Wanee 2009:
A Wet and Wild Time
by Adam Scholer

Photos by Ian Rawn
In terms of music, this year's Wanee Fest was one of the hottest on record and in terms of weather, Mother Nature delivered a wet and wild ride. Between the rain and the mud, Wanee 2009 was a hippie's dream. The organizers' decision to have bands perform on Thursday deserves a huge thank you from the crowd and hopefully they heard it. Kicking off the jammed-packed, jammin' party was the Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio and they did it right, setting the stage for the Radiators, who set the tone for what would be a rocking, surprised-filled weekend of music. If the crowd was blown away with their Thursday night set, they were positively floored by the Radiators' second show the next day. Buddy Guy was absolutely on fire, and if you haven't seen the original Doobie Brothers perform, then you have missed musicians who put it out there with an energy that belies their age. Little Feat showed us why they remain as popular as ever with a set that was as folksy as it was fun. Umphrey's McGee, a band featured in Hittin' the Note #60, lived up to its billing as an entertaining, soulful group, and Umphrey's was surprise #1 at this year's festival. Having been to all five Wanees, I had only seen Susan Tedeschi late night in the woods on the small stage. Surprise #2 was her band on the main stage, and all I can say is WOW! It was almost enough to make Derek Trucks jealous, who closed out Friday night's festivities with an incendiary set of his own.

Wanee mainstays Bonobos Convergence and Devon Allman's Honytribe delivered solid performances that make it easy to see why they are asked back each year. The Arc Angels, led by Doyle Bramhall II, delivered some of the best guitar playing that Wanee has seen. Blowing Trees and Mocean Worker, bands new to the festival, had big fun with the wet-but-excited crowd, and really kept the vibe flowing. The Drive-By Truckers rocked in the monsoon rains of Saturday, with their unique sound of country-meets-rock meets-calamity leaving a lasting impression for certain.

Surprise #3 was BK3, Bill Kreutzmann's band. An entire separate article could be written on them, but suffice to say, they are well-worth the price of admission, particularly for Dead Heads. Still not enough? Try Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Jorma Kaukonen of Hot Tuna and Jefferson Airplane fame, Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, Col. Bruce Hampton and the Quark Alliance, Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk, Keller Williams, who always seems like he will spontaneously combust, Hill Country Revue and the Lee Boys with Oteil Burbridge. Hard to believe all that talent could be in one place, but that is why Wanee is fast becoming the festival to attend. Wanee draws a big crowd but isn't crowded, introduces new groups to the scene and ultimately delivers memorable sets from the two bands that everyone is there to see - Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers. Every time I think they have delivered the best set possible, they go one better. Warren Haynes and the Mule were phenomenal, and it was so nice to have Gregg Allman back at Wanee, sharing his enduring talent with his fans. And just when things could not have gotten any better, the Wailers took the stage after midnight, performing the Exodus album in its entirety. What a way to close things out - the people couldn't get enough of this legendary group. Yes it was wet and yes it was muddy, but most of all, Wanee 2009 was wild!

Copyright © 2009 Kid Glove Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.
Customer Service Questions: [email protected]
Web Questions: [email protected]
Created and maintained by Double Down Productions