As the year comes to a close, it’s time to look back at the wild ride and whirlwind that was 2017. For this series of Live For Live Music staff picks, we’ll be reliving many of the glorious musical moments from the past year. We’ve already taken a look at a select few of the awesome jams, bust outs, and live covers that went down this year, and today, we’re revisiting our staff’s favorite music festivals of 2017. Enjoy!
Suwannee Hulaween | Spirit of Suwannee Music Park | Live Oak, Florida | 10/27-29, 2017
Over Halloween weekend, musicians, artists, and costumed revelers descended on The Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida, for the 5th annual Suwanee Hulaween. Building off host-band String Cheese Incident‘s long-running cover-centric Halloween tradition, promoters Silver Wrapper Presents, Paul Levine, and the amazing dedicated staff at Suwannee have transformed Hulaween into one of the best festivals on the calendar. A combination of factors—the right venue (the incomparable Suwannee), time of year (fall hoodie season), holiday (Halloween), and hosts (SCI)—have allowed this festival to grow organically, and as a result, this year’s event marks the first ever sell-out at the music park, with Suwannee hosting 20,000 fans for the weekend this year.
This year’s event had several exciting moments, including Phish bassist Mike Gordon‘s surprise sit-in with The Benevento/Russo Duo, Umphrey’s McGee’s jaw-dropping cover of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” by Pink Floyd, a sit-in from The Disco Biscuits’ Aron Magner with Spafford, and a stand-out set from Portugal. The Man. The festival also hosted the String Cheese Incident’s “Night of the Loving Dead”-themed spectacle set, where the band covered Stevie Wonder, Beyoncé, Led Zeppelin, and so many more. Check out our full list of “Best Things We Saw At Suwannee Hulaween” here.
You can also watch Greensky Bluegrass dedicate a 20-Minute “Bring Out Your Dead” to a random EDM fan; The String Cheese Incident debut a Beats Antique collab; Ween’s festival-closing set at the Amphitheater Stage; Tank And The Bangas’s heart-warming performance; Mike Gordon’s entire jam-packed set; The Benevento/Russo Duo’s entire reunion; The Nth Power’s tribute to Bob Marley; and Run The Jewels’ set. Ain’t no place like Hulaween!
The Peach Music Festival | Montage Mountain | Scranton, PA | 8/10-13, 2017
Since its inception, The Peach Music Festival has quickly become one of the most beloved music festivals of the summer. The festival has become known as an Allman Brothers Band extended family gathering, with each rendition boasting an enviable lineup that frequently taps members of the band and their various side projects. This year, during what has undoubtedly been a difficult year following the tragic losses of Butch Trucks and Gregg Allman, the festival put together a special tribute set featuring friends and family from the ABB lineage.
The master and former ABB keyboardist Chuck Leavell (currently with The Rolling Stones) led the tribute as musical director, alongside ABB members Jaimoe, Oteil Burbridge, and Marc Quiñones. The tribute also saw performances by Butch’s nephew and Widespread Panic drummer Duane Trucks; Gregg’s son, guitarist Devon Allman; former ABB guitarist Jack Pearson; rising guitarist and vocalist Marcus King; WSP guitarist Jimmy Herring (who once toured with ABB in 2000); keyboardist Bruce Katz (who has toured with both Butch and Gregg’s bands and Les Brers); Lamar Williams Jr., son of former bassist Lamar Williams and vocalist of Les Brers; guitarist Pat Bergeson of Les Brers; musical director of the Gregg Allman Band and guitarist Scott Sharrard; GAB keyboardist Pete Levin; Berry Oakley Jr., son of original ABB bassist Berry Oakley; and Butch Trucks’s son and guitarist Vaylor Trucks. To say the least, it was magical. Enjoy the audio from the set here.
This year’s festival also included two nights from heavy-hitters Widespread Panic (highlighted by sit-ins from Brandon “Taz” Niederauer and Marcus King), My Morning Jacket (who played “Sweet Melissa” by the Allman Brothers Band), two sets from Umphrey’s McGees (who welcomed The Turkuaz Horns), two sets from Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Lettuce with Chaka Khan, as well as a set from Gov’t Mule & Friends, featuring John Scofield, Marcus King, Jack Pearson, Chuck Leavell, Marc Quiñones, Jimmy Herring, John Bell, and more. Butch’s final project, Les Brers, also performed a similar set of ABB homage on Sunday afternoon, closing an epic weekend of ongoing respect. Videos of Les Brers’ set can be found here. All in all, Peach Music Festival provided a fantastic spread of jam band favorites. We can’t wait for next year!
LOCKN’ Music Festival | Infinity Downs Farm | Arrington, VA | 8/24-27, 2017
LOCKN’, a 4-day music festival with an emphasis on world class music, locally sourced food, and sustainability, is held annually at the Infinity Downs Farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge in Central Virginia. For its fifth year, the festival unveiled massive improvements to the site that made for the best event yet, and all those who attended the 2017 event agree that they are for the better. Event organizers changed the layout of the venue to just the Downs area, drastically improving sight lines and helping to create a more centralized environment for attendees to get around. The Blue Ridge Bowl was re-equipped to hold both the Main Stage and Relix Stage, allowing for easier foot traffic between the two.
With the horrific events that took place in Charlottesville, only a short 45 minutes away, earlier in the week before the festival, positive vibes and celebration of music could not have happened at a better and more needed time. Many attendees wore purple, as well as purple ribbons, in remembrance of Heather Heyer, who lost her life during the Charlottesville attack. The vibe around the venue felt like a giant hug of love and acceptance, no matter what your background, making for a truly interlocking musical event for the entire music community.
There were so many magical moments that filled our heart, including when The String Cheese Incident welcomed members of Umphrey’s McGee for an Allman Brothers Band cover; My Morning Jacket’s Jim James joined Joe Russo’s Almost Dead for a Jane’s Addiction cover; Bob Weir joined Joe Russo’s Almost Dead for five whole songs; DJ Logic and Bob Weir jammed together in a special VIP set; Phil.moe. welcomed Bob Weir, Grahame Lesh, members of The Revivalists, and more for a heart-warming set; Bob Weir and Phil Lesh welcomed Joe Russo, Grahame Lesh, & Elliott Peck at the VIP Set; Gov’t Mule’s Led Zeppelin collaborations with Ann Wilson; Bob Weir and The Avett Brothers’ full set together; Phil Lesh & Warren Haynes’ masterful “New Minglewood Blues”; and, of course, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, & Nicki Bluhm’s Triumphant “Terrapin Suite”. It doesn’t get much better than LOCKN’. We can’t wait to find out what’s in store for 2018!
Dominican Holidaze | Breathless & Now Onyx | Punta Cana, Dominican Republic | 12/1-5, 2017
One of the best parts of going to a music festival is the element of escape. Cloud 9 Adventures brings that part of the experience to a whole new level with their season of destination music festivals. Dominican Holidaze places itself at the top of our list, as its relaxing nature mixed with its intimate setting welcomes the best of times. The all-inclusive resort(s) allow for comfort, luxury, and full-on rage, with beach and pool-side stages only steps away from your room, and restaurants galore.
We danced in the sand and relaxed in paradise as Umphrey’s McGee (x3), STS9 (x3), The Disco Biscuits (x3), GRiZ , Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Lotus , The Motet, TAUK, Spafford, Sunsquabi, Wolf + Lamb, Brendan Bayliss (Poolside Set), and a free-form jazz improv set with Alana Rocklin of STS9, Kris Myers of Umphrey’s McGee, and members of The Motet provided the ultimate soundtrack to our vacation.
Especially in December, there’s nothing quite like Dominican Holidaze. Some of our favorite memories were when The Motet‘s horn section (Gabe Mervine and Drew Sayers) joined The Disco Biscuits for a cover of David Bowie‘s party classic “Let’s Dance”, and then again when the Motet’s horns, guitarist (Ryan Jalbert), and vocalist (Lyle Divinsky) joined TAUK later in the evening on Saturday night. Plus, on Sunday, Umphrey’s McGee’s Brendan Bayliss joined the Disco Biscuits on a cover of Prince’s “Controversy”. While the unique collaborations are certainly highlights, Dominican Holidaze is really about the vibe. We have a feeling that visiting the Dominican Republic in December will become a tradition for years to come!
Brooklyn Comes Alive |Brooklyn, NY | Brooklyn Bowl, Music Hall of Williamsburg, Schimanski | 9/23-24, 2017
In September, the third-annual Brooklyn Comes Alive took over three beloved venues in Williamsburg (Brooklyn Bowl, Music Hall of Williamsburg, and Schimanski), bringing with it a stacked lineup featuring once-in-a-lifetime collaborations, tribute sets, and all-star supergroups. Over one hundred artists were brought together to see their passion projects come to life, honor their musical heroes, and improvise with their friends and peers, with more than thirty-five sets taking place across the festival’s two full days of music.
Inspired by the vibrant musical communities of Brooklyn and New Orleans, Brooklyn Comes Alive pushed the boundaries of a traditional music festival. By taking some of the most talented artists from our favorite bands and grouping them into dream collaborations–almost like a fantasy sports league–Brooklyn Comes Alive succeeded in creating a highly unique and memorable weekend of musical community and camaraderie that proved to be far greater than the sum of its (already fantastic) parts.
Some of our favorite moments included when Scott Sharrard, Al Schnier and Vinnie Amico from moe., Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Nate Werth of Snarky Puppy, Joey Porter from The Motet, Eric Krasno (Soulive/Lettuce), Rob Compa (Dopapod), Roosevelt Collier, Dave Harrington, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer and more played tribute to the Allman Brothers Band; members of moe. & Aqueous performed as “moe.queous”; James Casey, Natalie Cressman, Felix Pastorius, & more covered SBTRKT; members of The Motet, Trey Anastasio Band, & more played the music of Jamiroquai; George Porter Jr., Skerik, and Mike Dillon explored the far reaches of funk; Hayley Jane’s epic tribute to 90’s female rockers; the debut performance of Matador! Soul Sounds featuring members of The New Mastersounds and Soulive; and Roosevelt Collier and members of Snarky Puppy’s Get Down Set.
For a set-by-set breakdown of all the happenings at this year’s Brooklyn Comes Alive, click here.
See you in 2018!