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A Dozen High-Profile Hulaween Legacy Artists Reflect On The Magic At Spirit of The Suwannee


Suwannee Hulaween is one of a sort. Certainly, there are lots of of music festivals, giant and small, that includes jam bands to funk to bluegrass to digital and all factors between. Festivals dot the map from spring by way of fall, but yearly, simply earlier than Halloween, the paranormal confines of Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park performs a heavenly, rapturous host to hundreds of funkateers, fanatics, and Hulagins alike. Hulaween is website to some of probably the most prodigious pageant performances yearly—a high-end unbiased pageant that boasts some of probably the most numerous and fascinating bookings that run throughout many scenes, genres, and generations. (For extra info and ticketing for Suwannee Hulaween 2018, scheduled for October 26th by way of 28th, head to the pageant’s web site right here.)

In the event you ask anybody—be it the performers, the employees, or the festival-goers themselves—they’ll all inform you a similar factor: the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is the true celebrity headliner of Hula: the primary purpose why followers, beloved bands, the most well liked DJs, plus incredible distributors and super employees return each yr, regardless of who’s slated on the schedule. If you go to Suwannee, your senses drip in serendipity, thick and dense because the Spanish moss rolled betwixt the Stay Oaks timber, so far as the attention can see.

The String Cheese Incident serves because the host of Suwannee Hulaween, as the complete occasion was conceived by the band lengthy earlier than it settled into its residence at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park some six years in the past. SCI makes use of the pageant as a chance to unfold their wings and fly; they dig deep of their monumental catalog, reaching again for old-school songs and affected person jams which will get missed on common tour dates. Cheese performs a minimum of seven units over the three days, inviting friends and buddies to the primary stage for all kinds of sit-ins, along with their all the time thrilling Halloween-themed set on Saturday night time. SCI are not any strangers to each Burning Man tradition and West Coast pageant artwork, and this affect arrives at Hulaween—particularly Spirit Lake—in a panorama of shade, styles and sizes, mirrored within the band’s myriad collaborators, artisans, builders, dreamers, and doers.

SCI percussionist Jason Hann— who performs with digital aspect undertaking EOTO, and a bevy of unannounced sit-ins annually—is an ideal band spokesman for this preview. We requested him to mirror on the origins of Suwannee Hulaween, what the pageant means to him and his band, and for a treasured reminiscence. We additionally tapped a number of different legacy artists from the 2018 lineup, they usually provided their very own particular ideas on HULA as nicely.

Jason Hann (The String Cheese Incident/EOTO): [Michael] Travis and Billy [Nershi] and I have been so hyped on the property since we performed at different occasions there, and Paul Levine all the time introduced the most effective in hospitality, that we stored going again to administration and tried to psyche them up for teaming up with Paul to start out a daily fest there—one thing down South that separated itself from all of the opposite festivals. Little question seeing the best way the property transforms itself on Hula weekend has been unimaginable to observe and supplies recent reminiscences yearly. It’s nice the best way it has comparable themes of interactive artwork installations, like Electrical Forest, however has utterly taken by itself character within the swamp with the music lineup, the mossy timber, and the addition of the water projections and the neon-water jetpack man placing on performances at night time on the lake.

So far as efficiency reminiscences, our first collaborative units once we added the Antibalas Horns and Rhonda Thomas and Tony White on vocals actually introduced enjoyable challenges for us: selecting to play extra music that could be outdoors of our regular zone, after which lastly getting along with horns and vocals onsite on the day of present to rehearse and see how the songs would come collectively. There all the time a bunch of moments from rehearsing backstage that I want have been captured. We hit these superior moments, and we’re all keen to listen to what these songs will sound like. Then, it occurs, and all of us high-five one another, understanding that each one of the exhausting work is completely value it.

I feel our first  “Ghoul Train” in 2015 was an excellent standout second as a result of it was such a brand new sort of collaborative set for us: enjoying all Soul Practice songs and having the unique curler skaters who have been simply youngsters on the unique Soul Practice TV present. And having GZA from Wu-Tang Clan be down for getting within the position of “Don Cornelius” to introduce sure songs. Tons of issues got here collectively on the final minute to make it impactful.

The String Cheese Incident – Ghoul Practice Set – Hulaween 2015

[Video: TheSoberGoat]

Bayou sons The Revivalists have come of age in close by New Orleans, Louisiana, and the sprawling ensemble has carried out at Spirit Of The Suwannee Park a quantity of occasions via the years. Mixing NOLA-fied flavors with soul, blues, R&B, and southern rock, The Revivalists have established themselves on the Billboard charts and within the mainstream zeitgest with their heat, down-home vibes. The band is wildly common for the catchy, emotional songs, and for this brotherhood’s bountiful sounds. Rolling Stone editor David Fricke referred to as them “a Crescent City-rhythm spin on jam-band jubilee.”

The Revivalists have a robust and fervent following on the Suwannee going again to their breakthrough efficiency at Wanee 2012. In 2016, The Revivalists performed a fiery set late Saturday on the Spirit Lake stage, and singer David Shaw closed issues out with a uncommon acoustic set on the identical stage the ultimate night time.

George Gekas (The Revivalists): “Suwannee is a special place in the hearts of many fans and musicians. It has a certain energy that seeps into the grounds and exudes itself into the air. It casts a magical spell on you. Every time feels like your first experience, all while feeling that you’re right where you’re supposed to be at that moment.”  

Michael Girardot (The Revivalists): “Suwannee Music Park and The Revivalists go way back. We’ve played the barn, the field, the amphitheater, and the forest. We’ve swam in the river, slept in the cabins, and slept outside. We heralded and rejoiced at the construction of the Busy Bee. We’ve shivered on cold October nights. We’ve sweated in 100-degree heat and humidity and done the ice bucket challenge right after a set. It always reminds me of that feeling you get when coming back to summer camp. Just a day’s trek down I-10 and a little to the left, and we’re at Suwannee. We see old friends and, hopefully, make new ones. ” 

The Revivalists – Hulaween 2016

[Video: TheSoberGoat]

Suwannee Hulaween has been persistently forward of the business curve on the subject of that includes feminine artists on their pageant lineup. Jennifer Hartswick has lengthy been one of Spirit of Suwannee Music Park’s most celebrated and beloved performers. The trumpet virtuoso was handpicked by none aside from Trey Anastasio when she was nonetheless a young person and has been an integral half of the Phish guitarist’s solo aspect undertaking, Trey Anastasio Band, just about ever since. Via the years, Hartswick has performed a pair scorching units right here at SOSMP with Trey in addition to led her personal Jennifer Hartswick Band throughout a number of levels. Hartswick has rocked Suwannee a pair of occasions with seminal underground unit Van Ghost and has served as an Artist-at-Giant, sitting in with the likes of The Nth Energy, Umphrey’s McGee, Lettuce, George Porter Jr., and numerous others.

Akin to the inaugural Hulaween, this yr Hartswick is returning to the Suwannee River together with her trusty pal Nick Cassarino (The Nth Energy) in tow, because the passionate pair have been touring as a duo everywhere in the nation in 2018. We requested the artist affectionately referred to as “J-HA” for some ideas about Suwannee Hulaween, particularly relating to their dedication to reserving ladies each yr. She additionally tell us another femme fatales festivalgoers shouldn’t miss.

Jennifer Hartswick (Trey Anastasio Band): I’m proud of Hulaween for making it a precedence to actively e-book extra feminine musicians. I feel it’s a expertise purchaser’s obligation to have variety of all types on a pageant. There are such a lot of sensible feminine musicians that get ignored, but when individuals took the time to get on the market and see what’s occurring, they might understand that we’re out right here. We’ve BEEN out right here. We’re not hiding. And should you haven’t seen Mavis Staples, you higher repair it. Should you haven’t seen Janelle Monáe, you higher repair that too!

Jennifer Hartswick & Nick Cassarino – Suwannee 2013


Swooping in from the Gold Nation hills of Northern California is The Polish Ambassador & The Diplomatic Scandal. Polish (David Sugalski) has lengthy been the world’s funkiest diplomat, and now he’s moving into the position of a bandleader. With the newly-christened Diplomatic Scandal, TPA is bringing collectively a reside band, a collective of instrumentalists culled from his ever-reliable Jumpsuit Data household. The band has performed merely a number of engagements to date, however the buzz is scorching for this new endeavor, and Hulaween might be its Suwannee debut. The band plans on primarily performing TPA materials, with perhaps a shock jam or two thrown in for good measure. Polish is not any stranger to Hula or the Spirit of Suwannee, having thrown down twice in Octobers previous (2015, 2017) and at Purple Hatter’s Ball 2016 when he hosted a Permaculture Motion Day.

David Sugalski (The Polish Ambassador): “What I treasure most about Hulaween is what I like to call the Hulaween tri-force. First you have the land, the park, Suwannee. Nestled in the Florida bush, it is one of the most exquisite landscapes to see, hear, and perform music in the country. Then you have Silver Wrapper curating a lineup that has so much good music from a variety of genres. Honored to be a small potato in this cornucopia of good vibes. This combo brings out some of the best music fans—people that truly love music, love to seek out new music, and love to build community through music. People that all artists are thrilled to perform for. Land, Lineup, People: the Hulaween triforce. See you at Hula!” 

Polish Ambassador & The Diplomatic Scandal – “Too Coo” [Live] [Video: The Polish Ambassador]

Earlier than they decamped to Asheville, North Carolina, a number of years in the past, The Fritz was a North Florida band—out of Jacksonville to be actual. As such, the group has an extended historical past with The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, having minimize their tooth on a quantity of pageant levels over the previous decade, together with Hulaween 2016. The quintet’s scorching model of high-energy funk rock is the right get together starter for the Hulaween vibration. But The Fritz shouldn’t be a one-trick pony, and they are going to be again at Hulaween 2018 with a bunch of divergent types to unveil. Percussionist Mikey Spice tell us that a new Fritz studio EP is on the best way, and with that, a hefty slab of new jams come late October, for his or her favourite musical amusement park.

Mikey Spice (The Fritz): “Suwannee Hulaween has become a reunion on many levels, joining so many of my different worlds together. When The Fritz performed at Hula two years ago, I was ecstatic to see so many friends coming from different parts of the country to enjoy our music in one place. I’d like to add that the production staff shows extreme attention to detail, which guarantees an unforgettable experience for everyone, the artists, and patrons. Cannot wait to be back!”

The Fritz – Hulaween 2016

[Video: BigDirty420]

There isn’t any band with a extra storied historical past on the banks of the Suwannee River than psychedelic future-funk-hop cosmonauts Lettuce. This cherished contingent blessed up the Amphitheater Stage twice yearly at Bear Creek for almost a decade, along with a pair of Purple Hatter’s Balls, and even a particular Music Corridor engagement within the center of winter. SOSMP is sort of merely HQ for the LETT Military. The ever-evolving band-of-badasses all the time appears to ship supernatural performances from their hallowed Amphitheater throne; a number of of their most historic and revered periods have taken place on these sacred grounds. Since 2015, Lettuce has been invited again to Suwannee Hulaween yearly, most lately for 2 units. On the heels of their white-hot JGB tribute set at LOCKN’ and what seems to be an exciting fall tour, the scene is about for LETT to torch Hulaween as soon as the Autumn wind blows them again to Reside Oak in October.

Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce/Break Science Reside Band): “Lettuce has enjoyed so many monumental musical experiences at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park over the years, and especially at the Amphitheater Stage. The diversity and the grand scale of an event like Suwannee Hulaween give it even more weight and deeper meaning, to us.” 

Adam “Shmeeans” Smirnoff (Lettuce/Break Science Stay Band): “There are a few things that come to mind. First off, there is a literal spirit that’s alive at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park—if you listen closely by the lake, you may hear the spirit’s voice, singing softly into the night. Next is the community, the people who come to the park each and every year for festivals like Hulaween, the type of people you’d meet in like an old-school Phish lot in ’94, where everyone is kind and courteous and real lovers of music. Third, I gotta say the man behind the curtain, the curator of the Spirit of Suwannee, the man himself, Mr. Paul Levine, who lives at the park all year round. Paul sets the tone and the vibe by being a wonderful human, a great friend, and someone who truly cares about presenting the music from a fan’s perspective.”

Lettuce – Hulaween 2015

[Video: TheSoberGoat]

A number of members of Lettuce, together with producer/keyboardist Borahm Lee, will seem as Break Science Stay Band, having debuted this lineup on the Music Park again at AURA 2015. Moreover, Break Science has carried out at SOSMP many occasions as a core duo, with Lee and Adam Deitch having thrown down their distinctive model of progressive reside digital music at a number of Suwannee occasions over the previous decade. Accordingly, Borahm Lee has robust emotions, an affinity for, and an attachment to the venue and its environs.

Borahm Lee (Break Science): “Suwannee has always been something so special. There’s definitely something magical, magnetic, magnetizing about the grounds to begin with, before even any other factors. I think that the Earth is kind of like a human body, where there are different pressure points—points of accumulation of vibe, energetic areas, sort of like lay lines. [Laughs] I definitely feel like Suwannee has it… Something certainly magical. You can feel it, and it’s sort of reflected in the nature that is there that’s so very unique—the Spanish moss, the oak trees, that amazing river. Whether you are a nature lover or not, it’s a special place. We’ve been playing fests there as long as we’ve been Break Science.” 

Break Science Stay Band – “Me, Myself, & I” – AURA 2015

[Video: AURA Music Festival]

An artist affectionately dubbed the “Minister of the Suwannee River”, lap-steel gospel guitar shaman Roosevelt Collier is a beloved son of Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Going again to his days operating with the Lee Boys, Collier has been omnipresent at Suwannee for magical moments courting again for a lot of, a few years. Collier has carried out at SOSMP and Hula in a spread of mixtures, settings, and tasks. A very distinctive and impressed participant, Rosie most certainly holds the report for many sit-ins all-time at this venue. The Florida hero can be feted like royalty as soon as once more when he returns to the river for this yr’s Suwannee Hulaween.

Roosevelt Collier: “Spirit of Suwannee is a place of musical healing and family gathering. There’s this chemical embedded in the trees out at the park called ‘love‘ that everyone knows about and feels when they enter SOSMP!”

The String Cheese Incident with Roosevelt Collier – “On The Road” – Hulaween 2016

[Video: Go See Live Music]

Manic Focus has develop into a family identify at Hulaween in recent times, because the producer/DJ/bandleader has seen his profession blossom as he climbs the pageant lineup mountain across the nation. John “JmaC” McCarten hails from the Twin Cities in Minnesota however has come to prominence within the windy metropolis of Chicago, the place he’s constructed a faithful following on prime of his white-hot remixes and bombastic stay exhibits. Manic Focus has a eager ear for the basic pop track remix, throwing thunderous drums and throbbing bass beneath the melodies everyone knows and love. Search for a really particular look of the MF’n Stay Band, that includes a who’s-who of the stay digital scene.

John “JmaC” McCarten: Hulaween has been type of the “last hurrah” pageant of the yr for me. It’s the final full-fledged camp out earlier than everybody goes into winter hibernation, and yet one more probability for us to see all of our homies enjoying earlier than we hit touring season head-on. Hulaween is one of these tight-knit festivals that basically makes me really feel like I’m at house.

I’ve had the prospect to carry out with some actually unimaginable musicians at Hulaween. The Manic Science set I did with Borahm Lee, Adam Deitch, the Shady Horns, and Jesus Coomes on the Spirit Lake stage undoubtedly stands out in my thoughts. During the last two years, the Manic Focus reside band featured some recent lineups and sit-ins from Jen Hartswick, Ryan Zoidis, and ProbCause. Then, in 2018, I acquired to play a late night time DJ set on a stage that shot hearth into the air. You by no means know what’ll occur at a pageant like Hulaween, one that basically caters to the musicians AND followers.  

Manic Focus – Electrical Forest 2018

[Video: Manic Focus]

Suwannee Hulaween will return to its residence at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Reside Oak, Florida, but once more in 2018. Scheduled for October 26th by means of 28th, as soon as once more, the pageant boasts a very numerous and heavy-hitting lineup. Headed by host band The String Cheese Incident, the weekend may also see performances by the likes of Odesza, Jamiroquai, Janelle Monáe, Tipper, The Revivalists, Vulfpeck, STS9, REZZ, Lettuce, Gramatik, Trampled By Turtles, Motion Bronson, Emancipator Ensemble, and numerous others.

For extra info and ticketing for Suwannee Hulaween 2018, scheduled for October 26th by means of 28th, head to the pageant’s web site right here.

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