Thursday, November 21, 2013

Bear Creek Music & Art Festival Once Again Tops The Fest Charts

The photo festgrrl came to take -- It's Bootsy Baby!
What a weekend! True to form, the bacchanalia that is Bear Creek Music & Art Festival brought some of the finest in funk music to our little corner of the North Florida woods Nov. 14-16, plus world-beat, hip hop (The Roots headlined the packed ampitheater Saturday night,) and electronica. Bear Creek was studded with many one-of-a-kind collaborations, which have have become a welcome hallmark of this most excellent music festival.

Ian Neville rages the Sunday Dumpstaphunk show
A ridiculous panoply of funk talent was on display at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fl.:

 Boston power instrumental funk band Lettuce; Connecticut's blow-your-mind funk/jazz improv masters Kung Fu; The New Mastersounds, bringing their sound to us all the way from England; one-man band soul man Zach Deputy, who put a stage together on a borrowed trailer by the cypress lake and rocked a late-night pop-up show until the park shut it down; San Francisco's psychedelic soul-funksters Monophonics, Boulder, Colorado's hellaciously danceable The Motet;  and a welcome parade of New Orleans' powerhouses:  Galactic,  Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, George Porter Jr. and the Runnin' Pardners, and new NOLA supergroup, The Nth Power.

For funkateers, the star of the hour, with his star-shaped guitar, was, of course, the great Bootsy Collins and his awesome Funk Unity Band.  So, if you don’t like Bootsy Collins, I’m sorry, but I’m just never going to understand you.Those glitter suits! That star-shaped guitar! Those GLASSES!

Life is for living, and Bootsy – who used to be known in his younger days for wearing nothing but a diaper onstage when he thwacked the bass with Parliament Funkadelic – is LIVING.

I was beside myself waiting for Bootsy to take the stage. But first, his giant crew of singers and players came on wearing… ASTRONAUT SUITS! Yes!

They stood at attention while everyone waited for Bootsy to appear...

And then he and his funkateers gave a convivial funk performance befitting his status as a Funk Elder to us all, including Vegas-style hot dancing girls, a graphic, sexy-time sl-o-o-o-w song, and Bootsy making a dramatic foray right through the parted crowd ("So you can TOUCH Bootsy!") Ridiculous and fantastic.

As is often the case, festgrrl got the opportunity to see some bands which were new to her, and that was a blast. Particularly The Resolvers, a 10-piece powerhouse reggae band out of Miami. This show, on the campground stage Saturday afternoon, was one I was very, very happy I did not miss.

Just check out these pics:

Conga line
Dance contest
I had never seen New Orleans' entertaining and unusual Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes before, and wow they had style and killer chops. Their quirky cover of Tina Turner's 'What's Love Got to Do With It" was a crowd favorite.
Cool electric cello - Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes

Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes
 Latin funk band Brownout from Austin, Texas turned in two very impressive sets. I liked them so much the first time, I went to see them again.
Brownout on the Purple Hat stage

Brownout's Aaron Johnson
The show by Brooklyn afrobeat band Antibalas was widely cited by Bear Creekers as one of the best shows of the weekend. With 11 people working hard on that colorful stage, Antibalas absolutely killed it with a mesmerizing, high-energy show. The band follows the tradition of Nigerian Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti, they did Kuti proud -- and then some.

Antibalas horns
MVP badges for sit-ins ought to go out to trumpeter/vocalist Jennifer Hartswick, guitarist Nick Cassarino, lap-steelman Roosevelt Collier, keyboardist Bernie Worrell and bass legend George Porter, Jr.
Jennifer Hartswick

Roosevelt Collier jams with Latin funk band Suenalo

Funk pioneer George Porter, Jr. (The Meters) sat in all over the place

Nick Cassarino
Former Ohio Players trumpeter Ron Haynes brought his band The Gamechangers from Chicago for their first-ever gig at Bear Creek. I mean their first time playing in public as a band at all. Very, very impressive funky jazz.

Haynes told the crowd that, like most first-time Bear Creekers, he hoped to be back next year.

Ron, we hear you on that! Bear Creek next year!

Ron Haynes And The Gamechangers

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