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Visions of Wanee

Author’s Note: The author wishes to dedicate this article to the good people at the Uniroyal Tire Company. Without their ability to make tires that go flat when hitting a curb at five miles an hour, the author would not have been able to spend two hours in the lovely metropolis of Albany, GA. instead of getting to see New Monsoon, Dirty Dozen, and a host of other great bands. The author would also like to thank James Diffee, city government reporter for the Albany Herald, for buying the author a Coke and spending an hour-and-a-half waiting with him for the AAA towing company. The author highly recommends AAA for all festivalgoers this summer, and does not recommend Uniroyal Tires.

This is the Wanee crowd, most of it, enjoying Gov’t Mule on the first day. Those so interested should pick up the tapes and hear the great “She Said, She Said” > “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park has enough gaps between the live oaks that the light hits them just a certain way in the early evening, producing an eerie green glow that is otherworldly.

The swamps and the cypress trees at dusk reflected in the water. And some giant swans made out of Christmas lights. In addition to giant Christmas-light swans, the park had a cafith cheap food, a bird sanctuary, a pool and showers, and everything else that I wish Bonnaroo had even though a pool at Bonnaroo is the worst idea on Earth. The staff was very friendly, and the amenities were cheap/free and plentiful.

Railroad Earth was a great way to start my Saturday morning. Nice, easy, mellow newgrass that helped me prepare for the day ahead. If you haven’t had the chance, pick up Elko and go drive through the mountains. You’ll feel better, even with the price of gas. This is Todd Sheaffer up front and Carey Harmon on drums.

Marc Roberge of O.A.R. Marc was a little shocked, I think, to find that the entire first seven rows had been blocked off by people who mostly sit in their chairs and sleep until the Allman Brothers Band. I have named this group the “Allman Chair Mafia.” Nothing against the people in chairs that weren’t in the first six or seven rows. At the same time, O.A.R. didn’t let it bother them and did a usual killer show, complete with a nice “Fire on the Mountain” verse.

The Wailers were awesome. Good old fashioned Marley reggae in the swamp. They kept it about 2/3 Marley and 1/3 not Marley. Even the Allman Chair Mafia was into it.

Not all legends go onstage. This is Kirk West, the Allman Brothers Band’s tour mystic. He is nicknamed “Santa” for, well, obvious reasons, but also for the stack of backstage passes he keeps in his pockets and gives out with a smile.

Count M’butu of the Derek Trucks Band. I had always seen him hidden behind a drum kit at Georgia Widespread Panic shows. Nice to see him up close, on a stripped down kit.

Mike Mattison, lead singer for the Derek Trucks Band.

Derek Trucks with his band during the special midnight set which was, unquestionably, the highlight of the festival. Guest after guest came out and it built continuously into a perfect ending. If you can get the tapes for this show, do it.

Luther Dickinson jamming with Derek on “Everything is Everything.”

After about 90 minutes of virtuosity, Derek Trucks invited his wife out to sing with them on “The Weight.” She forgot half the words and still blew them all off of the stage. The way she sang “Go down, Moses” just brought all the Faulkner and the Bible and everything you’re raised to love in the South running through my head and I couldn’t help but start crying. I’m almost afraid to listen to the tapes of it for fear that it won’t be as sublime a moment as it was in that audience, on that night. I understand now why she’s not in Derek’s band they’d have to call it “The Susan Tedeschi Band, feat. Derek Trucks.”

Shak Nasti and members of Bonobos Convergence threw a surprise gig after the Derek Trucks show out by the swamp with the Christmas light swans. It was a welcome encore to a wonderful day.

Jeff Troldahl, artistic director of the Wanee Festival, poses by one of his creations. It takes far more than bands to make a festival what it is, and I wanted to give him a well-deserved shout out.

Jack Pearson with the Allman Brothers Band after Derek Trucks leaves for Cannes to rehearse with Clapton. Jack is a lot more understated than Derek Trucks, which, for better and for worse, keeps them from trying to outplay each other all the time.

Butch Trucks, one of the three drummers for the Allman Brothers Band. The three-drum machine is a monster, with intricate interplay and subtlety when called for, and overwhelming power when called for.

There is only one Warren Haynes, and he needs no description.

The man who proved without a doubt that there is at least one white person who should be allowed to sing the blues. It’s impossible to put into words what it’s like to grow up in Alabama, have your parents raise you on this kind of music, and then get to see the man in concert. His voice is one of those elemental voices that no one can teach anyone how to imitate.

Wanee: The Aftermath

After the festival, in a way reminiscent of the famous Woodstock peace sign made from trash, someone had picked up discarded glowsticks and done the same thing. It’s how any festival should end.

But, unfortunately, this is how a festival ends for some. I hope this ends up on

But luckily, I cannot end on that note, as there was a young lady in lingerie with an Easter basket full of free Jell-O shots for whomever wanted them, and, let’s face it, there’s no happier note to hit to close any photo gallery, ever.

Wanee was without a doubt, worth the time, effort, and the flat tire. I had a wonderful time and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun weekend in the Florida spring.

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