Purple Hatter’s Ball Announces Initial Lineup for Early June Festival
The Purple Hatter’s Ball makes its tenth appearance June 2-4 at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SoSMP) in Live Oak, and Purple Hat Productions has just announced phase one of the lineup with the first twenty bands and musicians scheduled, with lots more to come.
The three-day music festival benefits The Rachel Morningstar Foundation (a nonprofit 501c3 organization) in honor of longtime SoSMP friend and music festival lover Rachel Morningstar Hoffman. You will forgive us if we recycle this explanation about Rachel; it is difficult to write about but extremely important to discuss:
The magnificent Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park plays host annually to a dozen music festivals and one hundred plus other events. The festivals in particular have their own focus, vibe, aura. You can find weekends full of country, bluegrass, rock, jam, funk and more. Each has its own feel and story.
None is more diverse nor has a more remarkable story than the Purple Hatter’s Ball. The musical diversity is amazing, from jamtronic rock to funk to bluegrass to performance art to jazz to soul to… But it’s the story of the Purple Hatter’s Ball that makes it unique, truly in a class of its own.
Rachel Morningstar Hoffman loved going to festivals at SoSMP such as Bear Creek. She was easily identifiable with her big fluffy purple hat, loving life, music and the festival vibe. You might not know her name, but you do know her story. For a minor drug offense, she was conscripted by the Tallahassee police to work as a confidential informant. During the course of a blown drug sting that would have embarrassed the Keystone Kops, she was brutally murdered.
In the process of trying to establish a law that would prevent future misfeasance on the part of police, her parents set up a festival to raise funds and to celebrate Rachel’s far-too-short 23-year life. Thus the Purple Hatter’s Ball was born, and it continues to fund the Morningstar Foundation, which is why you see her name at the top of the festival website. Rachel’s Law did come into being, and now festival organizers such as Paul Levine hope that the law will be adopted throughout the nation and be strengthened here in Florida.
So we celebrate her life in music, art, performance, brotherhood/sisterhood and good times. This year’s collection of talent will certainly be a wonderful celebration. The aforementioned musical diversity can be examined most easily by looking at the top of the bill: Dubconscious, Emancipator and Perpetual Groove.
We’ll get to the music in a moment, but there is so very much more going on at the music park: live art, yoga, workshops and a silent auction, as well as a Charity Disc Golf Tournament hosted by Zach Deputy. Since Rachel was an aspiring chef, PHB will be adding a culinary component for 2017 featuring food from several top notch chefs that will be announced at a later date.
The most memorable moment of the weekend is when Rachel’s loving mother, Margie Weiss (aka Mama Margie), leads an emotional ceremony celebrating her daughter’s memory. Each year, they release 24 monarch butterflies – 23 to represent Rachel’s age when she was taken from this world and one for her spirit that lives on.
Now about that music.
PHB 2017 will utilize three stages, including the famed Amphitheater Stage, the Uncle Charles Porch Stage, and the Beach Stage overlooking the Suwannee River (swimming and music? Absolutely) for daytime sets.
This festival has always featured lots of electronica/jamtronica, and this year is no exception. Headlining the fest is Emancipator, bringing organic livetronica from Portland OR. Joining him in this genre are live electronica trio The Malah, twin producer–duo MZG, electro-fusion jam from Lucidea, and the one and only Vlad the Inhaler. Add to all of that a new live electronic music project from New Orleans, The Russ Liquid Test. The quartet have signed with GRiZ’s All Good Records.
You can count on the conscious world-reggae sounds of DubConscious, Rachel’s favorite group. It will be great to see Perpetual Groove back at the park after some time away; this Athens quartet jams some killer prog rock. Zach Deputy has elevated the one-man-band concept to perfection, his island grooves sure to keep everyone dancing.
There are few musicians more revered or loved at SoSMP than Roosevelt Collier; there is no better pedal steel player on the planet (or exoplanet, for that matter). Harp master Isaac Corbitt is the first artist at large announced, so expect to see him everywhere.
Some of Florida’s greatest talent will also be on glorious display. We certainly welcome back the soulful gospel-tinged sounds of the Parker Urban Band, back from maternity leave (and congratulations to Juanita and John Parkerurban!). Lucky Costello belongs in that previous discussion about superb live jamtronica and funk. Hip hop will flow from Universal Green. All three bands are from Jacksonville.
From St. Petersburg comes some deep, wicked funk from The Juanjamon Band, a quintet that will grab you and not let go. Flat Land’s brand of “ethereal funk fusion” is equally irresistible; the Gainesville group has been touring and playing far and wide, celebrating last year’s outstanding Arrow to the Sun.
From Tallahassee comes full-frontal punk-infused reggae and ska from Trial by Stone with two badass trombone players. And then you have North Florida Sex Rock, courtesy (maybe not the right word) from Catfish Alliance.
One of Tallahassee’s brightest lights just went out with the passing of Scott Campbell, who was a PHB regular and a godfather of the local music scene. Dead Keys will present a tribute to Campbell; don’t miss this one. And Alabama singer-songwriter Albert Simpson rounds out the initial lineup.
And you know there is a lot more to come!