Review And Media | Bear Creek Music Festival | Florida

A cauldron of my personal favorites was set ablaze; “Thought@Work”(with the “Apache” breakbeat and Beatles “Hey Bulldog” lick taboot!), the iconic Kool G Rap tune “Men at Work,” a jungle-infused “You Got Me,” Jr. Gong’s “Welcome to Jamrock” and a ‘Fantastic’ excursion through “How I Got Over,” “Here I Come” > “The Seed 2.0” > “Move On Up” > “The Seed 2.0.” Yet it was during the undeniable Game Theory banger “Get Busy” that Riq Gz, aka “Black General Two-Fi’teen” (that’s Name, Rank, & Serial) asserted himself as the greatest emcee in the game, while simultaneously breaking down ‘The Concept’ of The Legendary Roots Krewe with one severely ill opening verse:

My squad half-Mandrill, half-Mandela
My band ‘bout seventy strong, just like Fela
We part Melle Mel, part Van Halen
And we represent Illadelph, where we still rebellin’!
©Black Thought of The Roots .

Legendary as advertised. Indeed, this writer is from Philadelphia; but please don’t get it twisted, this was fucking nuclear! The Roots headlining set on Saturday night is immediately on the short-list for greatest in the festival’s storied history.


[The Roots]

One of the more remarkable developments this year Bear Creek was the spiritual and sonic presence of the late, great James Yancey aka J Dilla. The celebrated hip hop producer (Slum Village, The Roots , De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest, JayLib) has been gone for nearly eight years, but the JayDee legend grows by the day. Anthony Diaz (drummer, Legendary JC’s), Ian Neville (Dumpstaphunk) and several in the audience were spotted wearing variations of the “J Dilla Changed My Life” t-shirt. ?uestlove is on record proclaiming Dilla the greatest producer in the hip-hop history, and Black Thought is another vocal proponent of the Dilla-riffic. So it came as no surprise that The Roots dropped an astounding take on Slum’s “Fantastic” midway through their rollicking set. Lettuce (with Nikki Glaspie filling in for drummer Adam Deitch - both of whom are also avowed J-Dilla fanatic), followed up on Sunday with their epic homage “Mr. Yancey,” on this night containing versions of “Workin’ On It” and “Body Movin’,” two seminal Dilla tracks given new life by the Jesus/Nikki/Neal Evans crunk triumvirate. Though somewhat outside of the box, Bear Creek Dilla-philes are multiplying exponentially, reverberating respect for the McNasty Filth master all over the music park.

The Bear Creek All-Stars Saturday night demonstrated the fantastic fabrics that weave this festival’s sacred funk afghan. Teamed up in a similar fashion to the marathon Jazzfest sessions (second Wednesday at One Eyed Jacks), NOLA-phunk again met Gotham City gangsters, traversing the Front Range of funk, this ruffian rage was scary-hood. George Porter Jr. joined members of Lettuce and Dumpstaphunk for a runaway freight train of Band of Gypsys’ “Them Changes” and his own “The World Is Just A Little Bit Under the Weather.” Bombastic bass-gymnastics funkafied lives by the hard dozen, while George was callin’ Kraz ‘cousin.’ The Shady Horns plus Skerik pursued Nikki Glaspie’s Bootzilla & Bernie-fueled new-mothership connections on riotous renderings of “Bop Gun (Endangered Species)” and “Dr. Funkenstein” (Nick Daniels III’s hilarious Bootsy adlibs were an immortal homage: “It ain’t nothing but a party, baby!”) Skerik and Chris Littlefield aimed trumpet trajectories even higher, as the Seattle natives brought heavier, headier horns to the succulent gumbo. Gradually, a monumental and ever-so-telling development; natural progression saw the next squad-up; funk phenoms and gnarly grommets slowly supplanted the All-Star establishment. Members of The Motet joined Andrew Block and (First Coast favorite son) Matt Grondin for a down and dirty adaptation of The Meters “Africa,” rechristened “New Orleans” under the authority of bassist Tony Hall. We were privy to three generations of funk mavens getting the message, a seminar in swagger, and scrapbook chronicles of crunk. All-Star as advertised; and Creek history made - from the Godfathers to new kids on the block, and all points between.

The Nth Power’s Saturday late show at the Technaflora Music Hall was a jaw dropping, life-affirming revelation, sounding the alarm in ethereal echoes. A coming out party of sorts, the five- piece, all-analog ensemble unveiled a phenomenal tour de force, announcing their arrival with a biblical authority and a slew of prodigious original compositions. The scrupulous rhythms of percussionist Weedie Braimah and drummer/vocalist(!) Nikki Glaspie were in lockstep with bassist Nate Edgar throughout passages that journeyed fusion-jazz, pop, afro-beat, (“Weedie” and “Jazzfest “) and a particularly driving brand of funk, one that separated this krewe from the crowd. The distinctive presence of Nikki Glaspie was once again the eternal light, her resplendent creativity and craft glittering, she is the raw human spirituality behind the music aglow. Glaspie played no less than EIGHT sets at BC, and was by far and away the consensus MVP. Glaspie’s vocals, along with those of keyboardist Nigel Hall, and the vigorous Nick “Cake” Cassarino, made this performance extraordinary. Their stirring blend of supple R&B (“I See Love”) juxtaposed with spirited Gospel influence and an unfettered folk honesty, was recipe for a scrumptious mélange.

Fans were engrossed in The Nth Power’s overwhelming passion, emotional tones and poignant tender vibe; it was infectious and knew no boundaries. Each member of the band is a titan in their own right, and they were regaling their friends and peers as well. A cursory look around the sea of lovers in the audience could spot the likes of Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman, Luke Quaranta, Alecia Chakour, Ian Neville, members of New Mastersounds, Ryan Zoidis, Michelle Sarah and more. Our ever-swelling Bear Creek family, was completely enveloped in the communal séance the Nth Power manifested. This was the stuff of legend, a statement of intent, rousing introduction, and a congregation celebration in righteous song.

"Just know that when you hear this music, you're going to feel something -- you're going to connect with something higher than yourself." - Weedie Braimah

Friday and Saturday, deep into the forest from just after midnight through the Suwannee sunrise, the Silent Disco offered dancing and delectable beats. Team Grime and Monozygotic (Sir Charles and twin Zak the Blak of Greenhouse Lounge) electrified the massive with 808s and breakbeats, enough riddims ablaze to bring out the best in fresh footwork. Miami’s funky technician Warp9 represented Massive Ideas, and delivered some undeniable electro-crunk, destroying the crowd with a 4:20 a.m., rump- shaking remix of Dr. Dre’s cannabis classic banger “The Next Episode.” In the misty fog, moon, early sun and drizzle, Andy Reed blessed the blooming bosom of those who weathered the nocturnal storm with luscious down- tempo that was an easy Sunday morn.


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