Orange Blossom Jamboree | Brooksville 05.15.14 – 05.18.14

If, somehow, Florida got cut off from the rest of the world, there would, of course, be many, many problems.  Music would NOT be one of them.  OBJ demonstrated once again just how spectacular the music scene is here in the Sunshine State.  We want for nothing, as witnessed by the 54 performances on three stages over four days in delightfully “cool” weather for this time of year.

I was only able to make it for a handful of performances Friday and again on Saturday, so you will need to look elsewhere for a more complete review, but I am excited to report about what I WAS able to hear, because it was awesome.  Truly awesome.


Spoiler alert: for me, it was a Fil Pate weekend!

I missed a lot of my favorite funkateers Friday, but I arrived in time to see the Hip Abduction again inspire the crowd to dance and bounce and bounce some more to their delicious Afrobeat music and reggae tunes.

Next on the Citrus Stage was the Applebutter Express, tossing out originals and amusing covers in their bluegrass-y “uncut ukulele funk” style.  They were having a blast, but I was intent on getting to the Mojo Stage farther back to get a full dose of Sons of Hippies.

I had been fortunate to catch a quick half-hour set by Sons of Hippies at the Gasparilla Music Festival, and I was excited for more.  Whatever image “Sons of Hippies” conjures up for you, it’s probably wrong.  I mean, for one thing, there’s a girl!  Their website declares that they are a “dark psych/space rock band.”  I know very little about bands of this ilk, whatever it is, so I am not much qualified to compare or contrast, but I know two things for sure.  To me, they sounded like the Stooges doing “Fun House.”  And I LOVE THEM.  LOVE THEM.  LOVE THEM.

Katherine Kelly does the singing, most of it, anyway, and plays a mean, mean guitar.  Jonas Canales also sings some in addition to his drumkit duties, and Morgan Soltes holds down the bottom end.  I was completely mesmerized.  That’s a pretty poor review, but it will do for a love note.

I guess there was a schedule change I did not know about, because I expected to see Thomas Wynn and the Believers on the main stage, but instead it was the Juanjamon Band.  Once again, I discovered that I had NOT been paying proper attention to Meesta J’s band.  I’ve seen him with CopE and doing sit-ins at least 30 times, so there is no question of my deep respect for his talent, but somehow I had ignored his band.  Glad I finally corrected THAT mistake!

Juanjamon had his keyboards and his tenor saxophone but mostly was playing very funky bass.  Apologies to most of the other players I cannot identify, but I know for positive that Fil Pate was playing guitar.  Fil has been around quite a while, but somehow I had not seen him except for a short set at last year’s WMNF Groovefest, until recently, when he sat in with the Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio twice at The Ale & the Witch, always playing that sweet mandolin.  I’d never seen him on guitar.  Yikes!  Should have guessed he was a monster!

Just when things were going P-Funkily berserk, Juanjamon called onto the stage Christian Ryan with his alto and Clay Watson and trombone.  Then things just got downright silly.  The entire place was a-quiver.  WOW!

Bobby Lee Rodgers had the unenviable job of following that insanity, but follow he did with a great set.  Ever since Wanee and a half-dozen shows, I have been blown away by BLR’s new bass player, Rodrigo Zambrano, and once again he stepped up big.  And Fil Pate grabbed his mandolin; he matches up so well with Bobby Lee, who is simply playing monster guitar these days.  I described it earlier as Wes Montgomery playing metal.  Well, something like that.

And then it was time for everybody to CopE as best they could.  This was my 28th CopE show, and how they continue to groove even harder each time out is a true wonderment.  It was a superb show, highlighted by a magical “Shake Anything” that eventually featured the Green Sunshine singers.

And then they did something I’d never heard them do before: an absolutely bonkers rock medley.  Dennis and Kenny were just killing it!  I know I’m missing a song or two, but try this on for size:

Locomotive Breath > Crazy Train > Sweet Child of Mine > Carry On Wayward Son > [hip-hop song everybody but me knew] > Locomotive Breath (w/ J on flute!)



My Saturday drop-in was even more brief.  I had REALLY hoped to make it in time for High Cotton, the Panic tribute band I STILL have not seen (shame on me).  I was determined to make it in time for Buster Keaton, one of Christian Ryan’s 73 project’s (that count might be a little low).

Keegan Matthews was getting wonderful sounds from his keyboards that seemed to envelop the whole area around the stage, and I really liked Nick Bogdon’s guitar work as they played funk and jazz and more funk.  I’m looking forward to more of that soon.

Next up on the main stage, my good friends Future Vintage.  They’ve knocked me out a dozen times since seeming them first last October, doing their take on jamtronic nasty keyboard-driven funk.  And the Serotonic boys were all parading around with FV shirts (full disclosure: me too!).  This was by far the largest audience they had played to.  Near the end of the set, I said to Anna Giancola, keyboardist Matt’s wife and photographer, videographer and recorder par excellence, “I’m glad they decided to deliver their best set ever today!”  It was a knock-out.

I caught a bit of Morning Fatty’s rollicking fun set before heading toward the back stage one more time for Friends of Fil (a great play on words!).  I wasn’t sure who or what would be happening, but I knew Adam Volpe from Infinite Groove Orchestra was at the drum kit.  Adam and Fil?  That was all I needed to know.

This set was a masterpiece of a different sort.  Joined by a very talented bass player and keyboardist, the quartet made wonderful, magical jazz funk rock for a blessed hour.  Fil is a fountain of beautiful musical ideas.  I know there is a lot of Fil in my future.

I certainly wish I had spent all four days in the magnificent woods at OBJ, but what I did get makes me proud and glad to live in the Sunshine State.  Florida rocks!  Huge thanks to Russ Bowers and Andy Lytle and all of the OBJ folks who made this weekend and Florida music stand out!

P.S.  I saw Dale twice, but he was asleep both times!


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