Suwannee Hulaween—The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park—Live Oak, FL—Oct.31st-Nov.2nd, 2013


Suwannee Hulaween was held at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP) in Live Oak, Florida, October 31- November 2, 2013; the weather started out perfect for festival goers with cool afternoons and campfire nights. With no overlapping sets, fans got to see every set if they wanted to, and never had to worry about picking one band over the other. Larry and Jenny Keel kicked off Hulaween with a relaxing and delightful songlist that included “Love”, “Ramble on Rose”, and “Panhandle”. The perfect Halloween equation has proven to be 3 sets of The String Cheese Incident, plus Van Ghost, and add Larry and Jenny Keel with Brett Bass on steel guitar and Fil Pate on mandolin. Multiply by the Ferris Wheel, Starship 2000 (AKA The Gravitron), The Spirit Lake, and a Suwannee Shakedown; and now you have the most unique production that has ever come to SOSMP.


Among the crowd was a colorful array of costumes including: a pack of kangaroos, Captain Insano and Towlee from South Park, the many girls who dressed as Leeloo from the 5th Element, and “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan and Hulk Hogan (a girl that surprisingly pulled off Hulkamania complete with a mustache!). The String Cheese Incident (SCI) kicked off the night with “Desert Dawn”, “Let’s Go Outside”, and closed with “Texas”. The second set started with a haunting steady bell that rang, signaling to everyone that AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” was about to begin. SCI appeared with a voodoo theme, complete with feathered headdresses and face paint. As Cheese fans know, costumes just aren’t enough; but painted Aztec-like dancers, fire, and giant inflatable pumpkins crowd-surfing towards the stage certainly was. They finished the cover set with “Voodoo”, “Zombie”, “Spirits in a Material World”, “Monster”, “Voodoo Child”, and “Black Magic Woman”; the night then was blasted into full force. The third set’s highlights were “Rosy”, “Black Clouds> Big Mon> Black Clouds”, “Joyful Sounds”, and encored with “Miss Brown’s Teahouse”, “I Saw the Light”, and “Sledgehammer”. Everyone soon started to make the walk to The Spirit Lake which was filled with spooky cutouts, purple lights, metal works, the Jelly Swing, and The Spirit Lake Stage. Van Ghost played on the Spirit Lake Stage, which was one of the most visually striking stages to experience at SOSMP. Van Ghost was a delight with shredding guitar solos and duels, trombone and trumpet solos, and the beautiful voices of Jennifer Hartswick and Michael Harrison Berg; the crowd quickly filled the space and the performance was a huge success. Next was Larry and Jenny Keel with Brett Bass and Fil Pate with a performance just as mesmerizing, making the crowd boogie in the dirt. Brett Bass wore a Jason hockey mask and Fil Pate was a barefoot Pirate, delighting the crowd with “Foggy Mountain”, “Try Me”, “Coconut”, and “420 Blues”.


As soon as everyone recovered from Thursday night, Friday started with Catfish Alliance, Van Ghost, Steve Kimock and Friends, and Moon Taxi. String Cheese Incident then played two killer sets that included “Daryl”, “Black and White”, “Freedom Jazz Dance” with Steve Kimock and Bernie Worrell, “Just one Story”, “Sirens”, “Bumpin’ Reel” with Dominic Lalli, “Restless Wind”, and “BollyMunster” as the encore. The Ferris Wheel was the place to be when Bill Nershi gave a shout out to those of us taking advantage of it and the Starship 2000. Shortly after The Main Squeeze started on the Amphitheater Stage, the monsoon started. Four hours later, we found ourselves under a canopy by the Bat House with friends and several Robin Hood’s during a lightning storm. Some campsites flooded, ruining tents, clothing, shoes, and anything else in the path of the small rivers taking over. Sadly Big Gigantic, Conspirator, and Jennifer Hartswick were canceled due to weather conditions.


Friday morning started with slight showers; then out came the clothes lines and tarps to dry wet clothing and shoes, and a very long line for Free Lovin’ Foodery, a favorite for most campers between the Bat House and Spirit Lake. Like most who camp at SOSMP, good neighbors are easy to come by. Ours were hospitable, nice, and quickly became our friends; we even got to have a bluegrass session with Brett Bass and Fil Pate, which was a perfect Saturday morning. The day’s music lineup was one not to miss with Savi Fernandez on the Spirit Lake Stage, Brock Butler, The Heard, Leftover Salmon, and Elliot Lipp alternating between the Amphitheater Stage and Main Stage, preparing for the final night of Hulaween. String Cheese crushed the third night with “Sometimes A River”, “Zombie Jamboree”, “Drums” with Jeffrey Lerner (STS9) and Luke Quaranta (Toubab Krewe), “Best Feeling> Howard”, “Pack it up> Shake Your Body Down to the Ground” with Jennifer Hartswick and Natalie Cressman, “Rivertrance> This Must Be The Place/ Naive Melody”, “Outside and Inside”, and encored with “Kashmir”. As you can imagine we all danced our booties off all night long. Everyone concluded it was a perfect ending for Cheese. We then introduced our neighbors to the Gravitron and sat around for STS9. After an exhausting 3 nights and long walks back to the Bat House, we deemed the night a campfire night. Regretfully we missed Applebutter Express, but we have seen them many times, and heard that their Hulaween set was excellent. I highly recommend for everyone to give them a listen because the power of Applebutter Express will draw you in! The Silent Disco was a hit Saturday night with all available headphones in use, and a 45 minute wait just for a chance to listen. Jason Haan made an appearance and by what we could see, but not hear, everyone, including himself was having a blast!

Suwannee Hulaween delivered the fun filled weekend we all knew it would be. Everyone in attendance was thrilled to be a part of the experience, and the overall consensus was that people would love to see Hulaween return in 2014. When you combine the audio and visual art show that is String Cheese Incident with the caliber of artists that performed and The Spirit Lake, you’ve just had yourself a festival that will go down in the books. Suwannee Hulaween outdid themselves and put together one of the most fun festivals I have ever had the chance to go to.




Written by: Kristi Pye

Photos by: Joey Pye

Edited by: Rosemary A.W. Roberts

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