Second Time Around Rocks Even More!

by Adam Scholer

Apparently some of you read about Wanee Fest in HTN or on the website, because twice as many folks it would seem showed up this year than last. What a crowd! And oh yeah, how about the phenomenal job the bands did to entertain us for two full days and nights? If you thought you might get a good night’s sleep in camp you figured wrong, but a good night awake, now that was very doable. The camp was rocking, and so were the stages, so if you missed it, I’ll try to put you there and maybe you will come next year and join the fun.

A better band than New Monsoon to open the Peach Stage performances would be hard to find. Talk about setting a tone. Immediately one sensed that this year would be special and it was indeed. Bonobos Convergence, by all accounts, did the Mushroom Stage in the woods justice. I confess I caught the tail end of the show because I was getting to know my hippie friends in camp, but I caught all of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band both days and the horns were blowing and it was sweet and jumpin’at the same time. Jack Pearson did a wonderful job, both with his band and on stage the second night with the Allman Brothers Band. I heard that old Brother’s sound in Jack’s playing and it took me back, even though I don’t have as far back to go as some. The entire Jack Pearson Band, including Mrs. Pearson on bass, deserves kudos for having fun and getting everyone out of their chairs and dancing. Oteil and the Peacemakers took the big stage next and did a solid, long, diverse set that mixed so many sounds it was dizzying. I lay in the shade listening, having to remind myself that Oteil is the bass player for a Southern rock jam band. I will now attempt to review Dumpstaphunk - hoppin, jumpin, rockin’, smilin’ and groovin’. Possibly one of the most talented, entertaining bands I’ve seen. Special request that they play Wanee next year. Medeski, Martin and Wood were, as always, right on. Playing in the afternoon, it was the perfect segue to the evening entertainment of the so-called “big bands,” a new hippie reference for the Mule and Brothers. The North Mississippi Allstars really took things up a notch with their show - the energy in the woods was palpable at this point and I sensed the band felt it too.

Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule just keep getting better. Along with the usual killer Mule songs they threw out Zeppelin, the Grateful Dead, Van Morrison, the Beatles and so many more, I stopped trying to remember and just soaked it in. I have nothing but praise for the entire band and pity for those who missed the show. At this point the fans were well past getting their money’s worth and then the Mule delivered the goods - like a music piñata that we busted open as the moon rose, and our spirits with them. Thank you boys - we all enjoyed it regardless of where we were. I heard it from ten yards away, and a hundred and there was never an acoustic let down. The Allman Brothers followed, and it was as if this was my first show. Unpredictable greatness is what I have come to expect and I have yet to walk away disappointed. The addition of Jack Pearson on Night Two standing in for Derek Trucks was cool. (And that in no way should diminish Derek’s magic the night before). The tag-team bass players was fun, too.

Devon Allman and the Honeytribe were quite a nice surprise. To boot, we were treated to Devon sittng in on Saturday night for “Midnight Rider,” a song that never gets old, even though we do. The Lee Boys were awesome, another band we hope to see at Wanee III. Railroad Earth blew me away. I am already searching for tour dates to catch them again. O.A.R. brought a totally different sound to the festival, but in the best of ways. Generally their following is a younger, college crowd, but this old hippie thought it was phenomenal and I admit I danced in camp, particularly to “Crazy Game of Poker.” The Wailers did reggae and Bob Marley proud. The sound was rich, full and perfect for the day’s weather. It was bright, sunny and fresh, just like the Wailer’s set. I know some are wondering how did he miss Derek Trucks and the Midnight Jam? I did not. In a way it’s saving the best for last. That young man ripped it up until nearly two in the morning and made us all wish that we could get a repeat performance, but Derek had a schedule to keep with Eric Clapton in Europe, so we will all just sit tight until next year and then we will be rocking in the woods again. The Hittin’ the Note booth was busy throughout, supplying the crowd with plenty of great merchandise and a chance to subscribe to a premium magazine. As usual the HTN crew probably worked more than they played, but we all appreciate it, so from the camping hippies to you folks - thanks. Wanee I was great. Wanee II was excellent. Can you imagine next year? Until then - keep on rockin’ and lovin’.

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