Words by Randi Whitehead :: Images by George Weiss

Wanee Music Festival :: 04.15 & 04.16 :: Spirit of The Suwannee Music Park :: Live Oak, FL

New Monsoon :: Wanee 2006
The Wanee Music Festival - held Friday and Saturday, April 14th and 15th, 2006 at the Spirit of The Suwannee Music Park in Florida, blossomed in its second year. Approximately 5,000 fans attended the festival, which began earlier-than-scheduled on Friday. As we checked in at the entry point, music was wafting from the main stage (a.k.a. "the Peach Stage"), where New Monsoon played from 12:30 to 1:30. Even the festival website the day before listed the music starting at 3:00 p.m., and we were disappointed to be missing the eclectic musical diversity of the still-rising jamband stars.

As we rushed through "checkpoint Charlie" to catch the last half of their set in the afternoon sun, we emerged on several hundred happy fans dancing in the field to the unique Monsoon sound, a mixture of various ethnic rhythms with rocking percussive tones (including congas, tablas, and drum sets). We heard songs from last fall's release The Sound and an "Eminence Front" cover from The Who before The Dirty Dozen Brass Band played an hour of their well-known New Orleans jazz.

Oteil Burbridge :: Wanee 2006
Passing the amphitheater ("the Mushroom Stage") in our mad dash, we caught a few minutes of Bonobos Convergence, the "New Earth Funk Jam Trio," playing to a small crowd. Many campers at the festival were not in-the-know and were still hanging out in their weekend "homes" as schedules had not been printed and handed out at the gate.

The music continued as the Jack Pearson Band performed at the Mushroom Stage before Oteil and the Peacemakers rocked the crowd with soulful blues at the Peach Stage, including tunes from the new album, Believer. Burbridge, healing well after his recent accident, played from a sitting position but still exuded his friendly energy and extraordinary bass creativity. The crowds continued to grow at the two stages as the attendees were drawn to the musical sounds that could be heard from their campsites.

Meanwhile, Dumpstaphunk, Ivan Neville's extraordinary gumbo-style funk group, excited the fans in the shade of the Mushroom Stage, starting with the first note of "Woke Up This Morning" before the segue into "Dumpsta Groove." Covers included Meters originals, The Soprano's "Theme Song," and Credence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son."

Dumpstaphunk with Skerik :: Wanee 2006
On the Peach Stage, Medeski Martin & Wood kept their improvisational music earth-bound, leaving out spacey trips that have enveloped their more recent style. Starting with "Pappy Check," the seventy-five minute set included "Everyone Poops" and ended with "New New Orleans." Meanwhile, the North Mississippi Allstars kept the amphitheater grooving for over ninety minutes, starting with "Ship" and "Stompin' My Foot" and later "I Don't Live Today" > "Wild Thing" followed by "Psychedelic Sex Machine" before Jamie McLean and several members of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band joined the fray and packed the small stage for a psyched-up tribute to the nearby Suwannee, "Down By The Riverside."

As the sun began to set and the heat began to lift, evening fell with Gov't Mule's ninety-minute set at the Peach Stage, starting with "Blind Man In The Dark." This first show of Mule's "Still Raging" tour also included "She Said, She Said" > "TMK" before some members of the Dirty Dozen guested on "John the Revelator." As expected, the exceptional show finished with "Mule" dropping an interwoven "Who Do You Love?"

Allman Brothers Band :: Wanee 2006
As the crowd grew to thousands and the fans covered most of the darkened field, the Allman Brothers Band took the stage a bit after 9:00 p.m. After the "Don't Want You No More" > "It's Not My Cross To Bear" opener, guests abounded in the two-hour-plus set, including "Anyday" with Susan Tedeschi and Mike Mattison, "Under A Bad Sign" with Floyd Miles, Danny Louis and Luther Dickinson, "You Don't Love Me" with Dr. Roosevelt Collier (of The Lee Boys) pumping his pedal steel, and "The Same Thing" with Jack Pearson and Hal Thomas on saxophone. The stellar set ended with "Jessica," which elicited extra-loud screams from the crowd, and "No One To Run With."

The Derek Trucks Band :: Wanee 2006
Those left wanting more were not disappointed as the Special Midnight Jam with The Derek Trucks Band started about 12:30 a.m. at the Mushroom Stage with "Chevrolet," a tune from their recently-released album Songlines (after a two-year lag). After several more high-octane tunes, guest artists began appearing as Jack Pearson sat in on "Mahjoun" > "Greensleeves," Luther Dickinson on "Key To The Highway" and "Soul Stew" > "Everything Is Everything," and Susan Tedeschi sang on "The Weight" and "Spirit In the Dark," which also featured Collier's steel sound. The over-the-top show ended after 2:00 a.m. with Tedeschi and Floyd Miles' vocals on "Feel So Bad."

At 2:30 a.m., just when the musically addicted were seemingly left in withdrawal, the sounds of Florida-based Shak Nasti were heard by the lake in the campground, near the beautifully-lit swans. About a hundred people wandered up to listen to the groove- funk sound until almost 4:00 a.m. Saturday morning, when the security pulled the plug.

Railroad Earth :: Wanee 2006
Saturday began as another warm but beautiful afternoon, and the music started with the sacred steel of The Lee Boys, after which the Jack Pearson Band and Oteil and the Peacemakers continued to thrill the mellow afternoon crowd. In the heat of the day, Railroad Earth took the main stage and played with a less amped-up style, perhaps subdued by the temperature, but they did include hobo favorite "Black Bear."

Aston "Family Man" Barrett - The Wailers
Wanee 2006
The Wailers dedicating their set to drummer Carlton Barrett on the anniversary of his abrupt death almost twenty years ago, jammed for the crowd with their reggae sound, including "Shakedown Party" and "Lively Up Yourself" and the more politically-based "War" and "Hypocrites," before ending with "Get Up, Stand Up" > "One Love" as the audience stood up and cheered. Shortly thereafter, Of A Revolution (O.A.R.) pop sound delighted the college-aged crowd, which held signs and a blow-up alligator in the front rows. Their upbeat set on the wonderful day included "Wonderful Day" and "Destination" and ended with "Nasim Joon" > "Hey Girl" to loud, high-pitched screams from their fans.

Meanwhile, on the Mushroom Stage, the North Mississippi Allstars featured many tunes from their sixth album, Electric Blue Watermelon, including "Mississippi Bollweevil," "No Mo," "Teasin' Brown," and "Moonshine." The Allstars were still going strong, adding songs "Love And Happiness," "All Night Long," and more with Chris Chew's solid bass beat mesmerizing the audience as Mule started their second and final set on the Peach Stage. The set was dedicated to R.L. Burnside, who is considered one of the greatest blues artists ever, who died last September at 78. Mule's smooth set included two Grateful Dead covers "Loser" > "Terrapin Station," "Soulshine" and ended with their own "Thorazine Shuffle."

Gregg Allman - ABB :: Wanee 2006
The Saturday night Allman Brothers set began with "Hot 'Lanta" and once again featured many guest artists. Jack Pearson sat in the entire show on guitar as Trucks had flown the festival coop the night before to tour in Europe with Eric Clapton. "Midnight Rider" and "One Way Out" featured Devon Allman on guitar and vocals (his band Honeytribe had played a set earlier in the day), "Statesboro Blues" included Pearson's wife Elizabeth on bass, "The Weight" added Danny Louis and Andy Hess from Mule, "Dreams" included Hal Thomas, and "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" featured Vaylor Trucks from Bonobos Convergence. The set ended with "Southbound" and the fans were delighted, but just like the evening before, screamed for more to no avail.

After the end of the official music, Shak Nasti played again at their campground site to a larger crowd of two hundred, as the disco ball, which had been held up by hand the previous night, hung high from a tree above. Their rhythmic sound was stronger and less melodic than the night before, but they still played well until the wee hours. With our tent conveniently located right next door, we fell asleep listening to the funky sounds of the Orlando band, a beautiful end to the two full days of incredibly varied music.

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StonerDude Tue 5/9/2006 08:24PM
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i heard the Wanee festival was nothing bur a big police bust on the common smoker.. i wasn’t there though so i don't know, but it sure did have a freaking killer line-up. kudos to the event schedulers.

cocheese starstar Wed 5/10/2006 06:17AM
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Awesome weekend, awesome music, awesome scene, just plain awesome. The Wailers wowed me, NMAS blew me away, Otiel got me groovin', Mule and the Bros. rocked me, and the Derek Trucks Band did all four. Derek really seem to let loose during the midnite jam. I don't believe anyone has ever seen him show that much emotion on stage before. It was almost like he was realize how great he and band are and will be. One big complaint, well make that two. One: DEA agents dressed in tie-dye shirts and jeans busting and harrasing everyone. I missed the Mules Loser>Terrapin>Loser because they were searching and harrasing me.(I had nothing on me, but was still detained for almost 30 minutes!) #2: where in the hell were the schedules? I never knew who was playing where. But everything else was great, the vending, camping, people, the vibe, I had an almost time and will be back next year, just don't bring the DEA agents, let's leave them out of the loop. And yes they were DEA.

All Loving Liberal White Guy starstarstarstar Wed 5/10/2006 09:11AM
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All Loving Liberal White Guy

is it me or is derek trucks the dude who plyed mitch kramer in dazed and confused ?

stevi starstarstarstar Wed 5/10/2006 10:53AM
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I had no problem with the cops. Just dont do anything stupid and you wont get caught! The music was awesome. I think gov't mule stole the show. Railroad Earth and MMW were also smokin.

chrisb71 starstarstarstar Wed 5/10/2006 11:41AM
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Absolutly FANTASTICK weekend of wonderfully diverse music at an equally wonderful venue. The smaller 'Mushroom' stage is a great little ampitheater nestled among the trees - a nice break from the heat of the sun.
Yes, the scheduling confusion was a bit of a disappointment (bummed about missing New Monsoon). As for the cops, well to put it in her (the police officer's) words "please don't make me work this evening...". Speaking with a few of the local law enforcement present (along with the park members in their RVs), they all seemed to prefer that this type of event with the crowd it draws over the usual events at the venue. Everyone was there to have a good time, were polite to everyone, and kept the venue pretty clean. I will definetly be back next year - on Thursday when the park opens for camping, just so I don't miss anything!

gifthorse76 starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/10/2006 02:47PM
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Wannee at Swannee sounds like my idea of the perfect festival. That is scary shit about the DEA dudes in civilian clothes. I’ve been to Live Oak festivals more times than I can count, and believe me it was never like that. It used to seem like one of the best kept secret places in the whole festival seen. Wish I could have been there, but unfortunately I’m working in Japan right now. MMW, Allmans, and New Monsoon with Otiel, Lee Boys, Derek, Gov Mule. Does it get any better? For my money I’d rather be there than Bonnarroo or anywhere else for that manner.

beachjammob starstarstarstarstar Wed 5/10/2006 03:07PM
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I went to the festival and am so grateful that I did. Beautiful weather and atmostphere. Phenomenal music and friendly people. I didn't hear anything about the DEA agents while I was there. This festival had a vibe of love and freedom, no matter who was trying to pull the plug. STAND UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS!

fischstix Wed 5/10/2006 10:11PM
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Jadewolf starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/11/2006 01:05PM
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Randi & George--great article and awesome photos! Glad to finally find & read it. =) --Laurel

shacklefordwantsapizza starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/11/2006 03:33PM
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well done guys- strong article - keep on keepin on!

where's my mule? Fri 5/12/2006 06:50PM
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i have been going to suwannee since the mid 90's magfest, music harvest, sci420 and have NEVER seen dea on the grounds but iknow they sit up on the road leading in so you need to watch your ass going in. few years ago sheriff & park security helped one young girl back to her sight after some jerk left her trippin balls and all they wanted was for someone to watch over her they told me they didn't want to do the " baker act" anyways the show was great and the turn out was double from the year before hope to see you all in the fall and next april

whoknowswhy Sun 5/14/2006 09:00AM
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Is Uncle Jerrys wood shop/shack still there? I think thats what they called it. Last time I was there we sat around a fire and listened to him tell stories all night. It was like summercamp.

cocheese Mon 5/15/2006 01:20PM
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Did anybody else meet George Clinton while you were down there. During the first nite a dude with some long ass dreads was standing behind me. We began to talk and he said he was George Clinton of the P-Funk All Stars. He looked him and talked like him. He was with his wife(I'm assuming) and his kids(also an assumption). He told me was performing with The Wailers on Saturday, but never did. Then during the North Mississippi All-Stars set on Sat. nite he walked out on stage during a song then turned around and walked off. What the hell? I did meet Jamieo, Mike Mattisson, Cody Dickinson, Chew, and one of the Wailers(but I couldn't understand anything he said, could've been his accent, could've been by beer washed mind). If anyone else met the P-Funk let me know.

Astronaut Jones starstarstar Tue 5/16/2006 12:16PM
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Astronaut Jones

Awesome venue, awesome time. DSO--if you're listening--please come back next year. How about Moonshine? Great time. Most sloppy shows I saw this year? Both Brothers shows. What can you expect with the god of slide guitar M.I.A. on night #2?

Moreno IV starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/18/2006 11:49AM
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Moreno IV

I was at the NMA set the second afternoon and I took a picture of a guy that I thought that was from the Wailers, but now that you mention it, he did look like George Clinton a little. The picture is kinda dark, but if you want I can email you the picture. Let me know if you want it.

lowtide starstarstarstarstar Thu 5/18/2006 02:19PM
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Fantasma Productions did it right. Great Event. Hear music on Floyd Miles website:
Allman Bros., Derek Trucks Band, Oteil Burbridge in Chattanooga at the Riverbend Festival this June. See Ya...

cocheese Fri 5/19/2006 06:08AM
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Yeah morenoiv I got one too, but it too is dark and hard to see. Why did he just come out wave and walk off? I didn't have my camera with me the first day, so when I met all those people I had no camera. Oh well, I did get some great pics of Derek Trucks later that night, not digital though. I appreciate it though buddy. Yes! The Riverbend Festival in my old town CHATTOWN! That is going to be some fun. I skipping out of the Roo' that day to go down there. See ya'll there!

SimSima starstarstarstarstar Thu 9/7/2006 04:35PM
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I had the most amazing time this past year at Wanee. I did see some officers draging people out of the crowd a couple of times right after they had hit a pipe or something of that nature. Other than that and the dreaded schedule delima, which would have been prevented if the posted sched's wouldn't have been Ripped down by greedy fans, I had a Friggin Fantastic time. The people were great, the music was great, and the venue has always been a favorite of mine. I suggest you all come out next year. Come party down to the funky tunes with me!