The schedule for the Great Outdoors Jam is here, and you’ve now got four weeks to get your stuff together, because this will be the best one ever — and not just because it will be slightly cooler than the past editions held on or around the Fourth of July. This schedule is jam-packed start to finish with awesome music from many Sunshine State favorites and nine bands from New York, Massachusetts, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Indiana.
Also, in honor of our recently fallen brother Thomas ‘Purplebear’ Underhill, the main stage will bear his name at Maddox Ranch in Lakeland. And the second stage will be named the Zonk Family Stage to give great credit to Zonk for its sponsorship of Great Outdoors Jam as well as to recognize Zonk for their entry into the festival field, recalling their excellent Zonk Family Conference in July.
Many concert- and festival-goers have a mantra: Never miss a Sunday show. I heartily concur but always suggest a second: Never miss the pre-party and/or first day of a festival. For Great Outdoors Jam, both of these are true. Plus, you’re there for the days in between!
Music starts at 5, and immediately things go into overdrive, thanks to The Psychedelic Monks. Somatic, up next, has had a great run in its relatively short existence, including a knockout at Purplebear’s memorial. One of Atlanta’s much-too-best-kept secrets returns to Maddox Ranch in the former of the Donna Hopkins Band. Hopkins (no relation, but I’d claim her in a minute), is a great singer-songwriter and amazing guitarist.
Justino and the Difference have just released a new album and have been on fusion fire. Then we get the amazing collective Russ Bowers Isn’t Dead Yet, and you know what they do. We don’t know what yet to expect from the next collective, the Zonk Family Orchestra, but we’re certain it will be great. And Come Back Alice, back after magical sets at Soulshine Farm Music Festival and The BIG What?, returns home to give us a shot of their gypsy-swamp-funk-infused rock and roll.
Time to stock up on caffeine of some sort, or something to keep you awake. Noon begins the day, and music will go on until daybreak. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.
Boston’s SixFoxWhiskey opens with a blend of indie, jam and folk, the perfect recipe for the day. Next up are Valdosta’s rockers Custard Pie. The Happy Campers once again form (reform? Not likely) for all of the happy campers. Then it’s time for some neo-soul with a jazz bent from Ella Jet & Future Soul. Proceed to have your brains scrambled next by The Reality, whose high-powered antics will make you grin and dance.
Guavatron caps a month of dates with their jam fusion explosion at Maddox, followed by more stunning jazz fusion from JOOSE, six members who will you transport you into jam space. The party continues with the deep grooves of The Groove Orient. They have several more dates left on the end of another massive national tour. And you will “Smile, smile, smile” for certain when the amazing Applebutter Express pour out their mix of bluegrass and debauchery (well, at least naughtiness).
And speaking of naughty, New Orleans is sending six of its very best young ambassadors in the form of Naughty Professor, a jazz band with one foot deeply rooted in the tradition and the other far into the future. Up next is a return of sorts from a band on hiatus that many of us have missed: Between Bluffs. Their dynamite music and powerful lyrics will have you rockin’.
In the past, we’ve had the pleasure of hearing Come Back Alice channel the Allman Brothers Band, covering Live at the Fillmore, Eat a Peach, and numerous other songs from the ABB catalog. What will make this performance extra-special is the inclusion of Melody Trucks, daughter of the late ABB drummer Butch. It was pleasure seeing her with The Freight Train Band at Wanee, so this should be wonderful.
Boxcar Hollow has the unenviable position of following CBA and Ms. Trucks, but Matt Weis and Company are up to the job. Many remember the band’s astounding opening day set at Hometeam New Year’s Rally, and the group just released an EP.
So now it’s 3:30 AM or so, but you’re still on your feet (more or less). More music? Of course, there is! Trey Miller, along with Arielle D’Or is up to his old tent tricks, this time labelled the Soulace Dome, and hence the Soulace Dome Jam. Count on seeing the sunrise if you go!
Blackwater Grease have been rocking hard ever since their formation earlier this year. They get to kick-start Saturday, especially if you hit the aforementioned Dome. Joe Moves has the second slot. If you weren’t properly braced for the first set, you’d better strap on your seatbelts. Full disclosure: MusicFestNews president Brian Hensley plays bass. When we first saw them at Little Econ Love Fest (another Trey Miller masterpiece), we were prepared to tell you they were no damn good — IF, in fact, that were the case. Instead, they blew us away with some heavy rock. Looking forward to round two, boss!
We had not seen the Panhandle’s New Earth Army in quite a while and were thrilled to catch their riveting set of funk, blues, jazz and more at Orange Blossom Jamboree. Then we get to hear the Melody Trucks Band — so honored to get to see her twice. Rockers Row Jomah are set to release brand new album Guns & Gods & Gold in two weeks (at Dunedin Brewery) and are ready to bring great new material and old to the party.
If you have the “Opportunity” to “Shake That” with the Savi Fernandez Band, you’d be “Blessed” with reggae, rock and funk. Groove Fetish brought their jam rock from Wilmington NC to last year’s GOJ and return this year with new album See It All. Then it’s time to get totally funked up with The Juanjamon Band; better hang on to your “Booty!” And it that isn’t enough, then it’s Afrobeat and funk time with Holey Miss Holey, the amazing ten-member collective.
Three very special sets follow. Headliners Backup Planet return from Nashville; they played last year’s GOJ and Hometeam. Their superb prog rock and over-the-top stage antics will knock you out. Then it’s time for Lespecial, bringing their “dark future groove, death-funk, livetronic, glitch-hop” from the Northeast. And finally Joe Marcinek, the man who annually puts together dozens of bands of top musicians, is putting together a Super Jam with, of course, lots of top musicians, including members of The Heavy Pets.
Did we say finally? Trey Miller will again host the Soulace Dome Jam.
So we hope you made it Thursday. Either way, be sure you stay for the Sunday festivities. What better way to start the day than with — wait for it — Blue Skye Pipes and Drums, an all-female Scottish band (the Scottish presence in Lakeland is strong). Next comes a band I’ve waited two years to see again. It’s about dang time somebody put Llamas on the lineup, featuring the gifted Sam All. You can find me on the rail. Oak Ramble has the next slot, with Jeremy Willis in command.
shoeless soul had been on hiatus as Rene Schlegel has been traveling the country. They play their first post-hiatus show next weekend, and it will be great to see them at Maddox. One of the most important sets comes up next. Este Loves played a remarkable “church” set at OBJ (and again recently), and she and her band were more than a match for the Hometeam All-Stars at one show and for Sonic Stew and Damon Fowler at another. She is delivering world-class performances.
Finally, proprietor Kenny Blair, king of Great Outdoors Jam, will have Wild Root, the excellent jazz fusion band from Sarasota, close the fest with a Family Jam. Did we mention that the ubiquitous Isaac Corbitt is artist at large?
Great location, cooler weather, superb organization and magnificent music. That’s the Great Outdoors Jam. MusicFestNews will see you there!