JamBase List | Memorable Wanee Festival Moments

Written By: Scott Horowitz
:: Memorable Wanee Festival Moments ::

The Wanee Festival takes place April 10 - 12 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, FL. This year's installment marks the 10th for the long-running festival and we've asked Scott T. Horowitz, who has covered the event for us many times in the past, to look back at some of his favorite moments from Wanee's history.

2014 may be the last time the Allman Brothers Band perform at the Spirit of The Suwannee Music Park during Wanee Festival. Wanee, a festival the Allmans helped start, began as what felt like a very well kept secret that featured smaller crowds but still always boasted larger than life performances from the Brothers and their extended musical family. However, as the supporting bands and crowds got bigger, so too did the stakes. Through the years many memorable moments have transpired in the spring (and once in the summer) at Wanee, so to pass the final weeks of waiting leading up to what is sure to be a very special Wanee, here is a look back at some of the greatest moments to have transpired during the festival.

1. Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi’s Soul Stew Revival - 2008 - Mushroom Stage - "Hey Jude"

[Viewable Here]

Here's a great tribute paid to Duane Allman by Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi's Soul Stew Revival's masterful take on Wilson Pickett’s rendition of "Hey Jude," a song that Duane Allman recorded on and suggested Pickett record it in the first place. The band encored with the Derek & The Dominoes staple “Anyday” and Aretha Franklin’s arrangement of “The Weight." These Soul Stew Revivals were what legends are made of, and the story goes - I suppose - that this is where the seeds of what is now the “Tedeschi Trucks Band” were planted since these ‘revivals‘ were either special for Wanee or a part of one-off tours while Derek and Susan each maintained their own respective solo bands.

2. Allman Brothers Band - 2012 - Peach Stage - “Needle & The Damage Done”

Gregg Allman, still recovering from medical issues, was barely able to perform, but each night made it onstage for the first song or two and the encore. On the second night he re-emerged with only Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes by his side. Sitting in a chair, Gregg delivered a soft-spoken, hauntingly beautiful vocal performance. During the tune he lost the lyric sheet from his stand and writhed in pain while bending over to pick it back up.

3. Widespread Panic - 2010 - Peach Stage - "Tall Boy"

With the addition of Widespread Panic co-headlining Friday and Saturday nights, the population of Wanee nearly doubled in 2010, launching Wanee’s popularity to new levels which would fuel the great and growing lineups for years to come.

4. Allman Brothers Band - 2013 - Peach Stage - “Whipping Post”

In 2012 Gregg Allman was essentially physically unable to perform a song like "Whipping Post." So, when the song returned in 2013, it did so with a vengeance. Derek Trucks‘s solo is out of this world. After working the crowd into a frenzy, he tosses his slide onto the ground before tearing into his SG like his hand is a bearclaw.

5. Furthur - 2012 - Peach Stage - "Help" / "Slip" / "Franklin's"

Furthur's performance at Wanee in 2012 was a dream come true for many who frequent the festival. Hopes for the band to play the festival ran rampant each year around lineup announcement time since the band’s inception, and it was well worth the wait. Furthur delivered two marathon sets over the course of the weekend. Getting to watch songs from one of The Great American Songbooks at one of the greatest places to watch live music was a moment I'll always treasure.

6. Derek Trucks Band w/ Vishwa Mohan Bhatt - 2009 - Mushroom Stage - “Volunteer Slavery”

After what turned out to be a warm-up set with the Allman Brothers Band for Derek Trucks, his band hit the amphitheater right after midnight with special guest V.M. Bhatt on sitar. A massive, 15+ minute version of “Volunteered Slavery” opened the set. One could always hear classical Indian Music being a big influence on Trucks‘s guitar playing, but witnessing him go to toe with a true musical master, VM Bhatt on the Mohan Veena (essentialy an indian slide guitar that Vishwa Mohan himself invented), displayed new levels of Derek Trucks‘s talent as a vessel for music and spirit. This entire set was a fine display of the Derek Trucks Band at the top of their game and would be the last time the group performed at Wanee.

7. Levon Helm Tributes - 2012 - Peach Stage

Bruce Hornsby - "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down"

Allman Brothers Band - "It Makes No Difference"

It speaks to the spirit of Levon Helm that the very next day after he passed away many of the artists who loved him and his music celebrated his life by performing the songs he helped breathed life into. Hornsby’s touching rendition of "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” began the tributes at Wanee and the Allman Brothers ran through “It Makes No Difference” and “The Weight” while larger than life images of the legend were displayed behind the band. This writer was fortunate enough to sit down with Derek Trucks during the festival in 2012, and he said: “When someone like Levon Helm passes...you start reflecting on what they were and what they meant…what they are and what they mean. And you realize that they lived it. They just did it. They didn't preach about it. They didn't talk about it. Because Levon was here the world is a better place - period. Everywhere he went, the weight he left behind was just light and positive. Every time I saw him I would leave feeling better about things.”

8. Levon Helm - 2008 - Peach Stage - “Ophelia”

“Chest Fever” w/ Warren Haynes

Here's a pair of songs from one of the most important musicians in rock. The Peach Stage had never seen such jubilation.

9. Taj Mahal w/ Allman Brothers Band - 2011 - Peach Stage - “Statesboro Blues”

The two musical forces who have been the torch bearers for keeping this great song alive joined together to pay proper tribute to the great Blind Willie McTell song, which the blues great originally recorded in 1928.

10. The Word - 2010 - Peach Stage

The amazing collaboration between the North Mississippi All-Stars, Robert Randolph and John Medeski came to Wanee in 2010. If we had our way, you'd find this set as the definition of “Church” in Webster's Dictionary.

11. Dr John - 2010 - Peach Stage

To hear one of New Orleans's greatest musical ambassadors, Dr. John, perform at Wanee was a great way to spend the afternoon while eating gumbo in front of the Peach Stage.

12. Govt Mule - 2010 - Mushroom Stage - “One of These Days” > “Fearless”


In 2010, Gov't Mule received the midnight spotlight and the rare late-night set, which featured two songs from Pink Floyd’s Meddle - "Fearless" preceded by a murderous rendition of "One of These Days."

13. Stephen Stills - 2010 - Peach Stage - “Long May You Run”

Stephen Stills laid down a fantastic version of Neil Young's song from the short-lived Stills-Young Band, the studio version of which was recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami. You may recall that Derek and the Dominos laid down Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs at the same studio.

14. Wanee Family Jam - 2008 - Peach Stage - “All Along The Watchtower"

Gregg Allman had to miss Wanee in 2008 due to health issues, so Gov't Mule headlined the Peach Stage on Friday, while Saturday featured the "Wanee Family Jam," which was essentially the Allman Brothers Band sans Gregg along with a revolving door of guests. The Allmans's songbook went basically untouched, and an incredible set of covers and Warren Haynes songs ensued.

15. Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band - 2010 - Mushroom Stage

Only their second show as a band, this lineup would soon be renamed the “Tedeschi Trucks Band." It can’t be stated strongly enough how impressive Derek Trucks's guitar work at the Spirit of The Suwannee Amphitheater (aka Mushroom Stage) at midnight was - a tradition that seems to have ceased. While the band was still new and tried out originals that wouldn’t make it onto any of their studio albums thus far, there is something to be said for being apart of music that is entirely new. This set was a beautiful moment to be apart of and is the last time Derek Trucks has performed on the Mushroom Stage at Wanee.

[Published on: 3/18/14]

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