Suwannee Hulaween is just about two months away, and we’re gearing up to bring you the best mouth-watering articles to get you primed to experience one of the best festivals in the world. The String Cheese Incident will be joined by the likes of My Morning Jacket, Disclosure, STS9, Big Gigantic, Gramatik, and many more for what is sure to be a magical weekend of music.
Stacked schedules and fantastic sit-ins turn the Suwannee into a music-lover’s heaven, as evidence of the past three years. Since its inaugural run in 2013, the festival has showcased no shortage of good times, and we’re here to recap ten of our very favorites with you now.
1. Bernie Worrell & Steve Kimock join SCI for “Freedom Jazz Dance” (2013)
The legendary Bernie Worrell tragically passed away recently, but he was on hand at the inaugural Suwannee Hulaween to join the String Cheese Incident for a cover of Eddie Harris’ “Freedom Jazz Dance.” The funky fusion tune has become a staple in the SCI catalogue, but few have heard it done this well. With Kimock on guitar and Worrell helping Hollingsworth with the keys, this was an extremely memorable rendition of the track.
2. Leftover Salmon = Suwannee Bluegrass Surprise (2013)
When the lineup for Suwannee Hulaween’s first year was announced, it featured something called ‘Suwannee Bluegrass Surprise,’ and that ended up being none other than Leftover Salmon. The influential jamgrass group came and blessed the main stage with some gorgeous weather and killer tunes. Bill Nershi joined them at the end for a couple tunes as well!
3. Halloween Covers Set Was a “Thriller” (2014)
The String Cheese Incident always do three sets on Halloween night, with the second set celebrating the music of other artists along with theatrics and top-notch production. In 2014, the covers set included Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper,” and a set-closing rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It was nuts!
Sympathy For The Devil, Ghost Busters, Time Will Tell, Live and Let Die, Just Passin Thru, Stairway To Heaven, Dont Fear The Reaper, Break On Through, Heaven > Live and Let Die (reprise), Thriller
4. The Impromptu Keller Williams Incident w/ a “Franklin’s Tower” (2014)
String Cheese and Keller Williams are frequent collaborators, so when Keller was on hand in 2014 it was no surprised when he joined SCI on the stage. The kicker was when Keller joined the band for a cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower.”
5. Thievery Corporation’s Late-Night Main-Stage Rager (2014)
Something about Thievery’s worldly sounds, trip-hop beats, and thick basslines make them the ultimate late-night act. They crushed it after the String Cheese Incident at Electric Forest in 2012, and once again in 2014 after SCI finished up their time on the main-stage. The smoke was thick as the eclectic DC band churned through an hour and a half’s worth of their greatest hits.
6. Joe Russo’s Almost Dead Festival-Ending Set (2014)
So it’s no secret that JRAD has taken Deadheads by storm over the last few years, rising quickly into the premier tribute act for the band. Their energetic take on Dead tunes make them a staple for hippies, young and old alike. If you ask me, save for maybe their shows at Brooklyn Bowl, the best way to see JRAD is ending a festival. They ring the crowd dry of their energy with great jams and epic sing-alongs.
Such was the case in 2014 when they played the last set of the festival, including the hits baby, THE HITS! It was one rowdy time as Russo and crew busted through “Truckin,” “Let It Grow,” “Help>Slipknot,” and “Franklin’s Tower.”
Truckin> Uncle John’s Band> No Quarter Jam> Uncle John’s Band> Let It Grow> Crazy Fingers> Help On The Way> Slipknot!> Franklin’s Tower
7. SCI Does “Sometimes a River” w/ Railroad Earth’s Todd Sheaffer and Tim Carbone (2015)
Last year, String Cheese Incident played a couple great sets on Hallow’s Eve, and in the first set invited Railroad Earth’s Todd Sheaffer and Tim Carbone to the stage for their melancholy country tune “Sometimes a River.” It all felt good, though, as the sit-in proved to be one of the most memorable music moments of the weekend.
Track starts at 23:03
8. SCI > Papadosio > SCI > Primus > Pretty Lights (2015)
So this is sort of cheating because there are a whole bunch of moments in here. The same night that the aforementioned “Sometimes a River” took place was one of the better nights of festival programming I’ve seen. Set 1 of SCI lead right into a ripping Papadosio set, which fed back into SCI’s set 2. Then Primus made the night increasingly weirder before Pretty Lights melted faces and minds alike with his Suwannee debut on the main stage. Typically a venue for rootsier music, it was a pleasant switch up to have PL’s beats coming out of the main-stage set up full force.
9. Lettuce’s Slam-Packed Amphitheater Set (2015)
Was it slightly annoying that we couldn’t easily get to the front? Yes. Did it matter? No, not really. Seeing Lettuce play to a super-full crowd on the Amphitheater stage was a beautiful thing. After seeing them play the Suwannee so many times, they earned the right to play one of the biggest gatherings we’ve ever seen on that stage.
Along with Griz and Odesza’s sets from the same year, the Amp has maybe never been so packed. The addition of a new stage this year will help to ease up some of that congestion.
10. String Cheese Incident’s Ghoul Train Set (2015)
If you put a member of Wu-Tang Clan on the stage with String Cheese Incident, it’s going to be pretty memorable. When GZA popped out alongside Billy Nershi, my heart melted, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. After covers of Earth Wind & Fire, Sly Stone, The Commodores, and more feel-good anthems ensued, it was clear how special the ride was. Rarely ones to disappoint, SCI came correct with last year’s cover set.
Set Two (w/ Host GZA, Antibalas Horns, Sheryl Renee and Leonard Julien): Brick House, Got To Be Real, September, Pick Up The Pieces, I’m Your Boogie Man, Car Wash, Lady Marmalade, Cold Sweat, I Want To Take You Higher > Dance To The Music