Wanee Festival 2012: A Mothered, Covered 'n' Capped Report From Juke's Eric Garcia

WaneeFestival2012JukeRecap1.jpg
Photo by Eric Garcia
Hippie lady putting mini-umbrellas and other crap in a Juke member's hair.
For years, everyone has told me, "You guys gotta play it, man! Juke would be perfect."

We're talking about the annual Wanee Festival, a three-day, 30,000-strong, hippie jam extravaganza in Live Oak, Florida.

It mostly specializes in "bluesy" acts like The Allman Brothers.

And this year, my band finally went to Wanee.

But getting on the 32-act lineup isn't as easy as it sounds when it comes from the 100th drunk who's screamed encouragement into your ear during a Poor House show in Fort Lauderdale. So when Juke and I were invited to come play Wednesday night's "VIP Pre-party," we were flattered, though a little unsure of what we were in for.

WaneeFestival2012JukeRecap2.jpg
Photo by Eric Garcia

After a seven-hour drive, we arrived at The Spirit of Swannee Music Park. Limited cellphone signal and lots of rolling farmland let us know how far we were from the city.

And then after receiving our official Wanee credentials, we noticed the whole place had a kind of "Mad Max on Marlboros and weed" feel, as makeshift tents and booths were being constructed by muddy, shoeless white people on scooters and golfcarts.

WaneeFestival2012JukeRecap3.jpg
Photo by Eric Garcia

Everything was confusing at first and there wasn't much help for us. My drummer, Brian Lange, wasn't feeling the vibe. Already being a bit of a dandy, he says, "I liked Ultra better. These people hate me because I look fantastic."

I wasn't sure about all that. But it was clear that we were a long way from home.

WaneeFestival2012JukeRecap4.jpg
Photo by Eric Garcia

The band before us -- Beebs and her Moneymakers -- started playing for a crowd of about 35. Just as I was thinking, This thing might have been a waste of time, the hippie surge happened.

By the middle of the first song, mobs of longhairs clamored toward the stage from all directions. Like peaceful zombies clad in tie-dye, they were drawn to the music.

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Photo by Eric Garcia

By the time we were about to start, there were over 2000 heads ready to hear anything we had. I jokingly asked my guitarist, Evan Lamb, if we should huddle up and pray like we'd seen Cody Chesnutt's band do just before performing. He just laughed at me before turning to towards the stage with his guitar, "Who would we pray to?"

Once our set got going, the prophecy of the Poor House drunks came true. The audience ate it up. After playing to tons of unaffected Miami crowds, these people were Silly Putty.

WaneeFestival2012JukeRecap6.jpg
Photo by Eric Garcia

Hanging around Wanee for the next few days taught me several things:

1. Yelling "Wanee!!!" at any time, especially when you are on stage, makes festival-goers stop what they are doing and scream at the sky.

2. A Waffle House in the middle of nowhere can rival any five-star restaurant in the Design District. Here's a hot tip: When the waitress asks you how you want your hash browns, tell her, "Smothered, covered 'n' capped." I promise you won't regret it.

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Photo by Eric Garcia

3. There is something to "The Collective Experience". There is a reason so many people converge in a remote location to participate as a witness...but I still don't know what it is.

4. All Access passes rule. It's the only way to go. My next goal is to get an All Access pass to life. It would be fantastic to just walk away at any point in time when things get too crazy and chill with some free food, beer and fooseball.

See y'all at Wanee 2013.

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4 comments
Seamurf57
Seamurf57

I was there, but not soon enough to hear your band, sorry to say. Loved the lines, "By the middle of the first song, mobs of longhairs clamored toward the stage from all directions. Like peaceful zombies clad in tie-dye, they were drawn to the music." That's what Wanee is: a chance to be drawn to the music over and over and over, again and again and again. I know the music fills ME up, and keeps me going for months, or even a full year if need be--till the next Wanee. :)

Inboard
Inboard

Okay, let's go next year...okay?

Jammies
Jammies

Thanks for the writeup, disappointed I missed it.  It's easily one of the best venues in the country.

Uncle SCotchy
Uncle SCotchy

right on... i actually had an amazing time... i wish i had the space to write about the entire weekend's experience. i have to say that my first Wanee opened my eyes to a lot of things, bands, and people.hope u get to come check JUke out soon.glad u liked the blog!

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