Wanee 2013: Jam Bands and Dudes With Tramp Stamps, a Report From Juke's Eric Garcia
Photo by Eric Garcia The Wanee masses, fully prepped for a freakout.
My band, Juke, was invited to play our first Wanee Festival last year, up at the Spirit of Swanee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida.
We played the opening night's festivities, rocked out, and suffered from a bit of culture shock. This 500-plus-acre park just outside Georgia is in the middle of nowhere.
Now the four-day festival is absolutely awesome. It is incredibly well run and attended by nearly 40,000 people. But I still didn't understand it.
Photo by Eric Garcia The sign indicating that you're finally entering Wanee country.
I mean, I "got" it. But I really don't see how this basically internet-driven subculture can bring this many people to the "middle of nowhere." The nearest hotel is 20 minutes away, and these people are paying $250 a head to listen to music, camp out, use porta-potties, and dress like shit for four days.
Wanee is not the only fest of this kind either. There are dozens of these things across the country. And this particular campground in Live Oak is host to several of them.
Photo by Eric Garcia It's just a head on a stick, people. Chill.
All that being said, Juke and I were beyond excited to play Wanee 2013. Last year's show exposed us to some of the most intense music lovers I had ever met. They listened to every word, and they replenished some of the hope that Miami crowds have bled out of us over the years.
And not only were we playing the opening night for the second consecutive year. But on Friday, we were also playing the "Travelling Stage," which is basically a flatbed truck that gets rolled around the grounds for a couple of hours.
With a bottle of Jameson, my harmonicas, and some clean socks in my backpack, I was ready to hit this thing hard. The sound crew was the same as last year, and they made us feel welcome. These people are lifers. They work the whole circuit of these festivals and know all the musicians. Shutting the fuck up and listening to these people is highly recommended.
Photo by Eric Garcia At Wanee, even the dudes rock tramp stamps.
Wanee 2013, Day One
Our first night's show went great again. We were on the "Mushroom Stage," and the sound was a definite upgrade. Plus, one of the best guitarists you will ever hear, Bobby Lee Rodgers, sat in with us at the end of the set. Playing like that with an engaged crowd will make it tough to play the next shitty little Fort Lauderdale gig. But that's life, huh?
Since we had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to drive up to Live Oak, we were beat and opted to drive back into town for a night at our lovely Days Inn. Too bad, because Ivan Neville's Dumpstaphunk was headlining that night. Too bad, I heard it was a sick show.