9th Annual Wanee Festival draws 60,000

It was four days of continuous music not interrupted one bit by a rain storm that lasted into the night Friday when the 9th Annual Wanee Music Festival returned to The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP) in Live Oak, Fla where the artists that can be described as the royalty of music perform.

An estimated 60,000 fans of bands like The Allman Brothers, Widespread Panic, Michael Franti, and his band, Gov’t Mule, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Leon Russell, Tower of Power, Les Claypool’s Duo de Twang, Electric Hot Tuna, Maceo Parker, Steel Pulse, North Mississippi Allstars, Blackberry Smoke, Galactic & Friends, The Greyboy Allstars, Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars featuring Tab Benoit, Cyril Neville, Big Chief Monk Boudreaux, Jumpin Johnny Sansone, Waylon Thibodeaux and Johnny Vidacovich; Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Royal Southern Brotherhood, Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio, The Lee Boys, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, The Revivalists, Monophonics, Boombox, Oli Brown Band, Flannel Church and The Yeti Trio. Wanee Wednesday Happy Hour featured Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk, Cope, Kettle of Fish, Beebs & Her Money Makers, Juke and The Groves gathered to immerse themselves in their favorite music.

Wanee also had the traveling version of Jorma Kaukonen’s “Fur Peace Ranch” where fans could experience musician/songwriter workshops and lessons, all under the tutelage of world class musicians.

Fans began arriving early in the week before the April 17 opening night and by Friday, primitive camping sites were cram packed with vehicles parked bumper to bumper and festival goers having the time of their lives on the more than 800-acre campground on the banks of the famous Suwannee River. Dozens upon dozens of vendors with every type food imaginable, including pancakes and syrup for breakfast, pizza and much more, a huge selection of festival clothing that included belly dancers’ coin skirts with beaded matching tops for the festival junkie, blankets, drums, jewelry and on and on did a brisk business. Some vendors’ tents were lined up in triple rows and some extended out of sight into the camping area. Golf carts were among the mode of transportation along with a few bicycles but mostly these festival goers used their God-given ability to walk, yes, walk, on their ventures around the park! Thursday night’s Royal Southern Brotherhood performance at the Mushroom Stage (amphitheater) was filled jam-packed with swirling hula-hoopers, swaying music lovers and head-bobbing music aficionados who seemed oblivious to those around them. These same themes carried throughout the four-day festival that ended Saturday night or actually early Sunday morning. When Widespread Panic and The Allman Brothers performed late Saturday evening, the festival field was a sea of bodies swaying shoulder to shoulder, grooving to the music as far as the eye could see.

Strange as it may seem, Saturday evening at this world-wide known jam band music festival, the sounds of bluegrass began to waft through the oak trees in the Crafts Village where “Dr.” Don Miller, a long-time bluegrass radio DJ, broadcast his regular Saturday program from 5-7 p.m. over WQHL 98.1 The Big Country station from the SOSMP’s radio studio in the Crafts Village! It was easy to tell some festival goers who passed by may not have ever heard a thing called bluegrass music! Others just took a seat under the moss-laden oaks in front of the studio and enjoyed! One lady sat with her “chicken on a stick,” a 6 ft. pole with a 3 ft. tall paper stuffed chicken attached, garnering much attention!

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