Headstash On The Road: Wanee Day 1
- By Julia Stewart
- Published on April 20, 2012
Last night officially kicked off the eighth annual Wanee Music and Arts Festival at the majestic Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park in Live Oak, FL.
In a sense, Wanee is the last unicorn of jam festivals, with an authentic lineup featuring the best in improvisational rock and roll. Having been to the grounds two dozen times and fortunate enough to call the SOSMP a second home, I always forget how insanely huge Wanee festival actually is. Seemingly intimate gatherings held at the park like Bear Creek or Magnolia Fest are mere small cookies compared to the gargantuan that is Wanee.
Upon arrival, the grounds were packed to the brim and although traffic was moving slowly there is thankfully no five-mile long line of cars to wait in at the SOSMP. Once you’re in, you’re in, and no matter where you are in the park, the massive oaks, Spanish moss, sun and smiles stretch as far as the eye can see.
The scenery and vibe at the Suwanee Music Park is something I’ve written about many times thought its magic is tough to put into words. The feeling that engulfs you the second you enter the park is really indescribable. The Sprit of the Suwanee is alive – it’s a reckoning force of love, respect and camaraderie that is inherent in every single patron, musician and staff member.
Having recently relocated to Colorado after a lifetime in Florida, this particular trip to the Suwanee was a special one for me. Although no longer in my backyard, the place has never felt more like home. I arrived in time to set up camp alongside the lake before the typical Florida afternoon rain reared its ugly head, soaking the campgrounds and keeping festivalgoers at bay for hours.
The rain subsided in time to see Hot Tuna Electric destroy the beloved Amphitheater Stage for a two-hour set. The over-four-decade old band still plays with the tenacity of a group of 20-somethings.
The classic tune “Hesitation Blues” was a set highlight and mandolin player Barry Mitterhoff was a supreme treat to the ears. Being under 25 at Wanee actually puts you in the minority category and it was a humbling feeling to glance around the crowd and behold a sea of seasoned, old-school music lovers.
Next up was one of the only live electronic acts on the bill, Conspirator. The former Disco Biscuits side-project turned full-time act closed out the night to a crowd of rage happy youngsters. A laser light ceiling stretched the length of the Amphitheater and the guys took their time progressing into a full on electro heavy dance party.
Aiming to please the crowd they busted out a killer rendition of “Scarlett Begonias” early in the set and weaved in and out of spacey, guitar led jams.
In true Conspirator fashion, as the night grew later the set got increasingly more electronic and synth heavy resulting in a full-on rave-like atmosphere.
From Hot Tuna Electric to Conspirator, the first night of Wanee offered some interesting insight into the evolution of music and was an excellent kick off to what is sure to be a killer weekend of live tunes.
The second day of Wanee features Furthur, The Allman Brothers Band, Zach Deputy, Particle, Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk and more. Stay tuned for more coverage from Wanee 2012.
For more information including the complete schedule check out Wanee's official website.