Continuing our Summer Festival Preview, we move a bit further south to Ozark, Arkansas where Wakarusa will happen for the third time at Mulberry Mountain. The 2012 edition features a strong lineup with the likes of The Avett Brothers, Umphrey’s McGee, Primus, and the Royal Family Ball (Soulive and Lettuce). This is sure to be one of the better editions of the festival, particularly given the negative reviews of last year’s festival. With the kinks worked out, here is a daily preview of what to expect at this year’s Wakarusa Music Festival.
Can’t Miss: Railroad Earth
Warm up for the Weir, Robinson, Greene Acoustic Trio with a healthy 90 minutes of some New Jersey bluegrass. Wait, that didn’t exactly sound appealing. Let’s put it this way- Railroad Earth knows how to put on a show, and they will do just that before Bob Weir & Co. take the stage. Coming off their self-titled release in 2010, the New Jersey bluegrass band will bring their unique brand of bluegrass, sometimes called Progressive Bluegrass, to the South.
Don’t Sleep On: Rubblebucket
Hands down the most unique and often bizarre act you will see at Wakarusa this weekend, this Brooklyn indie band will blow your mind with their ability to create just about any sound in the musical universe. Made up of Alex Toth, Kalmia Traver, Craig Myers and more, Rubblebucket has been an up and comer for years, but they are ready to jump into the spotlight. Playing many of the big festivals this summer, Rubblebucket should be a household name come September. Catch them at the Revival Tent from 7:15-8:15 PM
Extra-Curricular: Tea Leaf Green
Nothing like a late night full of San Francisco jams. If you want to avoid the dubstep and DJ’s altogether, head over to the Revival Tent from 12:30-2:00 AM and you’ll be good to go. Tea Leaf Green has all of your rock and roll for this opening night of Wakarusa.
Can’t Miss: Royal Family Ball
The funk, the whole funk, and nothing but the funk. The Royal Family is here. The Royal Family, of course, is Soulive and Lettuce combined into one giant tidal wave of funk. The best part about this set is that you get two solid hours of beautiful, soulful jams. You can’t miss Eric Krasno and a host of guests, so check them out from 5:45-7:45 on the Main Stage.
Don’t Sleep On: Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
You know “Home”, and it’s a great song, but you need to see this band live. Not just for “Home”, but for their whole catalogue. The thoughtful process with which this band crafts a song is worthy of attention and praise. Their debut album Up From Below is still up there with some of the best debut albums of all time, and their upcoming record Here, due out on May 29th, is sure to be another notch on this young band’s belt. Be sure to check them out on the Main Stage from 8:15-9:15 PM before The Avett Brothers tear it down.
Extra-Curricular: Umphrey’s McGee
Late night Umphrey’s? Absolutely. I’m not going to type anything more, you know what you need to do. 12:15-2:00 AM at the Revival Tent. Be there.
Can’t Miss: The Travelin’ McCourys feat. Keller Williams
Along with the Umphrey’s McGee set, you should definitely get in the mood for a good time by checking out The Travelin’ McCourys with Keller Williams. Nothing is off limits with this bluegrass group, as everything from Keller originals, covers, and anything else under the sun could come out. Here is them playing the Grateful Dead’s “Friend of the Devil”, and be sure to park yourself at the Kum & Go Outpost from 6:00-7:30 before heading over to Umphrey’s McGee.
Don’t Sleep On: Gary Clark Jr.
I’m admittedly a huge Gary Clark Jr. fan. Something about the way he plays the guitar just sounds perfect to me. Coming off his latest release The Bright Lights EP, Clark and his band will have no shortage of rock and roll during the 75 minute set at the Revival Tent. Unless you’re a huge Fitz & The Tantrums fan, I’d suggest getting over to Gary Clark Jr. and experiencing some old school rock and roll to start your evening.
Extra-Curricular: Big Gigantic
The late night shows at this festival are just so money. Tea Leaf Green, Umphrey’s, and Big Gigantic? Forget it. Save your energy, because you’re going to need it to keep up with these two guys. Check out Dominic Lalli and Jeremy Salken as they bring their unique brand of electronic jazz to the Main Stage at 1 AM after Primus.
Can’t Miss: The Heavy Pets
As a native Floridian, I have to put The Heavy Pets on the list, right? Sure. Coming off their fourth album, Swim Out Past The Sun, the Florida based jam band is just hitting their stride. As we know with all jam bands, it’s tough to judge them off their studio albums, so I suggest you get over and check them out at Wakarusa on Sunday.
Don’t Sleep On: Keller Williams
I feel like a lot of people sleep on Keller’s solo show. They have that “been there, done that” mentality when it comes to his shows, but you have to realize that this guy evolves and reinvents himself nearly every year. This year, along with his collaborations with The Keels and McCourys, Keller has a more bass-oriented sound this year, which is sure to open an entire new realm of possibilities. The jams can get weird, and they will be fun, so don’t sleep on Keller this time around.
I’d really just advise you to get on the road early and head home, because you shouldn’t have to end your weekend with EOTO. In fact, I feel a little dirty ending this preview with EOTO, so I’ll give you another band you should see during this Wakarusa weekend: The Infamous Stringdusters > Hot Buttered Rum. A quality back to back on Sunday that might be the most fun two and a half hours of the festival. If I were you, I’d go dance to some Hot Buttered Rum and then hit the road. Close out Waka the right way!
And that’s Wakarusa! Stay tuned next week as we tackle a Bonnaroo preview. For those attending Summer Camp this weekend, enjoy!