The end of the festival season is a huge deal to this music lover. Picking which festival will wrap up the magical, music-soaked, nature-filled, weekend-long excursions for the year is always bitter sweet. For Josh and I, we chose to attend the Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival which took place on the weekend of November 11, 2011, in Live Oak, Florida. This would literally become one of the best decisions we made all year.
Considered the #1 Funk Festival by those of us who worship the funk vein of our Jam Community, you can only imagine my excitement when I was given the news that TinyRager.com was to cover the festival. The line-up is by far the most funk-fueled line-up of the year and the stellar level of talent that descended upon Live Oak ensured the weekend would become one of the greatest weekends of music I had seen all year.
Bear Creek fell on my radar two years ago when I made my way back into the music scene after my first Jam Cruise (Jam Cruise 8). I had been out of the scene for about six years. Jam Cruisers from around the nation agree that Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival emulates Jam Cruise in many ways. Over the years Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival has been nicknamed “The Boat on Land” or “The Land Boat.” Any festival with that nickname was something I couldn’t put off attending for long and after my few days on this amazing property with this amazing line-up and so many amazing friendly faces, the nickname couldn’t be more appropriate.
Some of the most special moments of the weekend were when fellow Jam Cruisers and friends said “Welcome Home.” That statement dug deep into my heart. Every corner I turned, there was a friendly face. Every audience I scanned had the face of other artists sprinkled about. Just like on Jam Cruise, the artists were just as much part of the audience as they were the line-up. This created some memorable run-ins with some of my favorite musicians and some ground-breaking musical collaborations. For those of you who can not afford or are unable to take off work in the beginning in January, this festival is the closest thing to the boat. Get on board!!
It’s Magical! You Can Feel It
There are many things about this festival that have stuck in my head over the past weeks. I have replayed amazing musical collaborations in my mind’s eye, enjoyed looking through the pictures of all the friendly faces and amazing video coverage – all of which I will speak on further along in this article. However, the property’s energy and geographical location are two things that will never let me forget this magical festival and will keep me coming back.
Held on the grounds of the Spirit of Suwanee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida, there is an essence to this land that radiates a sense of old history. There is a specific feeling that you are walking on sacred ground. Having attended one music festival a month over the past year, I can honestly say that there is no other performance space I have raged that has given me the chills such as this.
Driving up to the Park, the trees had a deep affect on me immediately. The name of the town made sense. Imagine how the bayou of Louisiana looks. Spanish Moss hangs from giant Southern Live Oak trees which fill the grounds. It’s a truly stunning setting and took my breath away. Walking around the grounds at night seeing the light move through the moss and the branches of these gorgeous trees were captivating and provided such a stimulated view. And let’s not forget that this festival was held on 11/11/11 AND that it was a full moon that Friday!!! MAGICAL!!
Beyond the Music
Josh and I arrived on Friday morning with my college buddy Dave and his girlfriend Kristy. I hadn’t seen Dave in years. Dave had spent many years trying to get me to rage Bonnaroo with my college family but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Now he lives 1.5 hours away from Live Oak so I think we will be seeing much of each other in Florida over our remaining festival going years! Our flight from NYC was delayed for hours so we arrived in Jacksonville pretty late Thursday night and decided to get a good nights sleep and head out early Friday morning.
A big, warm hug and love to my boy Dave and my girl Kristie who delivered us safely to the festival and integrated right on into my Jamily. ~ Love Karen and Josh
There are multiple options of lodging at this festival. Cabins of varying sizes line the East side of the park while camping grounds are scattered throughout. RVs are allowed and it’s pretty nice how the laid back atmosphere allows for everyone to camp, park and set up just about anywhere.
Josh and I had multiple friends staying in cabins which had couches and heat. However, Josh and I decided to pop up a tent and get a real feel for the land. We didn’t camp in general population but instead had our lovely friend Ananda set up our lodgings behind Cabin E, also known as “Fiddle Vasser.” Which brings me to the weather.
Have Mercy! Even though Josh and I had been told about the crazy weather, we still weren’t prepared mentally. Temperatures ranged from 70 degree during the day to as low as 25 in the evening. Unbelievable. You could see the breath of many of the musicians and it was interesting to see the instruments react to the cold. When you were inside the crowds for the sets, you wouldn’t feel the chill but once that crowd dissipated, you were slammed with a solid wall of bone-chilling cold. We kept piling on our layers of leggings, sweaters and gloves, trying to maintain our theme night outfits which ultimately got covered. Looking back, I have to admit that the cold really didn’t bother me. As soon as the thought of cold entered my mind, a friendly face would round the corner and come in for a hug taking away all the cold in my body and mind! Another great thing about the cold, our ability to make fires. The fires were an awesome positive! However, even though we enjoyed camping, I made sure that my name went on the 2012 cabin list first thing Monday morning following the festival.
There was a general police presence and Jam Care was on the scene to ensure the festival was clean and safe. The staff was kind, albeit a bit backwoods, dressed in their camouflage gear and ripping intense accents. There were two theme nights, Warm and Fuzzy and Funk Soldiers Gone Wild. Both of which provided everyone with every reason to layer on the animal fur and polyester for the cold weather.
There was also a charity Disc Golf Tourney hosted by Zach Deputy that raised money for the The Spirit of the Suwannee Kids Music Camp, 10 unique Art Installations and an artist led discussion panel on Green Programs. Finally, for 5 or more cans or non-perishable food items brought to the festival office you would receive a commemorative 2011 Stanley Mouse designed festival poster. Win! Win! Win!
Now, to the music…
The Line Up
Bear Creek’s past musical line-ups have haunted me during the years I couldn’t make it. Sure, I attend numerous musical festivals over the year but no line up compares to the funk-fueled artists and groups that take to the Bear Creek stage. An entire five days of the deepest, funkiest rage of the summer and I LOVED everything about it. This year’s line-up consisted of multiple acts from around the nation and a few from outside the States. There was funk, rock, electronica, jazz, experimental and blues all melded together with the support from some of the greatest guitarists and brass players from our scene. With the sense of family amongst the artists, there were multiple musical sit-ins happening constantly around me; some that I sadly missed while for others I was often right in the front row.
Anders Osborne Trio
Anders Osborne – guitar
Billy Iuso – guitar
Eric Bolivar – drums
Carl Dufrene – bass
A KILLER set!!!! Anders rocking guitar style is incredible and this set was full of joy, tears and energy. As I danced in the audience, I saw one of my closest girlfriends, fellow music-lover and our own personal bling machine, Ananda Atmore, dressing up the pretty face of Billy Iuso’s daughter.
Eric Bolivar commanded the drums most of the set while Stanton Moore sat in on drums for two songs. Jamie McLean came out on “YaYa” to add a third guitar during the set.
There were multiple covers. They raged Neil Young’s “Cortez The Killer,” Bob Dylan’s “Knockin on Heaven’s Door” and the greatest song of the set by far was when George Porter, Jr. came out to sing The Grateful Dead’s “Sugaree.”
“I’m usually not so into covers, but my two favorite songs this year were Osborne/Porter/Iuso/Moore doing “Sugaree”, and Piety Street Band playing “Angel of Death” (tears in the front row on that one, so moving).” ~ Sharon Resnick, attendee and shepherdess at SunRise Haven Farms
That was a KILLER song, a killer moment. There were tears throughout the audience. Stanton Moore was on drums and Porter and Osbourne played off each other in such a tight and exciting way. The crowd was beyond energized. The video is posted following the quotes!
“OK, after seeing me wipe the tears from my eyes on video after Anders Trio “Sugaree” that might be the one!!” ~ Harry Zegers, attendee and founder of multiple fan clubs (Fan Club HQ)
Set-List: Crowd/Intro, Love Is Taking Its Toll > Knocking on Heaven’s Door (Bob Dylan cover), Echoes of my Sins, Burning On the Inside, Cortez The Killer (Neil Young cover), Sugaree (Grateful Dead cover), Ya Ya, On The Road to Charlie Parker
Dominici Lalli – saxophone and producer
Jeremy Salka- drums
I first caught Big Gigantic at Camp Barefoot 4. The combination of Dominic Lalli’s sax and Jeremy Salken’s drums layered on top of Lalli’s electronic tracks are wonderfully delivered. This was a pleasant surprise to two friends of my electronic-loving friends that I brought to the set. We put ourselves into the middle of the crowd and danced away.
During the show, two big screens flanked the stage. Layered over the screen shots of the band playing was the entire sequence of Heffalumps and Woozles. If you haven’t seen Winnie the Pooh experience this psychedelic dream then I suggest you hit play!
This is how electronic music should be introduced into the Jam Community. You can’t expect an audience who loves funk music to love an electronica band. You can’t expect someone who loves live music to enjoy a DJ who just spins. At least for me, there needs to be that grab, that attention getter that locks your ears and eyes in. Big Gigantic is a band that has realized that the connection matters.
Adam Deitch – Drummer/Producer
Borham Lee – Producer/DJ
Another group who understand that the live musical connection matters, Break Science featuring drummer Adam Deitch and producer/keyboardist Borham Lee. Their collective knowledge of music allows for them to integrate all styles into their playlist. Josh and I had to leave early Sunday morning to catch a flight back to NYC so I choose not to watch this set. Instead, since I am able to see Break Science just about any time in NYC, I choose to enjoy some quality time by a well-built fire with dear friends. This would be the only fire that we would get to truly enjoy that weekend. Due to the proximity of our cabin/fire, friends came and went with positive feedback from the set which fueled my anxiety over missing it. Hip Hop artists, like Chali’2na, melded in seamlessly while horns like Topaz’s sax play changed the style but not the vibe. I also heard that Nikki Glaspie came out on drums making me wonder where Deitch planted himself for that.
Eric Krasno – guitar
Adam Deitch – drums
Nigel Hall – keys, vocals
Louis Cato – bass
All the way up front for this, there were not that many people in the audience at first. Gradually, once people recognize the musicians on stage, they realized a side project was happening. Many in the audience didn’t now about this Krasno project. Krasno has a family of bands people, get your learn on at Royal Family Records.
This set was pure gold to me because we finally got Nigel back! What a massively killing set. Adam Deitch was on fire. Smiling so hard and just purely enjoying the view from his seat. There was a random guy on percussion who apparently had just met the band a few minutes previously or perhaps the night before but he was allowed up on stage to rage the congas.
They played two covers, The Beatles’ “Get Back” and a Bob James Cover called “Nautilus,” which left the audience screaming with applause. I was so happy to see Louis Cato (6Figures) on stage. That smile can make me happy even after a funeral. He is a joy to watch, a joy to listen to and one of the best bassist/drummers in music. Look him up here! You’ll be amazed at his resume!
Set-List: Intro, 76, Be Alright, Nigel’s soulful outro, Roll Out, Leave Me Alone, Get Back (Beatles cover), Nautilus (Bob James cover)
Nick Daniels – bass
Ivan Neville – keys
Ian Neville – guitar
Adam Deitch / Nikkie Glaspie – drums
Eric Krasno / Will Bernard – guitar
The Dr. Klaw set was our first late night set and it was time for Josh and I to shed the work gear and get our groove on and that we did. It was the first late night set we experienced inside the Music Hall, the only inside venue on the grounds, until 5am. That was the coldest night of the festival to be honest and we stayed dancing to these funk masters as long as we could but couldn’t stay in the warmth forever.
Mixing members of Lettuce and Dumpstaphunk, Dr. Klaw is the perfect blend of New Orleans and New York. With the grinding funk organ and urban drumming, it is always a total super jam. It got that much hotter when Robert Walter sat down next to Ivan and played side by side for a few songs. Thank god I was positioned right in front of the organs, front row. Thank god!
Dr. Lonnie Smith
Dr. Lonnie Smith – B3 Hammond Organ
Jamal Williams – drums
Unknonw man on – Guitar
We went from the Turkuaz set to Dr. Lonnie Smith‘s set and the music changed pace completely. From the raucousness of the Turkuaz dance party came a slow, soulful, jazz styling from the trio that was now on stage. Dr. Lonnie Smith was by far the most legendary of musicians on the scene that weekend and this was not a set to be missed.
- Unknown video #1: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cd0rE_0XuRQ
- Unknown video #2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5QQLtDb8Dk&NR=1
Pee Wee Ellis was there watching Dr. Lonnie Smith from the audience. You know you’ve picked the right set when the masters of music are in the audience watching as well. Josh is good friends with Lonnie and spent some time with him backstage and wanted me to meet him. Sadly, I got caught up with other adventures and missed my window to meet him. We hung with Holly Case for most of the set while Dr. Lonnie Smith played “The Pilgrimage,” originally performed in NOLA. Here is the back story to the song:
“Pilgrimage he wrote years ago but never recorded until recently. When he played it in NOLA at 3am it brought tears to my eyes & touched many. This was prior to recording the tune on Rise Up. One of the most moving times in my life when the NOLA musicians came on stage & joined him. Told him he has to record it before someone else does. Has many more beautiful tunes inside.” ~ Holly Case, Dr. Lonnie Smith Management,
I just have to wait till he comes back to NYC again. And can I just say, it’s a travesty that men like George Porter, Jr. and Dr. Lonnie Smith are not being represented properly by the scene that loves them so much. Are there not any managers and/or supporters who are willing to take these magical musicians on?
Set-List: Back Track, Mellow Mood, Frame for the Blues, Behive, I Didn’t Know What Time It Was, Pilgrimage, Unknown Song
The Funky Meters
Art “Poppa Funk” Neville – keys
George Porter, Jr. – bass
Brian Stoltz – guitar
Russell Batiste, Jr. – drums
This set was a highlight set for me for sure. Unfortunately, running from the other show, we missed our window to shoot in the pit because so many photographers were in there. This was fine, I simply scooted my way to the front row where I knew my tribe of music lovers would be residing. Thankfully, I was able to grab a few shots and more importantly, have a front row spot for a few songs. In these moment, I thought of my dear friend Denise, a Funky Meters super fan and scene photographer, who was unable to make this festival. Lets all give some love to Denise and send the love vibes her way.
The Funky Meters had multiple sit-ins as well. Nikki Glaspie, the queen of all sit-ins, joined on drums for “Fire On The Bayou” while Billy Iusso came out with his guitar on “For Love Slip Up On Ya.” Pee Wee Ellis joined for “The World Is A Little Bit Under The Weather” into “Keep On Marching.” Later, Ivan Neville on keys and his nephew Ian on guitar joined for the closing “Ain’t No Use.” Enjoy the following video which includes “Cissy Strut~People Say~Ain’t No Use” followed by the “Fire On The Bayou” rage with Glaspie and Iusso.
Set-List: Jam > Funkify Your Life > Look-Ka Py Py >, Soul Island > Hang Em High, Doodle Oop (The World Is A Little Bit Under The Weather) [w/ Pee Wee Ellis] >, Keep On Marching [w/ Pee Wee Ellis] > Art chastises George > Love Slip Up On Ya [w/ Billy Iuso, and Nikki Glaspie joins near the end] >, Fire On The Bayou [w/ Billy Iuso & Nikkie Glaspie], Shake, Rattle, & Roll, Cissy Strut > People Say [w/ Ivan Neville & Ian Neville] >, Welcome To New Orleans > Ain’t No Use (To Cut You Loose) [w/ Ivan Neville & Ian Neville]
Jeff Raines – guitar
Stanton Moore – drums
Robert Mercurio – bass
Ben Ellman – saxaphone/harmonica
Richard Vogel – keyboard
At 32 degrees, this was one of the coldest sets of the weekend. My pal Dave and his lady fell asleep for this set during last year so they had waited an entire year to see this set. I had seen them 4 times this year and was not interested and was hoping to hit up either Rubblebucket, Zach Deputy or the DJ Kraz set in the Silent Disco. However, I was enjoying their enthusiasm and joined them in raging the set.
I got right into the photographers pit and started dancing on the side lines while Josh took pictures. This was by far the most packed pit I had seen over the weekend. Watching the hot breath come from these musicians was pretty intense. They were layered up in thick jackets, gloves and hats. Did this change the quality of the music? NOT ONE BIT!!!!
They brought it out the gate with “Keep Steppin.” Crushing! Then finally, some musical combinations of artists that I hadn’t expected and boy did it KILL!! Corey Glover came out on the second tune but it was when they did Swamp Dogg cover “I Don’t Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky” that the fire started flowing from the stage.
Then there was a massive 20 minute long jam with Grammy nominated artist-at-large Will Bernard on guitar while Jonathan Lloyd (Lloyd’s Rocksteady Revue) and Lucas Elman (Ben’s brother) added more brass sounds with their trombones.
Set-List: Intro, Keep Steppin, Total Destruction To Your Mind (w/ Corey Glover), Going Down (w/ Corey Glover), You Don’t Know (w/ Corey Glover), Kashmir (w/ Corey Glover), From The Corner To The Block (w/ Chali 2na & Boots Riley), Think Bank (w/ Chali 2na), Balkan Wedding, Who Took The Happiness Out? (w/ Roosevelt Collier, Will Bernard, Jonathan Lloyd, & Lucas Elman), I Don’t Know What It Is, But It Sure Is Funky (w/ Corey Glover), Heart of Steel (w/ Corey Glover)
Garage a Trois
If Skerik is in the project, I am all over it. This tracksuit-loving mafia is a trippy, jazzy, punky adventure outside of where most people can go with their brain. They produce a distinct musical flavor, a distinct taste if you will, that only the deepest of music loves can fully understand. Instead of a bass you have vibraphonist Mike Dillion (Dead Kenny Gs/Mike Dillion’s Go-Go Jungle). Instead of a guitar, you have Skerik (Garage a Trois) on saxophone. Marco Benevento heady keys and hammering Stanton Moore (Galactic) on drums completes the amazingly different foursome. They take you on a musical journey that opens your inner-eye to a new dimension of where music can go.
Hairy Apes BMX
Mike Dillon – vibraphone, percussion, vocals
John Speice – drums, percussion
J.J. Richards – bass, vocals
Holding down the last set of Friday night from 3:30am to 5:00am, Mike Dillion‘s Hairy Apes BMX delivered some of the best of Spanish, punk-rock fusion to be seen all weekend. Grammy nominated artist-at-large Will Bernard sat in almost the entire time flirting with the girls in the front row with that charming smile. They all have charming smiles and it’s hard not to smile back! The only person missing from this set was Skerik! Not even for one song….where were you my main sax man?
Mike Dillion is phenomenal. How many addiction-fed turned sober, sexy men do you know who rages punk rock style on a vibraphone? Not normally your sexiest of instruments but Mike Dillion brings it home each and every time! The entire set was hot and sweaty with the punky stench of people who had been dancing all day. Nikki Glaspie came in for a few songs on percussion while our good buddy Johnny Woodstock sat in on the congas.
The end of this set was possibly one of the greatest ending to a punk rock set I have ever seen at a music festival. After Mike Dillion takes the time to thank Bear Creek and has the audience cheer for the production crew and staff that make it all possible, the light guys turned on the lights with 2 minutes left in the set. This did not bode over well. In the most punk rock of ways, Mike Dillion began to rip apart the staff on hand.
“How dare you fucking turn the lights on when I am not finished. How dare you insult us like that. FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!” Of course, Mike Dillion was only half joking and J.J. Jungle ended the rant with “Speak for yourself.”
I, of course, loved every second of that rant. It was so perfect. These guys are so out of control. And so the show ended with punk rock splattered all over the room and our faces.
Jennifer Hartswick Band
Jennifer Hartswick – trumpet/vocals
Nick Cassarino – guitar
Dezron Douglas – bass
Rob Marscher – keys
Nikki Glaspie – drums
One particular friend of mine has such a huge lady crush on her yet hates Trey Anastasio so she was waiting with bells on for Trey to be over and for Jennifer Hartswick’s set to begin. Her enthusiasm, my knowledge of Hartswick’s talent and never having seen her with her own band ensured my arrival to the set on time. It was time for me to get my lady crush on also 🙂
I knew her vocals were phenomenal but to watch her lead the band…she is powerful, a band leader. Not only in voice but in presence. The sit-ins were stellar. Nigel Hall actually came early so instead of closing the set with Nigel, the duo went into the the 5th song. Called “Here We Go Again,” enjoy the following video of this SICK song!
Perhaps it was due to the fact that the late night sets bring the rage or perhaps it was because we were inside and it was warm. Either way, when Zach Deputy came on to stage for the 8th song he threw us a heavy, on-point face shredding guitar rage towards us. Snarky Puppy on horns for The Jackson Five‘s “Blame It On The Boogie” was HOT SAUCE and Taylor Williams on drums brought the funky as well.
After the song was over, Nigel bows to a huge applause and walks off stage. “Well, we were supposed to close with that song. Now how am I supposed to follow that,” says Hartswick. “You CANT,” says Mr. Hall as he exits the stage! Pockets of laughter scattered through the audience as she nods her head and continues her singing.
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (2 sets) so
Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe (also knows as Karen Dugan’s Tiny Universe to me and Nigel Hall, HA!), was a major player this weekend. We missed Thursday’s set due to flight delays but you can find the video’s linked to the track names below under the download link!
I enlisted the help of my buddy Russ Agdern, my personal encyclopedia of funk, to help me with the names of the tracks. We couldn’t figure out Track 1 but it sounds like a horror movie theme that KDTU has been using to open their sets up with for a while.
Boots Riley (The Coup) and Street Sweeper Social Club (Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine and Stanton Moore are on the recording) lyrics are from Ghetto Blaster. Holy shit! I’m insanely jealous! ~ Russ Agdern, my funky guru
Track 3 is a Fun little jam for the riddim section. ~ Russ Agdern
“If you listen real close, you can catch the Simpsons quote that Diesel likes to drop into his solo for this song, usually when it goes back to the top of the melody from the bridge changes… ~ Russ Agdern, Karl D’s biggest fan!
Set-List: Track 1, Get Together, Track 3, Track 4, Satisfied, Track 6, The BBQ Song, Solo, end of Malgorium, Dance Lesson #2, Shake It Out, Rich Man’s Welfare, Encore: No Ammounition (DJ Williams cover)
Then you had the set everyone was waiting for! Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe performing The Rolling Stone‘s Sticky Fingers in it’s entirety!! This was another one of the coldest sets, held from 10-12pm Friday night. Karl Denson approached the microphone and explains: “It’s cold as HELL out here. I can handle it but my saxophone is hating me right now.”
Anders Osbourne was slated to sit-in during this set, however, had to cancel due to illness. This wouldn’t make a difference either way. This set shook everyone up so deeply. Roosevelt Collier did sit-in with his pedal steel lap guitar and a special singer named Devon Parker came out to sing “Wild Horses!” That was a magnificent part of the set.
“Moonlight Mile was so appropriate as we had the full moon casting an eerie glow through the dust and campfire smoke for our late night adventures!” ~ Carphishhead, attendee
It was during “Wild Horses” that Josh and I exited the photo pit. During this song, a new voice entered my ears. Devon Parker was on stage killing Wild Horses with the band. At the time, I was asking everyone around me who this lovely voice was but no one could tell me. Luckily, I found her online and this is what she had to say:
“I’ve been friends with the drummer John Staten for a couple of years now, and sent him some of my music to listen to. Asked him to have Karl D take a listen and see if they’d like to have me sit in sometime. When they came through Colorado with the Sticky Fingers tour they invited me to sing Wild Horses at the Fillmore, and were very impressed! So they invited me to come to Bear Creek as well. It was an honor and one of the most incredible experiences of my life!” ~ Devon Parker (Nu Classics)
The cold was unbearable so we tried making our way into the audience but it was so jammed packed and rightly so. We walked up towards the back of the amphitheater and the magic of land hit me once again. It was magnificently beautiful. The lights, the music, the smiling faces, the dancing bears. It was a wonderland. If you didn’t know any Karl Denson tunes, that was fine because everyone on earth knows at least one song from the Sticky Fingers album. It was a giant sing along at times and a giant cuddle puddle at times. We ran into my Jam Base homie Bee Getz who was writing for his new website Upful Productions. Multiple minutes spent on pictures and hugs followed. Those are the moments I live for.
The following set-list has the best videos I could find linked to the track name. Enjoy! And be sure to thank CheeseHead Production staff for all their hard work getting us such wonderful video coverage!
Lettuce (2 sets)
Eric Krasno – guitar
Adam Deitch – drums
Neal Evans – organ/keys
E.D. Coomes – bass
Adam Smirnoff – guitar
Sam Kininger – alto sax
Ryan Zoidis – tenor sax
Nigel Hall – vocals/keys
ABSOLUTELY OFF THE HOOK!!!! This energized funk band is absolutely my favorite band on the planet right now. I don’t think you can get much more of a super fan then me. Josh shot pictures in the pit while I got up front and positioned myself to thrash around so hard my body would be feeling it for days.
“I was very excited to play with all my homies again after playing with Warren Haynes Band all summer. Although me and the cats from Warren’s band have developed a bond of our own, it was good to go back to the origins of where I started.” ~ Nigel Hall (vocalist/keys)
They played two sets over the weekend and they couldn’t be more on fire. On Saturday, their set was right before Trey Anastasio Band set so it was just a hyper, energized, full on funk-in-your-face situation; pumping everyone up. At one point the entire stage was filled from left to right with musicians from Berklee College of Music and beyond. Members of Dumpstafunk, Nikki Glaspie, Corey Glover, Louis Cato and so many more were on stage for that set. I couldn’t even name them all and that is a rare thing.
“I can’t choose just one, but I want to relive the Sunday Lettuce set over and over and over and over again.” ~ Stuffed Sheep, attendee and shepherd at SunRise Haven Farms
There was a massive turnout for both Saturday and Sunday sets. Their following grows with every single show. They are unstoppable at the moment and their creativity is being fueled by their passion for urban funk and our love for their sound. On Sunday, Pee Wee Ellis sat in on sax and George Porter Jr. on bass.
“Lettuce right now is the best they’ve been in awhile, my $0.02. Playing together a lot and it sounds like it. Wall of funky sound that blows you away!! Bad-assed mofos right there!!!” ~ Harry Zegers, attendee and founder of Eric Coomes Fan Club
The videos in this section are a 4 pack and put in order. It’s the entire set and worth playing while your cleaning the house this weekend 🙂 Or you can just download both sets below. That would be my choice 🙂 Whether people realize it or not, whether the musicians themselves realize it or not, Lettuce was the band to see this weekend. Sure, people love Trey but if you really want to talk about seeing a crowd that never ended from the stage, it was the Lettuce sets over the weekend.
Set-List: Crowd/Intro, Blast Off, New Tune #1, Sam Huff’s Flying Raging Machine, King of the Burgs, Break OUt > Relax, Need to Understand (w/ George Porter), Nyack, New Tune #2, Squadlive, Band Intros, Reunion, Crowd/Outro
Martin, Medeski and Wood 30th Anniversary Show (2 sets)
We left Karl Denson’s Sticky Fingers set around 11pm to grab some food. As I sat at the wooden tables eating a chicken quesadilla, I heard some raging improv from the Purple Hat stage. I had missed almost all of Medeski, Martin and Wood 30th Anniversary Show. I was livid. I literally threw a temper tantrum in my head and vocalized my anger to my boyfriend.
“The entire MMW set was soooo fire” ~ Jarred Michael Trantham, attendee
I have listened to this set over and over and over again and I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it is without going into so many more paragraphs. MMW shared the stage with Stanton Moore, Pee Wee Ellis, Will Bernard and Johnny Vidocovitch for this set. FIRE!
Later on, I would be inside our friend’s cabin as my friends poured in from the set. I wasn’t outside as they came in shouting praises over MMW. Josh told them to tell me the set wasn’t all that but I knew immediately that I was being tricked. It was “absolutely amazing ridiculous” so I was told. Medeski played his 3-piece set up all the while conducting which blew minds. A true composer and band leader. Medeski’s talent is what separates the boys from the men!
Set-List: Intro, We Are Rolling > [@ 3:47] Pappy Check > [@ 10:00 ] > Just Like I Pictured It, Where’s The Music? (w/ Pee Wee Ellis), Think >, Last Chance To Dance Trance (Perhaps) (w/ Johnny Vidacovich & Stanton Moore joining in the middle, Will Bernard joining near the end), Uninsivible (w/ Will Bernard), Baby Goats (w/ Will Bernard), Night Marchers (w/ Will Bernard), Heaven On Earth (w/ Will Bernard)
The New Mastersounds
Eddie Roberts – guitar
Simon Allen – drums
Pete Shand – bass guitar
Joe Tatton – organ and piano
This Meter-styled funk band from England is an absolute dance party. You know the band is amazing when there is an endless line of musicians waiting in the wings of the stages for a possible sit-in. They played two sets over the weekend and they spit fire during both.
These sets were definitely a highlight for many and Josh and I were right up front where we belonged. Special sit-ins included Michelle Sarah on vocals, Marco Benevento, Ivan Neville, and Robert Walters on keys, Zach Deputy and Will Bernard (guitar), Johnny Vidocovitch on drums and Jonathan Lloyd on trombone.
They are men with fun personalities and no limits to their music. Late Saturday night after Jennifer Hartswick’s set, I told Eddie Roberts that he had the most raging mustache at this festival and he belly laughed. There are imaginative on stage as much as they are with their music and we, the audience, love that play time. Simon can be seen wearing sequins dresses and tennis shoes.
“I did two with the New Mastersounds on Sunday to a crowd that I couldn’t see the end of. I dunno if the whole fest was gathered at that stage at that time, but wow… What a crowd response to that performance! Was definitely another moment for me. We did a Janis tune “Move Over” and an original called “Turn This Thing Around”. ” ~ Michelle Sarah, vocalist for Copper Tonic and Bear Creek Artist at Large.
Orchestra At Large
“Doctor Watson:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aS2cwJg-k3Q
At the festival ender jam I did a Bill Withers “Using Me” with Jamie McLean, Louis Cato, Scott Grudman, Sunil Soman, & Eli Winderman.. Theres a video on my wall of this jam. Another wonderful moment, the Treehouse was packed for last rage Sunday night. WOW!! Energy went through th roof when we started playing that tune. Mmm mmm good. What fun! COLD!! But funnnnnnn!!!!! ~ Michelle Sarah, Artist at Large
“Snakes and Spiders:” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0ioQr3F8jU
Pimps of Joytime
Brian J – guitar, keyboards & vocals
Chauncey Yearwood: Percussion & vocals
Mayteana Morales: Samples, Percussion & vocals
Eric Bolivar Drums & vocals
Dave Bailis Bass
I missed this rocking dance party due to Dr. Lonnie Smith’s set but I have seen Pimps of Joytime so many times. Pimps of Joytime are truly a raging dance party with Brian J. who reminds me of Prince. Mayteana Morales is a superb female influence on stage and another great one to watch. I think we caught one song but I had to give them some love here because they are my peoples from Brooklyn, NY. You can see one of my best girls, Ananda, shaking it this video of “Janxta Funk.”
The Silent Disco
The Silent Disco is something I have heard about for some time but have never fully checked out. Well, except for stumbling upon it a few times at other festivals. I didn’t really have any care about this type of scene because I don’t enjoy watching DJs and if I am watching a DJ, I am generally not fully invested and end up chatting up my friends. That all changed at Bear Creek!!!
Freakbass/Skerik: My crew was actually entering the venue through a hole in the fence behind the Silent Disco (before they closed it a few hours later) when we ran through the tent and I stopped. I knew I recognized something. Even though the sound was highly muted, Skerik was playing his sax and it stopped me dead in my tracks. Sure, we were on our way to check out Breakestra but not anymore.
I adore Skerik. I really do. For me, he is the Les Claypool of the Saxophone with his quirky demeanor. There is no one else like him when it comes to his style of music and the way he delivers that music. He is one of my top ten favorite musicians on Earth, hands down. Freakbass is unreal as well. Reminiscent of Buckethead, his addition to the quirky manipulations of jazz that were striking our ear drums was still melodic and soothing in an erie way.
So, Josh got the entire group to put on headphones and for the first time ever, I was listening to music just how I preferred. The music was in my head and I heard NOTHING but Skerik‘s manipulation of sound in my ears. I couldn’t hear my friend talking, I couldn’t hear anyone screaming. The sounds coming from the stage were WONDERFUL and thinking back, if I had missed this, I would have hated myself.
Personally, I think all shows should be performed this way. I can turn quite evil when someone is messing up my show going experience with their babbling. With a Silent Disco set-up, never again would I have to turn around to someone and tell them “SHUT THE FUCK UP WHILE THE BAND IS PLAYING” or “SHUT UP AND DANCE” as my nicer friends might say. And the fact that Freakbass and Skerik, the master of manipulative sax, were the two on stage performing with LIVE instruments, oh man was it AWESOME. ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!
Schmeenz: There were multiple sets at the Silent Disco over the weekend. The only other set I took time to catch was to support my homie Adam Smirnoff (Lettuce) whose spinner handle is SCHMEENZ. When we arrived, Eric Krasno was exiting the scene. Josh and I raged the funky set watching people come and go. One of the best parts of the Silent Disco was watching the faces of those who first put on the headsets. Before you put on those headsets, you only see things happening. Then, you place them on head and all the sounds come flooding in. Every faces lights up at that moment of recognition. Josh and I are lucky enough to catch a few of his DJ sets in NYC. He always throw down a little Tribe Called Quest and shouts out to his favorite musical masters through his musical choices. Other Royal Family Silent Disco Sets were spun by Alan Evan’s Dusty Diamond and Eric Krano as DJ Kraz.
Eric Krasno – guitar
Alan Evans – drums
Neal Evans – organ
Soulive is always an amazing jazz funk fusion jam that is awesome to behold. Erik Krasno is well suited for this band with his amazing jazzy style that at times is reminiscent of the amazing George Benson. Neal Evans is a great keyboard player with brother Alan Evans holding down the drum kit.
This trio had the Bear Creek crows rocking in the cold and loving life. They killed it on “Hat Trick” and Krasno was especially amazing on the Beatles tune “Come Together.” WOW! The best videos for each song are linked to the set-list below!
Soulive’s “Come Together” was a very special moment in time for me! ~ Jennifer Henson, attendee
Set-List: Hat Trick, Turn it Out, Come Together, Something > Eleanor Rigby, I Want You (She’s So Heavy) (w/ Corey Glover), Flurries (w/ Ryan Zoidis), Tuesday Night Squad, Manic Depression (w/ Corey Glover)
Trey Ananstasio Band
What on earth can I say about this set that everyone else isn’t already feeling or thinking? I was shocked to find out that certain people loathed Trey so much that they refused to even attend his set. There should have been something om stage opposite Trey for those who don’t care for him. I knew a few people who just went and got drunk because they didn’t want to watch TAB. That blows my mind but I understand. You can’t win them all and you certainly can’t force it upon them.
I loved it when Trey played “Devil Went Down to Georgia,” “Clint Eastwood” and “O0ohh Child”…great covers! ~ Elizabeth Roth, attendee
I have seen Phish numerous times and it wasn’t until I was face to face in the front row at a gorgeous theater with Trey Anastasio playing his acoustic guitar that I felt that connection to him as an artist. Then, when the horns joined the stage and Fat Tony got on that bass, I was done. I was finally a LOVER of Trey. Phish is great, but TAB is way more up my alley.
I watched as my boyfriend Josh lost his mind. Arms flying, feet moving, this was the most anyone would see him dance all weekend. This was his main MAN!!! TREY!! My girl, who runs Spacehead Jewels took this video front row during:
The Bear Creek atmosphere was amazing during this set. The audience transformed into a Phish audience in the best way that they know how to. Glowsticks galore, sticks with various creatures attached to them, people in costumes. This was also the set where I was able to enjoy the amphitheater in all its glory. The lights shining through the trees and hammocks, the colorful scene was too much to bear and I got teary-eyed for one of the few times that weekend.
The set-list was amazing. I fucking loved Charlie Daniels Band’s “Devil Went Down To Georgia” cover. It was my favorite song of the set for my own southern roots and personal reasons. Every single person in that audience was singing along. Jennifer Hartswick singing Gorillaz “Clint Eastwood” blew me away again as this was only the second time I have seen her perform the kickass number. She completely kicks that songs ass. SICK! Led Zepplin covers, Wailers covers…it was so full of energy and no one can deny that. The first video is the Charlie Daniels cover and the following is Hartswick crushing The The Gorillaz. Enjoy!
There is so much media for this set that I simply linked the best versions of the videos to the song titles on the set-list that follows:
Set-List: Push On Til the Day, Cayman Review, Burlap Sack & Pumps>, Gotta Jibboo, Magilla, Money Love & Change, Trey Stage Banter, Sand>, Valentine, O-o-h Child (The Fivestair Steps cover), Devil Went Down to Georgia (Charlie Daniels Band cover), Simple Twist Up Dave, Small Axe, Shine, Alaska, Mr. Completely>, Tuesday>, Clint Eastwood (Gorillaz cover), First Tube, Encore Break, Pigtail, Heavy Things, Black Dog (Led Zepplin cover)
Taylor Shell – composer/bass
Craig Brodhead – guitar
Michelangelo Carrubba – drums/percussion
Seth Bigsby – keyboards
Greg Sanderson – saxophone
Joshua Schwartz – saxophone
Chris Brouwers – trumpet
Shane Allen – backup vocals
Nicky Egan – backup vocals
Turkuaz is a pure form funk band from Brooklyn that I finally got to catch in Florida on Saturday. Said to play “louder, faster, and harder than all the rest,” Turkuaz performed two sets over the weekend and both sets reminded me of a huge 70’s dance jam.
Tash Neal (The London Souls drummer) sat-in on keyboards while Freakbass‘s killer addition just added to the multiple musical faces on stage. There were sit-ins by Chris St. Hillaire (The London Souls) on drums and Eli Winderman (dōpapod) on keys as well. It was a large group with Nicky Egan wearing a zebra unitard with holes cut out in precarious places. It was sexy! Here is Freakbass joining in on “Hot Chocolate”:
“Turkuaz ripped Sly & the Family Stone’s “M’Lady” in BOTH of their sets!!” ~ Wildman Steve, attendee
One of the more fun songs of the Saturday set was “The Letter,” a Wayne Carson Thompson song made famous by The Box Tops. A song Rolling Stone ranked it #363 on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Sly and the Family Stone‘s “M’Lady” was also a massive hit with the audience. Here is “Feeling Good” from their Friday set!
I always say Zach Deputy reminds me of Jerry. That happy, fluffy, smiling face. So joyful! As Josh and I stepped away from Karl Denson’s Sticky Fingers set for food, we were treated to a private performance for 5 people during a sound check for Mr. Deputy. Unless you were right up near the stage, you couldn’t hear the classical beatbox sounds escaping Zach but then they would turn the sound system on for a hot second so you would hear a little blast of Zach then nothing again. Josh engaged Zach with banter. Zach smiled and scatted back to us.
As I turned around and looked out at the scene, multiple people flew up to the stage upon hearing Zach’s voice over the speakers. Zach is the king of the lot scene. At the same time, I saw a tree standing alone. At the bottom of the tree was the sound board standing. The tree and the board were cast in blue, purple and green lights. The image was absolutely stunning with the leaves and Spanish Moss changing colors. With Zach’s voice in the background, I felt a connection with my love for music and nature.
Thank You Bear Creek
I can’t express how happy I am that I chose Bear Creek Music and Arts Festival to end my festival year. The power of the grounds, the feeling of community, and the quality of music is etched in my mind forever. I now have a taste for what is definitely the funkiest festival of the year and I look forward to the coming years line-ups. Next time, we stay all five days!
I want to thank the producers and production staff of Bear Creek, especially Paul Levine who described my feelings best when he said:
“I loved meeting you. you had the biggest smile I saw all weekend. I can still see it.” ~ Paul Levine
Remaining Downloadable Sets w/ Media
“Love Myself” by Charli Tuna was so on point…. the making flippy floppy made me leave work to go dance… ~ Jarred Michael Trantham, attendee
Set-List: Paper Chasin’ Britney, You Can Make It If You Try [Sly & The Family Stone cover] (w/ Skerik, Ryan Zoidis & Rashawn Ross, NIgel Hall), Livin’ In A World Gone Mad (w/ Andrew Block, Skerik), Dr. Funkenstein [Parliament cover] (w/ Jonathan Lloyd, Rashawn Ross, Khris Royal, Ryan Zoidis, Louis Cato on trombone, ??? on sousaphone, Nigel Hall), Sympathy For The Devil [Rolling Stones cover] (w/ Matt Grondin on first guitar solo, Joey Porter, Billy Iuso on second guitar solo, Nigel Hall on just a little organ), Fight The Power [Isley Brothers cover] (w/ Freekbass, Nigel Hall on vocals) > Bass Duel (Freekbass vs. Louis Cato) > What Is Hip? [Tower of Power cover] (w/ Freekbass, Louis Cato, Nigel Hall on vocals, Eric Krasno, & horns), Higher [Sly & The Family Stone cover] (w/ Eric Krasno, Zach Deputy, Corey Glover, ?? on vocals, Louis Cato on drums, Nigel Hall on keys, & horns)
Set-List: Intro, Deeper (w/ Skerik), Put It In The Dumpsta, Liar [The Meters cover], Everybody Want Sum, Heart Shaped Box [Nirvana cover], Blueswave (w/ Skerik), Africa/New Orleans (w/ George Porter Jr) > reggae improv (w/ George Porter Jr & Pee Wee Ellis), Fame [David Bowie cover], Sing A Simple Song [Sly & The Family Stone cover] (w/ Ryan Zoidis, Rashawn Ross, Sam Kinninger, Jonathan Lloyd & Skerik), You Don’t Miss Your Water (w/ Ryan Zoidis, Rashawn Ross, Sam Kinninger, Jonathan Lloyd & Skerik), Encore Break/Crowd, Meanwhile (w/ Louis Cato on drums, Ivan on guitar, Nikki on organ & vocals)
Set-List: Liver Splash > The Same Old Thing, Doing The Dirt, Aw’Some Funk > Handy Wrap (Earl King cover), 6X6 LA, What Cha’ Say, Odiferous > Sailin’ Shoes > (Robert Palmer / Lowell George cover), Sneaking Sally Through The Alley (Robert Palmer / Allen Toussaint cover), Drum Solo >, Band Intro > Happy Song >, I Get High, I Need More Time
Set-List: Rod n Reel, Country Girl, Change My Ways, Be Good, 300 Pounds, Ten Times The Man, Chocolate Cake, Josephine, One Shot
Set-List: I Get The Blues When It Rains, Tipitina, So Damn Good, Play Something Sweet (Brickyard Blues), The Crave, Reconsider Baby (with Johnny Vidacovich), Get Low Down (with Johnny Vidacovich), Young Boy Blues, C’mon Second Line, When You Get Back, Telephone Me, Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave, Nothing Really Matters, Help Me Somebody, Blow Wind Blow
Guests: Roosevelt Collier (pedel steel) & Robert Walter (Keys)
Guests: Roosevelt Collier (pedal steel guitar) & Johnny Vidacovich (drums)
Set-List: A Go Go, Down The Tubes >, Hanuman, Little Walter Rides Again, Miles Behind, Julia, In Case The World Changes Its Mind (w/ Roosevelt Collier), Scofield invites up Johnny Vidacovich, Tootie Ma Was A Big Fine Thing (w/ Johnny Vidacovich), Hottentot
Here are a few more links of amazing coverage of Bear Creek Music And Arts Fetival that I know you will enjoy. Thanks to each of the roles you play in delivering the festival to our ear and eyes!
Arthur Shim’s Highlight Video from Royal Family Records: It doesn’t get more in your face then this!
Bear Creek Pins courtesy of Sister Judy’s Pin Shack: These bear pins are adorable and affordable
CheeseHead Productions Video Coverage: You won’t find a better collection of videos anywhere
Funk It’s Bear Creek 2011 teaser video: Excellent shots of the entire weekend in video format
Honest Tune Review by David Sheil: One of the photographers allowed in the pit for TAB
I Love Bear Creek by Adam E. Smith
JamBase Review by Bee Geetz: A wonderful review by a wonderful writer
SphereVibe Films: Thank you to Winston Murray and Evan Warren for the Lettuce Footage!
Suwanee Progress: Please friend Suwanee Progress and help us fight against the installation of a landfill on top of the Live Oak aquifer. Our drinking water and our future are at stake. The proposed landfill is only 4 miles from the Spirit of the Suwanee and certainly threatens guests of the park.
Funk ‘N’ Jam Forum: This musical running crew must be mentioned! Florida’s most raging music collective was located in general population with Christmas lights and beautiful tapestries defining their location. I always knew I was in the right spot when I looked up and saw an upside down Christmas tree hung way up in the trees. If you are going to be attending music festivals or jam band community shows in Florida and need some musical questions answered, this is the forum to ask.