Seven Musical Suggestions for AURA Music & Arts Festival

The AURA Music and Arts Festival is four short weeks away. You’ve had a chance to study the music schedules for Thursday, Friday and Saturday, so you have some idea of the bands you want to see.


There are eight names at the top of the list you already know about, most likely. That would include Pink Talking Fish and The Werks on Thursday, Thievery Corporation and ALO on Friday, and Bright Light Social Hour, The Heavy Pets’ Tribute to the ‘80s, Snarky Puppy and The Disco Biscuits Saturday.

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That is a HUGE list. Eight great reasons to attend any festival, much less one at heaven on earth, also know as The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. With three dozen bands and 17 DJs in the house, however, you still have many options to consider. With that in mind, here are seven bands returning to the park you should check out. Of course, there are conflicts; that’s something you’ll have to work out.AMF16-Saturday-30rjjjv7peqd3i3qq920i2

Greenhouse Lounge played their last club show in Tampa in December, and their Thursday AURA set will be their last before they go on hiatus. The Jacksonville trio has played multiple festivals at the park, most recently at Reunion: Campout Concert Series, where they turned in two superb funky jamtronic sets. Their Friday night Music Hall set was simply amazing.

Asheville’s funkmeisters The Fritz have also appear at SoSMP multiple times. The intensity of their funk throwdown is off the charts, and they gain new fans every time out. Jamar Woods is clearly the focus of attention on keyboard and vocals, but this band is rock solid from start to finish. Their secret weapon might be Jamie Hendrickson, one of the most underrated guitarists on the scene. (Thursday)

There are three Friday performers who deserve your attention. First up is The Mike Dillon Band (New Orleans). Dillon is a monster percussionist (and punk singer!) who has played at Suwannee many times. This is full frontal music: punk jazz on rock, or… something. He is a masterful vibraphonist who attracts amazing talent to his band. The band’s music is demented in the most wonderful way.

Particle likewise has been a frequent visitor to Live Oak, including Wanee, Bear Creek and AURA. Steve Molitz is firmly in command of the starship that is his bank of keyboards. Particle will be playing new music from upcoming album Accelerator and mining the band’s catalog for some forgotten gems. This is “space porn funk” straight outta Los Angeles.

The New Deal made one journey to Live Oak, for the frigid Bear Creek 2010, before going on hiatus. This should be a glorious return for Toronto’s Dan Kurtz (bass), Joel Stouffer (drums), and Jamie Shields (keyboard). Their brand new album Mercury Switch is set for release… March 4th! You’ll be the first to get it!

And that brings us to Saturday. And to a true dilemma, one you will have to sort out for yourself. Tom Hamilton’s American Babies and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong play… at the same time. Pick one? Run between stages? That’s up to you.

Tom Hamilton’s American Babies (Philadelphia) are an incredibly tight quintet who range from great vocals and ballads to blistering rock and Dead-like jams. Hamilton also plays with long-time collaborator Joe Russo in Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. The rhythm section is amazing, and Hamilton and Justin Mazer are superb guitarists.

And then you have Pigeons Playing Ping Pong (Baltimore), an absurdly wonderful funk party. You’ll dance your ass off, smiling the whole time. Scrambled Greg and crew are so entertaining, and their secret weapon is Jeremy Schon, another brilliant shredder.

There you have it: seven suggestions as you peruse the music schedule for  this year’s AURA. MusicFestNews will be there! Hope to see you soon!

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