North Beach Music Festival arrived in Miami Beach this year with a mission: bring the vibrant national jam band scene to South Florida—an area full of fans but frequently spurned by tour routing—for a multi-day festival at the oceanside North Beach Bandshell.

The inaugural event, produced by GMP Live in partnership with The Rhythm Foundation, featured two full days of performances at the permanent Bandshell stage as well as a side stage in the adjoining park, with no overlapping sets. Sheltered by scenic palms that provided cool shade in the daytime and a colorfully lit tropical playground at night, NBMF combined the convenience of a city show, the immersive experience of a “farm” festival, and the breezy inclinations of a beach vacation into one thoroughly enticing live music getaway.

While Miami Beach vistas and the lush confines of the North Beach Bandshell got fans listening, the festival’s artist lineup was what sealed the deal for many of the out-of-town fans making the trip. From Florida favorites like The Heavy PetsElectric Kif, Tand, and Juke to nationally touring outfits like SpaffordPigeons Playing Ping Pong, Ghost-Note, The Motet, TAUK, and Aqueous to fan-favorite bandleaders and instrumentalists like Marco BeneventoEric KrasnoBrandon “Taz” Niederauer, Holly Bowling, and Karina Rykman, North Beach Music Festival offered fans a potent cross-section of the extended jam circle over the course of two eventful days.

Scroll down for video footage of some of our favorite parts of the inaugural North Beach Music Festival and full galleries of photos from both days of the event. You can also watch the official festival recap video by DubEra below.

North Beach Music Festival 2021 – Official Recap Video

Those Beachside Days

The daytime schedules at North Beach Music Festival were arranged with just the right mix of sets to ease fans into the long nights ahead. Friday afternoon felt like an homage to the local scene as The Heavy Pets opened the Bandshell Stage followed by Tand at the Park Stage. As Florida fans know, guitarist Mike Garulli plays in both bands, and the afternoon crowd gave a knowing cheer as he made his way from his Heavy Pets gig to his Tand show and jumped right in mid-song.

On Saturday, the day got started with a solo piano set by Holly Bowling, who took a reverent, early-rising audience on an instrumental journey. Bookended by “China Cat Sunflower” and “I Know You Rider”, Bowling’s set also wound its way through renderings of Phish‘s “Divided Sky” and “It’s Ice” and the Grateful Dead‘s “Althea”.

From there, old friends Brendan Bayliss (Umphrey’s McGee) and Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band) delivered a laid-back duo set that showcased both their vocal abilities and their lovingly sarcastic, immaculately timed banter. In between covers of songs by Otis ReddingPaul SimonBob DylanDerek and the DominosDolly PartonJohn PrineBlind FaithAmy WinehouseRadiohead, and The Beatles, the comedic duo of Hartswick and Bayliss unveiled the band’s new name (Hartliss), riffed on what what their billing might be by night (“Butt Stuff”), and goaded unsuspecting TAUK drummer Isaac Teel up from the crowd to join in on a rendition of Cyndi Lauper‘s “Time After Time”.

[Photo: Andrew O’Brien – Jen Hartswick (left) and Brendan Bayliss (right)]

That Miami Sunset

With the Park Stage presciently set up facing east, North Beach Music Festival attendees were treated to breathtaking sunsets as the backdrop to early-evening sets by hometown heroes Electric Kif on Friday and young guitar master Brandon “Taz” Niederauer on Saturday. Electric Kif made sure to add some local Miami flavor to its performance, welcoming Bandshell regular Brian Potts and the Miamibloco samba percussion ensemble as the sky burned orange behind them.


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A post shared by Brian Potts (@ubirajarapotts)

The Horn Section Takes Over

It would be difficult to talk about NBMF without touching on artists-at-large The Horn Section, the plug-and-play brass trio comprised of Chris Brouwers (trumpet), Greg Sanderson (alto/tenor sax), and Josh Schwartz (tenor/baritone sax). These guys were all over both stages all weekend long, popping in to sprinkle some flavor on various different performances. On Friday, the trio jumped in on sets by The Heavy Pets, TAUK, Electric Kif, The Motet, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. On Saturday, they lent their horns to both Eric Krasno & The Assembly and Aqueous.

While the horns wove into each new setting with ease, they seemed particularly at home during their Aqueous sit-in. The guest spot got started with “Weight of the Word”, the collaborative song by Aqueous, Brouwers, Sanderson, and Schwartz that served as the lead single from the Buffalo-based outfit’s 2018 Color Wheel LP. Following an elongated take on the tune, Aqueous expanded on the reunion of old friends (and former Turkuaz members) by welcoming vocalist Shira Elias and guitarist Craig Brodhead to the stage for a nine-piece strut through David Bowie‘s “Let’s Dance”.

Aqueous ft. The Horn Section – “Weight of the Word” – 12/11/21

Aqueous ft. The Horn Section, Shira Elias, Craig Brodhead – “Let’s Dance” (David Bowie) – 12/11/21

[Videos: Fred Ramadan]

Electric Kif ft. The Horn Section – North Beach Music Festival – 12/10/21 [Full Show]


All My Friends

No single artist on the inaugural North Beach Music Festival lineup was booked in a vacuum. In fact, if you follow the roots of virtually any act on the bill, they will lead back to another. From the aforementioned The Heavy Pets/Tand and Aqueous/The Horn Section connections to memorable performances by both Karina Rykman and Marco Benevento—whose band features Karina on bass—and beyond, the North Beach Music Festival 2021 artist roster was certainly interconnected.

Related: Pigeons Playing Ping Pong Welcomes The Horn Section, Jason Hann, More At North Beach Music Festival [Photos/Video]

The familial nature of the proceedings unsurprisingly paid exciting dividends. TAUK with The Horn Section, Shira Elias, and Jen Harstwick performing Beyonce‘s “Crazy In Love”? Check. The Motet with a parade of guests including The Horn Section, Elias, Hartswick, and Jason Hann (The String Cheese Incident)? You bet. A festival-closing Spafford & Friends show that starts with an appropriate “All My Friends” and features sit-ins by Eric Krasno (Eric Krasno & The Assembly), Marco Benevento, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, Nate Werth (Ghost-Note), and Alric A.C.” Carter (TAUK) en route to a “Whipping Post” finale? You get the idea. With so many talented friends (and friends of friends) milling around, every moment was liable to produce something special at North Beach Music Festival.

TAUK w/ The Horn Section, Shira Elias, Jen Hartswick – “Jupiter”, “Crazy In Love” (Beyonce) – 12/10/21

Spafford & Friends ft. Eric Krasno, Brandon “Taz” Niederauer, A.C. Carter, Nate Werth – “Whipping Post” (Allman Brothers Band) – 12/11/21

[Videos: CHeeSeHeaDPRoDuCTioNS]

The Motet ft. The Horn Section, Jeremy Schon, Jennifer Hartswick, Shira Elias – North Beach Music Festival – 12/10/21 [Full Show]


Marco Benevento – North Beach Music Festival – 12/11/21 [Full Show]


Here’s to a fantastic first year of North Beach Music Festival, and to many more to come! Check out a gallery of photos from the weekend below via photographer Andrew O’Brien.