Wakarusa Music Festival Part III: Definitely Neck Deep By Now

Saturday, June 18th in Lawrence, Kansas, another beautiful blue sky day and tons more bands to see. First stop was to see Rose Hill Drive, a Boulder band made up of two brothers (Jake and Daniel Sproul) and an old friend (Nate Barnes) who completely tear it up. [See recent JamBase feature.]

Daniel Sproul

Jake Sproul

Rose Hill Drive

Simultaneously on the Sun Down Stage was the Jazz Mandolin Project set. When I hustled over there after Rose Hill Drive was done, Brendan Bayliss of Umphrey's McGee was playing "What Is And What Should Never Be" with JMP. Woo hoo!

Jamie Masefield and Brendan Bayliss

Back over to the Sun Up stage for a little John Butler Trio.

John Butler

Back over to the Sun Down Stage (dizzy yet?) to shake a tail feather with Karl Denson's Tiny Universe.

Karl Denson

Back again to the Sun Up stage to see Split Lip Rayfield, a local Lawrence, Kansas "experimental country" band that has a real gritty punk edge. These guys could be the fastest and most furious pickers I've ever seen and the bass is a one-stringed junked gas tank!

Kirk Rundstrom

Jeff Eaton

Next was my visit to my old favorites The Samples at the Revival Tent and then back to the Sun Up Stage for Neko Case.

Sean Kelly

Neko Case

Nighttime at Wakarusa brought a lot of favorites to the stages. I first stopped over at Gov't Mule just to have Warren Haynes bring me to tears with "I'll Be the One."

Next was the set that I'd been looking forward to all weekend, Wilco. This was one of the most moving and genius sets of music I've seen in a long time. The musical highlight of the festival, for me, was the powerful "At Least That's What You Said" from A Ghost is Born.

Late night for me began with a set from Matisyahu. I unfortunately missed the String Cheese Incident late night in the Revival Tent which was "off the hook." Again, the sign of a great festival is that you had to miss amazing stuff to see the amazing stuff that you saw. Matisyahu ripped it up - it was rockingly spiritual. A young rapper from Minneapolis ("the only Jewish rapper in Minneapolis") named Yoni and gave Matisyahu a run for his money in a freestyle battle. Just excellent.

Late night continued on with a rocking set from Moonshine Still and Shanti Groove after that while Galactic was at the Revival Tent. Another great day and night at Wakarusa.

Unfortunately, that was the end of Wakarusa for me. Sunday was no doubt another great day with sets by Xavier Rudd, Donna the Buffalo and Little Feat, among others. My general impressions of Wakarusa is that it is a wonderful growing festival that has a bright future. My only qualm was that the VIP areas in front of the stages seemed too large - sometimes there was a thirty foot space between the band and their fans which is not great for the energy interaction. Other than that, this festival was top notch and I really hope to make it back next year!

Words & Photos: SuperDee
JamBase | Not In Kansas Anymore
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Be sure to "Continue Reading" for Days 1 and 2!

Wakarusa Music Festival Part II: Getting in "Ass Deep"

Day 2 Words & Images by: SuperDee

Friday, June 17th at Wakarusa was the perfect festival day. Clear blue sky above, non-muddy ground below, and a lineup of my favorite bands to go see all day. It was gonna take some fast walkin' to see everything I wanted to see and even still had to sacrifice some sets in order to catch others. That is the sign of a great festival; judge the festival not by what you saw but what you had to miss to see what you saw.

The daytime musical adventures included visits with the "sun-soaked funk" of the Bay Area's ALO (where the "good vibes" crew was in full effect), into the very real and down to earth alt-country rock of Son Volt. Son Volt was one of the many bands on the lineup adding to the multi-layered texture of this festival. Another is Calexico, the next band on the list for the day, whose musicians are from Germany and Arizona (what a combo!) and whose sound is a real melting pot of Tex-Mex and jazz with great vocals.

Dan Lebowitz :: ALO

Zach Gill :: ALO


Son volt

Moonshine Still's David Shore
Now was time for some fast walkin' to see Moonshine Still into Perpetual Groove into Umphrey's McGee. Was this day especially designed for me, or what? Great to see Moonshine Still play "Barely Alive," then 30 minutes later "Three Weeks" by PGroove and 30 minutes later "Wife Soup" by Umphrey's. I saw the entire Perpetual Groove set and it was fantastic. The tent was brimming with fans new and old and everyone was kicking their heels up and loving every moment. Back to the big stage for Umphrey's McGee where they rocked a straight set with a lot of songs off of Anchor Drops.

Perpetual Groove

Umphrey's McGee's Brendan Bayliss

The Umph Attack!

Next up was the North Mississippi Allstars for the sunset and what would be the sickest jam of the festival yet. Luther Dickinson was truly an inspiration and invited Jake from Umphrey's and Rose Hill Drive drummer Nate Barnes to sit in for a little rocking. Then RHD guitarist Daniel Sproul was invited up to show his stuff although he seemed a bit timid at first. He had a second shot when the band became Daniel on guitar, Kris Myers (Umphreys) on drums, Cody Dickinson on washboard, and Chris Chew on bass with Luther sitting on the side, smiling. Rock'n'roll!!!

The North Mississippi All-Stars

Nighttime at Wakarusa began with a visit over to Ozomatli and I feel like I finally had my Ozomatli "experience." They are really amazing performers and they've got some moves that makes you want to shake it like you've never shook it before! From there it was a quick stop over to see String cheese Incident before the Conspirator set was getting underway at the Campground Stage. Conspirator - the side project of Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein of The Disco Biscuits - kicked the nighttime party into high gear. Their drummer du jour was Kris Myers and Jake Cinninger was guest guitarist for most of set - a de ja vous of Jam Cruise and the Great American Music Hall. My darling Brock Butler from Perpetual Groove was invited on to do the guitar duties for the end of the set. Wakarusa was lucky to have such a sweet show!



Tea Leaf Green
Wakarusa late night was fun but not frantic like some other late night situations at other festivals. On the way back to the Revival Tent where Particle was playing, we walked by the DJ tent where one of the MCs from Ozomatli was freestyling and we got some dope beats to boogie down to for a bit. After Particling for a bit, it was time to walk-arusa back to the Campground Stage for Tea Leaf Green. They were killing it and played some old faves like "Freedom" and "Panspermic Deevolution" where you could spot some hometown Bay Area peeps throughout the crowd shouting out on cue. The night capped off with some Hairy Apes BMX (with a stage dive from Mike Dillon) and the sky was beginning to brighten.

It was a beautiful day and night at Wakarusa and now I've got to get my act together for another full day of music! Today we've got Rose Hill Drive, Gov't Mule, Wilco, Matisyahu and more... oh my!

Be sure to "Continue Reading" for some Pre-Fest Thursday highlights! Wakarusa Music Festival Part I: The Early Arrival Revival

Greetings from Lawrence, Kansas! For a festival that hasn't even officially started yet, Thursday evening was jam packed. STS9 had to cancel their appearance at the last minute due to unfortunate circumstances and so Umphrey's McGee was granted an extra set. They played for four hours with a short set break and it was your "typical" triUMPHant and frenetic "improg" show and a great way to kick off the festival in high gear. Brendan Bayliss let everyone know that "Wakarusa" means "ass deep" - the original meaning of the word likely to describe the river but we'll no doubt use many times over the weekend. Aron Magner and Marc Brownstein (of The Disco Biscuits at Wakarusa with Conspirator who will perform tomorrow late night) sat in for a sweet electro-metal jam that was chock full-o-flava. Already the Wakarusa vibe is starting to set in...

Jake Cinninger & Ryan Stasik

Brendan Bayliss

Kris Myers

Marc Brownstein (Conspirator) with Umphrey's

Speakeasy at the Chipotle Own Grown Stage

Soulshine Liquid Art Light Show

Papa Mali

The Cajun blues rock of Papa Mali sent us off into the Kansas night. We've got TONS more music to see this weekend. We're also looking forward to seeing the beautiful Clinton State Park during the daylight hours. Stay tuned and we'll keep you posted on what's happening here at Wakarusa. It's all happening!

Words by: SuperDee
Images by: John Smrtic
JamBase | Wakarusa
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