Music festivals in Florida come and go, and the last decade or so has seen the demise of two, on opposite ends of the state, with lineups that appealed strongly to fans of jazz, funk, fusion and jamband music: Bear Creek, at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, and Langerado in South Florida.
Wanee, still going strong after the Allmans broke up, continues to offer a lineup featuring bands drawing from the above genres, as well as blues and rock.
New to the fold is this year’s GroundUp Music Festival on Miami Beach, hosted by the acclaimed jazzy, funky large-ensemble outfit Snarky Puppy.
The event’s inaugural edition, running this Friday through Sunday, offers a quite extraordinary lineup. Snarky Puppy plays three consecutive nights, and star bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding is the fest’s “Artist At Large.”
Also on the bill: Veteran folk-rocker David Crosby, who has recently collaborated with Snarky Puppy; John Medeski’s Mad Skillet, led by the MMW pianist/organist/keyboardist; Punch Brothers/Nickel Creek mandolinist-singer and “Prairie Home Companion” host Chris Thile, in a duo with Michael Daves; New Orleans trumpeter and Spike Lee soundtrack composer Terence Blanchard; guitarist-bassist Charlie Hunter, leading a quartet with saxophonist Jeff Coffin (Dave Matthews, Bela Fleck, Mu’tet); and a group led by rising-star percussionist Pedrito Martinez.
More: Virtuoso singer/multi-instrumentalist Jacob Collier, Banda Magda, The Lee Boys + Roosevelt Collier and others. That’s not counting the performances on the second stage, and the late-night shows, likely to offer lots of sit-ins.
Or the music and music-industry workshops, including “A Snarky Guitar Clinic” with all three of the band’s six-stringers; “Chasing the Muse with (Snarky leader/bassist) Michael League & David Crosby”; and “Songwriting & Performance Workshop” with Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis, and Lucy Woodward.
And, a bonus for those averse to overcrowding: Ticket sales are limited to 1,500 each day.
“I don’t think you’ll get a better shot at hearing real music than at this festival,” Crosby told Miami New Times. “It will knock your socks off. It’s me on the stage with Michael League, Michelle Willis, and Becca Stevens. It’s acoustic, four-part harmonies that are really delicious based on my last album, Lighthouse, but we do some stuff from Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. It’s the most fun I’ve had touring in 25 or 30 years.”
The high-caliber artists and relatively intimate performances appear to add up to a lineup and fest experience way more appealing than Bonnaroo and/or any of the major fests you could name. Stay tuned.
Word is that tickets are still available. For all the details, click here.
FRIDAY, FEB. 10
House of Waters, 1 p.m. Michelle Willis, 2 p.m. Bill Laurence, 3:30 p.m. Frost School of Music American Music Ensemble, 4:20 p.m. Jacob Collier, 4:55 p.m. Zach Larmer Band, 5:45 p.m. Banda Magda, 6:15 p.m. Forq, 7:10 p.m. Snarky Puppy, 8 p.m. The Heavy Pets, 9 p.m. David Crosby, 9:50 p.m.
Deaville Beach Resort: Ryan Scott, 11:20 p.m. Bob Lanzetti, 11:20 p.m. Mark Lettieri Trio, 12:40 a.m. Ghost-Note, 12:45 a.m. Jacob Collier, 2 a.m. Roosevelt Collier & Phunk Phactory, 2:10 a.m.
SATURDAY, FEB. 11
Lucy Woodward, noon Shelly Berg, 1:15 p.m. Emily Estefan, 2 p.m. Charlie Hunter Trio, 2:50 p.m. Electric Kif, 3:45 p.m. Terence Blanchard, 4:30 p.m. Nikka Costa, 5:25 p.m. Laura Mvula, 6:10 p.m. The Funky Knuckles, 7:05 p.m. Snarky Puppy, 7:55 p.m. Esperanza Spalding, 9 p.m. Pedrito Martinez Group, 9:45 p.m
Deauville Beach Resort: Philip Lassiter, 11:20 p.m. House of Water, 11:20 p.m. Magda Giannikou, 12:40 a.m. Breastfist, 12:45 a.m. Zach Brock and Bob Reynolds, 2 a.m. Shaun Martin’s Go-Go Party, 2:10 a.m.
SUNDAY, FEB. 12
The Lee Boys, featuring Roosevelt Collier, 11:45 a.m. Carlos Malta, 1:10 p.m. Becca Stevens, 2:30 p.m. Modern School of Music Band, 3:15 p.m. John Medeski’s Mad Skillet, 3:55 p.m. New World School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble, 4:45 p.m. Bokante, 5:30 p.m. Aaron Lebos Reality, 6:20 p.m. Chris Thile and Michael Daves, 7 p.m. Maz, 8 p.m. Snarky Puppy, 8:50 p.m.
Deaville Beach Resort: Charlie Hunter and Jeff Coffin, 10:30 p.m. Pedrito Martinez, 11 p.m. Derek Smalls and the Bottom Feeders, midnight Jamison Ross, 12:30 a.m. Nigel Hall, 1:30 a.m. Carlos Malta and Company, 2 a.m.