It’s hard to recall attending a small-ish music bash with as much eclectic musical firepower as last February’s GroundUP Music Festival, anchored by oversized jazz+ ensemble Snarky Puppy (pictured), and headed up by that band’s bassist-writer Michael League and the GroundUP label folks.
GroundUP was held in and around the North Beach Bandshell Amphitheater on Miami Beach, and limited to 1,500 attendees. Meaning: It never felt overcrowded. (Others in this category? The now-defunct Bear Creek in Live Oak comes to mind, but, musically, it was a different beast).
The well-organized three days’ worth of high-end performances drew from jazz, rock, pop, world music, fusion, folk and more, with loads of daytime shows followed by some amazing late-night concerts at the venerable Deauville, the host hotel (now closed for renovations, but expected to be available for the fest). And it all took place during a spectacular time of year to enjoy an outdoor event in South Florida — sunny days, low humidity, and cool breezes at night.
A measure of the musical-communing vibe of GroundUP: Last year, the artists, even high-profile performers like David Crosby and Terence Blanchard, roamed around, checking out bands and chatting with listeners.
The lineup for the second edition, Feb. 9-11 at the same location, was just announced. Another long list of great artists will engage in various modes of magical music making, with a heavy dose of deep grooves, improvisations, rhythms from all over the globe, and songcraft.
Ahead: Snarky Puppy shows each night, plus The Wood Brothers; The Flecktones Trio (Bela, Vic and Futureman); Robert Glasper; Charlie Hunter & Silvana Estrada; artist-at-large Lionel Loueke; Joshua Redman; Michael League & Larnell Lewis; Eliades Ochoa (Buena Vista Social Club); Kitailo feat. Buika; JoJo Mayer/Nerve; Knower; Mark Guiliana’s BEAT Music; Under One Sun; Weedie Braimah & the Hands of Time; Paris Monster; C4 Trio; Harold López-Nussa Trio; Banda Magda; Becca Stevens; FORQ; Roosevelt Collier; Breastfist; Sirintip; and Alina Engibaryan.
Here’s hoping that League’s great new world music/blues outfit Bokante, who made their impressive US debut at the 2017 fest, will be added to the lineup for 2018.