Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, New Mastersounds, Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce and More Funk Up Bear Creek
The 2012 Bear Creek Music & Art Festival took place this past weekend at Live, Oak, FL’s picturesque Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. The jam and funk festival’s lineup this year featured Umphrey’s McGee, Lotus, Soulive, Lettuce, The New Mastersounds, Perpetual Groove, Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and more. On top of the stellar lineup of bands, Bear Creek threw in the added element of “Artists at Large” featuring George Porter Jr., Jennifer Hartswick, Pee Wee Ellis and Roosevelt Collier, who made guest appearances with various acts throughout the festival.
Thursday kicked off at 2pm with three stages worth of music from bands like Kung Fu, Bright Light Social Hour, Moon Taxi and The Werks. Perpetual Groove played a rocking late night set complete with covers of Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down” and Street Sweeper Social Club’s “Clap for the Killers” before the MarchFourth Marching Band closed out the night with their brand of circus brass. However, the night’s highlight likely came during Zach Deptuy’s set, when the always entertaining one-man-band sent the crowd into a fit of laughter during his cover of Adam Sandler’s SNL classic “Lunchlady Land.”
Friday’s line up was more expansive as the festival ‘s to news stages came into rotation. One of them, the Purple Hat Stage, was designated as the Daptone Super Soul Revue and featured various musicians from the Daptone label including Sharon Jones & T he Dap-Kings, The Budos Band and Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaries. Elsewhere in the festival, the artists-at-large were making themselves very useful. Roosevelt Collier and Natalie Cressman sat in with The Heavy Pets on pedal steel and trombone, respectively. Later in the night, Collier and Robert Walter joined Perpetual Groove for a rendition of R.L. Burnside’s “It’s Bad You Know.”
The most anticipated show of the night was Umphrey’s McGee and they did not disappoint. The band played a show full of their signature porgy jams, including a sweet “Triple Wide” sandwiched between “1348.” Umphrey’s also did a crowd pleasing rendition of T he Allman Brother Band’s “Jessica” as well as a cover of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher.” Lotus took the stage later for a a lower-than-usual energy late night set that was surprisingly lackluster, especially following the heat the Umphrey’s McGee brought.
Early on Saturday, Roosevelt Collier made his way from stage to stage, sitting in with Ike Stubblefield & Friends, Zach Deputy and Flannel Church. Billy Martin and Wil Blades’ duo turned into a quintet pretty quickly, as Natalie Cressman, Skerik and Will Bernard all joined the party. Dumpstaphunk drummer Nikki Glaspie sat in with Eric Krasno & Chapter 2 at the Purple Hat Stage, which had been designated the “Royal Family Affair” for this day. The New Mastersounds’ organist Joe Tatton was unable make it to the festival due to travel issues, but with so many artists-at-large it wasn’t hard to find a replacement. Piano player Robert Walter was able to take up key duties without missing a note.
Umphrey’s McGee headline again on Saturday night, this time with back to back covers of Pink Floyd’s “In the Flesh” and “Another Brick in the Wall.” The band also played their Ween/Motorhead mash-up “Ace of Long Nights” for the first time since they debuted it at their Halloween show in Milwaukee a few weeks ago. Umphrey’s closed out their show with an encore of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘til You Get Enough” segued between their classic “Miss Tinkle’s Overture.”
Zoogma followed Umphrey’s at a different stage and once again proved that they are a jamtronica act worth paying attention to. The band was joined by Brock Butler of Perpetual Groove and Khris Royal for a eclectic cover of the Butthole Surfers’ “Pepper” for one of the evening’s highlights. The Royal Family Dumpstajam, which included members of Dumpstaphunk and the Royal Family of artists, were joined by George Porter Jr. for “Down By The River.” It was a supremely funky way to end the night. However, things did not finish there, as Break Science kept a crowd raging till 3am on the Technaflora Music Hall stage.
Sunday’s lineup was stacked for an end-of-festival wind down day. Though back to back sets from funk powerhouses George Porter Jr. & The Runnin Pardners, The New Mastersounds, Dumpstaphunk and Lettuce meant that no one would be winding down until the music officially stopped. The New Mastersounds, with Robert Walter on keys, brought out Roosevelt Collier and Alecia Shakour for their crowd – pleasing final set. The sit-in train kept rolling through Dumpstaphunk’s performance, as the band brought out a Nigel Hall on keys, Billy Iuso on guitar, in addition to a horn section that included James Casey, Jennifer Hartswick, Natalie Cressman and Skerik. Finally, Lettuce closed out the festival with flying colors, as Nigel Hall, Alecia Shakour, Kris Royal and Pee Wee Ellis joined the band for a funk rager.