Wanee Festival does 4/20 Right

Wanee Festival 2013

Cold Rain and Hot Tunes

Spirit of Suwanee State Park, Live Oak, FL

This year’s Wanee Festival wound up three days of music neatly on 4/20. There was patchouli, camping and inclement weather that could have been far worse. And of course there was   waneeendless amounts of  amazing music.

On Friday, April, 19, the wind picked up and scattered showers peppered the afternoon and evening performances. But the skies opened up and rained with purpose overnight. This is ideally the best time for epic rainfall during a festival, as no one is on stage.

But with a ticket to this festival came a primitive camping site in the park for each concertgoer to use if they should choose, on which to pitch their tent or bedroll. More than one camper found themselves washed out in the early morning hours. But by 10:00 am on Saturday, April 20, the temperature had dropped to a chilly 55 degrees, the skies had cleared, and there was nothing but cold sunshine.

I am getting ahead of myself though. Technically this party got started with on Wednesday with such great acts as Beebs and her Moneymakers, and Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk.

Thursday offered a full day of music with only the Mushroom Stage hosting bands.  Royal Southern Brotherhood and Electric Hot Tuna were among the notable performers.

I couldn’t show up until early Friday due to scheduling conflicts. Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band was by turns sharp and smooth. Followed by Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, his most recent project, an acoustic twosome offering the sort of quirky compositions we’ve come to expect from Les. North Mississippi All Stars played a brilliant set with guests Oteil Burbridge on six string bass and Butch Trucks on second drum set.

The Allman Brothers Band, headliners and hosts of this event, displayed vintage brilliance on Friday Night.  Greg Allman waved as he took the stage; animated, in good spirits and in much better health than the year before. He led the storied band through three hours of deftly muscular and agile musicianship. The band played a mixed set of new and old material. This band has a great many years of playing left in them.

wanee-0-mp-11Saturday kicked off the cold and damp with a brief but intense set by Atlanta’s art/jazz outfit Yeti Trio. Vaylor Trucks, Eric sanders and Brooks Smith channeled Zappa’s dense constructs and Mahavishnu Orchestra’s nimble brilliance into an audio overload. These are players to keep an eye on, either collectively or on their own.

The Lee Boys fired up a gospel dance floor that’d make the most faithless of nonbeliever get up and move. Saxaphone/funk legend Maceo Parker shows why he is still a force of nature to be reckoned with. Having spent twenty years beside James Brown, he clearly knows how to bring the funk.  But it was the Tedeschi Trucks Band who were the biggest surprise. Not because they were good. Hell, we knew that. But because the band we saw just a year ago seemed almost quaint. This was a giant leap forward. TTB fired on all eight cylinders with a fierce, powerful and at times deeply nuanced performance. No longer just a vehicle for the namesakes, they often yielded to the considerable talents within the eleven piece band, making for a tough set all around.

Widespread Panic played on both Friday and Saturday, delivering their bluesy psychedelic jamming with panache.

Wanee, once again, proves the place to be.

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