Wanee Music Festival veterans always know the schedule:  get to the park as early as possible,  relax,  party with your friends,  eventually hear some music,  force yourself to leave… eventually. Which is accurate. Now, however, the other schedule (you know, the official one) is finally ready for your reading enjoyment! And, lest there be any confusion, this is loaded!
One of the main features you will notice is that a number of the time slots that in the past have been an hour and a half have been stretched out to two hours, and some hour slots lengthened to an hour and a half. We suspect this will be to everyone’s liking, especially with overlapping sets and the ability to see more, should you decide to split time between overlapping sets.
WANEE WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19
The lineup for Wanee Wednesday has been available for some time, and you can read our excellent preview of that here. The first thing you hear will be Big Mike, whose booming voice will become your best friend over the next four days as your Mushroom Stage host. Philadelphia’s Brothers & Sisters get the party started at 2:30 — with the perfect band name for this festival and a great mix of music. Dark Star Orchestra tour manager Matt Reynolds takes the stage next, followed by excellent young guitar slinger Ben Sparaco, who plays very much in the vein of Dickey and Derek.
South Florida’s Crazy Fingers does what they do best, with New Orleans magic from New Orleans Suspects up next. And then the magic unfolds as Butch Trucks’ Freight Train Band plays a set in honor of the beloved Allman Brothers Band drummer and Wanee spearhead. Heather Gillis, a member of the band, told us that the band members’ resolve for playing this set is so strong. Two very additions to the band are Cody and Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi All-Stars. No names have been announced, but there are certainly rumors of a number of guests dropping by in memory of Butch.
THURSDAY, APRIL 20
If you are an early riser (or a late-going-to-bedder) looking for breakfast at the Music Hall, you are in musical luck. Albert Simpson, a fine singer-songwriter from Alabama, will serenade you Thursday, Friday and Saturday mornings from 8 to 11.
Normally, the Thursday schedule is all at the Mushroom Stage (as were Wednesday’s sets), but this year there will be one departure from the norm, as Dark Star Orchestra will play two sets at the Peach Stage from 8 to midnight. Crazy Fingers and Brothers & Sisters get a second shot early Thursday, followed by the ubiquitous Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio (they also play Friday and Saturday AND ride on the Traveling Stage).
There has been great excitement building for the Leftover Salmon set as the band performs the music of Neil Young. Blackberry Smoke is up just before DSO to rock your socks off (figuratively, for you barefoot and sandaled folks). And music returns to the Mushroom stage for a late-night romp with DJ Logic.
FRIDAY, APRIL 21
The first two days were free of overlaps; now you need to make some decisions, because sets do collide. And we would suggest you get up early Friday to check out another young guitar beast in Marcus King and his superb band. There is a reason Warren Haynes tapped King as a skyrocketing talent; find out why. Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio is up for their opening half-hour slot on the Peach before they hit the Traveling Stage, and the Devon Allman Band will remind us again about that blistering set from last year.
Matisyahu hits the Peach early afternoon before Shabbat sundown, and then Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band is at the Mushroom, with the amazing Junior Mack out front and Bruce Katz at the keyboards. This one of several opportunities to see Katz, who will also perform with the Freight Train Band and Les Brers. JJ Grey and Mofro return to SoSMP to proselytize for the natural beauty of Florida (Grey for Governor in 2018).
Turkuaz, who rocked Jam Cruise so hard the very first set out, bring their brilliant show to the park for their first Wanee. Next, Bob Weir and the Campfire Band play at sunset, which should be great. Papadosio follows with their jamtronic magic.
The Peach Stage then welcomes back Widespread Panic, one of only 17 dates on the band’s calendar this year. They should be rarin’ to go. And then comes the highly anticipated Les Brers set at the Mushroom. All who attended last year remember the mind-blowing three-hour set Butch led. Duane Trucks (from Panic) will join Jaimoe at kit, and you should expect a lot of guests. Enough said.
SATURDAY, APRIL 22 (Earth Day)
The Saturday schedule is equally slammed, and music starts early again. We suggest once again getting up early to see The Yeti Trio, Vaylor Trucks’ tremendous band. They killed their early set last year, and all who were there will remember Butch on the rail with his grandchildren. Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio has their Peach opener before hopping on the Traveling Stage again; Jack Broadbent will ride the Traveling Stage earlier to the Canoe Post and the lake.
At this point, things go totally bonkers. Kung Fu are back after last year’s incredible set, followed by Dr. John & the Nite Trippers. It’s been a couple of years since we had the good Dr. in our Wanee midst. Next, Pink Talking Fish. Yes, that’s what they play, and, yes, they will mess your mind. Fair warning.
Gov’t Mule takes the Peach Stage for a glorious two hours for all of us just a-waitin’ for a good ass-kickin’. And Keller Williams’ Grateful Grass is a further delightful injection of Dead into the proceedings. Over at the Peach, it’s TAB time. The Trey Anastasio Band is always incredible, especially with two queens on stage: Natalie Cressman and Jennifer Hartswick. Back at the ’Shroom stage, The Greyboy All-Stars will funk you up, led by the incomparable Karl Denson.
The second night of Bob Weir and the Campfire Band will likely turn into an all-star jam before too long. Your attendance is strongly suggested.
And that leaves it to Pink Talking Fu to shut down the Mushroom Stage and the 2017 edition of Wanee. You might correctly surmise that Pink Talking Fish + Kung Fu is the correct equation here, and they will be performing the music of David Bowie and Prince.
And Big Mike will remind us that it’s only 361 days until Wanee 2018!
MusicFestNews will see you there. Please come say hello!