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Wanee: Hoola hoops, weed, magic music

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Heard the singers playin’, how we cheered for more. The crowd had rushed together ...

— Creedence Clearwater Revival

That old corollary about how different people see and remember the same thing differently came into play over the weekend as I was discussing the incredible Wanee Festival with one of the other 40,000 or so attendees.

“No one’s going to believe it when I tell them how much pot there was being passed around,” the guy told me. “It’s, like, everywhere.”

True that ... so much so I did ask the bosses around here Monday not to send me for a random drug test until I’d had a chance to get the second-hand contact smoke out of my system. ... Put it this way: There was enough weed present at the three-day festival to keep Colombia’s economy going for a couple of months and more glassy-eyed stares than I saw in a semester’s worth of Ben Lawson’s literary criticism lectures.

But that’s not what made Wanee one of the greatest musical happenings I’ve had the opportunity to experience in my more than 40 years of attending live musical events. For me, Wanee was more about incredible musicians playing music that created a transcendental vibe that left me feeling as if I’d had one of those rarely-in-a-lifetime opportunities to be a part of something special.

Here, then, the 12 things I’ll remember most — or at least those that I’ll talk about — from Wanee 2012:

— Hoola hoops. Who knew the hot toy of the ‘50s would make such a dramatic comeback? Forget stoner guys standing around trying to keep hacky sacks in the air. The new-wave hippie chicks have perfected little hoola-hoop dances that are way more fun to watch.

— Naked guy. Some unsolicited but needed advice for the young surfer-dude-looking guy who decided to display his, ahem, business wares for festivalgoers to enjoy: You need a little more business to attract anything more than chuckles.

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Allman Brothers Band guitarist Derek Trucks, left, and Warren Haynes perform during the weekend's Wanee Festival in Live Oak, Fla.

— Coolest guy who didn’t have to be but was anyway at the whole festival: Allman Brothers Band bassist Oteil Burbridge. In addition to just hanging out and talking with fans on the festival grounds, the super nice Burbridge also huddled in a tiny kiosk (next to the guy who did the intricate pen-and-ink drawings) with rain pouring down around him signing autographs, taking photos and helping a group sell raffle tickets to help needy kids at a nearby school.

— Grateful Dead holdovers Bob Weir and Phil Lesh and their amazingly talented bandmates (Jeff Chimenti, John Kadlecik, Joe Russo, Sunshine Becker, Jeff Pehrson) in Furthur doing Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and the Dead’s “Fire on the Mountain.”

— Best bit of advice shouted from a random guy in the crowd as Gov’t Mule took the stage for their 3:15 p.m. set Saturday: “Pace yourself, Warren!” Tireless guitar god Warren Haynes had played a 2 1/2-hour set with the Allman Brothers the night before after doing an extended Q&A session with Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna great Jorma Kaukonen earlier in the afternoon, and he still had a second marathon set to do with the Brothers at 9:30 that night.

— Bonerama’s instrumental cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” with guitar, tuba, trumpet and sax. Amazing, amazing stuff.

— The best security staff at pretty much any musical event I’ve ever attended. Attentive to any possible conflict that might arise yet friendly to everyone present.

— The most creative vendor booths ever. Even if you were an anti-establishment/anti-capitalist revolutionary, you’d find something worth buying at Wanee.

— Dumbest 15-seconds-of-fame try ever: The guy who walked up the flower-covered incline in front of the Peach Stage and attempted to make a statement into a microphone while roadies readied the stage for the Allman Brothers. Not only was the mic not turned on, the guy was escorted offstage by security into the waiting handcuffs of local police.

— Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk taking the stage in ‘70s-era P-Funk get-ups and laying down such classic Parliament hits as “We Want the Funk,” “Do That Stuff” and “One Nation Under a Groove.” Burn the roof off the sucka, indeed.

— Haynes and Derek Trucks playing the twin guitar lead on the Allman Brothers’ “Jessica” perfectly ... and being only slightly bummed that Duane Allman and Dickey Betts weren’t still doing it.

— “Discovering” just how great Weir, Lesh, Furthur, Ratdog and all other offshoots of the Dead really are. It takes seeing them live to realize that (a) Lesh is one of, if not THE, best rock bassists ever, and (b) Jerry Gracia was unquestionably the heart and soul of the Dead, but Weir will always be the band’s voice.

I, for one, am counting down to Wanee 2013.

Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at carlton.fletcher@albanyherald.com.

Comments

waltspecht 2 years, 8 months ago

So, illegal drug use was everywhere, and the Cops got a guy for walking up on the stage? You got enough second hand smoke you think you will come up positive and you didn't just leave? There's a guy running around naked which doesn't upset you and your City has laws against droopy pants? I think there needs to be enough room made in the local Jails to accomodate those attending the Wanee 2013 event. For apparently, from your description,, that's where most of them belonged. I had a friend once explain to a Hippie that the only Woodstock he remembers from 69 was on an M-14 with a Redfield 2 1/2 by 7 scope on it.

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robbipy1 2 years, 8 months ago

Oh you are so right. We should just throw them all in jail, even the one's that weren't smoking or in possession of even minor amounts. In fact, we should search everyone and just throw anyone in jail who looks suspicious. That'll show them that the United States police system is working. That way only the "right" people will be free and anyone who thinks differently will be forced into prisons, camps, and hard labor. In fact, let's just wipe them out. Sound familiar @waltspecht? They tried that once in Europe awhile back. Maybe, and this is just my interpretation of it, the US constitution is supposed to protect civil liberties like how you pray and what you do while also protecting you from unlawful search and seizure. Maybe it isn't these long-haired-hippie freaks who are in the wrong, maybe it's you.

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krizzle 2 years, 8 months ago

you are a bigot i cant wait for all you old ignorant people to die off so this country can finally progress

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albanyherald1 2 years, 8 months ago

Although I don't agree with Walt on this one and I could really care less about a Hippie fest, I have to respond to your comment. You can't lump all adults in the same basket any more than I can lump all young people in the same basket. If I did, I would have to say young people of today could learn a little from us "old" people. Most of us still possess morals and values, that alot of you "youngsters" never learned. This country is going to hell in a handbasket. Maybe we should all go back to the ways of our grandparents, or in your case, great-grandparents. I think they could teach us a thing or two.

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laurelkenobi 2 years, 8 months ago

I'm terribly disappointed in your reaction to this article, and I'm also a bit disappointed in myself for feeling the need to respond; however, I can't help but wonder, were you there? I was present for this and several other Wanees and music festivals before, and I honestly believe this is the best I've ever attended. While there is a time and a place for drugs and nudity, at least the worst of it was a naked guy and not an overdose or, even worse, a death. The love and peace radiating from 40,000 people who felt like family was absolutely incredible. While my Wanee was spent fairly sober, the throngs of smokers and shroomers didn't impose on my good time one bit. In fact, they shared even more comfort and love. Wanee brings people together who are oceans and states apart. Wanee was a time for me to hug loved ones I haven't seen in years and pretend they're still living right next door. It was touching and enlightening, and I hope that one day you will experience the power of music in sharing a common love.

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waltspecht 2 years, 8 months ago

I have often found many folks that do not appreciate sarcasm for what it truely is. A form of humor. However some of you here don't seem to even be able to comprehend it. If you don't like the drug laws, work to change them. There are enough groups out there that could use your support. The actor from Cheers chief among them. Why have laws, if they will be ignored when a group of affluents gather, but then use the same law to jail a minority for three plus years? Does that seem to be the picture of America you would like to paint.

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robbipy1 2 years, 8 months ago

There are large movements in place to attempt to amend drug laws and the government has time and again turned down even the notion of decriminalization. I do agree with you that there are class dynamics at work here with an affluent population being given more leeway than minorities, but why should there be such harsh punishments at all for non-violent crimes such as drug possession. We are asking the wrong questions and chasing the wrong folk devils. The evils of this system do not exist with those that possess or use drugs, but those that work so fervently to stock our prisons by using antiquated laws that they refuse to amend even when the consent of the governed may be in favor of lessening restrictions. In most states the prisons are now owned by private business and are publicly traded with many business ties leading straight to state houses and capitol hill. It is not in the interest of the government to lessen the amount of prison inmates every year, it is actually in their interest to keep that number up. All the grassroots movements in the world can't stop a justice system operating like that and it is people like you @waltspecht that give them the moral imperative and rhetorical ammunition to continue these injustices. This isn't to say I think we should condone the sale of drugs, because that should still carry a prison sentence, but it is worth neither the police nor anyone's time to arrest and prosecute simple possession cases, especially with a drug like marijuana which is proscribed by doctors in many states. Maybe we should listen to those we trust with our health to decide what to put in our bodies and not those who could care less about us as long as we vote for them.

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tywebb 2 years, 8 months ago

"While there is a time and a place for drugs and nudity," PLEASEEEEEEEE........tell me when and where this is!!!!!!!

Also, please say hello to your father......Obi Wan

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beergrover 2 years, 8 months ago

Carlton,

Thanks for the fantastic write up. I too was in attendance and took much needed vacation time and made the trek in my camper from New England to catch some of my favorite musical acts. All and all a very agreeable and respectable crowd, incredible music, and mostly (with the exception of the deluge during Gov't Mule) nice weather. Probably a fest that I will return to again. Many thanks to the folks at the Spirit of Suwanee for hosting such a fantastic event.

Michael

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

Wow Carlton you sure do hang with some fine folks. I hope you brought back enough weed to last you through the long, hot summer to come.

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WaneeLover 2 years, 8 months ago

Carlton,

What a good article.. I am from your hometown..Ocilla I was there and I must say that the first comment maker can stay his ass at home. It was awesome.. Naked guy 2012 (because there is one every year) got tazed..and taken to jail.. there were 17 arrests made and it looks like MDMA, also known as ecstasy, was the main culprit.. Or being a bonehead and causing trouble or alcohol... and if the truth be known if no one drank alcohol this arrest number would have been lower..

1: Male 19yo: Sale of MDMA

2: F/19: DUI

3: M/19: Sale of MDMA

4: M/40: Posession of Cannabis, Resisting with violence, enciting a riot.

5: M/26: Disorderly intox

6: M/26: Sale and traffic of MDMA, Possesion of cannabis and psilocybin

7 M/21: Disorderly conduct

8: M/40: Possession of LSD with intent, +20g cannabis, psilocybin w/ intent, poss of alazopram

9: M/21 Posession of cannabis

10: M/46: posession of MDMA and cannabis

11: M/26: Posession of MDMA and cannabis

12: F/23: posession of cannabis, pills, MDMA

13: M/24: posession of cannabis and MDMA

14: F/26: disorderly conduct

15 M/26: Battery on LEO, resiting w/ violence, indecent exposure

16 M/18: tresspass

17: M/42 : Tresspass

99% of the people at Wanee are the nicest people on earth.. easy going and peaceful.. Now if you really want to see something go to Suwanee River Jam next week When the country fans take over .. Fights will break out and mayhem will ensue due to the most violent of all intoxicants .......alcohol ..which is legal.. You folks that don't like what goes on at Wanee keep yourself in Albany.. A much more peaceful place I am sure..

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sowegaguy87 2 years, 8 months ago

Nice to see some local exposure for this great festival even if it did seem a little negative ha. You should check out local fests like briarpatch.

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PShooter 2 years, 8 months ago

Great Write-up Mr. Fletcher! This was my 3rd Wanee, and the best yet. Thanks for your brutal honesty. I guess genitals and marijuana still scare some people, but it doesn't clog up my ears from hearing a great mix of tasty jams.

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jajo420 2 years, 8 months ago

Wow! First off I'll begin with agreeing with Carlton: 40,000 ppl getting along is something you don't see every day (especially these days) so rest assured, any time they gather at Wanee, I'll be there! The music, the atmosphere, (and yes, even the extracurriculars) were amazing!!!!

Secondly, @waltspecht, I've never heard a more old school, fuddy-duddy, liberal response to anything in my life! You pride yourself on talking about a rifle when everyone else is speaking peace (and yes I own guns). You're so worried about the actions and events that occured, maybe you should join your local law enforcement and go become the local @$$hole at your station (plz dont come to Wanee)! And on top of that you're gonna ask a man to leave his job when he's obviously doing a great job. No one can say they enjoy every aspect of their job. Marijuana is obviously Carlton's unwanted aspect, but he still does his job!

I'll sum it up like this; think of it as a nudist colony. No, you can't go walk around downtown Albany with your junk hanging out, but some places (certain beaches, colonies, and MUSIC FESTIVALS) where it's waaaaaaay less frowned upon!

So thx Carlton, for the great article..... and for the opportunity to come up with this not-so-unique screen name just to prove a point!

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waneewoo 2 years, 8 months ago

Being a multi year Wanee family member..... and a very well traveled concert goer... I started at WoodStock and travel the fest sceen March... Spring Fest and end at Warren Haynes Christmas Jam every year... this is my FAVORITE FESTIVAL bar none!!! Oteil... have a picture with him, if you were there I was the one who got the kisses for donating my raffle tickets. Warren does pace himself.... full trot :-) Dumpsta

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waneewoo 2 years, 8 months ago

Part 2 Dumpstaphunk... better every year!!! Hot Tuna... acustic last year... this year electric... my favorite!!! Warren and Derek.... twice heck ya!!!! and Susan WoW Leftover Salmon... have seen you before @ SOS but you smoked WANEEEE! Buddy Guy... as great as Taj last year! Bruce Hornsby... thanks for the memories. Jaimoe's Jasssz Band.. saw ya'll in January opening for Gregg in Ft. Myers WOWEEEEE! Trigger Hippy w/ Jackie Green... saw you @ Warrens Christmas Jam in Dec. You ripped it with Trigger! Gov't Mule FUNTASTIC AS ALWAYS! Last but not least let's not forget the ABB, they are the reason for the season. Final last but not least.... Further twice.... welcome to WANEEE, hope to see you next year, you know where I'll be. And another 4-20 next year!!! WANEEEEEEEEEEEE

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

Well we, the people who purchase the Albany Herald (and not some ragtag bunch of middle-aged perennial adolescents who are in Carlton Flether's Social Network Circle) now know the kind of riff raff that Carlton hangs with in his Free Time. Thanks for That!! Helps explain his Political Persuasion a lot better, huh??

And I need to amend my earlier comments....the Farmer's Almanac calls for this Summer to be "cooler and wetter" than the past several years. However, Carlton, you still probably will want to utilize your Weed Stash in the normal manner. We all know your "Like To Keep A Steady High" and that you are the typical "Midnight Toker" as referenced in two songs from two different Groups/Artists. Do you know which two? I don't think so.

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tywebb 2 years, 8 months ago

steve miller is one. the joker. my other guess would be cypress hill? close?

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

No....it's "Dialogue" off of Chicago V.

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tywebb 2 years, 8 months ago

dang it! i don't know what that is

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 8 months ago

Chicago Five. Check it out on Amazon or iTunes. Or Google the lyrics.

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Albanite 2 years, 8 months ago

There was a time when even the novice obit writer understood journalism's basics. Who, What, Where, When and Why. Apparently this is some kind of potfestival featuring mediocre musicians and has-beens. Where was it? Who put it together and why? When was it? Why does it deserve a place in our local paper?

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Mountainchef 2 years, 8 months ago

To Albany Herald: lease send someone who can do a credible job covering this wonderful concert next year.
To Mr. Fletcher. This article started out with three irrelevant points and finally got to the real message halfway through the article. You led with characterizing the event as a potfest, being surprised that hula hoops are a current art form and you were shocked to see one naked person out of 40,000 attendees (if that number is correct). Here's some suggestions for your article next year: don't be so surprised if you smell a little weed in the air occasionally. You didn't need to lead your article with it; it gives the wrong impression. Man, you say you've been going to concerts for 40 years...did your nose just start working? Not everyone was stoned and it sounds like you wrote this article during your "second hand smoke" timeframe. Don't be surprised if you see an occasional naked person at a festival, or other places where many people gather for that matter. Would you have complained if you saw a naked woman, not a man? It's an incidental fact and doesn't need to have any attention brought to it. Don't use words like new-wave hippy chicks; it's demeaning to the talented young ladies performing their hula hoop art. Have a young person review your article before you post it because you sound out of touch. You did a good job reviewing some of the music, but you could have used the word count available for your article to focus more on other bands and the respectful, loving nature of the attendees.

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