass), Eric Krasno (guitar) Ryan Zoidis (sax), Adam Deitch (drums) and Adam Smirnoff (guitar), Nigel Hall (vocals, keys), Neal Evans (keys) and Sam Kininger (sax).
Never ones to fail to throw a celebratory party in any city on any given night, the funk collective, has released a studio album (Fly, 2012- Velour Records) and hit the road.
On this night, the road led to Denver’s Cervantes’ Masterpiece, and to the chagrin of Mile High funkateers, the band brought friends, The London Souls, along for an extra measure of rage.
Honest Tune’sBrad Hodge was on the scene to bring back images from the action.
Click on the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Brad Hodge
(scroll down for images from The London Souls’ set)
Lettuce Brooklyn Bowl New York City, NY June 6, 2012
With a sunburn to prove it, Lettuce was glad to be home on a recent Wednesday night. Having trekked the country, making stops at multiple places along the way, with a lengthy stop in New Orleans for Jazz Fest, the Big apple funk Royals parked their chariot at what has definitely become their home club, the Brooklyn Bowl.Â But this wasn’t just an ordinary night of Lettuce at the Bowl. This was the night that the band was hosting its CD release party for Fly. Playing the album in its entirety, the fully funk-parched crowd that had been without their leaders raged from opening to close, showing true support for the material. As for the band (who were introduced by retired Knicks point guard, John Starks), they showed no mercy, rattling their hometown faithful like only they can.
Fly, Lettsanity, Ziggowatt, Madison Square, Bowler, Jack Flask, Do It Like You Do *, Play, LeT It GoGo -> Makin’ My Way Back Home *, Slippin’ Into Darkness, What Do I Have To Do To Prove My Love To You # (Marva Whitney), The Crusher, Ghost Of Jupiter, Last Suppit, Double Header, Break Out -> Relax, Move On Up *
Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Vernon Webb…
The London Souls (with Nigel Hall & Alecia Chakour) Brooklyn Bowl New York City, NY February 23, 2012
Occasionally, one cannot help but get a little bit jealous of his jam sisters and brothers who live in the Empire City. Forgetting the minute details such as Central Park, Broadway plays and the like, there is the Brooklyn Bowl, where on any given night a plethora of the scene’s finest will be found. On top of it all, in a city that is filled with players and even more folks stopping in for whatever reason — from recording to signing a contract or hoping to — each night is a crap shoot as to what will actually go on at the now famed destination venue.
Take this night for example. The night was billed with headliners, The London Souls, with openers Nigel Hall and Alecia Chakour. Most expected that Hall and Chakour would show up; Hall would play the piano, sing with his soulful tone while Chakour wowed the crowd with her unbelievable vocal range to accompany her male counterparts underpinnings.
What the crowd got was Nigel, Alecia, Adam Smirnoff (Lettuce), Adam Deitch (Lettuce, Break Science) and Ron Johnson (Warren Haynes Band).
Of course, they also got the “mainÂ event” in the form of the very definition of undefinable but best defined as funk meets garage band, The London Souls.
Click the thumbnail to view photos from the show by Vernon Webb…
Lettuce (w/ Nigel Hall Band) Brooklyn Bowl New York City, NY December 14, 2011
As they are known to do, members of the Royal Family took over the Brooklyn Bowl for a night of dirty funk that began with the opening proceedings from Nigel Hall and continued for the duration and into the wee hours of the Big Apple morning with the fine young men of Lettuce.
As he is known to be, our resident New York photographer extraordinaire, Vernon Webb, was on the scene to capture the onstage happenings of the funk-filled night.
Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the show by Vernon Webb…