Bear Creek Music & Art Festival | Friday 11.15.13

This is insanity. There were 23 sets of music on Friday, and I hit 19 of them. Again, NOT RECOMMENDED, but I cannot seem to help myself. Eight groups were playing again after performing on Thursday, all so good I wanted more, more, more.

Ron Haynes and his Game-changers opened the festivities at noon, delivering another excellent, kick-ass set of jazz and funk in equal measures. From there, I got to see the Austin band Brownout briefly. I definitely want to see them again. Then it was back for another dose of Toubab Krewe, again sending their sweet African-influenced vibes into the air.

I also caught bits of enjoyable sets by Flow Tribe and the Revivalists before heading back for another disco funk extravaganza with Space Capone, confirming my late-night suspicion that these guys were right up my alley. I did not get to see the Werks this time but will certainly look forward to their two sets at AURA, and I missed Jennifer Hartswick’s band, but I made up for that omission on Sunday.

I enjoyed seeing the soul revue of Lee Fields and the Expressions before heading to get a second shot of Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes, again slamming it hard Nawlins-style.

The first band I saw at Wanee last year was Monophonics, and I have opined that it was my favorite set of the festival (and I wrote an Amazon review of their superb CD). They did not disappoint. Kelly Finnigan again starred on organ and vocals, and I learned he is the son of Mike Finnigan, the organ player on “Electric Ladyland.” Their psychedelic soul sound harks back to the early 70s. And it was P-Funk day a day early, as Monophonics covered “I Got a Thing.”

Next up was a second helping of the Pimps of Joytime, again rocking the Music Hall in fine fashion, followed by a great set from Antibalas with a beautiful full sound filling the Amphitheatre.

I was so thrilled to get a second shot at the Motet, and again they brought the funk and jazz and then some more funk. And by this time artist-at-large Roosevelt Collier, “The Doctor,” had popped in on numerous sets. Roosevelt can match up with anybody (which was fully proven Saturday!). Second dose of P-Funk: an amazing cover of “Getten’ to Know You.”

I ventured back into the Music Hall for more from the Malah, and, as promised, this was an even funkier, more danceable set than Thursday’s. From there I headed back to the Amphitheatre, where Galactic was blowing it up. They have been on fire the past year or so for me, and this was no different. They closed with “When the Levee Breaks,” and it seemed like they were finished, but I knew they weren’t, because Stanton Moore had not done his stand-up drum thing, which knocks me out every time! Wow!

Greenhouse Lounge, a great electronic trio, were having a great time on the Porch stage, and then it was back inside for a second helping of Kung Fu melting faces as they just killed it. Tim Palmieri is truly unsung as a guitar player, but every member is a monster. And one more P-Funk tune: “Sexy Ways.”

Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe held sway at the Purple Hat stage for some late-night magic, with numerous guests and his vocals and tenor soaring into the night air. Meanwhile, Bonobo with a full band was topping off the evening, or so I thought. By the time I got back to the music hall, I wasn’t expecting much from Robert Walter’s 20th Congress.

Wrong again. Walter and his band were perfect for the real late-night slot, with jazz and funk expertly intermingled. Walter’s work on the B3 is superb. Somehow, I managed to make it to the end of the set and back up the hill to the silent disco.

For those unfamiliar with the silent disco concept, each audience member gets a pair of headphones. You can control the volume, AND you can choose from two DJs or bands on stage. The eerie experience is taking your headphones off and watching all the heads bobbing up and down in (near) silence. Jeff Randall was pumping out a nice DJ set, but I was attracted to Squeedlepuss, a great jazzy quartet and a perfect fit for this extremely late-night slot.

Music raged on until 5:30, or sun-up, or something. I did not.


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