Sunday, July 12, 2015

Missing Bear Creek?Try This One

Covered stage!

The funktastic Bear Creek was my favorite festival in the Southeast, and  I was crushed when it was cancelled for this fall. Where will I get my funk on??

Then someone told me about a "Bear Creek of the North," a festival called the Catskill Chill. Yes, Southern friends, this is our funk and jam fest from another mother. It has a crowd and a vibe about the same size as our dearly departed Bear Creek.

It happens at a former summer camp called Camp Minglewood September 18-20 in Hancock, NY.

Check out this lineup:

moe., Lotus, Zappa Plays Zappa, Lettuce, Electron, The Motet, Dopapod, Kung Fu,Twiddle,Break Science,Turkuaz,Dopakuaz plays Studio 54, The Werks, Particle & Fam, George Porter Jr.&The Runnin' Pardners and more. 

Weekend tickets, which include primitive camping, are $198 advanced (through July 20.)
Chill Fam
Camp Minglewood looks awesome, with a lake and cabins (sold out, sorry, tent camping only) This is the last year Catskill Chill will be at this lovely location, so if you're inclined for a road trip this fall, check it out! 

Monday, July 6, 2015

A New New Orleans Fest This Fall!!

Galactic. Candace Horgan photo.
New Orleans power-funksters Galactic, along with the legendary club Tipitina's, are joining up to put on a new festival just outside New Orleans this fall.

Called "The Landing," the fest will happen about 15 minutes outside the city along Lake Pontchartrain, at a place called South Shore Harbor.

It features a killer lineup with some out-of-town bands who almost NEVER come South (I'm talking to You Cake and Dr. Dog!.

Grace Potter
Here are the announced acts so far, and the promoters promise more to come: Galactic, Grace Potter, Cake, Dr. Dog, Trampled by Turtles, St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the North Mississippi Allstars and Anders Osborne present N.M.O., the Soul Rebels and Rayland Baxter.

Soul Rebels
The ticket prices are great right now -- Advanced early bird tickets are now on sale -- $110 for a 3-day ticket (the first night is a pre-party at Tipitina's, and the two following days are at the outdoor fest,) and $90 for a two-day ticket. VIP options are also available.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Great Outdoors Jam for Your Holiday Weekend!

Maddox Ranch

The Central Florida jam scene is a beautiful thing, with kind folks and a stable of  creative and diverse musicians who like to get together and rage it.

This weekend (July 3-5,) the Great Outdoors Jam, a campout fest, happens at Maddox Ranch in Lakeland with Cope, Big Something, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, The Fritz, Come Back Alice, Applebutter Express, Savi Fernandez Band, Post Pluto, Jahman Brahman,  Holey Miss Moley, and more. You can see the lineup here.

Tickets (which include primitive camping) are $80 at the gate for the weekend. There's a Thursday pre-party for $20, and you can buy a ticket for that at the gate. Some info: Vendors will be onsite with food and drink. No dogs allowed. RVs and campers are allowed, but there is no onsite electricity so you will need a generator to run your rig.

Monday, June 22, 2015

This Weekend's Getaway: Roosevelt Collier Music Fest On the Suwannee

Happy place - the beach at Spirit of the Suwannee. festgrrl photo.
Lap-steel guitar player Roosevelt Collier, of the hard-charging South Florida sacred steel band The Lee Boys, kicks off the first of a new camping and music series at  Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fl June 26-27.  

Stages will be going at the Suwannee River beach during the day and at the courtyard outside the Music Hall at night. Swim a little, dance a little, repeat.

Collier, a festival stalwart who has sat in with everyone from the Allman Brothers to The Funky Meters, Dumpstaphunk, and Yonder Mountain String Band, will play both nights with his Trio. A roster of regional bands will fill out the stages the rest of the weekend:  Flat Land, Groove Orient, Squeedlepuss, Post Pluto, Vlad the Inhaler, Dambella, Matthew Connor, Lai-Mal, Charlie Hustle, amd Trictops 1.

This fest is a bargain for a weekend in paradise and a great chance to hang at the park when it is uncrowded.

Weekend tickets, which include primitive camping, are only $30 advanced and $40 at the gate, Single-day tickets, which don't include camping, are $10.

You can snag an air conditioned cabin with a rental golf cart for $256 for the weekend, Sweet!

You can get tickets here

Monday, June 15, 2015

Wow, Jam in the Sand Looks NICE

What a thing to save up for seven months from now:  Dark Star Orchestra's  Jam in the Sand with  Peter Rowan's Bluegrass Band and Steve Kimock's tribute to Jerry Garcia, featuring Jeff Chimenti, Jay Lane, Reed Mathis and Dan "Lebo" Lebowitz.

It happens at the all-inclusive Jewel Paradise Cove Resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica, January 19-23, 2016. Music happens at night (Dark Star plays two sets for three nights,) and your days are free for beaching it.

Tickets go on sale Monday, Jan. 22 at 10 a.m. Eastern

Monday, June 8, 2015


Matt Shultz of Cage the Elephant at last year's Bonnaroo. FilmMagic photo.
The biggest fest in the Southeast kicks off this week, I'm talking, of course, about Bonnaroo, the 80,000-fester-strong musical gathering in the boondocks that is Manchester, Tennessee. Tickets are still available, and general 4-day admission (Thursday-Sunday)  is $357.25 (that includes fees.)

This year's headliners include Billy Joel, Mumford & Sons,Deadmau5, Kendrick Lamar, Florence and the Machine, Robert Plant and The Sensational Space Shifters, My Morning Jacket, Bassnectar, Earth Wind & Fire, and the Alabama Shakes.The full lineup  is here.

The crowd goes on forever!

With over 125 bands, plus movies and a comedy club, it's a busy place. Rolling Stone magazine has an excellent Bonnaroo music guide, organized by whatever genre you like.  And the must-read document about the culture of Bonaroo is this indispensable alternative insider's guide

It's a pop-up city, y'all

If you aren't up for the challenge of a giant field in Tennessee in June, you can watch many of the performances from the comfort of your couch. Bonnaroo in the past has always had an above-average webcast, with cameras all over the stage. Concert giant Live Nation bought a stake in Bonaroo last spring, so this is the first time the mega-company is involved. Not sure if any changes will be happening.. The webcast is here.

One of the most intriguing acts of the weekend will be the Superjam, happening Saturday night/Sunday morning, starting at  1 a.m. -- check out the lineup below -- NICE!:

Saturday, May 30, 2015

It's All Love At the Purple Hatter's Ball

festgrrl photo.

It’s hard to imagine a more intimate or heart-felt festival than the Purple Hatter’s Ball. Going eight years strong, the 2015 Ball was another musical Valentine for Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, a dedicated fester who wore a purple hat, and a soul we lost too soon.

Elephant Revival. Rex Thomson photo.
Right from the get-go, the Purple Hatter’s Ball (held at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak Fl. May 7-10) showed itself to be special with ear-to-ear smiles everywhere and a spine-tingling performance by the haunting Americana band, Elephant Revival, at the Thursday night pre-party. The night filled out with a blistering funky jam band out of Kansas called Mouth (seriously check them out,) the hilarious, booty-shaking disco juggernaut that is Space Capone, Gainesville’s jazzy Flat Land, and Montana-grown Electro Thunder Funk from the band Cure for The Common.

Carly Foster of  New Earth Army. festgrrl photo.

All my festie friends were a-twitter about how great it is to be treated to new bands, music that we know we will come to love. These musical expeditions come courtesy of promoter Paul Levine, who says he is always looking for Purple Hatters Ball bands that his late friend, Rachel, would have liked. Rachel loved Athens, Ga. reggae purveyors Dubconscious, and they brought the Thursday evening pre-party grooving into the late night.
Rachel's Mama, Marige, and Paul Levine. festgrrl photo.
Josh Webster photo.

Love this guy! festgrrl photo.
Josh Webster photo.

Sweet river beach. festgrrl photo.

The temps were sizzling Friday as folks headed to the river beach, where no less than nine acts took the river stage. Back at the ampitheater  and porch stages, New Earth Army out of Destin, Fla. funked it up and the fabulous Austin,Texas funkateers, Mingo Fishtrap, brought their band of musical mayhem to the gathering. Love that band!. By happy hour, the ever-entertaining, hard-charging Tallahassee band Catfish Alliance with frontman Sexual Manatee was tearing up the porch stage, and then headliners Nahko and Medicine for the People took the ampitheater.
Nahko of  Medicine for the People. Rex Thomson photo.

Rarely have I seen such intense energy between band and crowd, with what seemed like every soul there singing along to Nahko’s positive message. After that emotional performance, The Malah, Trial by Stone and The Werks kicked it through the wee hours, with the  Silent Disco cranking from  2 -4 a.m.

Mingo Fishtrap. festgrrl photo.
festgrrl photo

Lots of folks painted on this baby. festgrrl photo

Truth. festgrrl photo.
The river beach was jamming again Saturday when Grandpa’s Cough Medicine brought the high-energy bluegrass to the ampitheater stage and a delightful afternoon of world-beat bands – Benyoro, Raja Kassis’s Humanbeing, and Toubab Krewe began on the shady forest stage, which culminated in the epic Supermande Jam, where more than 15 people -- African drummers, singers dancers, and string players crowded onto the stage.
The Supermande jam. Josh Webster photo. 
Atlanta’s excellent Cadillac Jones turned out a blistering performance at Happy hour time. This band is a funk instrumental outfit that just keeps getting better every time I see them. Super tight arrangements and a real cool groove. Cadillac Jones delivered one of the best shows of the music-packed weekend.

Cadillac Jones. festgrrl photo. 
In early evening, we gathered at the ampitheater so Rachel’s mom, Margie, dad Irv, and friends could release Monarch butterflies for Rachel. 

Rachel Morningstar Hoffman
Margie spoke about Rachel’s Law, which reforms the way police can use confidential informants, and says she is advocating for changes nationally. Rachel’s story is a sad, sad example of the stupid drug war and police ineptitude. Rachel’s family has worked to make important change in the world. As we held Rachel in our hearts, Dubconscious took the stage, the butterflies soaring into the live oak trees above us.
Rachel's parents, Irv Hoffman and Mama Margie. festgrrl photo.
Improvisational band Tauk delivered an intricate set, followed by the STAR TIME that is Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires. Bradley spent his life doing menial jobs, being homeless, and working sporadically as a  James Brown impersonator before breaking out as a soul singer in his own right late in life, in his 60s. His soulful Purple Hatter’s set was a standout, and he was so overcome with emotion at one point that he jumped from the stage to embrace Mama Margie and members of the crowd. Bradley has been through heartbreak of all kinds, but he especially can relate to the shock of someone in the family being murdered, since he lost his brother that way. If you have not seen the film, Charles Bradley – Soul of America – please do. His story is amazing.

Charles Bradley. Rex Thomson photo.
Lots of art everywhere! festgrrl photo.
We all had Cheshire cat grins. festgrrl photo.
festivarians. festgrrl photo.
The up-and-coming Jacksonville funk powerhouse Parker Urban Band dazzled with their soaring vocals and kept folks dancing. Greenhouse Lounge delivered a dreamy prelude to funk-techno-prog-rock headliner Lotus, and you can hear that show here. Just before Lotus, I went back to camp for a minute and found myself marching along with a full-on New Orleans brass second-line parade through the park, which was totally unexpected and FANTASTIC. Thanks to the band, Empire Strikes Brass, for that treat.

Benyoro. festgrrl photo.

Benyoro. festgrrl photo.
Benyoro. festgrrl photo.
Sunday morning, the Scott Campbell Band with vocalist Avis Berry covered the entire 1969 Blind Faith album, (In case ya don’t know, Blind Faith was a wildly successful supergroup collaboration between Steve Winwood and Cream’s Eric Clapton and Ginger Baker.) Guitarist Campbell and friends nailed the epic album!
Avis Berry. Josh Webster photo

Yoga people! festgrrl photo.
Unfortunately, I had to leave before Adrian Crutchfield and the Extraordinary Gentlemen, Shak Nasti, Roosevelt Collier’s Superjam, Future Vintage, Aaron Lebos Reality and Sexual Manatee’s Basshole played Sunday afternoon and evening. I drove away back to Real Life with my soulshine glowing from the sweet fest friends and inspired musical performances.

It was another one for the Suwannee record books. May the Purple Hatter's Ball lovefest continue for many more seasons!
Yes! Rex Thomson photo.