Review | Photos | Wanee Music Festival | Florida

Images by: Steven Limentani

Review by: Scott T. Horowitz

Wanee Music Festival :: 04.18.13 - 04.20.13 :: Spirit of the Suwannee :: Live Oak, FL

Full review below photo gallery!

Wanee is a festival tradition tucked away in the springtime magic of Earth’s live oak trees. Timicua Indians honored these great trees as the doublet of the world tree, cosmic tree, or the tree of life. As a sacred tree, the live oak was thought to hold within its branches secrets of the universe and immortality. Trips to the adored Spirit of The Suwannee Music Park are often personal, transformational and uniquely diverse for each person. 

Wednesday’s pre-party was highlighted by a spirited Dumpstaphunk set accented by several choice Meters covers. Nikki Glaspie is dominant behind the drums and has elevated Dumpsta’s live show since joining the band. Thursday continued to heat things up on the Mushroom Stage, Spirit of Suwannee’s natural amphitheater, which  is engulfed in trees, spanish moss, and hammocks and is probably the best outdoor music venue east of the Mississippi river. San Francisco's Monophonics lit up the afternoon and got bodies moving early on with Curtis Mayfield’s, “Check Out Your Mind”. Voice of The Wetlands Allstars was a delicious musical treat of many flavors followed by Zydeco scorchers and Mickey Thomas flexing his vocals on the Elvin Bishop staple, “Fooled Around” and Fell in Love”. Big Chief Monk Boudreaux strutted on stage in a full Mardi Gras Indian suit to conjure the spirit on tambourine and take lead vocals for a scintillating “Liza Jane”.  The Greyboy Allstars put everybody’s dance moves to the test. Karl Denson takes no prisoners and Robert Walter won’t let you stand still. Along with pulling from the Greyboy Allstars catalogue, they also covered Michael Jackson’s, “The way you make me feel”, and played around with a few teases like The Beatles’ “Taxman”.

Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang was a neat chance to see Claypool in the seated position playing rockabilly and folk tunes, including a tribute to Canadian legend Stomping Tom Connors. The set had a jerky stop and start flow to it which was frustrating for some, so when Warren Haynes came on stage people were stoked because Warren only shows up to play. Last Year Gov’t Mule got rained out but picked up where they left off with a huge “Thorazine Shuffle” to start the set. During the drum solo, Matt Abts touted the rhythmic mantras of John Bonham. Eventually the set became “Gov’t Panic” or “Widespread Mule” as Jimmy Herring, John Bell, Jojo Hermann, and Dave Schools joined in for “Cortez the Killer”...and then it rained...

It would not stop raining for about 12 hours. This did not deter the everlasting fire of Wanee, and Widespread Panic was well suited to stoke the flames. After an “Aint Life Grand” opener, the set was highlighted by JJ Cale’s, “Ride Me High”, before climaxing during ‘Gov’t Panic’ round two. Warren Haynes soared during a monstrous “Jesus Left Chicago”. Funkadelic’s, “Maggot brain”, allowed the dust to settle before a most appropriate set closer of “Chilly Water”.

Gregg Allman looked and sounded healthier than he’s been for Wanee in years. A beautiful “Blue Sky”, a haunting rendition of Steve Winwood’s, “Can’t Find My Way Home”, featuring John Bell on vocals, and a celebratory “Love is Everywhere”, all enthralled the congregation. Steel Pulse’s hypnotizing bass lines and chanting reverberated late into the night from the Mushroom stage.

The rain stopped and the sky cleared during Leon Russell’s early afternoon set. After Dirty Dozen Brass Band brought the mushroom stage to a second line stepping frenzy, Maceo Parker’s world class band showcased the living legend’s pioneering saxophone style. Tedeschi Trucks Band took a few new original songs for a drive. During Kofi Burbridge’s organ/clavinet solo in “bound for glory”, Brother Oteil and Jimmy Herring could be seen side stage sitting on the ground, laughing, and pushing & shoving each other while cheering on Kofi’s ivory work. Saxophonist Kebbi Williams detonated the peach stage during “Learn How To Love You” with a solo that summoned the spirit of John Gilmore.

Though the temperature began to drop along with the sun, Widespread Panic was ready to provide heat for a 2nd night. A catchy “Climb to Safety” preceded a pounding “Stop Breaking Down”. The set grew in purpose and quality of playing as it went along, culminating when Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi crept on stage. Susan leant her perfect voice for Van Morrison’s, “I’ve Been Working”. Derek Trucks remained on stage for a menacing version of “Going Out West”. Jimi Hendrix’s 1983 (A Merman I should Turn To Be) and Mountain Jam started Saturday night’s set for the Allman Brothers. Last year Greg Allman couldn’t be on stage for more than a few songs, so to see him so animated behind the b3 and front and center with acoustic guitar for “Melissa” was a pleasure. A stunning performance of “Long Black Veil” ended the pseudo acoustic portion of the set. Last year’s Wanee went without “Whipping Post” so when Oteil’s bass line dropped; the crowd broke into mayhem. Old Men crossed their arms, women screamed, and maniacs jockeyed for space. When Derek Trucks is ON he is standing united with his guitar; transforming into the conduit for spirit. With a slide, the solo began to run away from him - when he decided enough was enough, he spiked the slide at a 45 degree angle into the concrete before tearing into his guitar like a bear claw. At the pause, Allman clears his throat, pulls down the microphone, and unleashes “...SOMETIMES I FEEL..!”....and the crowd goes wild.

To help celebrate another victorious Wanee, Galactic called on friends Papa Mali for a great cover of “I’m a Ram”. Revivalists‘ vocalist, David Shaw, helped Galactic ascend to an unparalleled form. Skerik’s saxaphone solo during “Crazyhorse Mongoose” started off as sweet, beautiful, and playful but quickly morphed into a full blast heavy metal onslaught of diabolical sound.

[Published on: 5/1/13]

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