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Bear Creek’s Family Vibe

The String Cheese Incident’s just hosted their first Hulaween at Suwannee. Can you say a bit about that event and what its future might be

It was a very successful Hulaween. It’s SCI’s franchise Halloween event. They don’t do it every year, but they’ve done it a number of times. This year, after many years of trying to make something happen at the Spirit of the Suwannee with String Cheese, the timing was right and we were able to do this show.

Because of the type of venue it is, and people were coming to camp, we decided to make a little mini-festival. We added a nice lineup around three nights of String Cheese and borrowed some of the ethos of Burning Man and Electric Forest Festival and created Spirit Lake up at the Spirit of the Suwannee. That was an art and light creative installation that people could wander around and enjoy. There was a stage up there and a silent disco and all sorts of painters, burlesque dancers and fire jugglers. It was a very exciting place to be late at night.

With Bear Creek right around the corner, can you tell us about some of this year’s artists at large?

The Shady Horns
The Shady Horns started out as artists at large at Bear Creek before we even labeled them artists at large. As the horn section of Lettuce, these guys have been at the core of the Bear Creek family since 2008. The first time Lettuce played Bear Creek, I was blown away by the band and then noticed that their horn section—that year Ryan Zoidis, Sam Kininger & Rashawn Ross—was sitting in with bands all over the place. Along with Skerik, these guys have become Dumpstaphunk’s semi -regular Bear Creek horn section. Or at least it seems that way. Over the years, they have played with Maceo, Pee Wee Ellis & Fred Wesley, New Mastersounds, Moe. and so many others.

George Porter Jr.
It’s a serious honor to have this future Rock and Roll Hall of Famer (please don’t forget to vote this year) as a regular part of the Bear Creek family. I believe that George has played all seven Bear Creek’s with Runnin’ Pardners, The Funky Meters, The Trio and as an artist at large. He has sat in with Lettuce, Soulive, Dumpstaphunk, Medeski Martin & Wood, Anders Osborne and on and on. George’s smile and funky basslines make him a fan favorite and he always takes time to stroll the grounds and see what’s happening. I have a ton of great George memories but his sit-in with Anders Osborne on Sugaree a few years ago was pretty darned spectacular.

Our good friend Skerik is the only musician that has been artist at large at all 7 Bear Creeks. I think what makes Skerik so good in this format is his familiarity and excellence in so many different genres of music and he can really adapt to whatever is going on on stage skillfully. I remember, and forget, so many insane Skerik sit ins over the years. Dumsptaphunk, Billy Martin and Will Blades, New Mastersounds, Will Bernard, Lettuce and a ton more come to mind.

Roosevelt Collier
The good Doctor, also a member of The Lee Boys, is the reigning Bear Creek sit-ins champion. I think he’s racked up something like 19 sit-ins with different bands in a single year. Roosevelt loves playing with seemingly anyone at the festival that asks him. He really doesn’t care about genre. I think in a single night, Rooevelt once played with Moe., Bonobo, Dumpstaphunk, Umphrey’s McGee and a few more. The Bonobo sit in was insane. What makes Rosie special is his fearlessness. He’ll dive into anything. Roosevelt has played six Bear Creeks.

Jennifer Hartswick
It’s been so much fun having Jennifer Hartswick as a part of four Bear Creeks. I am pretty sure that Jennifer was instrumental in nudging Trey Anastasio to bring his band to Suwannee for 2011, after playing the festival with her own band in 2010. Jennifer kicks so much butt that she was handpicked to join George Porter Jr. and Johnny Vidacovich for a set with The Trio in 2011. Jennifer has sat in with a ton of BC bands like Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce and The New Mastersounds. A particularly amazing moment was her wailing vocals during “Crazy On You” with Umphrey’s McGee a few years ago.

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