Last weekend’s Resonate Suwannee was more than just another gathering of joyful music fans in the always picturesque Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park for a weekend of mirth and mayhem, it was a party with a tragic but reverent purpose.

After last month’s heartbreaking loss of Lotus drummer Chuck Morris, and his young son, Charley, in an apparent kayaking incident in Arkansas, the festival’s promoters and band chose to leave the stage dark and hold the slot for a public memorial, with dedications ranging from floral arrangements to live-painted murals to a drum circle hosted by drummers from STS9 and Hive Mind. Lotus stayed home to begin the long healing process, but at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, the band’s scheduled performance slot Suwannee Amphitheatre quickly filled to overflow with percussive instrument wielding fans and teary-eyed attendees ready to pay tribute to Chuck and Charley.

Related: Lotus Announces Benefit Concerts For Chuck & Charley Morris, Postpones Tour

The sound swelled all while the circle filled in and collective percussion settled with intention into a single heartbeat. As the beat persisted, participants collaborated on various works of live-art, a memorial message book was signed and filled with messages of love and remembrance from attendees, and carnations and other tokens of esteem were laid at a makeshift shrine on the edge of the stage.

Footage from all the different cameras, phones and videographers on the scene is being gathered and compiled into a single tribute video soon to come but for now here are a smattering of images from around the truly inspiring confluence of souls playing and paying tribute to the fallen. Until then, view a gallery of photos from the Chuck Morris memorial drum circle at Resonate Suwannee below. You can help alleviate the immediate costs to Chuck and Charley’s family by donating to the GoFundMe campaign here.

The following night, organizers and fans of the festival and its Spirit of the Suwannee predecessors took part in an older memorial tradition: a butterfly release in tribute to the aforementioned Rachel Hoffman. Hoffman, who was murdered by drug dealers in 2008 after being wrongfully coerced into participating in police informant activities, was the inspiration for Purple Hatter’s Ball, a memorial festival that formerly took place each year at the park. The butterfly release was always a symbolic element of Purple Hatter’s Ball, and the recreation of that tribute at Resonate Suwannee marked the first time it had taken place since that festival’s final iteration.

Related: How One Mother Turned Tragedy Into Triumph: The Rachel Morningstar Hoffman Story

Hoffman’s festival family and her blood relations gathered at the lip of the stage just prior to Lettuce’s performance as her mother, still wearing her lost child’s floppy, oversized purple fuzzy party hat, gave a short memorial while dampened eyes looked on. Margie, whose tireless dedication to honoring her daughter has resulted in new laws being passed, embodied the enduring nature of love to all in attendance. The throng at the front of the stage waited for their cue before finally releaseing a kaleidoscope of butterflies that flitted their way out into the night.

As a host of those who knew her best, including Resonate co-promoter and Purple Hatter’s Ball founder Paul Levine, slowly departed the ceremony comforting each other. Funk masters Lettuce, one of the late Hoffman’s faves, kicked off their set with a fiery “Vamanos,” which you can check out in its entirety along with the ceremony itself in the clip below.

Following the tribute to Hoffman, one of her favorite bands, Lettuce, kicked off its performance with a fiery “Vamanos”. Watch a video of the introduction by Paul Levine (who founded Purple Hatter’s Ball and co-promotes Resonate Suwannee), the butterfly release, and Lettuce’s opening song below.

Paul Levine Intro, Butterfly Release, Lettuce – “Vamonos” – 4/1/23

[Video: RexAVision]

Keep an eye out for more on-site coverage from Resonate Suwannee 2023 on Live For Live Music in the coming days.