Joni Bottari and Spiral Light at Florida’s Grateful Gathering

We are busy finishing up our review of Florida’s Grateful Gathering, which spread the vibes all over Lakeland November 17-20. However, we want to report on the two sets featuring Joni Bottari, because her other band, Brown Eyed Women, begin their four-night Florida run Thursday, December 1, at Underbelly in Jacksonville, then Tuffy’s Music Box & Lounge in Sanford, Terra Fermata in Stuart, and Crazy Uncle Mike’s in Boca Raton.

Brown Eyed Women are: Joni Bottari, lead guitar; Dana Carroll, bass; Caroline Killoh, keyboards, vocals; Katie Moore, guitar, vocals; Denise Parent, drums, lead vocals; and Jill Simmons, lead vocals.


Archivists Volke Mon and Peace Patti made an incredible effort to record ever set all weekend. We are happy to include Bottari’s two sets here on video! The outstanding photographs are courtesy of Mitch Levine!


Joni Bottari & Friends

The Saturday schedule (November 19) for Florida’s Grateful Gathering listed Joni Bottari & Friends at 2 p.m. Unfortunately, we didn’t arrive until 3 p.m. Fortunately, the schedule was backed up an hour, and Bottari and Friends were about to take the stage!

Joni Bottari & Friends – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

Bottari would later confide that she didn’t know anybody on stage with her when they began. During the set, she announced, “I didn’t have any friends; now I have LOTS of friends!”

Joni Bottari & Christian Walker – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

The set began with two members of Dead Set Florida, who helped anchor the entire weekend, most specially Christian Walker, the festival organizer, on bass and vocals. Mike Pandiscio was on guitar. Nick Landess of Spiral light was on keyboards and vocals. Pandiscio would assume the role of Bob Weir, rhythm guitarist. Drummer Cotter Ellis was part of the Scott Guberman-Zach Nugent conglomeration, playing three sets in three days using a different band name each day.

It took about ten seconds into “Bertha” to appreciate just how great a guitarist Bottari is. The band overcame a brief audio issue during “Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo” which did not detract from her fine solo. Landess had been taking the lead vocal, but Walker stepped up for  “Me and My Uncle,” a great read on the John Phillips song. Landess was superb on keyboards, and Walker is a monster on bass.

Nick Landess – Joni Bottari & Friends – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

Walker handed the bass to Josh Weinstein, the fourth member of the revolving crew with Guberman, Nugent, and Ellis. Landess sang “Dear Prudence” before a rollicking version of “Hey Pocky A-Way,” The Meters’ classic. Jeremy Zorn took the bass and sang “Feel Like a Stranger.” Bottari had told her new friends they should expect to sandwich “Eleanor Rigby” in the middle, a perfect suggestion, and they finished with the coda to “Feel Like a Stranger.”

Cotter Ellis & Josh Weinstein with Joni Bottari & Friends – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

[JONI BOTTARI: Bertha, Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo, Me and My Uncle, Dear Prudence, Hey Pocky A-Way, Feel Like a Stranger > Eleanor Rigby > Feel Like a Stranger coda]


Spiral Light

Because I had not done my homework, I didn’t realize that Bottari would be back for another whole set with her band Spiral Light after Dead Set Florida knocked out a great hour of music. W00T!


Spiral Light make their home on Florida’s east coast, with Bottari on lead guitar; Nick Landess on keyboards and vocals; Scott Costa on drums; and the indomitable Christian Walker sitting in on bass and vocals! John Hanrahan also sat in on drums.

Spiral Light – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

They opened with a dreamy “Eyes of the World,” Bottari and Landess in perfect sync. They kept it low-key through “Like a Bird.” (I would love to hear that paired up with “Cold Rain and Snow.”) Next up was a tune I didn’t not know, “My Brother Esau,” with the riveting lyrics wrapped around “Shadowboxing the apocalypse.”

Scott Costa & John Hanrahan – Spiral Light – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

They launched into the slowest and funkiest “Shakedown Street” imaginable, which picked up tempo as it rolled down the tracks. Bottari blew out a brilliant wah-wah guitar solo before the song morphed into “Another Brick in the Wall, Part 2,” everybody digging deep.

Joni Bottari – Spiral Light – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

It took them playing “Terrapin Station” for me to remember where the band gets its name:

Counting stars by candlelight
All are dim but one is bright
The spiral light of Venus
Rising first and shining best
On, from the northwest corner
Of a brand new crescent moon
While crickets and cicadas sing
A rare and different tune
Terrapin station

Christian Walker & Nick Landess – Spiral Light – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

“China Cat Sunflower” blossomed before the band explored around the segue to come into… “Mountain Jam”! After a brief exploration there, the band twisted the jam into… “I Know You Rider”! Landess was brilliant on piano here. Finally, they shut down the set with a nice take on “Stella Blue.”

Spiral Light – Florida’s Grateful Gathering. 📷: Mitch Levine

Two hours of Joni Bottari FTW!

[SPIRAL LIGHT 11.19.22: Eyes of the World, Like a Bird, My Brother Esau, Shakedown Street > Another Brick in the Wall Part 2, Terrapin Station, China Cat Sunflower > Mountain Jam > I Know You Rider, Stella Blue]




12/01  Underbelly | Jacksonville FL
12/02  Tuffy’s Music Box & Lounge | Sanford FL
12/03  Terra Fermata | Stuart FL
12/04  Crazy Uncle Mike’s | Boca Raton FL

Brown Eyed Women





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