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Words By: Pat Knibbs
Wanee Festival :: 04.13.07 & 04.14.07 :: Live Oak, FL
Hot April sunshine and 80-degree temperatures are just two reasons why Florida is an ideal location for early spring outdoor music. The Sunshine State helped kick off the 2007 festival season a couple of weeks ago with Langerado, and most recently the Wanee Music Festival, which centered around the Allman Brothers Band, their friends and various family projects. The two days were loaded with inspired sets from the South's finest rockers and promising up-and-comers.
Backyard Tire Fire opened the Peach Stage (main stage), working the slow-growing crowd with their blend of alt-country/hard rock. Clad in flannel shirts and black jeans, the trio ripped through spirited drinking songs under the beaming sun. Songs like "Thick Skin" and "Gray Sky Blues," exposed the band's gritty rawness. Their mesh of hillbilly stomp, rowdy rock, and cryptic, alcohol induced lyrics were a nice jump start for the weekend.
Ed Anderson - BTF :: 04.13 by Zach Mahone
Following BTF on the main stage was acoustic trio Nickel Creek (actually a quartet live with longtime bassist Mark Schatz). It was hard not to notice the unique partnership/bond between both Sara Watkins (violin/vocals) and Chris Thile (mandolin/vocals). Their vocal range and instrument command was impressive and incredibly professional. Watkins' raspy, powerful timbre added depth to their rich, acoustic instruments, harmonizing flawlessly with Thile, whose mandolin playing was virtuosic, running through scale after scale. It's no wonder the BBC named him Folk Musician of the Year.
Chris Thile - Nickel Creek
04.13 by Zach Mahone
By the time Robert Randolph and the Family Band emerged onto the Peach Stage, the crowd was at its peak. The energy the band releases live is infectious, and it was no surprise that their first set of the weekend was a scorcher! Highlights included a foot-stomping version of "The March," where Randolph was joined on stage by a small child playing the maracas, and an ultra funky "I Need More Love" > "Wanna Be Starting Something" where they transformed the funky bass line of "I Need More Love" into a full-throttle funk throwdown. Spearheaded by bassist Danyel Morgan's falsetto singing and lightening quick slapping, the Family Band took hold of Michael Jackson's explosive opener from Thriller and ignited a lively dance party.
Rose Hill Drive defines the term "power trio." The three talented youngsters from Boulder have an uncanny knack for hard, heavy blues, foot-stomping shuffle and sheer unadulterated rock. Sounding like Cream, Black Sabbath and Nirvana rolled into one, the trio slashed through their set with energy and attitude, clearly enjoying every minute of it. "It's such an honor to be here. It's fucking awesome," exclaimed guitarist Daniel Sproul before their last song of the day, a 30+ minute blues medley, which frantically ran through the numerous faces of the blues. Simply put, these kids are explosive and ready to blow up, so watch out!
Daniel Sproul - Rose Hill Drive
04.14 by George Weiss
Drifting between the Scrapomatic and Oteil and The Peacemakers sets, I couldn't help but notice the interesting range of people strolling around. College kids, old school hippies, teens and a surprising amount of children were all intertwined. There was a laid back, relaxing vibe that was rather pleasing.
Rusted Root has worked its polyrhythmic backbone and crafty songwriting for nearly 20 years now. Their mid-day set on the Peach Stage reminded me of my youthful summers. Classic songs like "Send Me on My Way," "Back to the Earth" and "Ecstasy" were tight and still fresh sounding. But, it was the drum-laden, danceable rendition of Elvis Presley's "Suspicious Minds" that stuck out. Singer Michael Glabicki's vocals cut through the songs chorus with precision, and the shuffling up-tempo groove gave this classic some life.
Rusted Root :: 04.14 by George Weiss
Keller Williams' late afternoon set on the Mushroom Stage was nothing out of the ordinary. Not that it was bad but it was everything one expects from the veteran one-man-band. His voice, guitar playing and looping were solid but nothing really stood out. The crowd enjoyed the playful "Freeker," complete with Sanford and Son theme, and the humorously funky cover of Cameo's "Word Up," but something about the set seemed gimmicky to me, a rerun of something I'd seen before.
Keller Williams :: 04.14 by George Weiss
Gov't Mule strolled onto the Peach Stage just before the sun ducked down over the horizon Saturday night. Warren Haynes' long, frizzy hair was tucked into a ponytail that bounced as he and his Mule-mates ripped ferociously through their extended set. Haynes' guitar mastery and passionate vocals have made him a highly sought after artist for collaborations, but his true focus has always remained the Mule. Their set was fierce, loud, and lively. The stretch from "I'm a Ram" > "Love Me Do" > "I'm a Ram" sounded different, hard reggae rhythms giving the early Beatles' tune new breath before snuggling back into Al Green's "I'm a Ram." The added bonus of saxophonist Ron Holloway on "Mule" and the powerful set closer "Soulshine" gave the quartet a fuller, more dynamic sound. Each member of Gov't Mule is unique, but it's as a unit that the group truly shines.
Matt Abts - Gov't Mule :: 04.14 by George Weiss
Closing off the Peach Stage festivities with an impressive moonlit set, the Allman Brothers Band welcomed several special guests and showed just why they've survived more than 35 years. From the start, the band was on fire, opening with "Mountain Jam" and a killer "Statesboro Blues," during which an image of departed guitarist Duane Allman was superimposed over Haynes on the video screen. The interpretation of the band's vast catalog by axe men Derek Trucks and Haynes gave many of the old songs a facelift.
Haynes & Trucks - ABB :: 04.14 by George Weiss
Guitarist Chris Anderson joined the group for a rousing "Good Morning Little School Girl," and then Devon Allman (Gregg's son from Honeytribe which performed earlier) joined them for a sing-along "Midnight Rider." A fresh sounding Gregg Allman took hold of this classic and ran with it. Holloway, whose sax was also on hand for the special Derek Trucks/Susan Tedeschi midnight set, joined them for a lively "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed." Trucks' slide solo was chilling, and the rhythm section – bassist Oteil Burbridge, drummers Butch Trucks and Jaimoe and percussionist Marc Quinones - was phenomenal on this epic instrumental. The encore reprise of "Mountain Jam" and an inspiring "Whipping Post" were nothing short of spectacular. The Allman's two festival sets were nearly flawless, and the lineup they put together for this festival was remarkably solid.
Gregg Allman - ABB :: 04.14 by George Weiss
Saturday's midnight set was a special introduction to the husband-wife team of Trucks and Tedeschi's Soul Stew Revival. This 12-piece group combined the Derek Trucks Band with a four-piece horn section and Tedeschi. Touching on facets of R&B and soul, the ensemble sounded rehearsed and organized. Exploring a vast sonic landscape, many of the arrangements remained slightly open-ended and uncluttered. Highlights included the two songs by The Band, "Don't Do It" and "The Weight," as well as a Tedeschi sung "Walkin' Blues."
Derek Trucks :: 04.14
By George Weiss
Not even the early morning downpour Sunday could put a damper on the Wanee experience. Beautiful camping, a friendly, helpful staff and a relaxing vibe all contributed to a great weekend!
JamBase | Florida
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