With festival season in full swing, folks from across the amber waves of grain and beyond are prepping to descend upon the remote Ozark, AR location known as Mulberry Mountain for the ninth installment of Wakarusa. With an eclectic lineup and the Waka Formula fully intact, fans can rest assured that the festival will once again go off without a hitch and the “waka waka waka” phrase (that never gets old over the anticipated weekends in Arkansas) will be yelled on high with an element of wonder that only attendees and previous attendees can fully understand.
This past weekend, Wakarusa vets and Perpetual Groove held their annual Memorial Day weekend “ice cream social” where state of mind reigns supreme, Amberland. While on the scene at the event that breathes “family reunion” much more than it does “festival,” front man Brock Butler and tickler of the PGroove ivories, Matt McDonald, sat down to play a few tunes — dedicating one to the forthcoming weekend.Â
As an added bonus, Matt — who recently rejoined his Perpetual comrades after a multi-year hiatus — invited his much prettier half to join in on Ashtar Command’s “Deadman’s Gun” to add an always welcome female pitch to the selected tune’s harmonies.
So sit back, relax and enjoy as Honest Tune and GrooveStreet.TV look forward to Wakarusa with Perpetual Groove: Live, Backstage & Unplugged.Â Oh, and if you haven’t already… head over to Wakarusa.com, make the purchase of tickets that you know you should and hit up the two sets of Perpetual Groove this Thursday and Friday evening.
Wakarusa has managed to do what few of its peers have been able to: stay alive. Surviving a move from Kansas (for those not “in the know,” its namesake is derived from the Wakarusa River near Lawrence, KS), the annual event shines, year in and year out, as a festival that is “a cut above.”
Going into its ninth year, Wakarusa is looking to continue in a tradition to which only a few can lay claim: keep enriching itself year after year while staying relevant to a constantly evolving fanbase while not forgetting about those who have been there since the beginning. Superficially, one may think “I could do that.” But could you really?
Think about it.
First of all, consider the music industry’s evolution over the past five years alone. It is an age that has found record companies actually considering dropping the production of compact discs and the quality of sound contained therein for the mp3, a file that sounds about as good as a cassette after a few plays.
Second, consider the diversity at a music festival in general. From ages to taste, there literally needs to be something for most likes at a festival of Waka’s size (estimated 18-25,000 median attendance). Then combine that with the fact that Wakarusa’s backbone remains centered in “jam” friendly artists.
Not so easy now is it?
But rest assured, as Wakarusa heads into its ninth year and proverbial PhD curriculum in badassery, it will do so just as it has for all of its undergrad years and masters program — head toward yet another degree with Magna Cum Laude honors.
Though many doubted the festival’s future beyond Lawrence, Mulberry Mountain (also the site of YMSB’s Harvest Fest) is an ideal setting for a music festival. It is flat, has plenty of natural shade and the Wakarusa layout is easy to understand. It all functions as an amoeba like circle with the only true deviation from the format being the Backwoods Stage, a place where fine musical discoveries can be made. With vendors playing the role as sound buffers, the sound never bleeds over from one set to another, even when the set happens to be dubstep versus Ryan Bingham, which happened last year… proving that Wakarusa knows exactly what they are doing.
Here is what Keller Williams had to say about the scene at Mulberry Mountain (keep reading for the rest of the formula)…
One thing that Wakarusa has always taken seriously has been the bill. Over the years, the stages have been graced with heavyweights from the arena side as well as those that tour the club scene for 300 days out of the year. Reminiscing and looking back, names that immediately stand out are: The Flaming Lips, Widespread Panic, Mumford and Sons, Yonder Mountain String Band, Neko Case, Lotus, Ben Harper, Bassnectar, Grace Potter, Perpetual Groove, Little Feat, The String Cheese Incident, My Morning Jacket, Citizen Cope,Â Wilco, Michael Franti and so many more.
Taking a look at 2012, it is immediately clear that the folks at Waka have not deviated from this piece of their formula one bit, providing a bit of something for everyone.
Pretty Lights, The Avett Brothers,Primus, Weir, Robinson, & Greene Acoustic Trio, Umphrey’s McGee, Slightly Stoopid,Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Girl Talk, Fitz & the Tantrums, Matisyahu, Royal Family Ball featuring Soulive & Lettuce, G. Love & Special Sauce, Ghostland Observatory, Big Gigantic, Balkan Beat Box, Beats Antique, The Del McCoury Band, Railroad Earth, SAVOY, Nobody Beats The Drum, EOTO, Quixotic, MiM0SA, SOJA, ALO, Tea Leaf Green, Keller Williams, Perpetual Groove, MarchFourth Marching Band, The Travelinâ€™ McCourys Featuring Keller Williams, Gary Clark Jr., Iration, Blitzen Trapper, Emmitt-Nershi Band, Split Lip Rayfield, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Orgone, The Travelinâ€™ McCourys, RJD2, MartyParty, Paper Diamond
As with many festivals and events, Honest Tune has been at Wakarusa since the beginning and this year, we are official media partners with the splendid event.
Asking amongst several HT cohorts in preparation for this piece, words and phrases like “amazing,” “one of the best festivals I ever went to” and “where I discovered that became one of my favorite bands (Lotus) on that very day” were thrown out. A personal favorite though, was what Rex Thomson said.
Rex is very much the connoisseur of festivals, covering ten or so for Honest Tune in 2011. With a mildly crazy look in his eye, Rex said “there are some places that just give you a special feeling when you get there. Suwannee has it. Mulberry Mountain has it. When I am there, I just think of all the happy times people have had and all of the magic that has happened through the music.”
That statement sums it up. Wakarusa’s history speaks for itself. The vibe that springs forth from itÂ and all of the lessons learned through trial and error over the years all but ensures that 2012 will be all that its preceding years have led us to expect; and once again Fozzie Bear will come to life amongst the voices of countless hippies as they celebrate the weekend of May 31, 2012. Got tickets?
In closing, there is nothing like a trip down recent memory lane.
Last year while on the scene at Wakarusa, I caught up with Grace Potter, Big Gigantic, Zoogma, hopped in Luther Dickinson’s very air conditioned van, talked charity with Michael Franti and even found myself in the middle of an impromptu backstage jam session led by some bloke named Marcus Mumford.
But before we go there, let us first have a look at a few photos from 2011’s Wakarusa….
With excitement building for Wakarusa 2012, the Super Early Bird priced Full Event Passes areÂ flyingÂ out the door! Â Get your Full Event Passes for Wakarusa today before the next price increase on February 11th!Â http://www.wakarusa.com/2012/tickets.asp
Wakarusa VIP is a deal that canâ€™t be beat.Â VIP includes:
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Exclusive up-front viewing
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Food, drinks, and libations throughout the weekend
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Private camping in the VIP wooded area
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Early arrival and world VIP class
Â·Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â And much more!
VIP has SOLD OUT the last several years, so get them now while they are still available!
Keller Williams is a man who knows his festivals. Over the years, he has taken part in virtual every one of even the slightest notoriety and some with zero notoriety. So when he gives praises to one in particular, citing the grounds, vibe, location and the like, it is wise to listen up. Well, that is exactly what he does in the video below that is exclusive to Honest Tune.
In order to ensure that you do not miss what will go down at Waka this year (and that you get to catch it as cheaply as possible), you definitely want to jump on tickets prior to 2/11/12. That is this Saturday for those of us who do better with daysÂ than we do dates.
So head on over to Wakarusa’s ticket page and snag yours up now. Keller would want you to.
Should you choose to do so, you will be joining thousand of friends not yet made in the luscious green fields on Mulberry Mountain, witnessing performances from: the Avett Brothers, Primus, Bob Weir, Jackie Greene & Chris Robinson Acoustic Trio, Umphrey’s McGee, Railroad Earth, Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, The Del McCoury Band, Keller Williams, Perpetual Groove and many more!
Today, Wakarusa announced the third round of artists that will fill out its 2012 bill. For more on Wakarusa and to purchase tickets, log on to www.Wakarusa.com. Below, are the announcements in reverse order (click on any of the images to be taken to the officialÂ Wakarusa lineup page…
As part of our continued efforts to deliver some of the most compelling content within our scene, this year Honest Tune is joining hands with several events to bring our readers, viewers and listeners exclusive material that you will absolutely never see anywhere else. One of these events is Wakarusa.
Wakarusa is an event that has been held near and dear to the Honest Tune heart since its inception and this year, our role at the event will be even further than in years previous. Hence, the goodies that we will be bringing home from the festivities — that happen in Ozark, AR on May 31-June 3, 2011 — will sweeter than ever.
Leading up to the event, Honest Tune will occasionally be releasing some “outside the box” content from some of our favorite artists and friends. Fresh off the heels of Jam Cruise, we felt that it would be most appropriate to kick things off with a little something from Jam Cruise and funk-jam stalwarts that also happen to be a band that are close to our heart, Galactic.Â
Though Galactic is not on this year’s (amazing yet still not fully announced) Waka lineup bill, they definitely know the site, having played and hung out there on many occasions. So when asked, they were more than happy to join in on the fun.
Galactic also just so happens to be releasing a studio album in mid-February (Carnivale Electricos) and are subsequently launching a massive tour across the United States.
So sit back, relax, enjoy and (hopefully) laugh as we present Galactic: Boxers of Briefs?
Boxers or Briefs?
A Galactic Parody Presented by Honest Tune & Wakarusa
It is hard to believe that it is once again time for festivals to begin making lineup announcements. It seems like it was only yesterday that we were cooking in the summer sun and sweating joyfully to the sounds of live music across the country.
Alas. time flies when you are having fun and Wakarusa has already set the bar high with this, their first of three lineup announcements and have also gone in a different direction by offering two sets by many of the slated acts so that fans don’t face the dreaded dilemma or having to opt out of seeing a favorite artists because a more favorite artist is playing across the field at the same time.
It is quite the announcement, particularly considering that there are still two more to come. Which reminds us, those announcements will come via Wakarusa’s Facebook page on on 1/12, and 1/19) and we have been told that there is plenty more where this announcement came from.
Heading up the Wakarusa 2012 Lineup (so far) are:
Pretty Lights, Weir, Robinson & Greene Acoustic Trio, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros, G. Love & Special Sauce, Beats Antique, Railroad Earth, SOJA, MiMosa, ALO, Keller Williams, Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit, Infamous Stringdusters, Green Velvet, Marty Party, RJD2, 12th Planet
Honest Tune is a media partner with this year’s event and could not not be more excited to be involved at this level. Keep an eye out for upcoming unique coverage as we look forward to another May in Ozark!
Here is a look back at a bit of the coverage from last year’s Waka when Honest Tune’s David Shehi went on the scene with Grace Potter, Mumford and Sons, Zoogma, Big Gigantic and Ha Ha Tonka.
On the Scene at Wakarusa with Marcus Mumford, Grace Potter, and Ha Ha Tonka
On the Scene at Wakarusa, Part II: Big Gigantic & Zoogma InterviewsÂ
For more information on Wakarusa or to purchase tickets, click the image or here.
In this second and final On the Scene at Wakarusa piece, we go on the scene with Big Gigantic and Zoogma. Both relative newcomers to the electronic music scene, theyÂ are taking it by storm and are doing it in a way that is unto themselves.
With Big Gigantic, former Motet member, Dominic Lalli brings, yes a saxophone, into the mix. And with Zoogma’s piercing guitar work and equally impressive knack for melody, both acts are proving that organic growth and instrumentation remains important and has not been entirely abandoned in a scene that is becoming increasingly dominated by laptops.
The very distinct acts are both playing with a fervency and hunger that is hard to dismiss, so we thought it would be appropriate to get their HD perspectives on things ranging from improvisation to exactly what the f**k Zoogma is.
This summer, Honest Tune is making it a point to cover festivals in as deep of a way as we can possibly fathom. Last week’s Wakarusa was no exception. While the review and photos are still yet to come, the goodies brought home will now begin to leak with this first of three video installments.
Last weekend,Â Honest Tune Live Music Editor David Shehi spent his time covering the festival from the top of the bill to the bottom. In the process, he had the opportunity to speak with some of the scene’s most notorious acts, but also happened upon a few beautiful obscurities along the way.
In this first video segment (of two), David sat down with Grace Potter, stumbled upon an impromptu backstage jam session led by Marcus Mumford, coordinated a performance by Mountain Sprout in the Technaflora Plant Products booth and happened upon the oh-so-promising Ha Ha Tonka.
Inspiration is passed to us through the bloody sweat of nobodies and the quiet dignity of underground artists whose trials and tribulations allow them to grow and to understand themselves, and for those who remain stout upon their principles, to become one of those all important shards of porcelain, glass, or pebble.
As eras pass they will be studied via the few surviving tales that remain intact. And while the mystery of life requires that a few pieces be missing to keep we troglodytes interested enough to hold our attention upon advancement, it is the shattered puzzle of mosaic stories that form our cultural icons. Icons raised by a collection of individuals and not those raised by the mobs at market are strong enough to test time’s degrading march, able to be passed down to the minds of the next generations. Enter The New Riders of the Purple Sage, a band known by the shard-missing story of Grateful Dead coat-tailer. But layers are still unfolding, because David Nelson and Buddy Cage linger upon the adventure.