Suwannee Hulaween is one of our favorite events of the year. When the String Cheese Incident brings their feel-good music, cheerful fans and Burning Man production tendencies to the magical Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, the product is really unmatched.
The String Cheese Incident is heralded for merging the dance world and the jam/bluegrass world, evident through their tenure at Electric Forest along with the inaugural Hulaween last year. This is a festival that can host a Shpongle set on the same day as Greensky Bluegrass, without ever feeling forced or out-of-line, much the same way you can hear a bolly-themed dance song make way for an epic bluegrass explosion inside of a 15-minute “Rivertrance.” SCI & Hulaween stand for variety, and that’s what sets it apart.
While each set will bring something unique to the table, you can’t help but to be especially stoked for certain sets. Going in to the weekend, I’ve panned out the 5 I’m looking forward to the most…
Keller Williams & Friends
So far it has been released that Reed Mathis (bass, Tea Leaf Green) and Nicky Sanders (fiddle, Steep Canyon Rangers) will be joining the one and only Keller Williams during Hulaween. This was announced as the “Suwannee Bluegrass Surprise” slot that Leftover Salmon filled last year. With big shoes to fill and a bluegrass sound promised, I can’t wait to see what Keller and co. can do.
Fingers are crossed here for some Grateful Dead covers. Keller has taken his Grateful Grass to festivals this summer such as Lockn’ and Gathering of the Vibes, and is actually performing a Dead-set with the Infamous Stringdusters a couple days earlier in NYC. Hopefully Cheese comes out to join in for some jams off the collaborative album Breathe they released 15 years ago.
The Cheese -> Thievery combination at Electric Forest a couple years ago was one of the best headliner -> late-night sets I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately our time was split between Thievery Corporation and STS9, who was performing just across the way at the same time.
Hulaween has rendered Thievery Corporation’s set important enough to be the only set taking place late night on Halloween. The legendary group will blend sounds of downtempo, dub, lounge, hip-hop, trip-hop and electronica to bring the boogie from 12:30-1:45am on Friday (technically Saturday).
The String Cheese Incident (Halloween Set)
Cheese will do a special Halloween set as their second set on Friday. Following the tradition of year’s past, I would be highly surprised if it wasn’t composed of (entirely) covers and high-grade production.
Last year, the gang displayed a knock-out set that included covers of Fela Kut, The Police and Santana, all while elaborate costumes. Antibalas’ horn section was along for the ride as were a bunch of performers, pyro, etc. It is truly a spectacle unlike any other you’ve ever seen, or any other you’ll ever see.
Full video from last year is posted below. Aside from the lukewarm ACDC cover, this is straight fire.
After releasing a killer album and playing subject to a number of live show reviews, there’s buzz around the DubEra crew that Greensky Bluegrass is in fact the best bluegrass band playing right now. From improvised jams to A+ covers, these guys have caught fire in 2014.
With a strong repertoire of covers and an afternoon set time, Greensky’s set is a real wild card. They could explore some jams on the new material, or they could deliver a straight set of covers. They did the latter a few years ago when they busted out Michael Jackson, Prince and Survivor for an 80s-themed set. Full audio here and below…
Photo via Liveforlivemusic.com
It wouldn’t be a proper Halloween unless we got some Grateful Dead. Joe Russo, the unlikely drummer who has been selected to carry the torch of Dead music, and his newest project are closing out the entire festival on Sunday. With a lineup that also includes Marco Benevento, J-RAD is gaining buzz as one of the premier Dead cover bands. I simply can’t wait to see what they do in the amphitheater stage to end it all!