Haynes hands-down MVP of Wanee

Opinion Column

Carlton Fletcher

Carlton Fletcher

Music, is what we like to play. All day ... to soothe your soul.

— War

For me, the 2013 Wanee Music Festival will forever be remembered as Wanee II, who cares if it was actually the ninth Wanee. And it will be remembered as the weekend Mother Nature decided to show off all the tools at her disposal.

After a hot, muggy opening day Thursday that carried over into Friday afternoon, Mama N decided to drop a little moisture on the thousands assembled in the north Florida woods along the Suwanee River. A surprisingly clear and warm Saturday, even with forecasts promising more precipitation, gave way to a stunningly coldish Saturday night that could only be saved by beings in possession of super powers.

Athens’ Widespread Panic and the world’s Allman Brothers Band proved up to that task and warmed those already not “baked” — on purpose or second-hand — with rousing sets that lived up to Wanee regulars’ expectations.

The crowds were slightly smaller than last year over the three days of the festival — part, I’m sure, owing to the weather extremes — and it may have been my imagination but it seemed that there just wasn’t as much weed (although there was plenty) as there had been in 2012, which will forever be Wanee I to me.

Also, there was no return appearance by Naked Guy, leaving one festivalgoer to wonder if he might still be tucked away in some backwoods Florida jail, asking jailers when the Brothers were going to play “Whipping Post.”

In what becomes today a two-year tradition that I hope will continue for as long as Gregg Allman is still wailing and Warren Haynes is still playing with every band that shows up — I’m counting on a collabo with One Direction next — here are the 12 things, suitable for sharing, I’ll most remember about Wanee 2013:

  • As great a vibe as Wanee has, it is absolutely primarily about amazing music. In a festival filled with highlights, perhaps the most memorable was Widespread Gov’t Mule Panic’s 18-minute-plus version of Neil Young’s classic “Cortez the Killer.” Panic’s Jimmy Herring and John Bell added their guitar magic to Mule leader Haynes’ chops, and Haynes and Bell swapped off vocals that most definitely did Neil himself proud. Panic bassist Dave Schools also played in what was a truly transcendent moment.
  • Leon Russell, whose gravelly voice is still amazing, offered what had to be the most unique encore in rock concert history. After playing a rousing hour and 15 minutes worth of songs like “Tight Rope,” “Delta Lady” and “Back to the Island” — alas, no “Lady Blue,” but I’m quibbling — Leon told the adoring crowd, “This is the part in the show where we walk off stage and pretend to leave and you yell until we come back and play more. As anyone who knows me knows, I’m not a big fan of walking (Russell uses a cane), so let’s just pretend we left, you yelled and now we’re back to play.” Classic.
  • The young chick in the pink top — one of several fans invited up on stage to dance — doing a handstand during Michael Franti and Spearhead’s set that inspired Franti to join her in his own headstand, a position from which he actually sang a few lines. Only at Wanee.
  • The Allmans doing an excellent version of their “No One to Run With.” “Sweet Melissa,” “One Way Out” and “Ramblin’ Man” are favorites for a reason, but this much rarer tune is equally as great.
  • Speaking of Allman/Wanee news, Gregg Allman stunned fans at the Mushroom Stage by guesting with son Devon’s Royal Southern Brotherhood Thursday for a five-song set that included the Brothers’ “One Way Out.”
  • Former Lynyrd Skynyrd drummer Artimus Pyle also played with the Allmans during RSB’s set, then proved to be one of the most congenial musicians at the festival by chatting and taking photos with fans Saturday at the media entrance to the Peach Stage.
  • Best new song to debut at Wanee: The Tedeschi Trucks Band’s “Made Up Mind.” Husband-wife team of Susan Tedeschi and Allman’s guitarist Derek Trucks were at their best in this awesome Eric Clapton-at-the-”Crossroads” rocker.
  • Another nominee for best musical moment of the festival: Haynes joining the boys in Panic to perform ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago.” Sweet!
  • The indoor bathroom at the Spirit of the Suwanee Music Park Country Store. It proved to be a safe haven for the less hearty who decided three-day-old port-a-pottys just weren’t cutting it. Long lines, however, had some entrepreneurs scalping places in line.
  • The sustainability of sax great Maceo Parker, whose glory days were in backing James Brown and playing in George Clinton’s wack/funk crew Parliament/Funkadelic. At 70, Maceo can definitely still bring the funk.
  • There were fewer hoola hoops at Wanee 2013, but there was an encouraging sign: The crowd was almost equal parts battle-tested Generation X fans, who came to see their road warrior favorites, and two to three younger generations who have been properly schooled in good music. Indeed, these kids are all right.
  • The unquestionable MVP of Wanee ‘13: Haynes, who played two sets with the Allmans, a rousing set with Gov’t Mule and guested with Widespread Panic and Franti. The man is a machine.

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


lowercasejesus 2 years, 7 months ago

Herald needs a gen x or even gen y music commentator. It feels creepy having a baby boomer do it.


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