The Allman Brothers play annual events about as often as they do one-off concerts. The iconic Southern rockers, who aren’t going on long, rigorous tours like they did back in the day, still take a week each March to play New York’s Beacon Theater.
Every year the Allmans invade Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak for the Wanee Festival.
“It’s awesome,” Widespread Panic bassist Dave Schools said while calling from Minnesota. “We’ve had great shows and great times there. You see the big names there and you also see acts that are about to break there. I remember the Black Keys playing just before we went on at the Wanee Festival (in 2011). This year I’m looking forward to seeing Derek (Trucks from the Tedeschi-Trucks Band) and Warren (Haynes) and the (Allman) Brothers and some other good friends. It’s a great lineup like always.”
The Wanee festival, which will also feature Govt. Mule, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the funky Tower of Power, pedal steel wizard Robert Randolph and the Family Band, veteran singer-songwriter Leon Russell and rock’s wackiest dude Les Claypool and his Duo De Twang, smacks of a European festival since its so eclectic.
“You don’t see festivals in America like this often because Wanne is about a cross-pollination of acts,” Schools said. “It’s good for the audience to be exposed to all kinds of music and it’s good for me as a musician because I get to see some cool acts.”
Widespread Panic recently reconvened after taking a year break from touring and recording. “We’re just shaking off the rust now,” Schools said. “It was good for us to take a break from each other. We’re armed with some new ideas.”
Expect Widespread Panic, which also includes vocalist-guitarist John Bell, keyboardist John “Jo-Jo” Hermann, guitarist Jimmy Herring, percussionist Domingo Ortiz and drummer Todd Nance, to deliver material from its deep canon when it plays the Wanee Festival.
“We have plenty to choose from,” Schools said. “We’ll take what we have and go with that. It feels good to play live after not being around each other for awhile. It didn’t take us long to get back in sync with each other. We’re four shows in and it’s like we never took a break.”
Widespread Panic prides itself in rearranging its material. “That makes sense to me,” Schools said. “Why would we want to play these songs to death? It would be boring for us to play the exact same song over and over. Maybe that doesn’t bother some bands but we don’t like doing that. The way we see it, songs evolve. A song we wrote 10-years ago will morph over time.”
By the end of the year Widespread Panic expects to return to the studio. “The creative spark is there,” Schools said. “We’ll see how we release music. We’re in such a singles market today. We’ll see what happens but you’ll hear some new material from us in one form or another sometime soon. But right now I’m just thinking about what’s in front of us at the moment.
“The big thing is the Wanee Festival. I wonder who I’ll run into. There’s always old friends that pop by. It’s one of the best festivals we can play. We’ll be ready to kick it up a notch when we get there.”
11 a.m. Friday with Flannel Church, The Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio, The Revivalists, Blackberry Smoke, Jaimoe’s Jasssz Band, Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang, Govt. Mule, The North Mississippi All-Stars, Widespread Panic, BoomBox, The Allman Brothers Band and Steel Pulse
11 a.m. Saturday with Yeti Trio, The Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio, The Lee Boys, Leon Russell, Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Michael Franti & Spearhead, Maceo Parker, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Tower of Power, Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad, The Allman Brothers Band and Galactic and Friends will perform Saturday.
Where: Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, 3076 95th Drive, Live Oak
Tickets: $215 (includes campsite); www.waneefestival.com