The man-baby shower (and Wanee 2015 review)

When your tent looks like this, it's time to go home.






















By Jarrett Bellini | @JarrettBellini
Apparently This Matters: The Column

Live Oak, FL -- "This morning I found five empty water bottles and only one beer can. We're getting old."


Ryan was concerned with our apparent lack of commitment. Our campsite at Wanee Festival looked more like the end of a marathon rather than the start of a bender.

Real benders don't include sensible hydration.

This was Ryan's man-baby shower. Which is just like a normal baby shower, but instead of showering the father-to-be with gifts, we spent three days in the woods, ironically, not showering at all.

(Note: I'm conflicted as to whether or not my newly-coined term "man-baby shower" requires a hyphen. Seems lacking, visually, without one. But, hyphenating "man-baby" sort of sounds like we're giving Danny DeVito a sponge bath.)

Anyway, this was just our little weekend away to drink beer, eat terrible food, and create an increasingly unsurvivable ecosystem within our tent. By day three it smelled like we were camping with a decomposing drifter.

But, just outside the nylon walls of our Bad Decision Biodome, we talked about life. The future. And parenting. 

Specifically, at what age is it appropriate to start teaching your son to play Golden Tee.

(Six weeks seems about right.)

Widespread Panic headlined both nights of this year's festival.






















Wanee has become sort of a yearly tradition for us, getting away from the hectic city life in Atlanta for three nights of live music under a north Florida moon. Which is just like a regular moon, but registered as a sex offender.

For its first nine years, Wanee was hosted by the Allman Brothers Band. It was their big annual gathering, and they always headlined Friday and Saturday nights.

But, now, there is no Allman Brothers Band. After 45 years, they played their last show on October 28th, 2014. 

I was not consulted on this decision. 

The 2015 festival - Wanee's tenth anniversary - was, instead, headlined by Widespread Panic. Which is what ultimately brought Ryan and I back for another year.

Besides, we just had to. The older you get - and the more ominous the weather forecast - the easier it is to make excuses. Certainly, staying home on the sofa all weekend without pants is the path of least resistance, even when that path leads to fun.

But sometimes you just have to pack up the car, brave the weather, and rough it - especially when there's a kid on the way. Because it certainly doesn't get any easier.

So we set out once again for the Spirit of The Suwannee Music Park. And it was worth it. Mostly.

Gregg Allman looked and sounded healthy this year, playing as a solo artist.





















Despite some incredible music over the weekend, this year's festival just wasn't the same without the Allman Brothers. They bring a certain sense of ownership and history that makes Wanee special. Even the time they basically had to wheel out Gregg's ailing corpse. 

(I'm pretty sure he only looked at his Hammond organ that year, maybe counted off "Statesboro Blues," and then nodded off into a fishing dream.)

So, not having the Allmans definitely sapped a certain something from the weekend. But we got over it. Beer helped.

So did the fact that Widespread Panic admirably carried the headlining torch. And, for what it's worth, Duane Trucks, still sitting in on drums for Todd Nance (who is on a personal hiatus from Widespread, presumably chain-smoking Winstons outside a Denny's), gave the marquee 9pm to midnight set at least a faint connection to the Allmans. 

Duane is the nephew of original Allman Brothers drummer, Butch Trucks. He's also the younger brother of former Allman Brother guitarist, Derek Trucks, who was absent from this year's festival. 

Derek, please see me after class.

Yonder Mountain String Band (sans Allie Kral) killed on the Mushroom Stage.






















I actually think Duane brings some great energy to Widespread Panic, and I even found myself honing in on his playing. In a good way. Hopefully Todd Nance will rejoin the band, but, until then, they've got the right man behind the drums.

Besides Widespread Panic, my other three major highlights from this year were Pink Talking Fish, Zappa Plays Zappa, and Yonder Mountain String Band.

Pink Talking Fish is a Pink Floyd/Talking Heads/Phish cover band who played the late night set on Thursday. Sure, it all sounds a little silly and gimmicky. And it is. But they were an absolute blast. No shame. Pink Talking Fish killed it.

Friday afternoon was my first time actually seeing Zappa Plays Zappa, and Dweezil blew me away, while playing his late father's old songs. Frank Zappa, of course, is a legend, so it's easy to overlook the musical talents of his son. 

But make no mistake, Dweezil destroyed the Mushroom Stage, and it might've actually been the best set of the weekend.

Dweezil Zappa (Zappa Plays Zappa) might've been the highlight set of the entire weekend.





















Saturday's top performance was Yonder Mountain String Band, who was without their fiddle player, Allie Kral. She was home with her family. But the gents played a really good set. And if you can't have fun singing along to a cover of Pure Prairie League's "Amie," you're just dead inside.

Or you're passed out on a hammock. Which seemed to be the case for a lot of people at the Mushroom Stage.

So, those were the highlights.

The lowlights were Ryan's snoring, our tent half-collapsing on the third night, the general lack of musical collaboration, and $40 worth of beer tickets that mysteriously vanished from my life.

Real benders don't include losing your beer tickets.

1 comment:

  1. I used to read your column on CNN and I was sad to see it disappear but I finally found it here! Granted, I didn't look too hard, but now I know where to go to read about random stuff! I have to admit, half the fun in the CNN column was reading the comments. Half of the people would not be regular readers and didn't appreciate the humor and instead commented about the journalistic merits of the article. The people that did read it regularly seemed to love it and there were good back and forth exchanges.
    I hope you can build that audience here.
    -El Guapo

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