Great Outdoors Jam? Wonderfully Glorious Outdoors Jam is More Like It!

Maybe there’s just something in the Florida water. How else do explain another festival where almost every band delivered brilliant if not best-ever performances?

Perhaps it was the crowd trading energy back and forth with the musicians. Maybe it was exceptional sound and lighting, again. Possibly it was the amazingly supportive organizational staff, permitting everyone to do what they do best — love live music.

“Can I get a HOMETEAM?!?!”

In the case of The Great Outdoors Jam 2017, it was every bit of that and more. The enthusiastic audience was in perfect sync with the performers from first note to last. Receptor Lighting and x again crushed the technical aspects of presenting live music. And Kenny Blair, his righthand woman Jillian Melucci, and their dedicated and caring staff made the weekend a pure delight from Thursday on into Monday morning for some (September 28-October 1).

After trying a different location for GOJ last year, he opted to return to Maddox Ranch in Lakeland FL, where many successful festivals have delighted fans and musicians alike. It certainly didn’t hurt that the dire weather forecasts we watched all week long petered out into a fairly short sprinkle on Saturday.

I am relying on notes and comments from our photographer Mandi Nulph and others, including campmate Dan Farkas, because I was flat-out sick as a dog and missed the entire day and evening Thursday.

Bret Michaels

THURSDAY

The Psychedelic Monks, who always have a blast on stage, had the honor of opening GOJ 2017 and made the most of the opportunity. Somatic also had an early slot with their .

Then it was Donna Hopkins’ turn to kick the party up another notch with her wicked blend of rock and blues. Jimmy Rector guested on percussion.

The Donna Hopkins Band
The Donna Hopkins Band

Justino and the Difference played the band’s new album Nobody, with Mark Mayea and Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris joining regular bandmate Juan Santana for a blistering set.

Justino and the Difference
Justino Lee Walker

By now, we’ve become accustomed to dancing like mad when Russ Bowers Isn’t Dead Yet hits the stage with so many great players in tow. This may have been the highlight of a day which had several.

Russ Bowers Isn’t Dead Yet
Russ Bowers

Nobody was sure what to expect when the Zonk Family Orchestra took the stage, but there was every reason to believe it would be a Hometeam blow-out, and that is precisely what it was.

Come Back Alice closed out night one of GOJ with a fresh mix of originals and delightful cover tunes.

FRIDAY

Despite best efforts, I missed Boston’s SixFoxWhiskey. I certainly liked what I heard from camp as we were setting up. I was hurrying as best i could because I really wanted to see Custard Pie, a great trio from Valdosta. As the music cranked up, I was blown away.

Rory Joseph of Custard Pie

They were covering a song by Moonshine Still. I have a recording of the only show of theirs I saw (2006) but had no idea of track listings, so on my iPod they are listed as A, B, C, and so on. My car occasionally, randomly decides to play the iPod by song titles, so the first song that always comes up is — “A.” It’s real title is “Barely Alive,” and Custard Pie crushed it.

Brandon Howell of Custard Pie

We had seen them in the first festival appearance at Backwoods Fam Jam and enjoy both of their sets, but this set was light years beyond what they were doing just five months back. Then, they were raw rock and blues. Now they were jazzy, spacey, with still plenty of rock to go around. “Barely Alive” led into “Big Country” and my first Isaac Corbitt sighting. Corbitt was artist art large for the weekend, and he made the most of it.

 

So, despite a late start — for me — GOJ 2017 was off to a great start. And it would continue with The Happy Campers, a joyous collective that reunites on occasion to delight fans and newbies alike. And they did it despite the fact that there was NO PIZZA vended. How can you sing the “Pizza” song with no pizza? Well, they didn’t, but it was a blast anyway. The core of the band consists of Sean Maloney (a.k.a. Legacy), Colin Christopher, and Andy Lytle (they managed to drag him away from the soundboard). They recruited Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris, who had a brilliant weekend, and at the last minute they also roped in keyboard wizard Mark Mayea.

The Happy Campers
Sean ‘Legacy’ Maloney

By the time they got to “Ridiculous Elephant,” Juanjamon and Corbitt had joined in the fun. Colin Christopher had a dynamite set on guitar. There was much work to be done still at the campsite, so I only heard the set by Ella Jet and Future Soul from camp. What clearly came through were the glorious harmonies created by Jet and Sarah Ferrer.

Photograph courtesy of Ella Jet & Future Soul

The Reality have been on a meteoric rise since there emergence almost three years ago, and once again they threw down a set chock full of harmonies, silliness, great playing, deep funk, and plenty of rock. They strolled through so jazz and reggae as well, padding that resume. Their cover of “I Will Survive” was a scream, original tune “Goddess” a wicked wonder, and “Sweet Tooth” funk piled upon funk. The unorthodox set even began with their oft-time closer “Dancin’ with D.”

Photograph courtesy of The Reality

Just a week prior, we had seen The Reality and Guavatron rage at Dunedin Brewery. The two bands were back to back again, positions reversed this time. Guavatron is the epitome of the jamtronic genre, and they played a superb set. It began with “Spring Roll,” and by the time they got into “Awake” it was totally ON (21 minutes into the set). A riotous cover of “Don’t Leave Me This Way,” with Adonis Guava on falsetto, led into a stunning version of “Xilla,” simply incredible (and my new favorite song). Roddy Hansen (keyboards) and Guava were locked in, and the rhythm section of Conor Crookham and Casey Luden got deep into the groove.

What occurred next was the best sit-in of all time. Believe me. They asked Colin Christopher to come sit in. A lawn chair appeared on the stage, and Christopher sat in the chair, played with his phone, and drank a beer while the band raged. Guavatron FTW!

JOOSE again played the three and one half completed movements from their opus about life. Once again, we heard “Birth,” “Childhood,” and “Adolescence.” They had played those recently at the Row Jomah album release, clearly better formed than their debut at Orange Blossom Jamboree. And this show was even better, and again we got the first portion of the fourth movement, “Adulthood.” Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris was again that dude, practically an artist at large himself.

This band prides itself on its challenging original music, and the crowd responded in kind. Christian Ryan’s reeds and flute and Justino Lee Walker’s guitar work so well fronting this band. For the encore, they again allowed Mark Mayea to sing, which he does very well, on the encore, a cover of Thundercat’s “Them Changes.”

It was The Groove Orient’s turn next, and once again the Orlando quintet knocked it out of the farm, or ranch, or something. Of real significance was a magnificent cover of John Scofield’s “A Go Go.” They simply crushed it and stretched it out to boot. Chuck Magid and Tommy Shugart were amazing, and bassist Harry Ong is an excellent singer (OK, not on that instrumental, but everywhere else).

The Groove Orient
The Groove Orient

I missed The Applebutter Express — again — back at the campsite in search of food. Fortunately, we could hear the set just fine, full of the band’s excellent staples. Isaac Corbitt enhanced the set as only he can on harp for the last half an hour.

The Applebutter Express
Kyle and Shannon Biss of The Applebutter Express

There was much anticipation for the next set by New Orleans’ youngsters Naughty Professor. These six gents thrilled those who had already been indoctrinated and made many, many new fans with their jaw-dropping set. The band’s music is rooted in Crescent City jazz, but they rock really hard as well. As we have come to expect in our musical community across the nation, their guitar player was not there. You would never have known that Mags Bronstein was “filling in;” it was that seamless.

Naughty Professor

Sam Shahin is a wonderfully showy drummer who backs that up with incredible time, a true joy to watch. And the front line — Ian Bowman, tenor sax; John Culbreth, trumpet; and Nick Ellman; alto and baritone saxes — also showed their wares (they have worked with Dumpstaphunk and other NOLA notables).

Naughty Professor

After the first three tunes, they introduced Dexter Gilmore, a slinky vocalist with whom the band recorded recently. NP then played “Fencepost,” with great solos from Bowman, Bronstein and Culbreth. Gilmore came back out to perform the tune they released as their first collaborative single, “Stray,” a lovely melodic song. Bronstein again made the most of his solo slot on “Funk for Lunch,” a really powerful tune.

Naughty Professor with Dexter Gilmore

Gilmore came back out, and they performed a couple of the songs he plays as Sexy Dex, including “Yourgasm.” They followed those with the first song co-written by Gilmore and NP, “I Can’t Sleep at Night,” with Gilmore also on guitar. And what better way to end the set with “Six-Paper Joint,” always a fan favorite, bassist Noah Young leading the way with some tremendous walking bass. Encore? Certainly! A new tune, “Psycho Switch,” with mellow horns to end the set.

Naughty Professor with Dexter Gilmore

Between Bluffs had been on hiatus for what seems like a long time, but Kenny Blair knew their return merited a feature slot. To say that the band made the most of it would be a gross understatement. The Dunedin quartet immediately dug into their new concept album, a medley of seven songs (more or less) with the them of space and cosmic-derived philosophy. it was superb. They played in white lab coats befitting of the theme.

Between Bluffs

Justin Davis was superb on the upright bass, and Mel Walsh, more recognizable as guitarist with Row Jonah, really had the opportunity to stretch out throughout the set. After “How Do You Need to Feel,” leader Jerrod Simpson invited Scott Minehart up to play jaw harp on “Tuesday Morning.” Next was a Tool cover, “Eulogy,” with Simpson utilizing a little megaphone. Juanjamon sat in on “Gadget,” and then he and Corbitt helped out on the closing “Florida Song.” Welcome back!

Mel Walsh of Between Bluffs

It would be difficult to describe the anticipation leading up to Come Back Alice’s set with Melody Trucks, but suffice to say that the set far exceeded expectations. Trucks was in fine voice, taking the lead and then sharing vocals with Tony Tyler throughout the rocking set. “Not My Cross to Bear” soared, and Dani Jaye had the first of her great solos on “Leave My Blues at Home,” playing guitar all set. Wonderful a cappella harmonies introduced “Midnight Rider,” and Trucks invited the ubiquitous Corbitt to join in on “Don’t Keep Me Wonderin’.”

Come Back Alice with Melody Trucks
Melody Trucks

After a lilting “Revival,” the band dug in deep for a 16-minute homage in the form of “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed.” Jaye soloed first, then keyboard player Mark Mayea (Ajeva and JOOSE), followed by Tony Tyler and then the percussion section: Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris and Jimmy Rector. “Melissa,” “Statesboro Blues” and “Dreams” all flowed out organically, so great with Trucks fronting the band. Encore? “Whipping Post.” Tyler was incredible.

Tony Tyler of Come Back Alice
Dani Jaye of Come Back Alice

This is simply one man’s opinion, but the man not yet mentioned stole this set. Bass player Taylor Gilchrist (Ajeva and JOOSE) crushed the entire set. It was impossible for me not to focus on him; he was that over-the-top superb. WOW!

Melody Trucks

If you thought that the night was over, you would be, shall we say, misinformed. Two or three sets into the first day of Hometeam New Year’s Rally 2016, Boxcar Hollow got up and blew out one of the best sets of the festival. Ostensibly they play Americana and bluegrass and the like. As if. It was a stunningly brilliant set of… everything. This late-night set was more of the same magic.

Matt Weis of Boxcar Hollow

Matt Weis and company immediately shoved it into overdrive with “The Devil’s Lie” and never downshifted. Incredible, my notes say. The Rev. Funky D sounded great on keyboards on “I Need More Love Every Day,” and then he and Chris Barbosa on viola tore up ‘I Know You Rider,” with the aforementioned Weis also superb. Next was a tune from an upcoming album titled “I Want Something More for Me and You.”

The Rev. Funky D of Boxcar Hollow

Weis gets magnificent tones from his hollow-body electric, including an almost “Thunderstruck”-like segment. Jack Pieroth was a monster on bass all set long. They tossed out a fascinating reworking of “Hard to Handle.” Corbitt was involved at some point. Then came the highlight of the set — a magnificent jazz reading of “My Favorite Things” a la John Coltrane. Barbosa? One of the true stars of the weekend. And Juanjamon chipped in on “Not Fade Away,” the perfect ending for a band that certainly won’t.

Jack Pieroth of Boxcar Hollow

I was out on my feet. I heard some of the sweet sounds from Trey Miller’s Soulace tent as I waited for sleep to win the battle of the eyelids.

Soulace Dome Jam

SATURDAY

When we saw Blackwater Grease in one of their early appearances, at Orange Blossom Jamboree, they put on a fun set, a bit rough around the edges. Those edges were gone in a fine set opening the day’s music. Opening with “No Crossroads” and “The Last Grease,” the Jacksonville quintet was in fine form. West Brook from Melody Trucks’s band played slide on “Hamish’s Hoedown.” And that Corbitt boy again popped up on Florida tune “Back Home.” Bass player Steve Honig, formerly of S.P.O.R.E. (as was guitarist Joe Knoebel), had a massive set once again (it really is all about the bass). This is going to be a fun project to follow.

Blackwater Grease

Full disclosure: Joe Moves from Palm Harbor features MusicFestNews president Brian Hensley on bass. They surprised us at Little Econ Love Fest in 2016 with a great set, so this one wasn’t a surprise, just more great prog rock and funk. They came out smoking with a great song called “Spinning.” The refrain for “Who Knows? Who Cares?” was just blistering. There was a dynamite synth solo at the end of the title track from their upcoming album Time. The closing “Let It Go” was great (musically — vocals, not so much).

Joe Moves
Brian Hensley of Joe Moves

New Earth Army is another band that had been on a bit of a hiatus, working in a new singer, and the Panhandle group made many new fans at OBJ. They kept right on building their fan base at GOJ with another solid set, jumping right into Prince’s “Kiss,” then “What Do I Do” and a sultry “Someone Rescue Me,” thanks to new vocalist Melissa Joiner. Then, knowing they had almost an extra half hour added to their set, they threw in a great “Leftover Possum > Roll Over,” the latter a great tune which heads in new directions each time out, this time including a brief Star Wars theme and “Jessica.”

New Earth Army
Melissa Joiner of New Earth Army

“Lay It Down,” from the band’s new EP, featured Matt McCarthy on tenor sax with great effects pedals. “I Wish” and “Purple Rain” were well received, and there was a nice drum feature with Breyson. Chavis Hobbs is a drastically underrated guitarist, and who was that clean-shaven guy on bass? Turns out we’d never seen leader Michael Flatau without his signature beard!

After the previous night’s buzz about Melody Trucks guesting with Come Back Alice, there was again great interest about the next set by her band. I don’t think many — if any — of us understood that this was the band’s debut performance, although guitarist Brady Clampitt assured me they had been woodshedding hard to get this just right.

The Melody Trucks Band

That would, again, be a gross understatement. And if you expected the set to be all about her dad’s band, well, they covered far and wide, and it was glorious. “Southbound” brought the crowd to its collective feet immediately, Trucks center-front singing and playing congas. Acknowledging the late Col. Bruce Hampton, Ret., they shot into “Yield Not to Temptation,” and the dance party was on! Clampitt took a turn on vocals on “Just a personal Thing.”

The Melody Trucks Band

After a Southern soul song sung by West Brook, there was yet another reminder of why, as I constantly state the obvious, it is all about that bass. Shane Platten tore up a truly badass version of “Spanish Moon” with guitarist Willis Gore on vocals. Now imagine the power of that song — without the bass (we will discuss this again when we get to Sunday). Platten then sang “Use Me” and had some of that great scat-and-bass stuff going on (probably not the Latin name for that). Trucks shut the set down with “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window,” a great version of “Soulshine,” and a nice Frogwings tune. Was “unofficial” band member Corbitt all up in the mix? Damn skippy!

The Melody Trucks Band

Then she told us it was the band’s debut and let us know how much the band appreciated our attention and love. It was a real emotional peak — and then drain. Many left for campsites.

Given all that, there was nothing any band could have done with the next slot. Wouldn’t have mattered. The slot belonged to Row Jomah, and they answered the challenge perfectly: have a blast, enjoy yourselves, and play great music. They did every bit of that. Just two weeks after their wildly successful album release party at Dunedin Brewery, they played older songs, songs from the new album Guns & Gods & Gold, and brand-brand-new songs as well, with several guests.

Row Jomah with Sara ‘Mama Bone’ Phillips

Joe Roma and band opened with “Windowpanes,” a song from the new album and the live recording from a year ago, then “You and Me.” They made us dance to “Burnin’ Down the House” (like you could sit still for that — not even me), with Sara ‘Mama Bone’ Phillips on trombone and Dillon Reeder on drums (?? that’s what my notes say). Austin Llewellyn killed it on the synth solo. A brand new tune highlighted a great piano solo from him as well. And organ on “Fire and Ice,” with Mama Bone back up.

Row Jomah with Sara ‘Mama Bone’ Phillips

There was a cool intro to “Tell Me” and then an unusual and interesting new tune, “I want to Let You Know,” with Llewellyn playing a repetitive Farfisa organ-type figure. Roma sounded fine, as always, and Mel Walsh tore up every song, as we have come to expect. Bravo, boys and lady, for making the most of this impossible slot.

Joe Roma of Row Jomah

Savi Fernandez and band did what they always do: lift spirits and consciousness with a tremendous outing. His sets are so contagiously infectious that you cannot help but bounce and groove. The funk is strong with this one, and appropriately they opened with “Gimme Dat Funk.” After a cool intro, once again we were “Blessed” to hear my favorite of his compositions. His master guitar work wove its way through rock, reggae, ska, funk and soul.

The Savi Fernandez Band
Savi Fernandez

There seemed to be more Hendrix-inspired play this time out, and, as we looked at the stage setup, it was obvious to see why, with Fernandez joined by an excellent bass player and drummer — Berlin “Bigsmooth’ Henri and Rashad Brandon. “Skunk” and “Shake That” in particular real shone, but the whole set was a knock-out.

The original forecast for the weekend looked bleak — lots of thunderstorms from Friday on. For the most part, we dodged the bullet, but not entirely. Groove Fetish, the fine jam quintet from Wilmington NC, had played last year’s event and sounded even better this year. They opened with great jam rocker “Give You Yours” and an another truly powerful song, despite a pair of sound outages that the crew fixed promptly.

Groove Fetish
Ethan Schilf of Groove Fetish

And then there were a couple raindrops. And then a couple more. Followed by even more of their friends. And suddenly we were wet to the bone. Among my failings is that I am not a soaking-wet dancing-in-the-rain dude; we retreated to the campsite, where we could hear Groove Fetish continue to pump out a tremendous set.

It managed to rain (fortunately, not pour) all the way through the Juanjamon Band set. We dearly love that band, but apparently not enough to go get soaked again after drying off. They too played a joyous set for those soaking-wet dancing-in-the-rain folks and others who could find some semblance of cover.

The Juanjamon Band

Serendipitously, the rain stopped right when Holey Miss Moley was ready to crank it up, and they did exactly that, the tentet (dectet, take you pick — there were ten of ’em) moving deftly through “Big Bad Wolf” and “Just Dropped In” before offering original compositions “Bermuda Triangle (Disco version)” and “Shake It with Me.” Then they blasted one of the songs the group played in their trio of Rick James shows, this time “Standing on the Top,” Danny Clemmons with his best James on and plenty of vocal backing.

Holey Miss Moley

Sean ‘Legacy’ Maloney joined his former bandmates (they were once Legacy and the Herd) for “Shit Ain’t Right” and “Sun is Shining.” Then it was B-True Brian’s turn to grace the stage, with Jacob Cox shredding on guitar. The band threw down a titanic version of their magnum opus, “Afroshaft,” absolutely stunning. And they encored, all the vocalists on stage, for Funkadelic’s “You and Your Folks, Me and My Folks.”

Holey Miss Moley with Legacy
Holey Miss Moley with B-True Brian

Backup Planet from Nashville. That is all. Once again, these boys poured their love for Florida out, with the majority of jaws on the floor (ground) as the quartet mixed their prog rock with funk, disco, metal and more. They were touring with Lespecial, so they called up their guitarist for some trance-y stuff.

Backup Planet

No matter where you thought Backup Planet was heading, you’d be wrong. It made the set so much fun. Rush was sandwiched in between a pair of wicked jams, and there was a “PYT” segment that jammed. A wild drum feature with wild man Chris Potocik could easily have led into “We’re an American Band” (just sayin’), and they teased with the “Sweet Leaf” intro before going nuts once again.

Somebody (Joseph, it was you) had found some huge animal heads. Keyboard wizard Ben Cooper saw them and motioned for “somebody” to fling them up on stage. At which point for the encore bass player Blake Gallant was a shark while Ben Cooper was a hamster, or something (raccoon, apparently). Total bozo.

This is all Joseph’s fault later on.

Next up was Lespecial, a highly anticipated set. For me, however, it just wasn’t… special. By this point I was already among the walking dead. We went back to campsite. As the band’s set progress, it improved considerably, a comment numerous others observed. I need to give them another chance.

Lespecial

I was so tired that I didn’t even make it to see Joe Marcinek herd cats with his Super Jam, loaded to the max with great players including Jamie Newett and Jim Wuest of the Heavy Pets, Savi Fernandez and more.

Suffice it to say that I also missed the fine jams at the Soulange tent curated by Trey Miller, although I heard them occasionally as I drifted in and out of sleep.

SUNDAY

October began with a late breakfast while listening from campsite to Blue Skye Pipes and Drums, an all-female Lakeland organization who delighted with traditional Scottish tunes and fun contemporary music as well.

At Great Outdoors Jam 2015, I misidentified the band LLAMAS. Turns out it was a young guitarist with keyboard accompaniment. This time it was the same young guitarist with bass accompaniment and looping ability. That young guitarist also unravelled the LLAMAS mystery, as he explained to us that it was simply his name, Sam All, spelled backwards!

The duo opened with a Dead-like tune, then moved into moe.’s “Opium.” On “What Did You Do to Me?” the bass was playing rhythm, very interesting. The next tune, with reggae underneath the beat, was a fascinating “Doesn’t Have to Be About the Money.” All used a guitar effect to great advantage. The intro to “Good Morning Little Schoolgirl” was straight out of “Spanish Moon.” We discussed this song previously, in Melody Trucks’s set, but in this instance it worked without the overpowering bass; this was, however, the exception to the rule.

Out of nowhere, the due drew great smiles as they went all Dazz Band and “Let It Whip.” LLAMAS closed with another fine All composition titled “The Time It Takes to Write a Song Worth Knowing,” which he decorated with some excellent wah-wah work.

At first glance, I was prepared to be underwhelmed by Oak Ramble. As usual, I underestimated by a whole heck of a lot. The duo of Jeremy Willis on guitar and Nader Issa on bass was perfect for this afternoon set. They mixed original tunes with an eclectic mix of cover tunes such as “Kryptonite” and “Land Down Under.” Willis was in good voice, and Issa’s vocals were just beautiful. An acoustic duo covering System of a Down, Stevie Wonder, and Pure Prairie League? Absolutely! (Encore was “Amy.”)

shoeless soul, back from a brief hiatus, gave us another magical set. “Counting to 11” had an old-time-y feel to it, and it developed into a great song. Mike Ratza had a great tenor sax solo, followed by Rene Schlegel on guitar. Sladjan Vidic really impressed on bass the entire time. After a dark tune (“It’s All Good”), they swung into straight-up jazz for “Greed.” Schlegel and Ratza again did their respect thing.

shoeless soul

They got heavy on “I Wish” (original song) before introducing an new tune with a reggae lilt called “Modern-Day Pioneers.” “Time” was sandwiched in the middle of “Happiness,” followed by another of their signature tunes, “Smile.” Dave Gerulat put on a fine percussion display before they played “The Burg,” a song featuring lyrics by talented poet Tina Praino.

Rene Schlegel of shoeless soul

Here is the short version: Este Loves once again delivered a world-class performance. She, her band, and her choir are quite simply on fire. For this event she recruited Savi Fernandez on guitar, with Sean Hartley (often on bass), on guitar as well. Yral ‘datdudeondrums’ Morris was back at kit. And the choir! Heavenly.

Este Loves and the Church of Love
The Church of Love

There are several songs you might identify as Este essentials, and she began with one of them: “Life Under the Moonlight.” Juanjamon had an inspired tenor sax solo, and we were blown away by the 15-member choir. WOW. “Give” featured a tremendous Fernendez solo and again that magnificent vocal ensemble, Este’s voices surfing atop the choir.

Este Loves
Este Loves and the Church of Love

The entire set seemed to be a highlight. “I Believe” and “World Keeps Changin’,” the latter with solos from Juanjamon and Hartley. “In Love with the Way You Dance” contained solos by Fernandez, Juanjamon, and guests Russ Bowers (guitar) and Trey Miller (harp).

There was a great peak as the collective performed Este’s wonderful tune “I’ll Be On the Beach (Where the Water Meets the Land)” and then the JJ Grey and Mofro tune “I Believe in Everything.” Also great was a Hartley composition that he sang entitled “What Makes You Burn.” on “Embrace Yourself,” Hartley and Fernandez traded back and forth like mad men, and Corbitt helped close the set with “Rouxter (Musta Got Something Right).”

Este Loves

Spectacular.

So how would Wild Root top that to shut down the fest with the Super Jam?

Their set was a perfect match and a high-energy funk blast. As the band prepared to open, their drummer was not at kit. They hollered at Dillon Reeder, working to dissemble the adjacent Zonk Family Stage, to hop on drums for the first tune, and he and the band immediately launched skyward. “Sci-Fly” was killer, followed by really jazzy blues on “Now You Got It,” with that Corbitt guy.

Wild Root Family Jam
Ellie McCaw, Miss Robyn Alleman and Danny Clemmons

The set kept getting funkier and funkier, with “Spin the Bottle” and “Squadlive” in the mix. Then there was a Holey Miss Moley invasion as Danny Clemmons, Miss Robyn Alleman, Ellie McCaw, and bassist Kenny ‘Bonesaw’ Harvey did the stage rush for “Do Ya?” and a second tune. Paul Fournier and the horde finally shut down Great Outdoors Jam 2017 with “Tesla Man” and Sean Hartley on on last great bass solo.

Sean Hartley and Paul Fournier

And, just like that, we were looking at each, saying, “361 days until the next one?” Another magnificent Florida music festival is in the books, and those are some pretty great books.

Kudos to Kenny Blair and all who helped to make this year’s GOJ such a raging success. We’ll let him identify the usual suspects:

Well, another Great Outdoors Jam is in the books. There are so many people to thank for making this festival happen. I would like to start by thanking Jillian Melucci for working everyday with me for the past 8 months; it’s an absolute pleasure, and I can’t wait to do it again. Rebecca Varley for working her butt off to make sure we had volunteers during the festival; some people don’t realize how much work this takes, and I thank you for stepping up and making it happen. Courtney Madeleine Calo for running with hospitality and dealing with me on a regular basis; that’s a monster task all by itself. Love you!

 Mark A Melucci and Anthony Zecklin for just being all around bad asses all weekend; this event wouldn’t have run so smooth without all your hard work. Receptor Sound and Lighting and Infinite Wave Productions for making sure both stages looked and sounded great; your crews went above and beyond, and it showed. I would tag each of you individually, but you know who are. One huge shout out to Jim Seavy for just being a Rockstar. Accepted Perspective – Poster Art by Jimmy Rector for doing all the graphic work and making everything leading up to the festival look amazing! Lynne Maddox and Maddox Ranch in Lakeland, Fl. for letting us use there beautiful property! To all the musicians that poured their hearts out on stage to make this an unforgettable experience for everybody in attendance! If i missed anyone I’m sorry. I Love everyone of you so much and can’t wait to do it again next year!!

We damn sure don’t know what we’d do without you.

All photographs courtesy of Mandi Nulph except as noted.
Video of Melody Trucks Band courtesy of Jessica Demmers.