Jam bands are the order of the day when the Wanee Music Festival returns to Live Oak, Fla., April 20-22. The 13th annual event has (however accidentally) revealed its initial lineup, and it’s full of improvisational heavyweights: Bob Weir & The Campfire Boys, Widespread Panic, Trey Anastasio Band, Gov’t Mule and Dark Star Orchestra. Ticket information for the festival has not yet been announced.
Among the more interesting down-bill acts are two more spinoffs off the Allman Brothers Band, which retired from the road following a 2014 run at the Beacon Theatre in New York. Les Brers features former Allman Brothers bandmates Butch Trucks, Jai Johanny “Jaimoe” Johanson, Marc Quinones, Oteil Burbridge and Jack Pearson, plus Lamar Williams Jr., whose father served as the Allman Brothers’ bassist from 1972 to 1976. The band performs songs primarily associated with the Allman Brothers, with Pearson and Williams taking over Gregg Allman’s signature vocals. Johanson will perform double duty at Wanee, also appearing in his own Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, where he’s just as likely to perform “Rainy Night in Georgia” or original tunes like “Hippology” as he is an Allman Brothers chestnut.
Tributes are big at Wanee in 2017, with Keller Williams celebrating the music of the Grateful Dead with Grateful Grass, Leftover Salmon honoring Neil Young, and Pink Talking Fish diving into the inimitable catalogs of David Bowie and Prince. Grateful Grass is described by Williams on his website as “loose interpretations of Grateful Dead songs done in a bluegrass style” and comes with the intriguing warning, “If you like your Grateful Dead songs performed in their original way, or if you prefer traditional bluegrass, this is not the project for you.” Leftover Salmon recently performed “A Harvest Party” at Ophelia’s Electric Soapbox in Denver, mixing a complete performance of Young’s Harvest album with the singer’s other classics, including “Down by the River,” “Cowgirl in the Sand” and “Helpless.” Pink Talking Fish typically performs a mix of Pink Floyd, Talking Heads and Phish—a recent show featured an ambitious pairing of Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with Phish’s rock opera “Gamehendge,” interspersed with Talking Heads songs.
Wanee was hosted by the Allman Brothers Band until their retirement from touring, expanding from a two-day festival in 2008 to a three-day festival the following year. Two of the bands that performed at the inaugural 2005 festival—Gov’t Mule and Dark Star Orchestra—are returning in 2017, and many others have performed at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park over the years.