Fool’s Engagement Was a Blast! No Foolin’!

In the midst of the pandemic last fall, Get Laws’t Entertainment put together a festival of some of the very best Florida has to offer with the added injection of some Colorado magic. At the turn of the new year, Get Laws’t put together a three-night run with an all-star cast from bands such as The String Cheese Incident, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, Goose, and The Heavy Pets, fronted by dynamo Jessica Jones.

What would Tom Laws, Clint McLellan, and his Get Laws’t team (including mom!) do for an encore? They scheduled another inaugural event, this one beginning April Fool’s Day at a fabulous venue on the Santa Fe River in springs country, a beautiful park called Ellie Ray’s RV Resort. And they called it Fool’s Engagement Music & Arts Festival. (Yes, there’s a story behind the name, and, no, we’re not telling.)

Cass & Crew – Fool’s 04.03.21. 📷: Funk Eye Media

The event encompassed Thursday to Saturday, April 1-3. There was some concern that it might affect another event that we suspected was coming at the time Fool’s was announced, the second Suwannee Rising Music & Arts Festival at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, which was later announced as April 8-10. Given that Rising sold out BEFORE tickets officially went on sale (and led the Rising crew to add a second event April 16-17), it demonstrated that there was room for both and a need for a third. In fact, quite a number of Fool’s attendees also went to Suwannee Rising. Attendance at Fool’s was capped at 1500; there were 2300 at Suwannee Rising.

The dog who brought his toy to you to throw! – Fool’s Engagement. 📷: Funk Eye Media

Was Fool’s Engagement perfect? No, but few events of these sorts can be. There were sound problems on the River Stage, and for several of the most popular shows, there was no social distancing in front of the main stage, and few patrons wore masks in those clumps. However, there was never any difficulty keeping your distance from crowds, so that became a personal choice. The festival had promoted safety, but there was little to prevent that other than appealing to the community conscience, which did work the vast majority of the time.

Fool’s Engagement. 📷: Courtney Scout

Ellie Ray’s had a few cabins available, lots of RV spaces (there were NOT sold out), and lots of camping space. The two stages were a bit of a walk apart (there was also a small VIP stage near the park’s restaurant, bar, pool, and hot tub). 

Music alternated between the River Stage and the VIP Stage, which were back to back. In general, the main Jester Stage had music when the VIP Stage did, but there was certainly overlap between River and Jester on occasion. There were 52 sets of music scheduled over the three days, and you could have — in theory — seen a bit of every set, assuming you were trying to run yourself into the ground. I attempted that myself, hitting 37 sets at least for a time and heard three others while not actually at the stage. This regimen is not recommended. Our review is based on my insanity; your mileage WILL vary.

Fool’s Engagement 04.01.21. 📷: Courtney Scout

 

THURSDAY

A late arrival meant we missed the opening set by the Savi Fernandez Band, who would play again later in the day.

From our cabin, we could hear the River Stage easily, and while setting up we were treated to a fine set by Grindstone Sinners from Jacksonville, who have really upped their game. Their set was familiar to those who’ve seen guitarist Jay Umlauf, vocalist Ashyln Weidemiller, and the band string together some fine original tunes and delightful covers. Jessica Jones also sang a tune with them!

[Grindstone Sinners: Changes > Midnight Hour > Crossroads > What Do You See?, Hard To Handle > Back To Shenandoah > Hot ’Lanta > Life Can Be A Breeze > Les Brers in A Minor, Love Me Now]

We checked in with SIDE TRAKD briefly at the Jester Stage, a DJ set that was enjoyable but not riveting.

We went back to the VIP Stage to catch Legacy, aka Sean Maloney, doing his “solo” set with guitarists Colin Christopher (Joy Wagon) and Dennis Stadleman (CopE). Legacy debuted new song “Slinga” and covered “I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song)” from the Disney movie The Jungle Book.

I’m not a huge fan of VIP stages usually; fortunately, people without VIP wristbands could sit at the pool immediately next to the stage or stand just outside the fence and be able to see and hear the music perfectly.

Bonnie Blue, another excellent Jax band, threw down a great rockin’ set stuffed with great originals and four inspired covers. Guitarists Willis Gore and Bradley Churchman and keyboardist John Wilson all took lead vocals throughout the set, and Churchman and Gore do that twin guitar thing so well. Adam Kenneway smashed a great bass solo during “Beggar’s Ride,” and Jay Umlauf of Grindstone Sinners jumped up on guitar for the last two songs. Willis Gore is my favorite Florida shredder. The final tune, a cover of Hot Chocolate’s “Every 1’s a Winner,” featured sinner Jessica Jones, getting warmed up for her upcoming set. 

Fun note: Bonnie Blue also covered “Don’t Do It,” the song made famous by The Band. I had no idea it was an old Marvin Gaye tune penned by the great songwriting team of Holland, Dozier & Holland.

[Bonnie Blue: Best Friends > Don’t Do It, Breakthrough, Blood for Gold > Disco (WSP) > Blood for Gold, Beggar’s Ride, Jessica (ABB), Gypsy Woman (w/ Jay Umlauf), Everyone’s a Winner (w/ Umlauf & Jessica Jones)]

Legacy Orchestra Collective was up next, with three-fourths of CopE plus Caleb Bone of The Reality on bass, getting deep into the fun immediately with “It Ain’t Right.”

[LOC: It Ain’t Right, Walkin’, Bee Miner, Monkeys, Afterthought, Feet]

From there, we flitted back to the Jester Stage to catch Future Joy, a project new to us, and we were delighted at the portion of the set we saw. They self-describe as “eclectic original electronic music with a taste of sax and soul.” Emily Cooper sang and did production; he played baritone sax. They were joined by a fine violin player. Eclectic is accurate!

Jessica Jones made herself known to Florida last summer with a couple of shows with Dave Watts & Friends and again at Monster Mash in October, then discovered she rather liked it here, playing numerous shows in the Jacksonville area and beyond, including a three-night Women’s Empowerment Tour for Get Laws’t and a massive NYE event. She rocked Fool’s Engagement. 

The Jessica Jones Project featured: Joe Marcinek, guitar; Jay Umlauf, guitar); Shane Platten (Melody Trucks Band), bass; Shaun Taunton (MTB), drums; Jason Hann (The String Cheese Incident), percussion; Tommy Shugart, Hammond B3; Chris Sgammato, alto sax; Juanjamon (CopE), tenor sax; Emily Cooper, vocals; Future Joy man, baritone sax; Este Loves, vocals; and Ashlyn Weidemiller (Grindstone Sinners), vocals.

When you start with The Commodores’ “Slippery When Wet,” you know this is going to be killer. Jones was in complete command all night! Marcinek sounded phenomenal on “What is Hip?” Umlauf soloed on “Medicated Goo,” and Juanjamon and the bari player locked horns, so to speak. there was some nastiness with Platten, Taunton, and Hann, then with Platten on space bass and great vocalese. Weidemiller took lead vocal on the Heart tune. That set was built for Jones, and Jones was built for that set.

[JJP: Slippery When Wet (The Commodores), What Is Hip? (TOP), Medicated Goo (Traffic), How Can I Get you Alone (Heart)]

The one band that just didn’t click for me was one I was most looking forward to hearing: Chachuba Live Band. Interestingly, several other people made the exact same remark. We were looking for something amazing; their set was simply not compelling until near the end.

We also missed Rohan Solo.

Rohan Solo – Fool’s 04.01.21. 📷: Courtney Scout

The Joe Marcinek Band for his set featured: Marcinek, guitar, vocals; Jason Hann, drums; Tommy Shugart, Hammond B3; Chris Sgammato, alto sax; and Juanjamon (CopE), tenor sax. They had a great set of originals. “Doggone Blues Again” highlighted Shugart killin’ on B3 as Platten laid down some nasty walking blues, and they closed with a fun cover of the EW&F tune “Fantasy.”

[JMB: D-O-G (Drums Organ Guitar), Reciprocity, Lagniappe, The Cooldown, Doggone Blues Again, Bulldogs, Fantasy (Earth, Wind, and Fire)]

We were intent on hearing Savi Fernandez and did not get to see Russ Liquid, whom we’ve heard before.

Fernandez has always had great players with him, but this is the band best suited to his music — the right band for him. The organ player was superb on “Opportunity,” which led to a fun “Ghost Busters” tease. There was another medley that incorporated a dynamite version of “Thriller.” The entire set was rock solid with that heavy reggae vibe. Also, Fernandez got flashed by some chick with a SFB shirt on!

CopE continued their genre-morphing ways. Known primarily as a jam band, at Monster Mash and on New Year’s Eve they demonstrated that they are now also a funk band and a prog band, and they whipped out another monster set, this time all of four songs long (they played five at Monster Mash), owing in large part to technical difficulties on the River Stage delaying the band’s start by 35 minutes. Dennis Stadelman (guitar), Kenny Stadelman (bass), Juanjamon (tenor sax, keyboards), and Dave Gerulat (drums) kicked ass. All of them sing, too.

[CopE: Going Home, What Goes Up, 

Everyone has favorite sets from the festival, of course, but two were mentioned many times: Doom Flamingo on Friday, and Thursday’s headliners SunSquabi. This might have been the best jamtronic set I’ve ever heard, certainly outrageously spectacular. The set was positively relentless; the pace was frenzied and wonderful and magical and… well, feel free to add a couple more adjectives. Josh Fairman, Kevin Donohue, and Chris Anderson had us all mesmerized. Simply incredible, and Jason Hann sat in for part of the set. This set WAS most definitely RIVETING!

[SunSquabi: Deluxe, Pablito > Jam > Lito, Reptile, Just A Little, Hustlin’, SquabCat, Zapp > Pangolin, Sticky, Anytime, Odyssey, -Jason Hann On Stage-Fisher Cat > improv > reprise,Top Down, Tequila, -Jason out-, Motion Transfer, Scorpion, SteamCat,  Hornet]

Mind already blown, we headed back to the River Stage for Prophet Massive, the DJ project of the aforementioned Jason Hann. Technical difficulties again delayed the set, this time by 20 minutes. Hann plays bass music similar to his EOTO project with Michael Travis, his drummer partner in SCI. We stayed for a while, but it was chilly. I have no idea whether Chachuba Live Band played their 2 a.m. set.

 

FRIDAY

Rusty Shine got the day off to a nice twangy start with a mix of originals and covers, most notably “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way?”

Loopers come in all shapes, sizes, and descriptions. I’ve never heard one I like more than Matt Henderson. I caught his loop set at Monster Mash and was blown away. This one was better. You’d swear there was an entire band up there with him, and it is a blast watching him throw down the bass and percussion. He is also an excellent guitarist. The last two songs in particular were outstanding: “Warrior” and “Gonna Be Alright.” (He also has a reggae band called Danka.) He shared this:

I remixed some Danka lyrics to some improv dubs as well. I told an on-the-spot (freestyle) story referencing the Menendez brothers or the sentiments of taking everything for granted. My set was influenced by listening to people at my camp. I was really irritated that morning because of all the fake philosophers at 7 a.m. Me: “y’all… we do need money. How did you buy those drugs?”  LOL. Stuck to more reggae because it was an afternoon set.

Matt Henderson – Fool’s 04.02.21. 📷: Funk Eye Media

BlackSheep Troubadour was playing the ViP stage, and he was bum-rushed by those wild and crazy Free Range Strange kids, making for a LOT of fun!

The River Stage simply exploded with a massive Tropico Blvd set, best we’ve ever heard from them. Miguel Lantigua and Audrey Short (both guitar and vocals) led the band through an outstanding set of music. They truly raised their profile with this show. “Drunk Uncle” was blazing hot. During “Haterz,” MC Nook came up to rap. Then Sgammato, the unofficial artist at large for the weekend, jumped up. He was joined by Tropico’s Cody Moore (who also plays in Anthill Cinema and The Hip Abduction), and they went toe to toe. This was the best saxophone outing contest I’ve ever witnessed, a real jazz delight. Dan Gaily (bass) and Adam Mann (drums) also took a killer duet.

[Tropico Blvd: Jolly Roger, Drunk Uncle, The Blvd, Spark, Wolf, Haterz, Dave, Tigerbomb, Bloom, The Rails]

I truly regretted missing the outstanding Daniel Heitz Band on the Jester Stage; I have an uncontrollable magnetic attraction to Guavatron, one of the best jamtronic bands anywhere. They played two sets Friday. This first one was on the VIP Stage, and it was as awesome a set as I’ve ever heard from them, opening with a 20-minute “Nowhere Fast.” Artist-at-Large Jackson Weldon, formerly with Dr. Bacon, sat in on lap steel for “Awake” and helped tear the roof off that sucker. And even that paled when Michael Nivens of Ajeva joined Adonis Guava on guitar for a simply stunning “De Funke” (Seriously! What “de funke”?). It was brilliant, with a huge bass solo from Conor Crookham.

 [Guavatron: Nowhere Fast, Gustavo, Awake, De Funke]

Similar to CopE and The Reality, at Monster Mash Ben Strok & the Full Electric expanded their horizons into prog rock and jamtronica, and here they continued on that magical path with another superb set. They also hit a fine Latin groove during “Constellation” and just blew us over the entire set, Strok in command. Keyboard player Max Zargon is always a blast to hear, and the recently acquired rhythm section of Aaron Webb and Brandon Howell demonstrated again their great chops. 

Breaking news: Strok has changed the name of the band to Wigeon. Write that down. You’ll be hearing a LOT more from Wigeon!

[BS&tFE: Jumbld Jim, Constellation, I Feel Alive (Again), Truth is a Mountain,  Retumbo, Terrarium, Roll with the Changes (REO Speedwagon), When You See, Let Me Fade, I Feel Alive (Again)]

Kick the Cat was a band unfamiliar to almost everyone there, but for sure we knew Kris Myers, drummer for Umphrey’s McGee. KTC is a great funk fusion quartet. At one point, a song began with a fine bass intro by Chris Clemente, who then played lead on bass. “Breakfast with the Visigoths” featured some stunning guitar work from Chris Siebold and then a great drum workout by Myers. Vijay Tellis-Nayak was highlighted on keyboards on the closing “Squirt,” which ended in magnificent power trio form.

[Kick the Cat: Ow! My Eye!, Waz Up, Adolfo’s Dilemma, Hair Brain, Hope Against Hope, Alt De Facto, Hear You Can See, Breakfast with the Visigoths, Squirt]

There was more great fusion with Electric Kif from South Florida. This band is on fire, and they blasted out a set of tunes from their recent albums Jefe and Heist and also their latest single, “Marrakush.” The great set was driven by Rodrigo Zambrano on bass and Armando Lopez on drums.

[Electric Kif: Digoisms, Tastemaker, River People, St. Germain, Marrakush, King Paimon, Radio, Knives Out, Lab Rats, Landing]

With all of the stage-hopping and dinner, we missed both Glass Camels sets at VIP.

Truth be told, we were gearing up for the awesomeness about to unfold with Doom Flamingo, the Charleston band led by Ryan Stasik of Umphrey’s McGee and fronted by the magnificent Kanika Moore.Their set was a masterpiece, some soul, some R&B, some rock, and some wicked prog metal. “Push Comes to Shove” smoked early, and they closed the amazing set with “I Got My Mind Made Up” and the stunning “Blade.” By this time, Moore had made an outfit change and went to her knees mid-song, whipping her hair around, so superbly theatrical. On some recordings, tenor saxophone player is in the background, but he was front and center this show. 

Guavatron moved from VIP to River for their second set, working on reimagining some of their familiar tunes such as “Ray Gun” and “Xilla.” In typical Guava fashion, this was one continuous set of jams. 

[Guavatron: Ray Gun > Xilla > Mechanical Tropical Fruit Monster > Disco Shades > Grit > Ray Gun]

Ghost-Note. DAMN! Their stop-on-a-dime ability to halt, change direction, just pause for a beat, whatever, is breath-taking. Robert ‘Sput’ Searight and troops BLISTERED an amazing set of jaw-dropping music. MonoNeon is the real deal and killed both nights on bass (and those outfits of his!). Dominique Xavier Taplin danced over his keyboards, and the mighty duo of Jonathan Mones (alto sax) and Bryant Patterson were brilliant.

You cannot do everything. We missed the Juanja-Jam led by Juanjamon, and I am positive he rocked it as always.

Juanjamon – Fool’s Engagement. 📷: Courtney Scout

DJ Williams plays guitar in Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe. This was DJ Williams’ Shots Fired, a new project of his performing great originals and two choice covers. “Dusty Fingers” was simply awesome, and Jessica Jones jumped up to wail on “Black Hole Sun.” Chris Sgammato guested at some point as they twisted the current song into “Pure Imagination.” There were sound difficulties — again on the River Stage — and in the middle of “Power of Soul,” they lost power (that, Alanis, is irony).

[Shots Fired: ’91 Breaks, Woman, Dusty Fingers, Black Hole Sun (w/ Jessica Jones), Grove Avenue, Heart Shaped Box, Gimme A Minute, Power of Soul]

DJ Williams – Fool’s 04.02.21. 📷: Funk Eye Media

The Jester Jam featured MonoNeon (Ghost-Note) on bass, Kris Myers (UM) on drums, Joe Marcinek on guitar, Dominique Xavier Taplin (Ghost-Note) on keyboards, Jason Hann (SCI) on percussion, and Miss Jessica Jones on vocals extraordinaire! Early on, they tore through Marcinek’s signature tune “George Washington,” with outstanding guitar from Marcinek, leading to a massive bass, drums, and percussion explosion. At some point the xaxophone dude from Future Joy, Sgammato, and trombone from Ghost-Note formed a unit. They sure sounded good on EW&F’s “Can’t Hide Love,” sung by Emily of Future Joy. Appropriately, they closed with “Standing On the Verge of Getting It On”! What a blast-from-the-past set!

[Jester Jam: George Washington, Happy Birthday, Love Slip Upon Ya (The Meters), Can’t Hide Love (EW&F), Car Wash (Rose Royce), You Haven’t Done Nothin’ (Stevie Wonder), Standing on the Verge of Getting It On (Funkadelic)]

Ajeva drew the late-night slot, and it was, shall we say, again quite nippy (OK, it was downright cold for April in Florida!). Nonetheless, the St. Petersburg collective (Gulfport?) let nothing get in the way of crushing their set, coming out blazing with “Off the Mountain” and then fan favorite “Funky Green Men.” Ajeva have “evolved” into a powerful funky rock band, anchored by Taylor Gilchrist on bass and Travis ‘Too Tall’ Young, with great vocals from Reed . 

[Ajeva: Off the Mountain, Funky Green Men, DWGD, Mo Town, New shiz, Get Up, Sex Machine, MOM, Try to Release, Greasy, You Can Too, Truthfish, 745]

 

SATURDAY

The day began with a nice discovery, Dirty Bird & the Flu from Alabama. They were equal parts jazz, funk, and blues, with rock insinuating itself here and there. Juanjamon joined their tenor player for a great duo, and they did justice to jazz funk standard “The Chicken.” Another enjoyable offering was “Got to Give My Baby What She Wants.”

Stephen Pigman Variations was Stephen Pigman looping with a set full of Americana, blues, and rock. The day was starting with great promise.

Another true Fool’s delight was the performance of Tand, yet another band that has reinvented itself with more shining facets to their music. I’ve always been a fan, but this set was several quantum levels up, as they bit into some superb prog rock and then deep funk. Taylor Godsey, guitar; Peter Krause, bass; Ali Nassar, drums; and Daryl Wolff, keyboards (but no key-tar!) muscled through a truly fine show.

[Tand: Public Fool, Swim, Opposite Attraction, Fast Money, Time To Pretend* (MGMT), Papercut (w/ Chris Sgamatto)] 

Free Range Strange was back for unscheduled performance number two, this time with Ni Lu on bass. The word that describes a FSR set is fun, because you cannot listen and not have fun. Tim Ber, Sunnie Rae Click, and the band were augmented by Dennis Stadelman, Stephanie Perez, and Jackson Weldon. WOW!

Tina Praino dancing to Free Range Strange – Fool’s 04.03.21.

Meanwhile, Leisure Chief from Orlando has settled in on some chill down-tempo jazz amidst their fusion, and it works well. This was our first time seeing them out since the release of new album Cosmic Comics. There was a long but excellent soundcheck, first with a funky jazz jam, then the first single from the new album titled “Saturday,” drummer Derek Engstrom handling the vocals. Christian Ryan played soprano sax (my favorite of his myriad woodwind toys). They roared out officially with great fusion in “Space Taco.” 

[Leisure Chief: Space Taco, Bedroom, latin-y?, Bang Bang, Starlight, What Do You Know About passion, ?]

The Joe Marcinek Band for Saturday featured Tony Hall (Dumpstaphunk), bass and vocals; Tommy Shugart, Hammond B3; Jonathan Mones (Ghost-Note), alto sax; Jason Hann, percussion; and Deven Trusclair (Dumpstaphunk), drums. Marcinek jumped immediately on five tracks from his upcoming album JM4, beginning with “Lyrid” and his new smash (seriously) “Dance Factory.” “JF Blues” wasn’t smoking; that one burst into flames! 

Marcinek loves playing with Hall, who is on the new album, and he asked Hall to sing “Dreams.” Man, did he ever! And he crushed on bass. In the midst of all that, Sgammato and Juanjamon ripped through a super sax duet on alto and tenor, respectively. The highlight of the set came with the last tune of the set, “Supreme,” another new track. Hall took a magical solo, and then Marcinek called up Stephanie Perez.

Perez has been on the Tampa Bay scene for several years, always impressive, always working hard on guitar. I’ve just never been deeply moved by her playing before. Until that moment. Because she TORE. IT. UP. Brava, Stephanie!

Stephanie Perez – Fool’s Engagement. 📷: Courtney Scout

[JMB: Lyrid, Dance Factory, Yes!, Sweet Sweet, JF Blues, Dreams, Supreme]

The Headtones from St. Petersburg seemed to emerge about two years ago and have a great sound. This might be the best set I’ve heard from them, really solid.

Joy Wagon had the first of its two sets early on the VIP Stage. The trio were joined on “Told You” by Roddy Hansen (Guavatron) and Michael Nivens (Ajeva). There was a Pokemon Gym tease in “Freaker by the Speaker,” and they attacked Pink Floyd’s “Breathe” reggae-style and “Cocaine” as a bluegrass tune. Lots of fun!

[JW1: Pulse, Told You*, Freaker by the Speaker, Breathe > Metal Jam > Cocaine, Psycho Killer > Ain’t No Sunshine]

Even vegetarians and vegans love bacon… when it’s Dr. Bacon! Those Asheville boys just ain’t right, if you get my drift. They sounded so damn good bringing that Carolina madness to Fool’s. They too have upped their game and rocked their entire set. As jam fans are accustomed, Dr. Bacon lost one great player to Florida (Jackson Weldon) and gained one great player from Florida (Rory Joseph, formerly of Custard Pie). Joseph was on fire with his new bandmates. Weldon sat in for three tunes on slide guitar and lap steel, and Sgammato guested on “Mati.” Myles Dunder was a beast on bari sax on “Chili Dog,” and the band let “Overtime” slowly devolve into nothingness to end a fine set. Got a handkerin’ for more Bacon!

[Dr. Bacon: Whaler, Wake Up!, She Needs, Maybe Maybe, Pancakes, Music My Soul, Mati, Chili Dog, Peculiar, Cobra, Kreature, Overtime]

Myles Dunder – Dr. Bacon – Fool’s 04.03.21. 📷: Courtney Scout

Row Jomah had a fine little VIP set, as Joe Roma and the boys Gave us “Windowpanes,” “Shudder,” and the awesome Western intro to “Tell Me,” with Mel Walsh on guitar.

Like CopE and like Ben Strok & the Full Electric (I mean Wigeon!), The Reality reinvented themselves at Monster Mash, showing more facets than ever before. This set… was monstrous, even better. This is personal, because these are our children, so to speak, and they were simply stunning. Dan Jones, Caleb Bone, BA Jones, and Josh Kim have worked hard to elevate them selves to the next level (or two), and it shows. That was some titanic funk right there.

[The Reality: Wanna See You Dance > Alcohol > Thunder and Blazes > Sweet Tooth > Lil Diddy > Multiplayer, Where is Lucy, Billie Jean > Space Jam > Everybody Dance Now > Space Jam, All My Time]

Ghost-Note. Night two matched night one. they threw out a fine “Take Me to the River” and some great funk on “Make Your Mama Happy” (never a bad idea, by the way). They were so tight! Artist-at-large Jason Hann joined on percussion for the finale.

Yes, Ghost-Note had just finished, and Dumpstaphunk would be up next, but there too few people during the break back at the River Stage to appreciate the incredible Legendary JC’s, led by ageless Eugene Snowden. Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, Lee Fields — all fine soul belters leading smoking-hot bands. They’ve got nothing on Snowden and Co. 

From the opening notes of “Lifted” through great medleys and “Save Me,” the band roared, with Snowden as usual calling audibles and redirecting traffic as the mood struck. Katie Burkess (vocals) is still a goddess, and the usual suspects such as ribs master Clay Watson (trombone) and Roland Simmonds (guitar) helped the music shine. Do yourself a favor. Next time the JC’s are playing in your area, get off your ass and jam. You can thank me later.

You KNOW you’re living right after a magnificent weekend of music when Dumpstaphunk hits the stage with your favorite song, “I Wish You Would” (and I’m glad they did!). They wailed on “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” Hall huge on bass along with Nick Daniels. Alex Wasily on trombone and Ryan Nyther on trumpet both had great solos. Ivan Neville gave his clavinet a workout on “The Gasman, and Ian Neville on guitar is always fine.

We knew it was coming, but even so there was no way to prepare for the massiveness of Ghost-Phunk, as all of Ghost-Note joined all of Dumpstaphunk on stage! The setlist speaks for itself. Fortunately, there is video evidence thanks to Josh Cable!

 [Ghost-Phunk: Soul Vaccination, Up for the Down Stroke, Flashlight]

Fool’s Engagement would come to an end, but not before Joy Wagon played their most amazing set of music ever, even though it was cut short by half an hour (the River Stage was truly understaffed; they needed more help). The soundcheck was really good, and keyboard player Mikey Guzman (Holey Miss Moley) was able to make this set. The first song pairing, “Get Down > Inertia,” was an honest-to-goodness masterpiece, performed to perfection, even to battered ears and tired brain. It was trance-dance magic, Colin Christopher a joy to behold.

Leroy Sly (vocals) and Dennis Stadelman (guitar) helped out on “Comatose,” and Michael Nivens guested on “I Want You.” He stayed up for “Just Drive > Nebula,” joined by Weldon. This was an all-original set of music, so well played. And Sgammato made his 89th appearance (probably a low estimate), blowing it all out on “No Use.”

 

Kudos to Get Laws’t Entertainment, Tom Laws, Clint McLellan, Mom Laws, all the folks who run Ellie Ray’s RV Resort, the vendors, the massive crew, the bands, the magicians, the acrobats, the fire breathers and twirlers, and just everybody who made the weekend so spectacular, and that includes you!

Get Laws’t! – Fool’s Engagement. 📷: Funk Eye Media

Let’s hope Get Laws’t continues to bring us music, and let’s hope we didn’t wear out our welcome at Ellie Ray’s. That place is built for festivals!

 

[If we did not have photos of your band at Fool’s, send them to Scott Hopkins. I’ll add ’em.]

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