Wanee: The South’s Heart of Jam
written by Connor Hayes
If Woodstock was the American Jam community’s moment of conception, its belly button, then Wanee is it’s ribcage: the place where southern rock and jam will always have room to grow and live. These two genres are Wanee’s heart and soul: southern rock royalty in the form of the late Butch Trucks have graced these lands before, and will continue to do so, while Widespread Panic, legendary jam musicians from Athens, GA, who really have put the south on the map in jam circles, will bring their trademark gusto and fanatical fanbase.
John Bell and the boys from Panic will be joined this year by Dead Family member, Bob Weir (for not one, but two sets), Trey Anastasio, Government Mule, and Dark Star Orchestra. Those headliners alone would be worth the bill, but like any festival worth it’s salt, there’s quite a few gems in the under bracket. New Orleans musician and part time voodoo king, Dr. John; the pride of Asheville, Papadosio; jamgrass virtuoso, Keller Williams; the contemporary manifestation of southern rock, Blackberry Smoke; a Neil Young tribute set from Colorado’s veterans, Leftover Salmon; and even a rare collaboration between Pink Talking Fish and Kung Fu, in the form of a Prince and David Bowie tribute set.
For a longtime, Lockn Music Festival has had the designation in the hearts and minds of the jam community as being a sort of “State of the Union” festival: whatever the lineup reads, those are the most influential and talented jam artists, here and now. Wanee will share that this year, and even veterans and storied members of the Suwannee community are gearing up for a lineup that’s something out of a dream. The possibility for cross collaboration makes this list even more tantalizing: Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes teaming up with Widespread Panic, Keller and Leftover Salmon together as a possible Williams Salmon Experience, maybe even Dr. John sitting in with Blackberry Smoke on an even more soulful rendition of “Everybody Knows She’s Mine”.
North Florida, and by default Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, is always most beautiful in the late spring and taken together with the lineup and the collection of beautiful souls that flock to Live Oak. There has never been a better time to dive into this southern rock/jam renaissance we are living in!