When Luther Dickinson says (& has been for years) that Wanee is his favorite festival of all, people listen & take his advice to heart. He goes on to say “These are my peeps.” There is no higher compliment. Trust me.
I did my best to get up early & get my scurry on to the Mushroom stage to see my friends Honey Island Swamp Band from N’awlins do their bayou Americana roots thing. The band played an fantastic set including one of my faves of their “Chocolate Cake”. Toward the end of their show, the boys brought up the entire Soul Rebels Brass Band for a few songs including the Nola brass anthem “Let your Mind be Free”. Talk about brass roots. This was stunning to witness.
Next up was the Soul Rebels Brass Band for their own hot rollin’ set. Soul Rebels are a real deal Nola mainstay & a fun band you should find whenever you’re there or anywhere. Their show featured many heated dance numbers like “Who got my back” & even some funk tinged Michael Jackson. It felt like Louisiana for a good while.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe took to the Peach stage for some funked up jazz & wonton west coast boogaloo. Tiny Universe torched up “The Bridge” & “Front Money” amongst the groove laden set. Karl “Diesel” D. never ever disappoints & this show was a freak torquing blast by all accounts.
Another Wanee treat arrived as the North Mississippi Allstars Duo ignited their hill country meets world boogie shows aboard the mobile Traveling Wanee Stage. The 1st set was down by the Suwannee River near the beach access. The crowd went loony once the stage showed up (slightly late) & the brothers Dickinson obliged with a rockin’ set that busted open wide with the rage worthy “Drop Down Mama”. Other tunes imparted included “Po’ Black Maddie”, “Skinny Women” & “The Meeting”. After the spirited outpouring, I chatted with Luther & Cody for a few & ended up catching a lift with them to the next Traveling Stage gig at the Lake, which was beyond an honor & serves as one of my peak times at the fest.
The Lake campground show was slightly longer featuring another great appreciative crowd & more resounding NMA songs like “Shake”, & “KC Jones”. I love this concept of moving stages at festivals. North Miss foothill music played in the swamps & forests of north Florida never sounded so good.
O’teil Burbridge & the Lee Boys joined forces for an wonderful set at the Shroom stage. Some of the set that got me moving in more ways than one were “So much to live for” > Jacko’s “Don’t Stop till you get enough” > “He’s been so good to me”, “Groove with me”, “Don’t let the devil ride” with Kofi Burbridge & “Everybody needs somebody to love”. Please indulge yourself in this collaborative effort if it ever comes your way. Or the next time they do Wanee, whichever comes first.
The freshly formed Warren Haynes Band made their live debut at Wanee on the big stage. Warren seemed really happy & comfortable up there as it’s where he spent a good part of his weekend. Soul sensation Ruthie Foster soared on vocals. Ron Holloway delighted on sax. The material was strong. Some songs that got me going were “Sneaking Sally through the alley” & originals “Hattiesburg Hustle”, “Sick of my shadow”, “Man in motion” & “Invisible”. I love how Warren builds songs based on life scenarios & colorful characters he undoubted draws from his own experiences & observations. He then translates them into music. At Wanee, as at many other festivals (like Jazzfest), Warren is everywhere. He’s a musician’s musician. And always kind & open to fans new & old. Let’s count the ways we love him.
Robert Plant & the Band of Joy dazzled the noticeably swelling crowd with their Led Zep steeped roots vibe. Rarely have I ever seen any musician & singer put as much passion in their music than Robert Plant. That disclosed, I found the show to be exhilarating & satisfying beyond measure. Robert & his enchanting band started with a far out version of Led Zep’s “Black Dog”. The Band of Joy went on with more musical wonder like Los Lobos’ vibrant “Angel Dance”, Richard Thompson’s beautiful “House of Cards”, Low’s (cool band from Duluth, MN) haunting “Monkey”.
BoJ’s gorgeous singer Patty Griffin was particularly awesome. They performed other Zeppelin like “Houses of the Holy”, “Ramble on” & “Rock & Roll”. Other outstanding songs were “Somewhere trouble don’t go”, “Satan your kingdom must come down” & “Please read the letter” as well as the Dylan closer “A hard rain’s gonna fall”. This truly is a band of joy. And Robert Plant is the distinctive voice of roll n‘ roll itself. I enjoy the way he dances & prances about the stage. Experience their magic.
The Allman Brothers Band, who’ve hosted this legendary festival for 7 years now, launched into their heady headline show with a fired up “Hot ‘Lanta” followed by Gregg shining strong on “Midnight Rider” & “Trouble no more”. More personal high heights for me were “Come & Go Blues”, Dr John’s “Walk on guilded splinters”, rare instrumental “Egypt”, “Who’s been talkin” (with guest Kofi Burbridge featured), “Preachin’ Blues” (showcasing Warren & Derek on slide) & a stellar psychoactive extendo “In memory of Elizabeth Reed”. There were also additional phenomenal sit ins.
More thrills were had for the extraterrestrial double encore of crowd pleasing “Melissa” finishing with “One Way Out” wildly emblazened by the southern guitar firepower of Luther Dickinson & Roosevelt Collier (The Lee Boys lap steel) & further punctuated by Cody Dickinson on drums. With Gregg now healthy & gaining energy, the ABB will continue to rise as the South’s best there is. Wanee surely backs that up.
[Freaknote: You can buy this ABB & other recordings from Munck Music (based in Chicago). This kind company combines with great bands like the Allmans, etc. & festivals like Wanee & New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival to bring fans these live shows instantly at a reasonable price. I see this as a win-win-win. Visit the link below for deets.]
7 Walkers featuring Papa Mali & Bill Kreutzmann, led the late night charge at the Shroom stage. The nocturnal realms of Wanee were aroused & came alive as the sexy music leapt from trip enhancing amphitheater. 7 Walkers led off with “Space”, Nola fave “Junco Partner” & the GD’s “Mister Charlie” much to the pleasure of everyone there, myself included. More of their musical illumination included darkly fun “New Orleans Crawl”, funktified “Early in the Morning”, “Bertha”, “7 Walkers” (namesake tune), “Bottle up & go”, “Just like Tom Thumb’s Blues”, “Hey Pocky Way” & “Goin’ down the road feelin’ bad”. Since George Porter Jr. was on tour with the Funky Meters in Australia, Nola superstar sousaphonist Kirk Joseph nicely handled the 7 Walkers bass spot. Papa Mali & Billy have a charismatic chemistry that needs to be heard. Heed the call.
The 7th visionary Wanee had me captivated & intrigued beyond rational explanation. I am going with it. As I give myself more & more to this festive musical love affair, I discover peace of mind & uncontrollable happiness like I’d never known before. I say: Bring it!
Home Sweet Home • Wanee 2011
Sincere thanks to all who’s photos & vids I have utilized here. You make my blog look magnifcent. Apologies to the bands I missed: Keller Williams, Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings, Toubab Krewe, Particle, Griffin Anthony. I heard you all had excellent shows.