On Friday, bassist Oteil Burbridge (Dead & Company, Allman Brothers Band, Aquarium Rescue Unit, Vida Blue) helped launch the inaugural Suwannee Rising Music Festival with an incredible set of classics including tunes from the Grateful Dead, Allman Brothers Band, The Beatles and more! Burbridge didn’t do all this good work on his own, of course. He had a little help from his friends, specifically John Kimock (Mike Gordon) on drums, Jeff Chimenti (Dead & Company) on keys, Scott Metzger (Joe Russo’s Almost Dead) and Neal Casal (Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Circles Around The Sun) on guitar, and Lamar Williams Jr., son of former Allman Brothers bassist Lamar Williams, who made few stellar guest vocals. 

It was certainly an appropriate place and time to honor the musical legacy of the Allman Brothers, with whom Oteil played a key role for so many years. The newly minted Suwannee Rising Festival was conceived, booked and executed in just over two months after Live Nation canceled the long-running Allman Brothers-hosted fest, Wannee, held every year in April in the music park. Not wanting to let the party stop, the powers that be at the park found a new promoter and, with the help of music guru Paul Levine and the stellar crew of production people and support staff that make all the Suwannee events possible.

It’s that sense of community that has been engendered by fests in the park over the years which has rung true throughout this weekend’s festivities. Beyond simply replacing Wannee, the new Suwannee Rising Fest is also bringing a bit of the late, beloved funk and jam Bear Creek Music Festival to bear. There have been many not-so-subtle hints towards the legacy of that fest in particular, and its many regular artists, including Oteil’s late brother Kofi Burbridge. In his introduction to Oteil’s set (included in the first clip below), Paul Levine—who co-founded that festalong with new father Lyle Williams—spoke of his love for Bear Creek, Kofi and his hopes for the future of Suwannee Rising. Considering the cheers for his speech and the amazing tunes laid down by Oteil and all the bands so far, it’s a safe bet that Suwannee will be Rising for many years to come!

Check out some videos from Oteil & Friends’ Suwannee Rising set below via RexAVision:

Oteil & Friends – “Blue Sky” [Allman Brothers Band cover], “Franklin’s Tower” [Grateful Dead cover]

Oteil & Friends – “In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed” [Allman Brothers Band cover]

Oteil & Friends – “Dear Prudence” [The Beatles cover]

Setlist: Oteil & Friends | Suwannee Rising | Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park | Live Oak, FL | 4/5/19

Blue Sky, Franklin’s Tower, Cats Down Under Stars, Tore Up, Dear Prudence, Mercury Blues, Ophelia, Liz Reed, High Time, Tough Mama, Run for the Roses