Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival: A Soul-Filling Dance Throwdown


Loved the West African Mande Jam! festgrrl photo

It’s a very old tradition: Humans gathering together, playing music, wearing regalia, and dancing in the forest. Maybe that’s why I always feel so renewed when I come back from Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival. It’s ancestry in our bones.

For the ninth year in a row, Bear Creekers showed up in force Nov. 13-16, in costume, freak flags flying, ready to rage it once those funky bass lines caught hold. Some of the best funk players on the planet threw down on the five stages, a banquet that can only be described as musical gluttony.

Luckily, you can stream many of this year’s Bear Creek shows here, thanks to our dedicated tapers. WE LOVE YOU, TAPERS! I've got links to video of many of the performances below, too.

Dani Jaye of Come Back Alice. festgrrl photo
There are a lot of reasons Bear Creek is so special; the love in the crowd, the smiles and hugs people share all day and all night, and watching musicians having improvisational conversations because Bear Creek has more sit-ins and collaborations than most any festival save New Orleans Jazzfest.

It's exciting and relaxing at the same time. Being in the fairy-land 800-plus acres of Live Oak, Florida's Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park helps, too. You can breathe, you can be, you can come as you are.

'Nuff said. festgrrl photo
Standout performances this year included headliners Umphrey's McGee, who delivered two nights of blazingly fast guitar work, deep pocket groove, killer light shows, and a high energy setlist that did not disappoint. (OK, I wasn't all about the Huey Lewis and the News "Power of Love" cover but whatever; I loved The Police "Driven to Tears" cover, so, as my friend says, "You like what you like,") The addition of the horn section from the hot Boston funk band, Lettuce -- a Bear Creek fave --  was especially welcome. You can watch the shows here Friday set 1, Friday Set 2, and Saturday set.

I have to shout out to Brooklyn-based band Turkuaz, one of the best funk bands working today.Check out video of two of the songs they did  here and here.
David Brandwein of Turkuaz. festrggl photo.
Hellishly flat-out power funk with icy-cool hot girl singers, a killer horn section, great bass. They are a phenomenon on stage.

Zach Deputy. festgrrl photo
Zach Deputy brought his mad looper skills, stellar musicianship and big love to the party.You can see his set here.  Locos Por Juana, infectious Latin groove, were also very impressive. Check out one of their song performances at Bear Creek here  The 8-piece Washington, D.C. reggae-funk band See-I absolutely killed it on the ampitheater stage, watch it here. Special shoutout to SoberGoat, who filmed so many of the shows!

Carly Meyers of Yojimbo. festgrrl photo. 
How many ways can you shake your booty over one weekend? Funk heavy-hitters  Dumpstaphunk, The New Mastersounds, and  Lettuce inspired all-out dance frenzies. You can watch The New Mastersounds Friday set here.

Funk and soul band Orgone, out of California, turned out two great performances. They have gone through a few different lead singers, and the current front woman, Adryon de León, is a powerhouse, Tina Turner-esque performer.Highly recommend this band. Watch their show here.  Shout also to Jacksonville's own Herd of Watts, a boogie shaking band to watch.Watch their show here.

 Arleigh Kincheloe,Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds
festgrrl photo.
I was told to check out Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds and I was not disappointed. Lead singer Arleigh Kincheloe has some sly star power and one hell of a voice. I see this band showing up on festival lineups all over the country so I'm psyched to see them again, probably this summer at Floydfest in Virginia.

African Mande Jam. festgrrl photo.
The Bear Creek West African Mande Jam was not well attended (maybe because it was an inside performance on a gorgeous afternoon), and that was a shame, because it was a fantastic spectacle of world musicians that I will never forget. It included members of Benyoro, Kreative Pandemonium,Toubab Krewe, and special guests Balla Kouyaté and Raja KassisAt one point,  I counted 23 people on the stage.
African Mande Jam. festgrrl photo.

African Mande Jam. festgrrl photo.

Chris Robinson (Black Crowes, Chris Robinson Brotherhood)  partnered up with New York's Soulive for a happy-hour set in the park's beautiful ampitheater. (Nice job covering the Grateful Dead's West L.A. Fadeaway,) You can see the set here.

Green Sunshine. festgrrl photo.
The Alecia Chakour Band brings the angels to Bear Creek. What a voice, what a presence! You may have heard her singing with Warren Haynes, Lettuce, and others.She is amazing.Listen to her set here.

Earphunk out of New Orleans delivered rock-funk fusion on the Forest Stage, pulling out an incredible  Rage Against The Machine "Bullshit on Parade"cover which made the crowd go crazy. You can stream the band's excellent "Sweet Nasty" album here.

The Budos Band. festgrrl photo.

Sit-in stalwarts over the weekend were George Porter Jr,, Grant Green Jr,, Pee Wee Ellis, Jennifer Hartswick, and the original funky drummer,  Bernard Purdie. We so appreciate these masters in our midst. Oh, and let's not forget the 11-year-old guitar phenomenon, Brandon Niederauer, also known as "Taz," the hardest working little man at the fest. Check out his playing on Manic Depression with Soulive here.
Jesus of lettuce, festgrrl photo
It's hard to get to all the music you want to see at Bear Creek, because there's just SO MUCH GOOD MUSIC and that's thanks to our funky curator Paul Levine. THANKS PAUL, for another great one! You are the best!

Paul Levine. festgrrl photo.


Our lovely Spirit of the Suwannee cypress lake. festgrrl photo.

Thanks for all the hugs, all the dances, and all the love, new friends  and old friends. Love y'all, and see ya next time!
Sweet festers and friends. festgrrl photo.
Mr. Bear Creek! festgrrl photo




Friday, December 12, 2014

A Florida Camping Fest for the Holidays



Well now, our festival season just keeps going and going, people! The third annual Home Team New Year's Rally happens outside Lakeland, Fla. Dec. 26-28.

Since this camping festival happens just after Christmas, it leaves you free to catch the various New Year's Eve shows going on throughout the southeast (including Phish in Miami, Widespread Panic in Charlotte, Donna the Buffalo in Tampa, etc.).

Advanced tickets are just $65 for the whole three days ($80 at the gate,) and that includes primitive camping. There are no RVs  or campers allowed at the event, which is held at the lovely Maddox Ranch outside Lakeland. More details from the promoters are below, after the lineup.

The gate opens Friday, December 26th at 10am. 

MUSIC LINEUP

Zach Deputy
The Applebutter Express
CoPe
Come Back Alice
S.P.O.R.E.
Grandpa's Cough Medicine
The Corbitt Brothers Band
Uncle John's Band
Come Back Alice
Displace
Green Sunshine
The Juanjamon Band
Holey Miss Moley
The Funky Nuggets
Future Vintage Band
Rev. D and the New Diggz
Legacy Orchestra Collective
Between Bluffs
Serotonic
Christie Lenee
Shoeless Soul
Endless Flow
Ajeva
Joe Moves
Jeremy Willis
Currentz

Here’s what you need to know:


• This is a KID FRIENDLY event, and children 12 and under get in FREE! Kids 17 and under MUST be accompanied by a parent or guardian**
• **VERY IMPORTANT** NO DOGS ALLOWED. The wonderful people at Maddox Ranch are kind enough to allow us to host our event on their property, and we respectfully oblige to their few requests. Thank you in advance for understanding
• No electricity is provided, but generators are welcome as long as they are properly maintained and not disruptive
• RV’s and campers are allowed
• Raised or confined fire pits ONLY! Firewood will be available for purchase on site at the event
• Port-o-potties provided, as well as outdoor showers
• NO outside FIREWORKS
• This is a RAIN OR SHINE event, be prepared for the unpredictable FL weather!
• If interested in vending, please send an email to: hometeamvendors@gmail.com
• Events such as these CAN NOT exist without the help of a good volunteer support system. If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email to: hometeamvolunteers@gmail.com


For any other general questions contact Jenelle Muir, Jillian Melucci or Robyn Alleman. Musicians with questions may contact Cody Bean or Kyle Biss..all via Facebook

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thank You, Suwannee Hulaween

Michael Kang (left) and Bill Nershi of
The String Cheese Incident (festgrrl photo)
The one word that keeps coming up for me after experiencing the second-annual Suwannee Hulaween is GRATEFUL.

Grateful for the dozens of artists who built the top-notch psychedelic forest for us all to frolic in, grateful for bands that played round the clock, grateful for the beautiful and well-run Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, and especially grateful for The String Cheese Incident, who again showed themselves to be among the most talented and versatile bands in the land.

***Check out a photo album of Suwannee Hulaween peeps here ***

Three nights of playing, and the boys of String Cheese continued to surprise and amaze. The Halloween night "Afterlife" set featured columns of fire, spit out of propane torches in front ot the stage, a disembodied giant projected head of Michael Jackson during a cover of Thriller, acrobatics, and the band dressed in voodoo costumes. Here is the night one setlist, courtesy of our friends at Jambase.

Set 1: Desert Dawn, Rhythm of The Road > Lets Go Outside, Doin' My Time, Betray the Dark > Valley of The Jig > Texas
Set 2 (w/ Antibalas Horns and Rhonda Thomas & Tony White on vocals): Hells Bells (AC/DC), Voodoo (Neville Bros), Zombie (Fela Kuti), Spirits in the Material World (The Police) , Monster (Kanye Rap by Jason), Voodoo Child (Jimi Hendrix) > Black Magic Woman (Fleetwood Mac)
Set 3: Rosie*, Black Clouds > Big Mon > Black Clouds, It Is What It Is, Spirit of Suwannee Jam > Joyful Sound > On The Road
Encore: Miss Brown's Teahouse*, I Saw The Light (Hank Williams)*, Sledgehammer (Peter Gabriel)*
And then we were off and running. NIght two featured guest spots bymembers of  Leftover Salmon,Toubab Krewe, STS9, Trey Anastasio band members Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman. 
Set One: Sometimes A River, Mouna Bowa, Cedar Laurels, One After 909**, Zombie Jamboree**, Windy Mountain > Shine > Colliding > Drums*
Set Two: Best Feeling > Howard, Pack It Up > Shake Your Body Down To The Ground#, Rivertrance > This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody), Outside and Inside
Michael Kang of String Cheese (festgrrl photo)
Encore: Kashmir
Sunday night featured sit-ins by Keller Williams, Nicky Sanders of the Steep Canyon Rangers, and Dominic Lilli from Big Gigantic.
Set One:
Search>Lost>Mouna Bowa>Don't It Make You Wanna DAnce>Pack it Up>Alligator Alley>Franklin's Tower

Set Two:
Let's Go Outside,Black Clouds,Sweet Spot,Birdland,Sirens,Rivertrance,Drums,Swamp,Rivertrance

Encore: Bollymunster

Wow, what a three-day run.

festgrrl spent a LOT of time looking at the art in the Spirit Lake installation, which had, among other things, a two-story tall Buddha metal sculpture that belched fire, a geodesic dome jellyfish swingset, a "sonic forest" where when you waved your hands, each of the "trees" made crazy noises, fire dancers, acrobats, an intricate natural mosaic made of moss, pine cones, mulch, twigs and other small things, a "dragon" made of organic materials that seemed to undulate above and under the ground, trippy light installations, and a huge, elaborate  blacklight mural. And I know I'm forgetting some of the things, it was CRAZY! so grateful.

Below, you can see some of the performances I caught, as well as a look at some of the installations.
Seriously make plans to attend Hulaween 2015. This year had about 8,000 attendees, and it never felt crowded. It just felt FUN.

Suenalo brought the Latin groove from Miami (festgrrl photo)

Suenalo (festgrrl photo)
The Soul Rebels from New Orleans (festgrrl photo)

Soul Rebels (festgrrl photo)
Appalachia Rising (festgrrl photo)
Keller Williams (festgrrl photo)

Appalachia Rising (festgrrl photo)

Grandpa's Cough Medicine (festgrrl photo)

The Spirit Lake!
This breathed fire at night! (festgrrl photo)

Part of the intricate natural installation (festgrrl photo)

The jellyfish swing -- cool lights at night! (festgrrl photo)
Lots o' spots for chillin (festgrrl photo)




Monday, November 17, 2014

Home Team New Year's Rally Coming Up Next Month



Well now, our festival season just keeps going and going, people! The third annual Home Team New Year's Rally happens outside Lakeland, Fla. Dec. 26-28.

Since this camping festival happens just after Christmas, it leaves you free to catch the various New Year's Eve shows going on throughout the southeast (including Phish in Miami, Widespread Panic in Charlotte, Donna the Buffalo in Tampa, etc.).

Advanced tickets are just $65 for the whole three days ($80 at the gate,) and that includes primitive camping. You can get them here. There are no RVs  or campers allowed at the event, which is held at the lovely Maddox Ranch outside Lakeland. More details from the promoters are below, after the lineup.

The gate opens Friday, December 26th at 10am. 

MUSIC LINEUP

Zach Deputy
The Applebutter Express
CoPe
Come Back Alice
S.P.O.R.E.
Grandpa's Cough Medicine
The Corbitt Brothers Band
Uncle John's Band
Come Back Alice
Displace
Green Sunshine
The Juanjamon Band
Holey Miss Moley
The Funky Nuggets
Future Vintage Band
Rev. D and the New Diggz
Legacy Orchestra Collective
Between Bluffs
Serotonic
Christie Lenee
Shoeless Soul
Endless Flow
Ajeva
Joe Moves
Jeremy Willis
Currentz

Here’s what you need to know:


• This is a KID FRIENDLY event, and children 12 and under get in FREE! Kids 17 and under MUST be accompanied by a parent or guardian**
• **VERY IMPORTANT** NO DOGS ALLOWED. The wonderful people at Maddox Ranch are kind enough to allow us to host our event on their property, and we respectfully oblige to their few requests. Thank you in advance for understanding
• No electricity is provided, but generators are welcome as long as they are properly maintained and not disruptive
• RV’s and campers are allowed
• Raised or confined fire pits ONLY! Firewood will be available for purchase on site at the event
• Port-o-potties provided, as well as outdoor showers
• NO outside FIREWORKS
• This is a RAIN OR SHINE event, be prepared for the unpredictable FL weather!
• If interested in vending, please send an email to: hometeamvendors@gmail.com
• Events such as these CAN NOT exist without the help of a good volunteer support system. If you are interested in volunteering, please send an email to: hometeamvolunteers@gmail.com


For any other general questions contact Jenelle Muir, Jillian Melucci or Robyn Alleman. Musicians with questions may contact Cody Bean or Kyle Biss..all via Facebook. 
 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Get Down! Bear Ceek Music And Art Festival This Week!

Photo Courtesy of Rock On Philly.com


Are we there yet? YES WE ARE! It's time for the booty-shaking party of the year, people,

We're talking Bear Creek Music & Art Festival, the dance throwdown in the woods at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla. Nov. 13-16

This fest is known for its numerous musical sit-ins and surprises, and this year we'll be treated to a groovetastic, world-beat superjam from West African musicians. Nice!

As for the crowd, it’s all about dancing. Super-friendly vibe, outrageous costumes.


The Mandé Superjam, an all-star group of African and American musicians including members of Benyoro, Kreative Pandemonium and Toubab Krewe, and special guests Balla Kouyaté and Raja Kassis happens in the Music Hall on Saturday afternoon. 


Balla Kouyate
The promoters say: "The music of West Africa is the bedrock of many American styles of music, and listeners often hear echoes of blues, jazz, and Appalachian music in the circular melodies and dense rhythms of the region. This supergroup will perform updated interpretations of the centuries-old repertoire of West African jelis (traditional musicians) creating a tour-de-force of hypnotic grooves and majestic melodies."

Over the weekend, you'll see LOTS of horn sections. (The great Pee Wee Ellis, sax player for James Brown and one of the pioneers of funk, is one of the artists-at-large who sit in with various acts.)

Weekend tickets (which include primitive camping) are $195 advanced for a 3-day ticket and $205 for a 4-day ticket. Gate prices are $225 for a 3-day ticket, and $245 for a 4-day ticket. (Just sayin', it pays to plan people, the early bird 4-day ticket was $165, and there was an EZ payment plan to break it up!)

Dumpstaphunk!
The pre-party music starts Thursday, and acts play through until Sunday night, when powerhouse funk band Lettuce closes the fest.

In addition to the headliners, for some fine funk and soul, festgrrl highly recommends St. Paul & The Broken Bones, Turkuaz, Orgone, Earphunk, The Main Squeeze, Monophonics, and Locos por Juana. But hell, everybody you're going to see is going to be good, trust me. Here's a look at the complete lineup:

Umphrey's McGee x 2
Chris Robinson’s Soulive Revue
Lettuce x 2
Dumpstaphunk x 2
Soulive
New Mastersounds x 2
Budos Band x 2
Break Science
Talib Kweli
The Floozies
St. Paul & the Broken Bones
Zach Deputy x 2
Nicholas Payton Trio x 2
Orgone x 2
Oteil Burbridge and Roosevelt Collier Band
Sister Sparrow & the Dirty Birds
Turkuaz
The Nth Power x 2
Mandé Superjam
The Main Squeeze x 2
Monophonics
Alan Evans’ Playonbrother
Mingo Fishtrap
See I x 2
Earphunk
Kreative Pandemonium
Benyoro
Locos Por Juana
Aleica Chakour Band x 2
The Heard
The Fritz
Curtis Harding
Tauk
The Broadcast
Yojimbo
Funky Knuckles
Come Back Alice
Catfish Alliance
Freddy's Finest
Copious Jones
S.P.O.R.E.
Captain Green
Green Sunshine
Dirk Quinn Band
Herd Of Watts

Artists at Large:
Bernard Purdie
Pee Wee Ellis
George Porter Jr.
Oteil Burbridge
Skerik
Nicholas Payton
Jennifer Hartswick
Grant Green Jr.
Roosevelt Collier
Khris Royal
Carly Meyers
Farnell Newton
Eric Vogel
Brandon Niederauer

Silent Disco:
Sir Charles
Juan Basshead
Vlad the Inhaler
Elliot Mess
Charlie Hustle
Michael of Earphunk
Bobby Newport
Schizo the DJ
Dialectable Beats
LZRKMMNDR
Ardency
NickFRESH
 


Know your costume themes: Friday, as always, is Warm & Fuzzy. ('Cause we don't call this chilly fest Brrr Creek for nothing)  Saturday is Superheroes and Cops ‘n Robbers, and Sunday is Purple Day, in honor of Spirit of the Suwannee's dear friend Rachel Morningstar Hoffman.


There will be 10 yoga and workshops throughout the weekend, including Gentle & Ayurveda Yoga, Restorative Yoga, AcroPlay,Yin Yoga to live Music, West African Drumming Workshop, Basics of Poi, and more.

On Saturday, fans can join Zach Deputy as he hosts a charity disc golf tournament on the fantastic 18-hole Magnolia Disc Golf Course benefiting The Spirit of the Suwannee Kids Music Camp.
 

Let the games begin!


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Riverhawk Music Festival This Weekend


Frank Vignola (Brian Tipton photo)


The lovely  bluegrass and roots Riverhawk Music Festival happens this weekend in Brooksville, Fla., outside Tampa. The fest starts Thursday, Nov. 6 and runs through Sunday.

This fest at the gorgeous Sertoma Youth Ranch is always packed with talent, and includes a lot of bands which fly below the popular radar.

A good example is guitarist Frank Vignola, (whom Les Paul named as one of his top five guitar players in the world.) Vignola plays Thursday and Friday along with Vinny Raniolo. Check them out on this audio link to  National Public Radio's Mountain Stage

Nora Jane Struthers (publicity photo)

Other acts during the weekend  include The SteelDrivers, Town Mountain, Bastard Sons of Johnny Cash, the Packaway Handle Band, Black Lillies, Nora Jane Struthers, Nicholas David (from the TV show "The Voice!") and Acoustic Syndicate. You can see the full schedule here.

The SteelDrivers (Brian Tipton photo)


A four-day pass, which includes primitive camping, is $139, and there are lots of single-day  and camping options here. This fest is very chill and family friendly. The venue is small and walkable, food is available, and there are showers and bathrooms. Shaded sites tend to fill up quickly, but there is always room in the lovely fields. There is even a little stream running through the venue. Very, very nice.
Sertoma Youth Ranch (festgrrl photo)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Whew! An Award-Winning MagnoliaFest


March Fourth Marching Band - in flight! (Robert Pollock photo)

They might as well start running a commuter train between the Grammy, Americana, Country, and Blues Awards stages and Magnolia Fest in Live Oak, Florida, judging by the bevy of winners at Magfest Oct.16-19.

We got to see Lyle Lovett  (three Grammys,) Rodney Crowell (Two Grammys, including a Best Americana Album win last year with Emmylou Harris,) Jason Isbell (who won Artist, Song and Album of the Year at this year’s Americana Music Awards,) Banjoist extraordinaire Bela Fleck (15 Grammys) and his wife (also a kick-ass banjo player,) Abigail Washburn, New Orleans powerhouse Marcia Ball (Two-time winner of Best Contemporary Female Artist at the Blues Music Awards plus a 1999 performance at the White House with B.B. King and Della Reese on her resume,) Jim Lauderdale (Two Grammys, numerous country and Americana awards,) The Indigo Girls (Best Contemporary Folk Album Grammy and dozens of Billboard hits,) And Dr. John (Six Grammys, plus he was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.)

Well, it was all dizzyingly fantastic, rushing from one fine performance to another and seeing musicians at the top of their game over there in the paradise of clear, bright-sky days and autumn moon nights.

Abigail Washburn (Mandy Pichler photo)

Tara Nevins of Donna the Buffalo (festgrrl photo)


Lyle Lovett hit it out of the park Saturday night at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park’s gorgeous ampitheater stage, delivering one of the finest performances of the many incredible performances I’ve seen there over the years. He's a funny storyteller, an earnest crooner, and a steppy Texas swing bandleader. His plaintive solo performance of  the haunting “Nobody Knows Me” was a one-way trip to Goose-bump City. The “Acoustic Group” band he brought with him on this run was a procession of virtuoso players, and each gave an impressive solo during the encore. Lovett showed himself as the classy, accomplished musician he is. Campground joke: "How many times did Lyle Lovett make you cry?" (festgrrl: Three.)


Lule Lovett and his killer acoustic band (Mandy Pichler photo)

 Jason Isbell, fresh off his Americana Awards for song, album and artist of the year, also gave a soulful performance Thursday night to a hushed crowd gathered beneath the live oaks and Spanish moss. Playing off his excellent solo album, Southeastern, the former Drive-By Truckers front man showed off his gorgeous vocal range and heart-tugging lyrics. The crowd went wild when he launched into his Americana breakthrough hit, “Cover Me Up.”

Jason Isbell (Michael Kaiz photo)

MagFest Fan Loving Life (festgrrl photo)
 
The Indigo Girls, two Georgia friends who met in elementary school and started making music together in high school, showed they haven’t lost a bit of their vocal prowess since they hit the big time 27 years ago; their harmonies are still gorgeous and strong and their lyrics rock.

The Indigo Girls (Michael Kaiz photo)
New Orleans guitarist-singer Anders Osborne, whom Paste magazine calls “a triple threat as a singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist,” delivered a blistering late-night Saturday set which featured a nice cover of Neil Young’s “Cowgirl in the Sand.” You’re never sure what the eclectic Osborne is going to break out, but one thing is sure, this guy is a master guitar player who just keeps topping his own magic.

Dr. John – who replaced his long-time band (The Lower 911) with new musicians (The Nite Trippers) last year -- brought a big-time show, spinning out his hits and some deep New Orleans funk. The set featured a seriously cool trombone solo performance by Sarah Morrow, who toured previously with Ray Charles and was introduced by Dr. John as his "Musical Directress."

Dr. John (Michael Kaiz photo)

As is always the case at this musical bonanza of riches, there were quite a few lesser-known acts I had to miss due to cool campfire picking and general socializing (plus a wee bit of sleep.) But here are some younger bands and artists I saw who are worth seeing if you get the chance:

March Fourth Marching Band is simply a phenomenon: a Burlesque, acrobatic marching band that delivers hard-charging power funk and world beat. They have outrageous costumes, and hot go-go dancers and pole dancers on stilts, doing acrobatic tricks. Just amazing. This Portland, Oregon act had everybody talking, just like they did at their last Spirit of the Suwannee performance (at Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival.) I don't care what you have to do to get to see this band, just do it!

March Fourth Marching Band (Robert Pollock photo0
The Nikki Talley Trio owned the ampitheater stage for their first-ever performance on the big stage there, and they are an up-and-coming act to watch. Nikki Talley has soul and powerful vocal chops, and both were on glorious display. Her guitarist husband, Jason, and collaborator bassist Ashleigh Caudill, put on the harmonies to blend with Talley’s gorgeous vocals. If you have not heard this girl sing, do yourself a favor and look her up, she is touring the South quite a bit.

Nikki Talley (festgrrl photo)

Chris Mule of the Honey Island Swamp Band (festgrrl photo)
Aaron Wilkinson from Honey Island Swamp Band (festgrrl photo)
The Honey Island Swamp Band brought their catchy, high-energy power-rock from New Orleans for two shows, causing a crowd frenzy as usual. I absolutely love this band! The Parker Urban Band out of Jacksonville turned out soulful and steppy R & B and jazz; Tornado Rider brought their California brand of hilariously sly classical punkgrass; Grandpa’s Cough Medicine spun out blindlingly fast licks; the Duhks, featuring strong lead vocalist Jessee Havey (but without singer-fiddler Tanya Elizabeth, now with The Avett Brothers,) gave a strong roots performance on the Meadow stage Friday during Happy Hour.

Jessee Havey of The Duhks (Robert Pollock photo)
Keller Williams shed his hippie-boy ways, showing up Friday night wearing a suit (Robert Palmer style) with a full-on nasty funk band (“More than a Little,”) complete with backup dancer-singers, and presided over a dance party hoot.

Keller Williams (Mandy Pichler photo.)

Tonya Lazenby Jackson (Mandy Pichler photo.)


Sugah Davis (Mandy Pichler photo.)

The Parker Urban Band from Jacksonville killin' it (festgrrl photo)

Sunday night closed out with The New Orleans Suspects (excellent) followed by a beautiful set by our friends Donna The Buffalo, which was part Cajun-dance party, part folk revival and just a jamtastic treat for the die-hards still hanging on at the end of a beautiful weekend.

Jeb Puryeat of  Donna the Buffalo (festgrrl photo)