Wanee’s Ten Year Blow-Out

The 2014 Wanee Festival

April 10-12

Spirt of Suwanee State Park, Live Oak, Florida

The Allman Brothers Band, Blues Traveller, Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Dumpstaphunk, Blind Boys of Alabama, Pink Talking Fish, The Yeti Trio, Futurebirds, Jaimoes Jassz Band, The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Bobby Lee Rodgers, Hot Tuna Electric, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Umphrey Murphies and more . . .

TTB 2014 (33)Wanee, the music festival which is the brainchild of Allman Brothers Band founding member, Butch Trucks, hit a landmark with it’s ten year anniversary, and it was a blow out.

The weather cooperated and was entirely pleasant without so much as a drop of rain over the three days of music.  the festival was well attended, and anticipation was running high as the Allman Brothers Band had earlier this year announced the departure of both guitarists, Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, and an end to touring for the foreseeable future. There were Hula hoops, jam bands, special guest star appearances, patchuli and other earthly scented delights, and a damn good time all around.

The Chris Robinson Brotherhood started off their set with a tedious snoozefest which couldn’t entice this reviewer to hang around. If it picked up and ever came to life, I never heard about it.  Lynyrd Skynyrd tribute band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, with only one surviving member, Gary Rossington, left among it’s ranks, performed a perfunctory set of songs you can hear every 30 minutes on classic rock radio for thise who felt compelled to see it live and in person.  It sounded o-k from the back, so I guess it was.

Blues Traveller performed a brilliant but short set. Yeti Trio were nothing short of brilliant as they brought forth their jazz from another dimension to a small but appreciative crowd. Their technical brilliance cannot begin to be overstated. Futurebirds delivered a country flavored bit of psychadelia that was fun to witness. Five time Grammy winners   The Blind Boys of Alabama showed what five decades of on-stage experience can do to hone a performance. Their gospel hour was nothing short of stunning. The Royal Southern Brotherhood delivered a fine set of  21st century southern rock and show nothing but promise for the next generation of musicians tackling the genre.

Midnight at Friday night, Dumpstaphunk delivered a set Led Zeppelin that was nigh in irresistible. This was not a party to miss. Kicking off the set with “Rock n’ Roll” the set focused heavily on deep cuts like “Houses of the Holy,” and “Nobody’s Fault But Mine,” which Blues Traveller’s John Popper Sat in on. If you lasted long enough, you would have seen Warren Haynes add his guitar to “Whole Lotta Love.”  Didn’t nobody want to goJGB (68) to bed.

Galadrielle Allman, daughter of Duane Allman, was up early promoting her book, “Please Be With Me.” She was flanked by Butch Trucks and joined halfway through by her uncle Gregg Allman, who related stories about the band’s founding visionary, Duane. She read from her book to a receptive crowd. Gregg Allman told the story about his and older brother Duane’s first concert experience, seeing B.B. King in Daytona Beach.

And what about the almighty Allman Brothers Band? Currently in their 45th year, and amidst swirling rumors of an impending end to the band, the band took the stage on Friday night, delivering a performance as good as anything in their storied legacy. Taut, muscular, and occasionally loose,  they served up two and a half hours of formidable music augmented by second keyboardist, Kofi Burbridge.  Instrumental classic “Jessica” took on some Grateful Dead type characteristics as the song expanded and contracted, repeatedly before falling apart and finally reforming with the force of a whirlwind, the melodies soaring. This and the guest spot from Try Anastasio on “Franklin’s Tower” were highlights of the first nights.

Saturday night was a more uneven affair, but still a memorable time. The band turned in a stellar performance of “True Gravity,” as the centerpiece of the second evening. Everyone is entitled to an evening where not all goes according to plan. The Allmans were clearly among friends who recieved them warmly. And ultimately, on a slightly off night, this is a band who’s better than most everyone else on their best night.