Wanee Music Festival | Saturday 04.12.14

After the trip to Oz the previous night (well, a couple hours prior), it was up to greet the noon.  Sadly, that meant missing the Yeti Trio, although they sounded good filtering through the woods.  I was again faced with the noon dilemma: Bobby Lee Rodgers or what Carol Merrill had behind door number three.  Several of us had been talking about door number 3, actually, a new conglomeration called Pink Talking Fish (as in Floyd, Heads and Ph-ish).  But you know I needed one more shot of the BLR Trio.  Once again I was amply rewarded.

Then I jetted back to hear Pink Talking Fish.  The medley I missed started this way: “Run Like Hell > Slippery People > Tweezer.”  Eric Gould, former bass player for Particle, leads this outfit as they segue almost seamlessly from one band to the other.  I was standing with Rev. Hugh when they kicked into “The Great Gig in the Sky.” That is the tune from “Dark Side” where Clare Torry sings wordlessly.  All of a sudden, Sunny Trippel appeared on stage and began singing.  In unison, Rev. Hugh and I turned to each other and compared arms.  Yep!  Hair sticking straight up.  Yikes!  She was phenomenal.  If your band is going to attempt THAT song, you’d better nail it.  She did.

Next up: another one of my prejudices.  I am just not a Chris Robinson fan.  I listened for half an hour, and it simply was not of interest – to me.  Again, I was in the distinct minority.  So I went back to the amphitheatre to see Matt Schofield, an English blues rocker.  I enjoyed this set as much as his Sunshine Blues Fest set.  It was a perfect afternoon performance.

Prejudice number two: not a John Popper fan, either.  At least I’m up front about it!  The Blues Traveler set sounded OK, but I was dying to get back to the amphitheatre to hear Rusted Root.  I had not seen them for several years.

I heard music I liked more during the weekend, but no set came close to reaching this emotional peak.  There was an incredible connection between band and audience, positively electrifying.  It was a wonderful roller coaster ride (my son will be amused, since I HATE roller coasters!).  The download sounds good, but you had to be there.  I would recommend that you NOT miss them next time around.

So I went from this amazing emotional high back to see the Tedeschi Trucks Band.  I have written about them glowingly (see: Sunshine Blues Fest and upcoming piece on redefinition of “the big band”), but this was an average set at best.  Again, TTB is better than 99.9% of bands on the planet, but this was – for them – nothing special.

Also, this was an odd day.  If memory serves, TTB and Gov’t Mule never played back-to-back sets and rarely the same day unless one or the other was doing the closing midnight set.  Due to schedule SNAFUs (and absurd delays in its release), that became necessary.  So while Mule was setting up, I got to hear a small portion of the JGB set with Melvin Seals, solid as always.

A brief recap to this point: nothing special for me on the main stage, some superb sets at the amphitheatre.  It was time for Mule.  If there is one man you can count on – Who you gonna call? – it’s Warren Haynes.  He was the jewel in the ABB set Friday, capped off with his huge sit-in with Dumstaphunk doing Zep.

I know that Wanee is the ABB festival (and where that goes in 2015 is fit for much speculation), but for me Warren IS Wanee.  Mule BLEW IT OUT.  Every tune sizzled, whether they were new tunes from “Shout” (we got four, including “World Boss” and “Stoop So Low,” two of my favs), an opening “Hammer and Nails,” or a closing “Mule > Whole Lotta Love > Mule” (more Zep!).  The hottest item of the set was when Warren called Derek Trucks on stage, and they lit up the Billy Cobham tune “Stratus.”  I thought I had time-warped back 40 years!

The break before the Brothers set was literal: Break Science.  I have seen them great and not so great.  I headed back to the campground for a brief time-out.  Mistake.  Susan Tedeschi joined them, and perhaps Warren did, too.  I’m an underachiever; what can I say?

If the Allman Brothers’ set wasn’t legendary, it was certainly stronger than Friday’s show.  Hats off to Kofi Burbridge for filling in so superbly on keyboards, since Gregg’s hand was broken.  Gregg’s voice wasn’t though, as he ripped into “Not My Cross to Bear” early in the set.  There was great diversity in the song selection, and everything seemed to sparkle.  The set closed with a dynamic reading of “I Walk on Gilded Splinters” and a tight, compact “Whipping Post.”  The encore featured Popper and Roosevelt Collier on his lap steel for “One Way Out.”

It’s one thing to be wrong.  It’s another to be 100% wrong.  During my Break Science break, I speculated with a campmate that I probably wouldn’t know any of the songs Umphrey’s McGee had decided to cover for their All Night Wrong set.  I was guessing they would choose music by bands I didn’t really know.  I could not possibly have been more wrong (math teachers WILL point out that 100% is really the maximum).

Here was the set opener: “Exodus / Life During Wartime mashup > City of Tiny Lites (Zappa) > Life During Exodus.”  WOW.  They hit the two weekend themes, Zep and Floyd, with “Song Remains the Same” and later “Immigrant Song” (with Warren, natch) and MORE “Dark Side” with “Breathe.”  Scofield’s “A Go Go.”  Hendrix’s “Power of Soul.”  Krasno joined them for the second encore, a perfect “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”

For me, the other set highlights were two great song pairings.  First, it was “Rock the Casbah > Miss You,” with Popper.  The best jam of the night launched out of “Hey Nineteen” into a deluxe “When the World Is Running Down You Make the Best of What’s Still Around.”  Game, two sets and match to Umphrey’s McGee.

I have no idea what happened after that.  I did finally get to sleep hours later.  I think friends happened.  That’s the way with Brothers and Sister of the Suwannee.  Thanks again to the Gov’nah, Adam Pierce, for all of his Waneetopia work, to Scrog and Company for the magnificent Short-Cut Camp tribute to The Wizard of Oz, and to all the grateful friends who, like me, are pretty sure this is what heaven looks like.

At least I hope so.

Even if I don’t get an invite.


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