Bear Creek 2013, Spirit of the Suwanee Park

Bear Creek (or as some people call it Brrr Creek) was not cold at all. The weather was over cast at times, drizzling on and off, but the rain was not a bother, nor was it cold. It was a welcome change.

Bear Creek, like New Orleans’ Jazz Fest and Jam Cruise, is known for their sit-ins, a mash-up of artists from one band playing with another. Also, there are usually two sets per band, meaning that the band actually has some time to explore on stage. It makes for an incredibly intimate setting where the artists can get into a groove, an eclectic mixture of talent with lots of smiles and friendly vibe. This is the beauty of Bear Creek.

1475858_10153493931645103_1564893876_nThursday Highlights and Notable Moments
After setting up camp, and getting five jars of Suwannee Moonshine (apple pie moonshine to be exact) I could hear The Pimps of Joytime and The Motet from our campsite, literally shaking the funk off the moss of the oak trees. After many laughs with my camp family, we all wandered down to Uncle Charlie’s Porch Stage to see Kung Fu break it down in all its funky/jazzy/frenetic motion.

Friday Highlights and Notable Moments
I started the day with Ron Haynes Game Changers. Never hearing this band before, and considering Bear Creek was the first time this band had ever played, I was pleasantly surprised. For a band from Chicago, they play like they are from the south, with deep soul, and a plethora of horns. Then I grabbed my friends and made them go see The Revivalists. This band comes from NOLA, but doesn’t have the typical NOLA sound. My only description of them could be somewhere between a bit of reggae, a bit of funk, and smash it with some punk rock riffs. They have become one of my newest favorite bands. Mike Dillon, Roosevelt Collier joined in on drums and slide guitar respectively.

With my festival schizophrenia in full effect, I decided to sacrifice Lee Fields and the Expressionists for Jennifer Hartwick Band. Ms. Hartswick was joined by the MVP of the whole festival: Ms. Nikki Glaspie (drums) as well as, Nigel Hall (vocals), Skerik (sax), Natalie Cressman (trombone), Khris Royal (sax), Nick Cassarino (guitar) and Ivan Rosenberg (trumpet). Jen’s voice is electric, strong and sexy all at the same time. They crushed the Chicago cover “25 or 6 to 4” and I floated out of the music hall back to camp for a wardrobe change and a feed.

1469920_10153527651185103_966677816_nThe hour passed quickly before the Antibalas set. A scorching set, the Big IV Ampitheater stage was overflowing with musicians – five horn players, three percussionists, two guitarists, one bassist, one keyboardist – including special guests Cochemea “Cheme” Gastelum and Skerik (sax), all bouncing to Antibalas’ distinct Afro-beat sound. This was the quickest 90 minutes of the weekend.

I did a drive-by to see The Motet at the Porch Stage, and got a glimpse of Jans Ingber and Nigel Hall getting dirty with the Parliament classic “Gettin’ to Know You.” The crowd was buzzing, the funk was deep, my head was spinning and I was off to go see some Galactic.

There isn’t anything better than a Galactic performance during Bear Creek – in my opinion – because of the potential of sit-ins. This set was no different. The new female lead, Maggie Koerner, absolutely held her own against all the men on the stage, a killer female vocalist. The guest sit-ins were head spinning: David Shaw (The Revivalists) sang on “Dolla Diva,” “Aint No Love,” “Nobody Knows,” “Daddy’s Song” and “Hey Na Na.” Corey Henry and Chali2na joined for “From the Corner to the Block.” Skerik and Roosevelt Collier joined for “Baby I Got Your Money.” The set ended with an amazing cover of Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks,” including Shaw back on vocals.


Just as the rain ended, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe commanded the main Purple Hat stage. Special guests included Mike Dillon on percussion and Zach Deputy for the last few songs of the set. I remember Karl introducing Zach to the crowd by saying something close to “Hey y’all this is Zach Deputy, I pretty much take care of him on Jam Cruise!”

ARM_2989-copySaturday Highlights and Notable Moments

George Porter Jr. and The Runnin Pardners hit the Purple Hat Stage on Saturday afternoon. It was not raining, the sun was trying to come out, and it was a beautiful mild afternoon. I slowly mosey’ed my way up to the VIP tent to sit down and the crowd for George was impressive. Highlights were, “Just Kissed My Baby,” with Roosevelt Collier shredding his pedal steel.


Galactic was next on my way to find some aspirin, water and food. They played my favorite, “Sunday Araq,” with Maggie Koerner killing it. I continued to hear Galactic from my campsite as I revived myself from the dead. My blood didn’t start really pumping though until I saw Mike Dillon Band. I can’t really describe why I love these guys, with the exception that I am an old punk rocker, and the screaming and loud crazy that Dillon and Carly Meyers put on is right up my alley. Meyers blows that trombone with a force of a 200lb man, and the girl is probably 5 foot nothing, just over 90lbs. Mike Dillon is a force to be reckoned with, on the xylophone and percussion. Stanton Moore and Nikki Glaspie joined the stage for a drum-off dream, and Roosevelt Collier got into the mix as well. I saw Carly and Dillon on with capes, reminding me of superheroes running around, and this set was one of my favorites on Saturday. Well, with the exception of Bootsy.

1467342_10153527651970103_1448237085_nBootsy Collins and The Funk Unity Band
This set was the one that blew my head all over the Suwannee Music Park. To me, this was the Bear Creek Highlight of the Weekend. There had to be about a dozen players on the stage, all dressed up as astronauts. They all took off their helmets at the same time. There was a master of ceremonies to warm up the crowd before Bootsy took the stage. The press pit was filled with musicians and was cramped with excitement. Bootsy came out with his star bass, his blue sequined outfit, blue and white sequined top hat, blue sneakers, white sparked sunglasses with blue stars in them, complete with a gold microphone.

He played the PFunk staples, “Mothership Connection (Star Child).” Then Bernie Worrell joined him for the funkiest “Sweet Chariot” I have ever heard. The mere sight for me to realize that these two Funk Masters were on the same stage was too much for my poor head to comprehend and I lost it right there. I couldn’t do anything more than bounce and stomp my feet. I saw footage later that Bootsy actually jumped into the crowd and bounced up and down. Bootsy had at least three, if not four costume changes. This was only a 90 minute set and I had to sit down afterwards to compose myself. I missed Chali 2na and The New Mastersounds because I was picking up the pieces of my brain.

1495145_466541836798365_1269789960_o The Roots
This one also rocked my soul. Bee Getz introduced the band and highlights were “Jungle Boogie” as well as an incredible mash-up of songs ranging from Guns n Roses “Sweet Child of Mine” to George Thorogood’s “Bad to the Bone” into “Who do you love?” to “You Got Me” into a tease of Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” to Damian Marley’s “Welcome to Jam Rock” to Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache” into “Seed” where they teased “Move on Up”. Sick, sick, show. We all wanted more.

So then I moved my weary bones to the Purple Hat Stage where Karl Denson and the Tiny Universe was playing a crazy Ray Charles set with special guests Skerik and George Porter Jr. played along with Roosevelt Collier, Cochemea “Cheme” Gastelum, Khris Royal and Ryan Zoidis on horns.

1493375_466165453502670_1803722053_oAfter, we went back to the Big IV Ampitheater, for the Bear Creek Allstars set. This grouping of talent from Dumpstaphunk, Lettuce, and all the horns you could count, add George Porter Jr., Nigel Hall, Robert Walters, and you have a whole lot of sugar in a 90 minute funk jam.

The last show of the evening was The Nth Power, a new band with a brand new sound, consisting of Nikki Glaspie, Nigel Hall, Nick Cassarino, Nate Edgar and Weedie Braimah. The Nth Power is a powerhouse of vocals, funk, hard beats mixed with soft harmonies. Their album is good, but it did nothing to prepare me for what I was going to hear live. Their lyrics are soulful, but what really struck me were the sound of the harmonies and overall shred. Nick Cassarino blew me away, since I am not that familiar with his work. They have something really special here, and I can’t wait to see them again.

Sunday Highlights and Notable Moments


I ventured out for some food, walking past The Jennifer Hartswick Band. I did get myself down to the Ampitheater for Roosevelt Collier and Nigel Hall’s Gospel Surprise, which was a welcome sound to my ears. Special guests included Natalie Cressman, James Casey, Jennifer Hartswick, Alecia Chakour and a whole host of other people on the stage. The last two bands to play were Dumpstaphunk and Lettuce to close out this year’s Bear Creek. Dumpsta played their oldies plus a few new songs from their new album “Dirty Word.” Lettuce played also a few oldies but goodies as well as some newer ones (Madison Square). Nikki Glaspie sat in for Adam Deitch who couldn’t make it, although Deitch’s face was seen on a sign going through the crowd. There was also a huge ketchup bottle flying through the crowd as well as actual pieces of lettuce being thrown. Nigel Hall closed the set down and ended the 2013 Bear Creek Festival in festive form.

Until next year…


Galactic – Night 1 of 4, Brooklyn Bowl


Galactic stopped by Brooklyn NY for a four night run at the Brooklyn Bowl earlier this month.  Each night was sold out.  Each night was better than the night before.  Each night there were special guests including Corey Glover (Living Colour), David Shaw (The Revivalists), High & Mighty Brass Band,  Jon Gutwillig ( The Disco Biscuits), Kalmia Traver (of Rubblebucket), and The Mike Dillon Band.

To say this was a New Orleans party up north in NYC would be an understatement.  Every time I have seen Galactic, they always bring down the house and this run was no exception.  With eighteen years behind them, they have become a powerhouse from NOLA like no other.  Their power is unmistakenable, their groove is funk in your face, and their songs run from lyrical to twenty minute jams.  Galactic is made up of such talent as: Ben Ellman, harps and horns; Robert Mercurio, bass; Stanton Moore, drums and percussion; Jeff Raines, guitar; Rich Vogel, keyboards. Continue reading

New Orleans in NYC: Galactic, Steel Pulse w/ Soul Rebels Brass Band, 2.25.12 Terminal 5

Pre-show: There was no real pre-show. It was freezing and windy, and my personal pre-show consisted of waiting outside for my friend to show up. I saw other friends pass by as they walked into Terminal 5, but no one stopped to chat for more than a few seconds. It was cold, a typical February evening, cold and breathtakingly windy.

Pre-show II: We walked into the venue and the space was open. Soul Rebels Brass Band had finished their set, and we were waiting for Steel Pulse to join the stage. Walking up the stairs to find the smoking area, we realized that the third floor was not packed, and there were sofas and sitting areas up there, in the dark, perfect places to dance and get down while not being too cramped or too in the way. Just the way I like it. Needless to say, that is where we could be found the rest of the evening.

Soul Rebels Brass Band Set List: Living For the City, Turn It Up, My Time, I Made It, Night People, Sweet Dreams

photo by: Jen Bernstein

Steel Pulse: They took the stage and jammed their reggae rock-a-licious tunes throughout the venue. Their famous “Steppin’ Out” tune belted from the stage, and I felt the place amp up a few notches in preparation for the third band to hit the stage. I have no set lists at this time, but I can say that Steel Pulse brought it hard to T5, and everyone was dancing with huge smiles on their face. I as well danced my little jig, shaking all the winter cobwebs off my hips, grateful to be surrounded by great people, great friends, but most of all, great music.

Set Break: Bar run, check. Smoke break, check. Bathroom break, check. Ready for Galactic.

Galactic: These guys always bring it. Stanton Moore on drums (see above video) sets the pace for a 100mph in your face blasting New Orleans funk. They never disappoint. This night they brought out Corey Glover (In Living Colour) on vocals and Corey Henry (Rebirth Brass Band) on trombone, and the Soul Rebels Brass Band on stage at various times. Swear to G-d, no joke – it was full on horns explosion-mania on stage.

Galactic released a new CD “Carnivale Electricos” and we were treated to a few new songs from the album. I am still not sure what I thought, I guess I’m going to have to listen to the full CD today, but I did like the new sound. I did dance, and tried to hear the lyrics, but have to admit – T5’s sound system is not the best in the city, and it is so overtly loud that it gets garbled.

Highlights: Hey Na Na, Boe Money, a delicious dirty cover of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir which crushed us all. Stanton’s crazy amazing drum solo that literally transported me back to the Jam Cruise’s pool deck set, and the horns – ah all the horns on the stage belting loud and long, as if to say – NYC, Nola’s in the house and we are warming you all with some Louisana warmth. I was grateful, we all were grateful.

Galactic Set List: Cineramascope, Hey Na Na, Out in the Street, I Don’t Know What…Funky, You Don’t Know, Karate, Boe Money, Bongo Joe, Fatal Destruction to Your Mind, Ha Di Ka, Keep Steppin’, Kashmir, Carnival Time, Heart of Steel E: Ash Wed Sunrise, Cult of Personality

Thank you @SoulRebelsNo and @JRHevron for the set lists and Jen Bernstein for photos. Greatly appreciate your help! Thank you to the artists who heated up the chilly evening, and for warming me up for this year’s Soulive/Bowlive extravaganza. Who’s ready?!?!


Gathering of the Vibes, Day 3, Saturday July 31

Friday was the warmup for Saturday’s crazy.  It was full on all day.

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

McLovins:  I’ve been told by numerous people to check these kids out, and I missed them at Nateva to see Max Creek.  I heard they crushed it at Nateva, so I decided to forgo Max Creek.  (side note: I found it very interesting that both these bands were playing at the same time at both festivals.  And they are both from Connecticut.  Coincidence??) I get to the Green Vibes stage about 10 minutes after they started and the place was packed.  I tried to get up to the stage and check them out but I couldn’t get up there without a case of claustrophobia so I ended up to the side.

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

There was a bit of technical difficulty, but then they just broke out.  In typical teenage style they were loud and fast, but tight.  Impressively tight; technically and talented.  Really talented kids.  Check out more from my friend Lori’s Coventry Music.  Something about a 1000 Hippie McLovin March went on, that I wasn’t privvy to.  Here’s the YouTube – load it up and click it around the 5 min mark.  Whooo, they go off.

Band Break: My buddy and I went back to camp for the 40 minute respite before Assembly of Dust.  I got on the phone with This Week on Lot and tried to describe the surroundings to them.  A conference call of sorts.  You can check out me on the radio here.  Afterwards, I got a bit of food in me and was off to the Main Stage.

Assembly of Dust: I have not seen these guys a lot, but each time I have seen them I like them more and more.  Their talent is obvious, the music is technically sound, Adam Terrell, lead guitar, vocals (also plays with Nate Wilson) shreds it, Reid Genauer, lead vocals, guitar has a really nice voice.  Two drummers, and a keyboardist that plays the violin.  I mean, c’mon, you can’t go wrong.  They shredded the last song to pieces and you could tell they were getting off by the energy in the crowd.  Great time had by all.

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

Galactic: They put on a solid show, as always.  Cyril Neville shows up and kicks it up a notch.  Corey Henry frikkin blasts that trombone out of the universe.  Ben Ellman plays the sax hard and sexy.  Stanton Moore keeps the beat down and low, and the place just falls into soul funk deep grooves and swayin’ hips.  Oooh, lordy lordy.  Fun fun stuff, as always.

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

Setlist:  Gemini Rising, Gossip, You Don’t Know, Balkan Wedding, Heart Of Steel, Cineramascope, Ooh Nay Nay, Boban, Tell Me What’s On Your Mind, Boe Money, No More Okey Doke, From the Corner to the Block

Band Break: Met up with some Camp Family from Nateva that day and we took it back to camp.  I introduced them as “my old friends”, then realized that Nateva was less than a month away.  Festival family is on another level… Old friends indeed.  We collectively decided to sacrifice Umphree’s McGee for time in the shade, a change of clothes, food and drink and laughs.  Sorry Umphree’s.

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

Rhythm Devils featuring Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutzmann and Keller Williams: I have to admit, I was surprised how amazingly good these guys were.  Keller added a nice level, but this was not the Keller show.  This was the Rhythm Devils show in all their glory.  Two incredible drummers, doin’ what they do.  Drums.  In an ode to the Grateful Dead, it was kind of a stretched out Drums/Space but without the Space.On another note, I met a friend who I went on Dead Tour with 20 years ago.  Beautiful syncopation…Original Dead members on stage, me with my buddy, reliving old memories, seeing the newest iteration of Billy and Mickey on stage, complete with firedancers.  LOVED it.  I will catch them when they play in NYC, without a doubt.

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

PRIMUS: Jeez holy louise moly blown away.  I can’t even describe it.  Les Claypool bassing OUT up there with these humongous astronauts behind the band.  Jay Lane is an incredible drummer, I can tell why he left Furthur to go

photo by: Jeffrey Dupuis

back to this band.  But, of COURSE!  I was not a Primus fan (operative word there “was”), and the only thing I knew of them was that “back in the day” they were associated with lots of skinheads and mosh pits.  Well, there were no mosh pits.  Just lots of people bouncing around, myself included.  I couldn’t stop my legs moving even if I wanted to.  They blew me away, I am a hardcore Primus fan now – already bought the tickets for the October show in NYC.  That’s how much I loved this set.  WOW.  Go see these guys….

photo by: John Harrington

Deep Banana Blackout: Continue reading

Gathering of the Vibes, Day 3, Saturday – Audio Links

Zack Deputy (soundboard)

Max Creek


Assembly of Dust


Umphree’s McGee

Rhythm Devils


Galactic, Brooklyn Bowl 2.7.10 Updated

Knew Galactic was in town to do a last minute announced show at Brooklyn Bowl after the Superbowl.
Was advertised as “Watch the Superbowl and Galactic Post-Superbowl Party!”
Since I just saw them on Friday, I was debating most of Sunday.

Should I go? It’s cold. Take a bath, get ready for the week, chill. Should I go? I’ve never missed a show when they are in town. It’s a school night. You see my dilemma.

4th quarter. 2 point conversion. Interception. Wow. New Orleans was screaming, and I forgot how cold it was outside. Galactic, New Orlean’s own, was playin’ in the city.

I am horrific at set lists, but this is what I do remember: Continue reading

Galactic, Terminal 5, 2.05.10 – Updated

I’m a huge funk fan (my cat’s name is Bootsy Collins, yes after that Bootsy) and Poppa George Clinton led the way in my funktastic search for the 5 hour jam .  But Galactic is not PFunk.  They are way funkier (is that possible?)  they’re New Orleans with a ‘tude, a punch of high crazy energy in the chin. They’re hard hitting with sax, loud trombones, keys and incredible jammin guitar, with a driving the beat to the ground on the one beat, imploding with an explosion of crazy drum and bass beats wrapped around great vocals.

Cyril Neville came in commanding respect, the crowd bounced their funky appreciation back to him, love adored.

I don’t have a set list or a link yet – will update when online.

Update:  Set list via taper, Scott Bernstein Continue reading