Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Suwannee Roots Fest Tickets are Cheap Now!


Peter Rowan. Bluegrass Today photo.
A four-day ticket to the newgrass-Americana Suwannee Roots Revival festival is only $135 right now. That's a deal, straight up.

Already announced acts:  Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Blueground Undergrass, Jon Stickley Trio, Donna the Buffalo,  Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, and the Sauce Boss, with more to come.

The dates are Oct. 13-16 at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Pre-planning, peeps!   


Friday, April 8, 2016

It's Wanee Time!

 

festgrrl photo.

Woo-hoo! The big Wanee Festival is around the corner, are you ready for this annual spring bacchanalia in the woods and fields of North Florida? 

Wanee's main focus is always Southern rock, but there are a bunch of jazz, funk, and alternative acts breaking it down on the stages all weekend.  

The fest starts up at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla with a lineup of music that’s called “Happy Hour” but actually lasts all evening. The festivities end in the wee hours of Sunday morning, April 17.

Vendor countertop art. festgrrl photo
On the Southern rock front, Widespread Panic plays Friday and Saturday nights. Wanee has traditionally been The Allman Brothers Band’s festival, and this year the band is broken up BUT most of the members will be at Wanee playing in various other bands which have Allman lineage.  

Here are the Allman-related bands on the bill: Gregg Allman Band; Warren Haynes with his Ashes & Dust and Government Mule bands; Jaimoe’s Jazz Band; Devon Allman’s band;  Yeti Trio (the guitarist is Vaylor Trucks;) Oteil & Friends; and a supergroup called  Les Brers featuring  Allman founders and alumni Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Oteil Burbridge, Marc Quinones, Jack Pearson, Pate Bergeron, Bruce Katz and Lamar Wiiliams Jr.

festgrrl photo.
The North Mississippi All-Stars join up with blues guitarist Anders Osborne on Thursday, Billy & the Kids (Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band,) play Friday late afternoon, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers play Saturday at noon, followed by Hot Tuna Electric with Steve Kimock.

Bruce Hornsby. festgrrl photo.
Prog-rock national phenoms Umphrey’s McGee bring their unique brand of mayhem in two shows, one on Friday afternoon and one at midnight Saturday to close out the fest.

Now that's some Wanee camping. festgrrl photo.
Some other not-to-miss shows:

For lovers of the FUNK:

On Wednesday: The New Mastersounds, a high energy British funk band. If you don’t dance at this show, there’s something bad wrong witcha.

On Thursday: New Orleans funk powerhouse Dumpstaphunk with Ivan Neville is doing a show they are calling “Earth War & Power,” followed by Soulive (progressive rock with some funk.)

On Friday: Nigel Hall

On Saturday: Kung Fu

For Grateful Dead fans:

On Wednesday: Crazy Fingers – really talented Grateful Dead cover band, plays at 7:30 p.m.

On Friday: Billy & The Kids (Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band) play at 4:30

On Saturday: Melvin Seals & JGB featuring Karl Denson. Yes!

festgrrl photo.
 For jazz fans:

On Wednesday: Ben Sparaco Band

On Thursday: Joe Marcinek Band (featuring Tony Hall, Alvin Ford Jr. and Holly Bowling an amazing piano player who does Dead and Phish covers;) Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio

On Friday: The legendary bassist Stanley Clarke brings his band;  Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio; Jaimoe’s Jazz Band

On Saturday: The Yeti Trio; Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio; Oteil and Friends

For electronica fans:

On Friday: BIG Something; Conspirator

A couple of other interesting acts I’d recommend catching during the weekend – The Wood Brothers, a nationally touring folk duo who have recorded with Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, play Friday afternoon; Thomas Wynn & The Believers (beautiful harmonies and offbeat Americana cool) play on Wednesday, and Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear ( a mother and son blues duo) on Saturday.

See y’all in paradise!

 
festgrrl photo.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Suwannee Springfest: Warm Sun and Hot Strings

The all-girl band, Della Mae, was a standout. festgrrl photo.
There are two maxims to always keep in mind when it comes to music festivals: One: Don’t stay home just because there’s a bad weather forecast; and Two: Never miss a Sunday show.

Both proved true for Suwannee Springfest 2016. The heavy rains forecast daily did not show up (save for a brief rain before dawn on Saturday which vanquished weekend dust.) We basked in stellar North Florida spring weather throughout the weekend. And on Sunday,  Keller Williams Grateful Grass was one of the best shows of the weekend. Here’s a taste of that loveliness:  



This was the 20th year for Suwannee Springfest, and it always draws some of the best string players in the country. This year’s standouts were the Del McCoury Band, the John Stickley Trio

Jon Stickley Trio. Josh Webster photo.
and the Infamous Stringdusters, who turned out to be the weekend’s hard-working utility players, sitting in with numerous acts and backing Keller Williams for the Grateful Grass set.

The Infamous Stringdusters. festgrrl photo.
The MCourys. Josh Webster photo.
Some up-and-coming acts showed up at Suwannee with some fast-picking newgrass energy, including Cabinet, Fruition, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Taylor Martin’s Engine, Two Foot Level, The Virginia Daredevils, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, and the Rumpke Mountain Boys. Springfest veterans Quartermoon and Sloppy Joe were a treat.

Fruition. festgrrl photo.
Springfest’s organizers also showcased a nice mix of Americana acts featuring strong female vocalists, including Nora Jean Struthers, The Broadcast, Nikki Talley, the Habanero Honeys, Grits & Soul, and Canary in the Coalmine. The international touring all-girl bluegrass band Della Mae knocked it out of the park with every performance and had the crowd buzzing long after their shows ended.

Nikki Talley. festgrrl photo.
On Thursday night, North Carolina’s Jon Stickley Trio created alternately atmospheric and foot-stomping magic to an enthusiastic Thursday night crowd, and Stickley and fiddler extraordinaire Lyndsay Pruett did their share of memorable sit-ins in the days afterward, too.

Friday night was a powerhouse string of shows, with Jeff Austin Band, Brandi Carlile, Jon Prine, and Railroad Earth holding down the main stages. It was a very emotional evening. I’m a big Carlile fan, and I found her performance spellbinding and soulful. Judging by the crowd’s rapt attention, I was not the only one. You can check it out here, thanks to our SELFLESS TAPER FRIENDS: 



After Carlile’s show, singer-songwriter legend Jon Prine, now nearing 70, took the ampitheater stage. His show was a revelation, with the crowd showing  hushed devotion and hanging on every word of Prine’s poignant musical tales. You could hear a pin drop. That show reminded me of Lyle Lovett’s Suwannee jaw-dropping ampitheater performance a couple of years ago. I am not sure this video does it justice, but here it is thanks to our SELFLESS TAPER FRIENDS:


The evening was brought home nicely late-night by bluegrass stalwarts Railroad Earth, which had the crowd boogying happily under the stars.

Bright and sunny Saturday we were busy butterflies, darting from stage to stage, with breaks for campsite picking.   

The ampitheater stage. festgrrl photo.



festgrrl photo.

Vocal powerhouse Nikki Bluhm took the ampitheater stage around Happy Hour with her band The Gramblers. Don’t miss a chance to see Nicki Bluhm.  Set highlights included her catchy hit, “Little Too Late” as well as a great cover of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.”

A fast-picking traditional bluegrass set followed by legend Del McCoury and his family band before Prine took the stage to make us all laugh and cry. Roots-rockers Donna the Buffalo held down the late-night slot presiding over a dance frenzy of their fans ("the herd") as only this quirky hippie band can.
Nikki Bluhm. Josh Webster photo.
On Sunday, Bluhm returned to the stage with Keller Williams and the Infamous Stringdusters and covered Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Grace Slick vocals aren't easy to pull off, but Bluhm nailed it. 


I was sorry she didn’t break out “Bird Song” during the Grateful Grass set, because she absolutely kills that song. See it hear:


All in all it was a love-filled weekend, if a bit hard for this writer since the sudden,tragic loss of a great musician and friend, Kenny Oliviero of Dread Clampitt, just days before. Beth Judy, co-founder of the festival, did a brief memorial reading for Kenny, a bass player and singer who graced those stages many times over the years.

Heartfelt love also went out to Springfest co-founder Randy Judy, who is battling back  from a serious stroke in Jacksonville. Special props to Jim Lauderdale, who performed a moving a Capella gospel tune after the words for Kenny and Randy were spoken.

As Lauderdale performed, I thought of a favorite Dread Clampitt song Kenny wrote, and recited these lyrics in my head as I watched the Spanish moss sway in the breeze.

"The world's so full of hate and retribution/and the light of love seems so far away/the best a man can do/is just keep on pushing through/and smile at the people that you pass along the way!"

Here's smiling at you!

Jim Lauderdale. festgrrl photo.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Some April Music Fests Worth Catching


festgrrl photo.

The Southeast is chock full of  music festivals in April. The biggest and best, of course, is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival April 22- May 1, and that's a world unto itself. To get the latest on Jazzfest, head here.

Since not all of us can travel to the Big Easy, here are a few smaller fests ( plus one pretty large one) worth checking out in April:


Fool's Paradise - April 1-3, St Augustine, Fl. This funk and live electronica extravaganza happens Friday and Saturday at the St Augustine Ampitheater, which is a nice outdoor venue on Anastasia Island next to the beachy Anastasia State Park. Fool's Paradise is not a camping festival, but there is a KOA campground very close by and the fest has reserved some campsites and will provide shuttles for fans. The fest will also have late-night sets at different venues.

Lettuce. Vernon Webb photo.
The lineup features Lettuce & Friends, GRiZ, Vulfpeck, Chris Robinson’s Soul Revue (Ivan Neville, George Porter Jr., Eric Krasno, Nikki Glaspie, Neal Casal & The Shady Horns), Goldfish, The Nth Power, Break Science, the Fools for Funk Supergroup TBA, Cory Henry of Snarky Puppy as an artist-at-large, electronic future-funk producers Marvel Years and Brasstracks, Herd of Watts, The Groove Orient, Morning Fatty, and Love Chunk.

Advance tickets are $90 for the weekend, $110 at the gate. You can get single-day tickets for $50 advanced, $60 at the gate. Get your tickets here. Late night shows, VIP hotel-tickets packages, and camping passes are extra.
You can also sign up for daytime outings with the musicians, check out my previous Fool's Fest post here.

festgrrl photo.

Safety Harbor Songfest happens April 2-3 on the grounds of the Safety Harbor Resort & Spa, near Clearwater, Fla.

Honey Honey. Publicity photo.
It has a stellar lineup: Robin Zander, Otis Taylor • Shawn Mullins, Love and theft, Ben Sollee •  anne harris• chris gelbuda • billy strings  dan rodriguez • daphne willis • david jacobs strain • honeyhoney, joe craven  • matt the electrician  • randall bramblett • shel, tall heights • the mastersons • shook twins • the vespers.

This is not a camping festival. Weekend tickets are $40 and single-day tickets are $25 and you can get them here.  Check out the festval's Facebook page for details. 


festgrrl photo.
Southern Music Rising Festival: This is a one-day Americana festival on April 9 in the quaint town of Monticello, Florida, which is about a 40-minute drive east of Tallahassee on Highway 90.

Music runs 10 a.m to midnight with stages at the historic Monticello Opera House, the John Denham House and Tupelo's Bakery in downtown Monticello.

Tickets are $15 for Daytime Show Pass (10:00 am - 5:00 pm,) $15 for Night Show Only (7:00 pm - 10:00 pm,) and $25 for an All-Day Pass to all shows.  Kids 2 & under are free.

Here is a look at the lineup and schedule:

DAY SHOWS - Monticello Opera House Upstairs
11:00 am   Kally O'Mally
12:00 pm   Mimi and the Hearn Dogs
  1:00 pm   Belmont and Jones
  2:00 pm   Sam Pacetti
  3:00 pm   Slim Fatz
  4:00 pm   Highway 238
  5:00 pm   Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass
    
Monticello Opera House Garden Stage
 10:00 am    Wreckin' So
11:00 am    The Common 'Taters and the Turn-ups
12:00 pm    Highway 238
  1:00 pm    Cosmic Swamp
  2:00 pm    The Purvis Brothers and Friends
  3:00 pm    Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass
  4:00 pm    Sam Pacetti
  5:00 pm    Brian Smalley 

Denham House Stage
10:00 am    Children's Show
11:00 am    George Gray
12:00 pm    Bill Reetz
  1:00 pm    Kally O'Mally
  2:00 pm    Ric Edmiston / Cliff Miller
  3:00 pm    Belmont and Jones
  4:00 pm    Frank Lindamood
  5:00 pm    Slim Fatz

EVENING HEADLINER (NIGHT SHOW)
Monticello Opera House 
 7:00 pm    Bill Sheffield
8:30 pm    The New 76ers
AFTER PARTY from 10-midnight at Monticello Opera House Garden Stage with the Allie Cats.

festgrrl photo.

Farm to Family Full Moon Gathering - April 22-24. This is a sweet camping and music festival that's great to bring kids to. Very small and chill, and you can bring your own beverages. 

This year it is being held at the All-Tech Raceway in Lake City, Fla. In past years (the fest was in different locations,) camping has been conveniently located right near the stages. 

Advanced weekend tickets are $45, and single day options are available here. 

This year's performers include some really excellent musicians, including Taylor Martin, Billy Gillmore, Hannah Barber, Grass is Dead, Come Back Alice, Jesse Smith, Brian Smalley and more. Lineup and info about the bands is here. For up-to-the-minute info, check out the Farm to Family Facebook page.

Wanee. festgrrl photo.
Wanee Festival  is a big-time camping fest with national acts happening April 14-16 at the wonderful Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla. 

This fest is known as the Allman Brothers Band’s festival, and although they broke up, various members of the band will be performing this year; Gregg Allman with his band, Warren Haynes with his Ashes & Dust and Government Mule bands, plus Les Brers, featuring Allman founders and alumni (Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Oteil Burbridge, Marc Quinones, Jack Pearson, Pate Bergeron, Bruce Katz and Lamar Wiiliams Jr.) 

Southern jam-rockers Widespread Panic headline two nights. Also playing are Devon Allman Band, Melvin Seals and JGB with Karl Denson,  Billy & the Kids (Bill Kreutzmann from the Grateful Dead,) bassist Stanley Clarke, Umphrey’s McGee, Hot Tuna Electric with Steve Kimock, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers, Dumpstaphunk’s Earth War & Power, North Mississippi Allstars,  Anders Osborne and more. 

This fest is always a packed, rollicking rock-and-roll party. A 3-day weekend ticket (includes primitive camping) is $210 plus fees.  VIP tickets available. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Ahhhh...Suwannee Springfest!


Campground playing. festgrrl photo. 
On the relaxation scale, it doesn't get much better than the laid-back Suwannee Springfest, happening March 17-20. You sit back and sip a cold one while the Americana and bluegrass rage the stages.

Jon Prine publicity photo
This year’s performers include John Prine, The Del McCoury Band, Brandi Carlile, Larry Keel, Railroad Earth, The Infamous Stringdusters, Keller Williams, Jeff Austin Band, Donna the Buffalo, Jim Lauderdale, Nicki Bluhm and the Gramblers, and more. (Complete lineup is below.)

This is the 20th year for Suwannee Springfest, which annually gathers some of the finest string players in the world into the Spanish-moss draped woods of the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla. It's an intimate camping festival that has some fine campground picking day and night. If you don't like to camp, there are hotels nearby.


Del McCoury. festgrrl photo

This is a big promise, but I've been to enough Suwannee Springfests to guarantee it: You will be blown away by the weekend's mad-skills musical performances, and you'll come home with some new-to-you bands to love.

Donna the Buffalo. festgrrl photo. 
Weekend tickets cover four days of music, from Thursday to Sunday night (include primitive camping) are $200 advanced and $210 at the gate. Kids 12 and under are free. Single-day and VIP tickets are also available.

Gina's washtub bass. festgrrl photo
Don't forget to take a trip down to the riverside beach. (best to use a car, golf cart, or bike -- it's a lo-o-o-o-ng walk.)

Spirit of the Suwannee River beach. festgrrl photo.

This is a family-friendly festival, so expect lots of little ones scurrying about and some budding pint-sized string players busking for spare change. Food and spirits are readily available, plus there's a camp store and a restaurant on site.

Camping by the lake. festgrrl photo.


Sunday night is always hosted by jam-Cajun-roots band Donna the Buffalo, so if you can get Monday off, I advise staying for the duration. Keller Williams Grateful Grass is also playing Sunday, with fanciful covers of Grateful Dead tunes to get your boogie on.

Scramble Campbell art. festgrrl photo.

Also worth checking out are the numerous intimate workshops held during the weekend, where musicians perform and describe techniques.  

It's hard to find a better way to spend a spring weekend in North Florida, am I right? Yes I am. 

Chilling at the ampitheater stage. festgrrl photo. 
Here's a look at who is playing, and you can check out the daily schedule here 

Suwannee Springfest 2016 Lineup
John Prine
Brandi Carlile
Railroad Earth
The Del McCoury Band
Keller Williams Grateful Grass
Infamous Stringdusters
Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers
Jeff Austin Band
The Larry Keel Experience
Donna the Buffalo
Dave & Dave (of Trampled By Turtles)
Jim Lauderdale
Cabinet
Fruition
Jon Stickley Trio
Horseshoes & Hand Grenades
Nora Jane Struthers
Mandolin Orange
Della Mae
Rumpke Mountain Boys
The Broadcast
The Virginia Daredevils
The Applebutter Express
Grits & Soul
Grandpa’s Cough Medicine
Big Cosmo
Habanero Honeys
Nikki Talley
Sloppy Joe
Quartermoon
Steve Pruett
Canary in the Coalmine
Taylor Martin’s Engine
Two Foot Level
The Steppin Stones
Acoustic Ensemble

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Goof Around with Lettuce and Break Science at Fool's Paradise Fest

Lettuce. Photo by Honest Tune.


A brand-new festival in St Augustine, Fla. is coming up April 1 & 2, and the fest -- called Fool's Paradise  -- will also have special excursions that fans can take with musical artists.

Want to play mini-golf with Lettuce members Eric Krasno and Jesus Coomes or go on a Crocodile Crossing Zipline Adventure with Break Science’s Borahm Lee? ($22 for the mini golf and $32 for the croc zipline.) You can also go sailing and drinking with Lettuce's Shady Horns for $64.

Fool's Paradise is not a camping festival, but there is a KOA campground very close by and the fest has reserved some campsites and will provide shuttles for fans. The music happens Friday and Saturday at the St Augustine Ampitheater, which is a nice outdoor venue on Anastasia Island next to the beachy Anastasia State Park. The fest will also have late-night sets at different venues.

The lineup features Lettuce & Friends, GRiZ, Vulfpeck, Chris Robinson’s Soul Revue (Ivan Neville, George Porter Jr., Eric Krasno, Nikki Glaspie, Neal Casal & The Shady Horns), Goldfish, The Nth Power, Break Science, the Fools for Funk Supergroup TBA, Cory Henry of Snarky Puppy as an artist-at-large, electronic future-funk producers Marvel Years and Brasstracks, Herd of Watts, The Groove Orient, Morning Fatty, and Love Chunk.

St Augustine Ampitheater
Advance tickets are $90 for the weekend, $110 at the gate. You can get single-day tickets for $50 advanced, $60 at the gate. Get your tickets here. Late night shows, VIP hotel-tickets packages, and camping passes are extra. 

Ziplining at the Alligator Farm


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Shake It at Upcoming Aura Music & Arts Festival




Campground lake. Jason Koerner photo.

Our Southeastern spring music festival season is kicking off -- yes!! Let the boogie begin at the dance-tastic Aura Music & Arts Festival, coming right up March 3-5.

The ENO hammock pod with DJ booth! Aura photo.
Now in its seventh year, Aura has grown into a fest that manages to be both intimate and big-time, showcasing some fine national touring acts with high-end sound and lighting production. This year features The Disco Biscuits, Thievery Corporation, Snarky Puppy, ALO, Turkuaz, Mike Dillon Band, the Main Squeeze, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Particle, The Heavy Pets (doing an '80s tribute with Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman,) the New Deal, the Werks and more. (full lineup is below.) To hear what's in store check out Florida Music blog's Aura playlist. 


I love the vibe at this fest -- it's a fuzzy-lovey ball of music and art, all cradled in the Spanish-moss draped oak forest at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla. At night, the lasers come out.

Jason Koerner photo.
Aura's lineup is surprising and genre-spanning, including live electronica, jazz, funk, soul, jam, world beat, rock, lounge, R&B, indie, Americana, and reggae. Every year I discover new music here. There's even a band that fuses Pink Floyd, Talking Heads, and Phish tunes (Pink Talking Fish) and, improbably, it works. Expect plenty of sit-ins and artist collaborations during the weekend.

festgrrl photo
Don’t miss Snarky Puppy, a posse of 13-plus musicians who play jazz, in-the-pocket funk, and world music. They won their second GRAMMY this year for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album.
Funk fans should not miss Turkuaz from Brooklyn, one of the best funk bands on the scene today, and Chicago's The Main Squeeze, which fuses funk and rock (They describe it as Stevie Wonder meets the Red Hot Chili Peppers.) ALO, out of San Francisco, is a feel-good jam band fronted by Jack Johnson's keyboardist Zach Gill. When the main stages close down, the Silent Disco rages all night.

Aura has a robust yoga & healing arts program, which will offer more than 25 classes and workshops including Flow Arts, AcroYoga Immersion, Yoga Nidra, Lazy Man’s Yoga (Restorative/Yin Yoga), BoomYoga’s Shake Your Asana, Qi Gong, Thai Body Work Circus, Crystal Bowl and Song Sound Healing, and Using Essential Oils as Spiritual Tools.

Visual artists will be doing painting and sculpture throughout the grounds all weekend. 

festgrrl photo
Weekend tickets, (include primitive camping) are $189 advanced, $199 at the gate. Kids 12 and under free. Single-day and VIP tickets available.


You can see the daily schedule here, and here's the full lineup for you:
AURA Music & Arts Festival 2016 Line-Up
The Disco Biscuits
Thievery Corporation
Snarky Puppy
ALO
theNEWDEAL 
The Werks
The Main Squeeze
Particle
Turkuaz
The Heavy Pets '80s Tribute featuring Jennifer Hartswick & Natalie Cressman
Tom Hamilton’s American Babies
Mike Dillon Band
Pink Talking Fish
The Bright Light Social Hour
Jimkata
Pigeons Playing Ping Pong
NUNCHUCK (Chuck Jones, Scott Zwang, Mike Dillon & Craig Brodhead) 
Fusik
Greenhouse Lounge
Broccoli Samurai
Aqueous
Bedside (live band)
CBDB
The Resolvers
The Fritz
Backup Planet
Dank
Crazy Fingers
ROAR!
Displace
Lucky Costello
Third Nature
Holly Bowling
Garrin Benfield
Ben Sparaco Band
Lather Up!
Fat Mannequin

AURA Silent Disco/ENO Lotus Lounge
ACKDADDY
Beat Thief Inc.
Bells and Robes
Craig Heneveld
DuBBle James
Eazybaked
Lurk City
DJ Miles Maximus
Mineo Loops
Monarchy
MZG
Rosa Sparks
Scotty Solomon
Selfmayde
Shark Anthony & Ahsleigh
Telekinetic Walrus
Tomboi
Tony D
Vlad the Inhaler vs. Matthew Connor
Weazildust
Willie Evans Jr. DJ Set
Zwang Bang and Chewie


See you there! festgrrl photo