Words: SuperDee | Photos: Michael Jurick, George Weiss
Check out more photos from Dave Vann here.

Welcome to Langerado! Photo by Michael Jurick

The Pyramid by Night – Photo by George Weiss

The last weeks of winter have a tendency to drag on. There’s no better time to be reminded of the glories of festival life. And where does it always feel like summer? Florida! Five years ago, the Langerado Music Festival was born. What started in 2003 as a one-day event with 15 acts has grown into a three-day smorgasbord of nearly fifty acts. While its roots are still firmly planted in the jam world – headliners this year included Trey Anastasio and Widespread Panic – the festival organizers acknowledged expanding tastes by welcoming hipster indie rockers like Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, Band of Horses and Explosions in the Sky alongside hippie fest regulars New Monsoon, Tea Leaf Green and moe. Those that walk the line between these camps – My Morning Jacket, The Slip and Apollo Sunshine – found themselves very much at home at this festival.

Langerado has become the unmistakable kickoff to festival season. The diversity of acts makes it appealing to many different kinds of fans. Festival regulars might be rocking to their favorite Galactic jam while others are there to check out buzz bands like The Hold Steady. While this kind of diversity can be found at the behemoth Bonnaroo – in fact, they probably were the first to really believe that such a diverse lineup could work – things seem a little more accessible at Langerado. With three closely placed stages, it’s possible to see a little bit of everything.

Langerado Hooper – Jurick

Night Hooper – Jurick

Trey Anastasio Night Show at Revolution – Weiss

Some folks may think I’m a maniac with how much I try to take in but that’s my goal at a festival. When presented with the opportunity, I try to explore as much as I super-humanly can. This year’s adventure began Thursday, March 8 at Revolution with a tired but ripping Trey Anastasio. On the outside stage, STS9 shone like a beacon on the crazy Ft. Lauderdale street. The official festival started on Friday with Tea Leaf Green‘s call-to-arms, “Sex in the 70’s,” greeting me at the festival gates, where I also caught the pleasant vibes coming from Lotus in the Swamp Tent. The early part of the day was graced by Assembly of Dust and the first notable sit-in, Jeff Coffin (Bela Fleck and The Flecktones) with New Monsoon.

Reid Genauer (AOD) – Weiss

Adam Terrell (AOD) – Weiss

Mike Rempel (Lotus) – Jurick

Jesse Miller (Lotus) – Jurick

Bo Carper (New Monsoon) – Jurick

Trevor Garrod (Tea Leaf Green) – Jurick

Scott Rager & Josh Clark (Tea Leaf Green) – Jurick

Sharon Jones & The Dapkings – Jurick

Sharon Jones – Jurick

A sign of a good festival is when you get your mind blown open by mid-afternoon of the first day. Sharon Jones did this to me. While I’m now a Brooklyn resident, I had yet to see a full set by Jones and her Dapkings. I felt like I walked into the gospel tent at JazzFest. I felt that spirit working its way through Sharon and flowing into the audience. We reveled at her soulful dedication to James Brown, punctuated by vintage dance moves like the camel walk, the boogaloo, and the mashed potato (on which she poured a little gravy).

A stroll to the main stage found Luther Dickinson kickin’ butt with the North Mississippi Allstars, who were joined by the Lee Boys. I also checked in on Galactic. Drummer Stanton Moore is currently on tour with his Trio with NOLA keyboardist Brian Coogan and Bay Area guitarist Will Bernard. In a fortuitous moment, I found Coogan and Bernard raging along with Galactic. From there, the action was in the Swamp Tent with The Hold Steady. At five p.m., these guys were swinging their guitars around and chugging Jim Beam. Charismatic frontman Craig Finn spun yarns about southtown girls that won’t blow you away and youth services role in your druggy little messed-up teenage lives. Too hardcore for a Friday afternoon? Nah!

Luther Dickinson (NMAS) – Weiss

Chris Chew (NMAS) – Weiss

Ben Ellman & Stanton Moore (Galactic) – Weiss

The Hold Steady – SuperDee

Bela Fleck (Flecktones) – Weiss

Jeff Coffin (Flecktones) – Weiss

The evening brought the brilliance of Bela Fleck and The Flecktones to the main Everglades Stage, followed by moe.‘s swirly guitar jams on the Sunset Stage. Another treat for “post-hippies” like myself was former Pavement leader Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks. While they recently blew me away at the ever-so-cool Plug Awards in New York City, I was unprepared for the astounding pounding of new Jick (and ex-Sleater Kinney) Janet Weiss, very likely the best drummer at the festival.

moe. – Jurick

Rob Derhak (moe.) – Jurick

Al Schnier (moe.) – Jurick

Stephen Malkmus – SuperDee

Sound Tribe Sector 9 – Jurick

Trey Anastasio – Jurick

Friday night’s headliners were Sound Tribe Sector 9 in the Swamp Tent and Trey Anastasio on the Everglades Stage. While my love went out to all those getting their 9 on, I could not tear myself away from the sight of Trey really enjoying himself out there. The full band was there 100-percent for their boy, and so was the entire crowd. I couldn’t help getting sentimental as Trey expressed his thanks to everyone during these tough times. Sure, maybe we baby him a little too much but I can’t help but love him. It’s just great to see him “Alive Again.” The night ended with a late night performance on the Revolution outdoor stage by the Disco Biscuits. When all that’s left to do is dance off whatever energy you’ve got left, there’s no better way than with a “House Dog Party Favor.” City Boy’s out of his mind again!

Trey & Co. – Jurick

Marc Brownstein (The Disco Biscuits) – Jurick

Late Night Bisco at Revolution – Jurick

Jake Shimabukuro – Jurick

Toubab Krewe – Weiss

Even with good hustle in the morning, I failed to arrive in time for Jake Shimabukuro or Si*Se. My entrance music was the sweet Afro-fusion of Toubab Krewe. I raced to the other end of the festival to catch the end of Apollo Sunshine‘s head shaking, feet jumping set. “Today is the day to act like today is your day, and you will be surprised that it is” became the mantra for the day. Tailing the Apollo set were their buddies, The Slip, on the Sunset Stage. Under the watchful eye of every member of My Morning Jacket on the side stage, Brad and Andrew Barr and Marc Friedman showed off their new Eisenhower-era sound. It’s hard not to get swept away by the emotion of it all when Brad tenderly sings, “Everything somehow in some way eventually dies.”

Sam Cohen (Apollo Sunshine) – Jurick

Brad Barr (The Slip) – Weiss

Andrew Barr (The Slip) – Weiss

Ivan Neville & Eric Krasno (Soulive) – Jurick

In that blissed-out Slip state, the rest of the day included sets by electro-jazz duo Kieren Hebden & Steve Reid, the groovy Soulive, the spicy Yerba Buena, and the SoCal funk of the Greyboy Allstars. Faces were rocked as Perpetual Groove absolutely annihilated an overflowing crowd at the Swamp Tent. "Two Shores" and "Save For One" from new album LIVELOVEDIE showcased the exceptional direction of the band’s songwriting these days. By the time they got to crowd favorite “Three Weeks” the place was going berserk for the Georgia boys.

Al Evans (Soulive) – Jurick

Neal Evans (Soulive) – Jurick

Karl Denson (Greyboy Allstars) – Weiss

Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars) – Weiss

Adam Perry (Perpetual Groove) – Photo by Dave Vann

JJ Grey & Mofro – Jurick

The soulful country of JJ Grey & Mofro eased us into late afternoon. They are making a lot of noise these days with a new album, Country Ghetto, and a huge tour this spring. Mofro sounds better than ever, especially with their new four-piece horn section that rushes a wind of new life into the band. When JJ gets down on his knees, lord, you’ll need get your pulse checked! Medeski Martin & Wood then serenaded us at sunset in swampland.

Daryl Hance (Mofro) – Weiss

JJ Grey (Mofro) – Weiss

John Medeski (MMW) – Jurick

Medeski Martin & Wood – Jurick

Blackalicious – Jurick

Nightfall on Langerado and the Swamp Tent was bumping with a crowd-sung chorus of “la-di-da-da-da-da-di-da” as Gift of Gab and Blackalicious lead us into Saturday evening. Nothing says “festival” like Michael Franti shouting, “How you feeling?” Spearhead‘s set was perfect with a reggae medley, simple anthems like “Taxi Radio,” and the ever-favorite “All The Freaky People.” Hearts melted when Franti sat down with his acoustic to wash us in hopefulness and inspire us towards goodness.

Michael Franti – Jurick

Michael Franti & Spearhead – Jurick

Michael Franti Late Night Show – Jurick

My Morning Jacket – Jurick

Hot Air Balloon – Weiss

Saturday night’s headliners presented me with a conundrum – The Disco Biscuits or My Morning Jacket? If this is the worst problem in my life – and it pretty much is – I’ll take it. Overflowing gush about the Biscuits set came early as Matisyahu, fresh from havdalah services in the campground, came out to freestyle in the middle of old favorite, “Little Shimmy in a Conga Line.” However, I was physically unable to tear myself away from the My Morning Jacket’s mind-blowing gig. While very similar to sets I’d heard before, their consistency in delivering the most perfect rock’n’roll, in-your-face, headbanging loudness amazes me. Add in the “oh my god, can you believe that” guitar solos and a few eerie, hair-raising, sultry, soothing lullabies and this is the best band on the planet right now.

"Two-Tone" Tommy (MMJ) – Jurick

Carl Broemel (MMJ) – Weiss

Jim James (MMJ) – Jurick

My Morning Jacket – Jurick

Matisyahu with The Disco Biscuits – Photo by Dave Vann

Peace, man. – Jurick

Langer-ladies – Jurick

Sunday included early sets from The Spam Allstars, Kid Beyond and the legendary New Orleans Social Club featuring Henry Butler, George Porter, Jr., Ivan Neville, Leo Nocentelli and Raymond Weber.

Henry Butler (New Orleans Social Club) – Weiss

George Porter, Jr. (NOSC) – Weiss

Leo Nocentelli (NOSC) – Weiss

Ivan Neville (NOSC) – Weiss

Raymond Weber (NOSC) – Weiss

As I arrived, Pepper‘s ska-punk blared from the main stage as Band of Horses‘ “Funeral” filtered from the Swamp Tent. After taking care of business with HeadCount and Rock the Earth, I eased into the island vibe of Toots & The Maytals. Unfortunately, because of some visa trouble, Rodrigo Y Gabriela were unable to perform. Next was the mighty Los Lobos who provided the perfect soundtrack for the hot Florida afternoon. Taj Mahal, who’d played earlier on the same stage, sat in on a few numbers, getting moving with “Sweet Home Chicago.”

Pepper – Weiss

Ben Bridwell (Band of Horses) – Photo by Dave Vann

Toots… – Weiss

…and The Maytals – Weiss

Taj Mahal – Weiss

Cesar Rosas (Los Lobos) – Weiss

Cat Power – SuperDee

And then there was Chan Marshall, whose fragility brought me to tears. The music of Cat Power is pure emotion. It takes every ounce of her being to project such a feeling and all one can do is stand mesmerized. It was very special to have her and the Dirty Delta Blues band at Langerado. Later, while waiting in line for skirt steak with rice and beans, I felt like I was watching royalty pass by as Chan, carrying a bouquet of flowers, and her rock-entourage elegantly made their way to the artist area. Stunning.

Matisyahu – Weiss

The whole Matisyahu thing sure does seem like a shtick when you look at it on a surface. But, when you see him perform, you realize it’s the real deal. Spirituality comes in all shapes and sizes. To express this with music is a real gift. The most memorable moment was when, mid-song, Matisyahu and his entourage of hassidim took to the crowd and climbed up to the viewing area to do a hora in the sky. Orthodox Jews in their wool and tsitsis sliding down the railings… this was a sight to see. We passed a happy crowd at O.A.R. as we made our way to Explosions in the Sky in the Swamp Tent. By the end of their set, it was dark outside, which made their intensity that much greater. Coming out of an EITS performance feels as if you’ve just been through a journey that simultaneously took you to the outer reaches of the universe and the innermost part of your mind. Truly awesome. After EITS the tent transformed into a dance club as Girl Talk rocked turntables and mashed it up for the spinners.

Matisyahu – Weiss

Dave Roberge (O.A.R.) – Weiss

Explosions in the Sky – SuperDee

New Pornographers – SuperDee

Vancouver’s brilliant New Pornographers shut things down with class in the Swamp Tent while festival headliners Widespread Panic rocked the main stage. Jimmy Herring is a huge improvement for that band. I felt safe in Jimmy’s arms, and so did JB as he did some scatting towards the end of "Diner," urging us to “keep that coffee warm a little longer.” The festival ended with a good ol’ rock’n’roll show and no one seemed to want it to ever end. Those that wanted to continue on joined us at Perpetual Groove at the Culture Room where they played a barnburner of a late night set to a frenzied crowd.

John Bell (Widespread Panic) – Weiss

Jimmy Herring (WSP) – Weiss

Music is the universal language of peace and love, and the power created by so many people coming together in one place is immense. There are hungry people all around, several wars going on, an impending presidential campaign, and a struggling environment. Without sounding too preachy, we urge you to take advantage of the organizations present at many of this year’s festivals, grassroots organizations like Rock the Earth, HeadCount, and Conscious Alliance, to name just a few. Educate yourself about issues that interest you. Make informed choices and talk about them with your friends. Create awareness all around you about affecting a positive influence on this planet, our country, and your community. When you go out to festivals this summer have a freakin’ blast. Go huge and scream your head off. Sing along to your favorite songs. Hang out with your amazing friends from all over the world. But also wake up your sleeping collective power to improve things in so many realms.

See ya next year, Langerado! – Weiss