Wanee, Wanee, Wanee!

We went to the Wanee Festival – and we had a grand time!

The Wanee Festival is an annual event hosted by the Allman Brothers Band.  It started in 2005 and is always held at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida. This is a beautiful park! Trees, fields, paths, and, of course, the S’wanee River!

Jonathan and I headed down to Wanee on Wednesday (April 17) in the afternoon and arrived  about 6 pm to set up our camp in a nice, shady, wooded section of the park. We bought a new tent and were excited to use it. Turns out it was awesome, and a good Costco purchase!

Our Wanee Camp Site 2 - Grateful StillsOur Wanee Camp Site - TieDye Tapestry 1 - Grateful Stills

After setting up camp, we took a walk around – mostly to just go check stuff out and get some exercise, but also to explore the festival set up,  the vendor area, food options, and the stage locations.  Eventually, we went to sleep to get ready for the Festival Weekend ahead!

Thursday we woke up and got right to it! We headed the Suwannee River.

Suwanee River 1a - Grateful Stills

The water was freezing, although everyone said it was fine once you jumped all the way in.  I tried but wimped out; Jon of course jumped in, swam a bit, and tried out the rope swing. I did, however, make sure I got in that famous river – even if it was only to get shin deep for a moment and put my toes  in the dark, tea-like water.

Jonathan - Swimming in the Suwanee River 1 - Grateful Stills

Jon told me that the Suwannee River is dark,  and full of nutrients, from all the Cypress Tree roots that grow in and along the river.  Suwanee is saturated with the tannins of roots & leaves of the trees… and has been like that for years and years and years.

So after walking a good while and swimming, we went for showers and then back to camp for some rest & food.  We spent most of the day walking about, shopping,  exploring, listening in on random bands, all while waiting for Jon’s friend Scott to arrive.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA    Jonathan - Rope Swing Suwanee River - 2 - Grateful Stills

Scott got in about 8:30pm, which was late, but in enough time for us all to get down to the stage and see Electric Hot Tuna! In case anyone doesn’t know, Hot Tuna is a band head by Jefferson Airplane members Jack Casady & Jorma Kaukonen.  After jamming out to their nearly 2 hr set,  we went back to camp and had a great campfire! 

Friday morning we woke up, and did it all over again!  We three went down to the river again,  I took photos and explored, while Jon & Scott did the rope swing for about an hour!

Then we began to head back to get showers, get a bite to eat, and go see some music.  But, on our way we got to see the Traveling Stage come by and hear a bit of the band JUke (don’t worry, that is how they spell it).

JUke 1 - Grateful Stills  Traveling Stage Crowd 1b - Grateful Stills

Showers, lunch… and then off to see Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang! It was pretty cool to see Les Claypool doing old rockabilly, bluegrass, and some classic country tunes. I thought it was a really good show!

After supper, we went back up to the stage area…. heard a little of BoomBox as we made our way to find a space on the lawn for the first night of the Allman Brothers.  

Finding our spots and listening to the last half of Widespread Panic, we people watched until the rain came pouring down in buckets.  We made our way back to camp to ride out the downpour, change into warmer clothes – and then made our way back up to see The Allman Brothers.   They did a great job! But we knew they would do another great finale show the next night….

The rain storms from the night before had brought in some pretty chilly temperatures – in fact 49 degrees overnight — EVEN IN FLORIDA!!

Suwanee Tree 1b - Grateful StillSaturday was still a chilly day – but sunny and lovely out all the same.

Scott had to head back home, so after a little bit of eating, exploring, and cleaning up our campsite a bit – he headed on back to Myrtle Beach.

Jon and I spent the day just listening to great music all day and night.  While there were great artists playing all through the weekend, Jon and I agreed that Saturday had nothing but great show after the next. Jam packed with great Jams!

After lunch we started off with a fantastic show by Leon Russell.  I can not really describe just how good this show was…. Leon Russell is a classic musician.  Moreover – he helped to produce and wrote songs for what became huge names in music….. Joe Cocker, for example. Leon Russell brought gospel music, blues, rockabilly, country, and rock together in a way no one else had ever done.  He co-wrote “Superstar” for goodness sakes!! The man is a legend.

Leon Russell - 4 - Grateful Stills Leon Russell -  - Grateful Stills

I was fortunate to grow up listening to Leon (one of the most played albums in our house was Carnival) because my father was a huge fan of Leon Russell.  Jon and I were really excited to see his show.

It was a great set – and I enjoyed some of the personal stories and history Leon Russell threw in between most of the songs.  When performers get older and tell a tale – or share history – I really zone in on that.  So wonderful, in fact, I will post the set list:

01. Prince of PeaceLeon Russell - 2 - GratefulStills
02. Roll in My Sweet Baby’s Arms
03. Let The Good Times Roll
04. Baby What Do You Want Me To Do
05. Back To The Island
06. A Hard Rains Gonna Fall
07. Kansas City Woman
08. Wild Horses
09. Georgia On My Mind
10. I’ve Just Seen a Face
11. Hummingbird
12. Tightrope
13. Sweet Emily
14. The Ballad of Mad Dogs and English Men
15. Magic Mirror
16. A Song For You
17. Jumping Jack Flash > Papa Was a Rolling Stone > Paint It Black > Kansas City
18. Great Balls of Fire > Roll Over Beethoven

Next, Maceo Parker! What a great show that was!!  A little jazz, a lot of funk, and a shout out to Catfish Hodge!  Jon and I were groovin’ up a storm!

Maceo Parker 1 - GratefulStills

Tower of Power immediately followed Maceo….. and oh, Boy! Another grand set!! We danced and danced to this show, too… this time right up front!  Just like their song says – they were Soul with a Capital S!

Tower of Power 7 - GratefulStills

We went back to camp to get a bite to eat, and get ready for the evening…. We caught the last half of Widespread Panic – before the Allman Brothers Finale.  Widespread (again) isn’t my preferred – but they did a Great light show for their last set!

WideSpread Panic - Lights 1a - GratefulStills  WideSpread Panic - Lights 3 - Grateful Stills

Then came the Allman Brothers ….. Jon and I -somehow- got really near to stage right and had a great view. What a fantastic show!! The Allman Brothers rocked out both nights – but ended with a great set.  What is more – Jonathan and I had our dancing shoes on for the entire show!  

Allman Bros 1aa - GratefulStills

Allman Bros 6 - GratefulStills Allman Bros 2a - GratefulStills Allman Bros 5 - Grateful Stills

Allman Bros 3a - GratefulStills


It was a great end to a full and awesome day of fantastic music –
closing out a great weekend!   

– Camping – Music – Laughs – Memories – Gnomes –

Jonathan - Wanee Gnome 1a Sarah - Wanee Gnome 1a

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