Wanee Festival 2013: Review + Photo Gallery

Wanee FestivalWanee, one of our favorite festival’s of the past year, took place at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in mid-April. We started off what turned out to be a very memorable Festival on the Peach Stage with the Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio and Blackberry Smoke, who both help set the ball rolling for a truly amazing day. At 1:30, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band set up camp on the very intimate Mushroom Stage. The iconic drummer of the Allman Brothers Band delivered with his band’s distinct jazz-rock fusion. Next up on the Peach Stage was the one and only Robert Randolph and the Family band. What more can be said about a guy who has perfected the pedal steel guitar and captivates an audience like Randolph does. Touted as one of the best pedal steel players in the world, Randolph has been a namesake at festivals around the globe since the early 2000’s.

Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Robert Randolph & the Family Band

Gov’t Mule was up next on the Peach state and came out flying with an almost 12 minute version of “Thorazine Shuffle” with lyrics added from “I Feel Good”. Warren, Matt, Danny, and Jorgen never disappoint and they sure didn’t here. They ended their almost 1 hour and 30 min set with “I’m a Ram” and “Cortez the Killer” with special guests John Bell, Dave Schools, John Hermann & Jimmy Herring. Meanwhile on the Mushroom Stage, the North Mississippi All Stars were rocking out with their signature rock/blues style.  Brothers Lucas and Cody Dickinson have perfected the ability to energize a crowd.

Following a short break, you could sense the excitement building for Widespread Panic. The iconic band returned to Wanee after a year absence and quickly showed why they have the following that they do.  Starting off with a rocking “Ain’t Life Grand”, the entire crowd was dancing the second the first note was played. Danny Louis from Gov’t Mule joined the band for a cover of J.J.  Cale’s “Ride Me High”, as well as joining Warren Haynes on stage for the Funkadelic Cover, “Maggot Brain”. The highlight of the night was the ZZ Top cover, “Jesus Just Left Chicago”, which was performed with Warren Haynes. No Panic fan – new or old – was left unsatisfied.

With the crowd already amped up from the amazing performance by Widespread Panic, the Allmans did not disappoint on Friday night. Coming out with a strong first set, started off by “Hot ‘Lanta” into a memorable “Statesboro Blues”, Greg Allman’s voice hasn’t sounded better in years. No Allman Brothers fan would argue that anytime the band plays “Blue Sky” that the crowd goes crazy. The Allman’s ended the show with an unbelievable version of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” with special guest Jimmy Herring on guitar. Herring really played off of the genius guitar work of Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, leaving the crowd with anticipation of what the band would play for the encore. The anticipation paid off with a special version of “One Way Out” with special guests Luther Dickinson, Cody Dickinson, and Artimus Pyle (former drummer of Lynyrd Skynyrd).

After a restful sleep, the music started up again on Saturday on the Peach Stage with The Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio. And then followed by the legendary Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Leon Russell. Leon showed the crowed why he has been asked to collaborate with some of the best musicians in history including George Harrison, Elton John, and Joe Cocker. His signature sound resonated through the growing crowd and started off the day with a bang. Meanwhile on the Mushroom stage, the Dirty Dozen Brass Band showed that 35 years later the band can still play. Their unique sound and high energy was a perfect segway into Michael Franti and Spearhead on the Peach Stage. Franti’s mix of many different styles of music including hip-hop, funk, reggae,  jazz, folk and rock create a sound that is impossible not to like. Franti’s performance was nothing short of an energetic musical masterpiece.

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Next up on the Peach stage was the one and only Tedeschi Trucks Band. Derek Trucks and his wife, the beautiful Susan Tedeschi, create some of the most soulful powerful music in the business today. Susan’s vocals combined with Derek’s guitar genius really shined bright. “Midnight in Harlem” and “Bound for Glory ” stuck out as crowd favorites. Derek’s world famous guitar solos along with Susan’s beautiful and powerful voice was the perfect transition into another memorable and amazing performance by Widespread Panic.

Panic started out flying with “Imitation Leather Shoes”. Their second set was full of amazing covers including “Climb to Safety” by Jerry Joseph, “Stop Breakin’ Down Blues” by Robert Johnson, “City of Dreams” by the Talking Heads, and “I’ve Been Working” by Van Morrison, which was performed with special guests Artimus Pyle Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi, and then finally “Goin’ Out West” by Tom Waits. It was truly amazing to see the crowd reaction and grooving to the music the entire night.

The Brothers followed up Panic with another amazing night of music. Starting off right with “1983 >Mountain Jam > 1983 > Mountain Jam (reprise)” really got the crowd moving.  The highlight of the first part of the show was the brilliant version of “Midnight Rider” which has historically been a crowd favorite. During “Melissa”, Greg’s voice echoed for miles and made it very hard not to close your eyes and take in his amazing voice.  “Melissa” was followed by “Good Morning Little School Girl” with special guest Danny Louis.  The ABB really know how to end the night off right with an unbelievably amazing and powerful version of “Whipping Post” and an encore of “Southbound” with special guests Jr. Mac, Bruce Katz, Danny Louis & John Ray.  This was one of those shows that leaves the crowd in awe.

For those who were not yet satisfied after an amazing day of music, Galactic and friends tore it up on the Mushroom stage following the ABB show. The Mushroom stage at night is a magical place full of lights and lasers which are accentuated by the tree canopies and creates the perfect place for live music to be played.  What an amazing show by Galactic and friends and a perfect way to end a memorable and unforgettable weekend of music.  Until next year…. – Josh Aronson