Wanee Music Festival: Friday April 16th, 2010
... As I opened my eyes I smiled, realizing where I was; "Way down on the Suwannee River." I felt refreshed although I had only gotten about five or six hours of sleep. I climbed out of the my comfy Jeep/bed stretched out and was ready to walk over to the Peach Stage (Main Stage) to start my day.
*Bobby Lee Rogers Trio*
I had never heard of Bobby Lee Rogers, although my buddy Ben was pretty pumped for the set. I respect Ben's opinion, so I gave it a shot. This set was the second surprise set of the weekend for me. Booby Lee brought it! It was very well played, guitar driven rock/blues. Bobby was a beast on guitar; his playing fluid and casual yet extremely prominent. He was joined by members of Shak Nasti, who also played well. I really enjoyed the set and looked forward to seeing him the next morning!
Download Bobby Lee Roger's Set Here.
*7 Walkers Featuring; Bill Kreutzmann, Papa Mali & George Porter Jr.*
I was really interested to hear the next set, as I had heard Billy wanted to stray away from Dead songs and play original material. Either I had heard wrong or Billy had a change of heart, because the set included a lot of Dead covers. There were also some Robert Hunter originals as he has been writing for the 7 Walkers. I thought the music sounded really good and I thought Papa Mali's guitar work lent itself well to the music. I was really excited to see George on stage as I was not aware that he was a part of this project. George played really well holding down the low end; giving the crowd something to get down to. Billy's playing was really solid. It was great to see that after all of these years Billy not only held onto his chops but may have even improved. I glanced over my shoulder I saw that the main field was filling in with dancing people, many singing every word to every song. It was a good feeling.
Download The 7 Walkers Set Here.
As I walked from the Peach Stage to the Mushroom stage I stopped, closed my eyes, and leaned my head back allowing the sun to shine upon my face. God damn I was happy. As I passed through the shakedown/vending/food area I could hear the next set was already in progress. I walked into the amphitheatre and could see that I had missed my photo pit opportunity, so I went to the backstage access to the left of the stage and flashed my newly acquired artist/all access credentials. I walked up onto the side viewing platform attached to the stage and began to listen and take photos.
*Chuck Leavell with The Randall Bramblett Band*
I had seen Chuck play with the Allman Brothers a few times but had never really heard any of his other work, so I had no expectations. Upon hearing the music, I immediately drew a comparison to the Allman Brothers sound. They really wailed and the medium sized crowd was pretty into it. From what I heard, they covered "Southbound" and "Make It Real". I enjoyed the set.
I left the backstage area and headed over to the general store. The store is extremely clutch, with prices just a tad above what you would typically pay for the goods. I stocked up on ice and headed back to camp. As I walked down the road/path between the stages I could hear the Wailers on the Peach Stage. I opted to skip that set, as I was not interested in hearing average Bob Marley covers. As I passed, it sounded just that; average.
Download The Wailers Set Here.
I was not looking forward to the walk back to camp. Although short, it would be a little bit more exhausting on account of the large bags of ice I was carrying. Luckily I was picked up by a gentleman on a golf cart and dropped off at the camp site. I loaded up the cooler refilled on water and headed back over to the Mushroom stage to catch the Lee Boys with Oteil and Kofi.
*Oteil & Kofi Burbridge with The Lee Boys*
Listen to Their Set On Archive Here.
I entered the photo pit to see Rex and Natasha's smiling faces. From the moment the Lee Boys hit the stage they were smiling. The music was foot stomping, side slapping, pedal steel driven grooves. I thought that the Burbridge Brothers were a great addition to the Lee Boys sound. The music was rootsy yet fresh sounding. Roosevelt really got at the slide and Oteil smiling on, was playing high up on the bass. They were killing it. I love how Oteil matches his vocals with the Bass notes. So amazing! I exited the pit early to head back stage to get some shots from the stage. As I looked out over the crowd I saw the sun shining through the cypress trees on so many smiling faces. I looked down and saw Rex and Natasha dancing and shooting away. Life was good.
After the Lee Boys set; Tasha and I headed to the main entrance to handle a ticket issue and work a little magic. While attempting make a ticket fall out of the sky; I received a call from the north. It was a writer of mine; Nate, calling from Springfest in Muncie, IN. Apparently there was an issue with his credentials. I made a quick phone call to my contact and the ticket issue was solved. Just in time to for me to find that the Wanee ticket situation was resolved. In that brief moment, it rained festival tickets.
*North Mississippi Allstars*
Listen to The North Mississippi Allstars Set on Archive Here.
Tasha and I headed through the back entrance of the backstage area. The North Mississippi Allstars were on stage tearing it up. I went up on stage and began shooting. I was seriously blown away by their playing. It was really heavy blues/rock. Very southern sounding. Luther is an absolute beast on the guitar. It's easy to see why The Black Crowes picked him up. Cody was destroying the drums, next to him sat another gentleman and they went into a duel drum solo. It was extremely rhythmic and tight. I am not huge on drums solos but I was sucked in. Luther put down his guitar and had a seat in a chair on the side of the stage. After the solo, Chris and Luther came back out and Chris beat the hell out of the bass. I walked over to the side stage and talked to Oteil for a little bit. I could tell he was really excited.
I walked off stage and glanced around to see the Lee boys being interviewed by Tasha. As I glanced back I saw JJ Grey from Mofro holding a child. The baby had a smile on it's face as JJ kissed it's forehead and held it up in the air. As Tasha wrapped up her interview, we shot the shit with the Lee boys and got some goofy pictures. As I turned back to the stage I saw Col. Bruce watching the action unfold. I approached him, placed my hand on his back, leaned in and said; "I enjoyed your set yesterday. As well I appreciate your reaching across genres to play with people like DJ Logic. I heard your set at The Keel Family Function was great." He responded by saying; "Logic is amazing! I was out of my element and it was great."
I exited the backstage area and headed over to the Peach Stage. I was looking forward to this next set. Bob Weir doesn't usually impress me, but he the recordings had sounded good recently and he was playing with Rob Wasserman and Jay Lane. I entered the Main Stage photo pit for the first time. It was sizeable and packed with photographers, ready to get their Bobby-shots.
*Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman, & Jay Lane Are Scaring the Children*
As Bobby walked up to the mic it hit him square in the forehead, prompting a funny grunting reaction and some laughs from the crowd. It was a Bob-out from the beginning but sounded good. His voice sounded youthful and his playing on point. "This is an experiment... A work in progress." He states in his awkward way. As the show progresses Bobby says; "Turn up the PA! This is a rock and Roll show. He then told a story about how he had played the park a few years back with Kimock. He said "It was raining toads... One landed right by Kimock and just watched him." I was entertained.
I thought the set was really good. The crowd was really into it and I thought Jay and Rob did a great job with the Grateful Dead tunes. With Jay coming off of Further tour it was to be expected, but the set overall exceeded my expectations. The sun was shining, people were dancing, Bobby was Bobbing-out; what more could one ask for?
Download Bobby's Set Here.
I wandered back to camp to fill up on water and changed into pants and a long sleeve shirt. It's get relatively cold in northern Florida at night around this time of year. I ate some food and prepared my body for the evening of raging.
As I wandered over to the photo pit, I noticed that they had set up temporary gates and had beefed up security. The security guard recognized me and waved me through. I was one of the first few in the pit. As I looked out over the crowd, I realized; that may have been the most crowded I had ever seen the main field in the four years I had been going to the park. There was a huge draw for Widespread.
As Widespread Panic took the stage the pit filled in. The energy was through the roof and of all of the fans I had seen up until that point; they were the largest in number and most excited. Now I'm not going to pretend to be a Panic fan or attempt to walk you through the sets, as I have only limited knowledge. Instead I will speak generally about what I observed.
It was clear to me from the get go that this was the "Jimmy Herring Show". All attention was on Jimmy as he began to, note by note dismantle the crowd. I was concerned immediately that he may not leave any survivors; leaving the Allman Brothers to play to no one. I am not a fan of J.B.'s vocals but I thought he sounded alright. Dave Schools also stood out to me on bass. As he smiled, I realized that it was a trap for him to lure you in before murdering you with his killer bass. Jojo Herman also caught my attention on the keys. His playing was solid as well.
Download Panic's Set Here.
At one point I witnessed a Panic fan reach into a backpack and pull out a handful of glow sticks. Without cracking and illuminating them; he threw them into the air. He was left looking confused as to why they were not lit, and scratched his head in an attempt to figure it out. Quite entertaining.
I left Panic impressed. It was only my second Panic show to date and they were batting two for two. I couldn't say that I was a converted fan, but I'd sure as hell give it a listen again the following day. Ben, Rex and I walked back to the camp to party and chill before the Allman Brothers. It was essential that we got good and ready. After all, that was the reason I was there.
The Allman Brothers have been a favorite of mine for some time. I have seen them more times than I can count and they are definitely in the running for one of the bands that I have seen the most. This was my third Wanee and although I knew the Allman Brothers always threw down at Wanee; in the past few years Gregg hasn't sounded the greatest.
*The Allman Brothers*
Now, as I know the Allman Brothers well; I will give you a breakdown of their set. They took the stage to an enormous crowd, who was clearly reading for the Headlining/host band. I wasn't sure if the field could fill in anymore than it did for Panic, but sure enough; it did. It was packed! There was a steady mix of travel chairs, people on blankets and people standing, ready to dance and rage.
They opened with one of my favorites "Mountain Jam", which I feel lends itself well to both the opener and closer of a set. They then played "Don't Keep Me Wondrerin'", followed by "Trouble No More". Gregg's voice sounded the best it has in some time. They then played "Rocking Horse" and "Blind Willie McTell". Dave Schools came out for a rockin' version of one of my favorites "You Don't Love Me". That was followed by "Every Hungry Woman" and "All of My Friends". This is the point in the show that happens almost every year; The guests began to pour out. First up was John Bell and Sonny Ortiz for "I Walk On Gilded Splinters". Next; Luther Dickenson and Gov't Mule's Danny Louis joined for "The Same Thing" and an all out killer version of one of my other favorites; "Statesboro Blues". The last round of guests included Jimmy Herring and Jojo Herman for "That's What Love Will Make You Do". Between Jimmy Herring, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, I feared for my life.
The Allman Brothers closed with a great version of "Black Hearted Woman". The crowd was going absolutely crazy. They came back out and encored with "Melissa" which is not one of my favorites, but redeemed themselves with another from my list of favorites, "One Way Out".
The Allman Brothers are consistent, and did exactly what I had anticipated they would do... Absolutely kill. Hearing Gregg sounding good and seeing how much fun they were having on stage had me extremely excited for the following night's set!
As I got over to the Mushroom Stage I noticed that the photo pit was significantly larger. As I waited with the rest of the photographers with anticipation, the crowd began buzzing. The energy was high and the smiles were higher. Late night sets at the Amphitheatre are always special and tonight would be no different. The streamers blew in the wind and the torches were lit above the stage and throughout the crowd.
The set began late as anticipated, due to the fact that Warren had just played on the Main Stage with the Allman Brothers. Mule took the stage to a huge roar of applause and screaming, once again giving me goose bumps. The pit was packed and the minute Warren hit the stage, the mad scramble began.
Some of the songs that stood out to me were; "Blind Man in the Dark", a "St. Stephen" that started with the relaxed Dead vibe and quickly flew into a ragin’ Mule interpretation of the Grateful Dead song. Lastly, the "Mule" into "Loser Tease" into Zeppelin's "Whole Lot of Love" back into "Mule". What a great way to close a set. They encored with "Soulshine" opting with a gospel intro. Per usual the set was raging; featuring Warren shredding on guitar for the majority of the time.
Following the set, we returned to camp as a group and raged it before the wookery began. Following the raging at camp, Ben and I headed back over to the stage area to see if any nonsense was taking place. We entered the backstage area and wandered around looking for activity. The only thing we could see going on was Mule inside of the screened in dining area taking advantage of the buffet. Warren was killing the buffet as he did his set just an hour prior. Ben and I didn't have an appetite so we wandered back into the camp and wooked out for the remaining hours of the night/morning.
I once again climbed into my Jeep, closed the door, and with a smile on my face; began to fade...