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Wanee, Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, Live Oak, FL- 4/10-12

Photo by P. Lusone

Wanee 2014, held in Live Oak, Florida, promised to be a great musical party for their 10th anniversary. Wanee also could be the last time the Allmans headline, as this could be their farewell year. We were treated to beautiful weather, a balmy 80 degrees with not a raindrop in sight.

On Thursday, every band played on The Mushroom stage, a smaller stage under cover of the moss trees. The Blind Boys of Alabama set the tone, putting us to church, Devon Allman’s The Royal Southern Brotherhood wowed the crowd, ramping up the energy for Soulive, who ended the evening, with their signature sound, and welcoming the MVP of the weekend, John Popper, to join in with them.

Ziggy Marley took the Peach Stage by storm, for about 5,000 people all dancing to Marley’s signature reggae sound. Umphrey’s McGee brought their lights and high energy, while Lynyrd Skynyrd sang almost every hit song they had. Skynyrd’s bassist came complete with a coyote on his head, while the band rallied the crowd with “Simple Man,” “Gimme Back My Bullets,” “Call Me the Breeze” and “That Smell” amongst other classic cuts. The crowd sang, the band did some audience participation, and Wanee was treated to the quintessential Skynyrd encore song, Freebird.

Before the ABB took the stage o Friday, Trey Anastasio Band played a full set highlighted by “First Tube” and Jen Hartswick crushing Zeppelin’s “Black Dog.”

The Allman Brothers then opened with “Statesboro Blues” > “Midnight Rider” > “No One To Run With Anymore.” Special guests Anastasio and Hartswick came out for “Who’s Been Talking” and Anastasio stayed on stage for “Franklin’s Tower” with Oteil Burbridge singing. Kofi Burbridge played keys on every song besides “Who’s Been Talking” and “Franklin’s Tower” due to Gregg Allman injuring his hand earlier in the day, which must have been why this set was shorter than normal, for Wanee standards.

Friday ended at the Mushroom Stage where Dumpstaphunk played a two-hour Led Zeppelin show. John Popper joined, as did Warren Haynes, and the word was out that this Dumpsta set was one of the best sets of the festival.

Saturday started with sets from Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Blues Traveler and Rusted Root before Tedeschi Trucks Band took the stage on a gorgeous afternoon, complete with scorching guitars. TTB played a bunch of new songs, including “All That I Need,” “Living in the Palace of the King” and “Part of Me.”

Gov’t Mule started strong with “Hammer & Nails” into a “Mountain Jam” tease into “Gameface.” Derek Trucks joined for Billy Cobham’s “Stratus” and Mule teased the Dead’s “Shakedown Street” before ending with “Where’s My Mule” > “Whole Lotta Love” > “Where’s My Mule?” Break Science spun some killer tracks with special guests Eric Krasno, Susan Tedeschi, Maurice Brown, Kofi Burbridge, and Saunders Sermons before the Allman Brothers Band began their second night with “Don’t Want You”/”Not My Cross to Bear.” Again, Kofi Burbridge played keys, setting up his Hammond on the other side of the stage, opposite Gregg. Eric Krasno played guitar on “That’s What Love Will Make You Do” and the Allmans ended the set with a shred fest during “Whipping Post.” Steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier and John Popper joined for the encore “One Way Out.”

Umphrey’s McGee closed out this year with a set of covers dubbed “All Night Wrong.” They then proceeded to play a diverse collection of covers such as “Baba O’Reilly,” “Cheap Sunglasses,” “Rock The Casbah,” “Breathe,” “Immigrant Song” and “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)”. Special guests included Haynes, Krasno, Adam Deitch and Popper, and this set went late into the evening, a great way to end the festival.

One hopes that the Allmans will return next year but at any rate the festival is well-established as a signature southern spring event after its first decade.

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