It is hard to believe that it’s already the 5th year of the autumnal Bear Creek Music & Arts Festival, but time flies when you’re gettin’ funky. Seems like yesterday when the inaugural year was announced and then moved last minute to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, laying the ground work for what has become the funkiest way to close out festy season.

Of course, there are BC mainstays making their annual appearance(s) like Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe, the boys from across the pond, The New Mastersounds, NOLA elite Galactic and Dumpstaphunk, Royal Family’s Soulive and Lettuce (RAGE!), Royal Potato’s Skerik and Mike D and the Bear himself, Zach Deputy; but the BIG buzz this year involves the red-haired man behind the glasses and a lil band known as the Phish, Trey Anastasio, as he brings his rock septet to our hallowed ground. But I want to take this opportunity to point out some rarities and up-and-comers that you should think twice about before walking by as well as some of the special features of this year’s event.

Words by Matt Beck


First things first, here’s the schedule link with printable pdf at the bottom, and here’s the map link.


Food Drive for Suwannee Valley Food Bank – Bring 5 or more nonperishable food items to the festival office and receive a commemorative 2011 Stanley Mouse (longtime Grateful Dead image designer) designed festival poster.

Zach Deputy Charity Disc Golf Tournament – Join Zach Deputy as he hosts a charitable disc golf tournament on the fantastic 18-hole Magnolia Disc Golf Course on Saturday at 10am, and your $25 entry fee will benefit the Spirit of the Suwannee Kids Music Camp. For your $25 entry fee, you will be entered into the event and receive a commemorative Bear Creek disc. The 1st hole is right behind the General Store.


We will once again be set up somewhere central and convenient, most likely by the Campground Stage, providing you with sanitizer, sunscreen, bug spray, earplugs, good vibes and the best damn info around. So, keep an eye out and consider throwing your name on the email list (legibly please) if you’re not already on it. We will also be helping to coordinate the brand new camp ground recycledelic initiative…so pick up a bag and bring us all your sorted recyclable trash and make a huge difference in the impact by picking up while you party down!


Siblings Thomas and Olivia Wynn backed by Tim Turner, Matt Lapham and Rion Smith (who also comprise Orlando’s jazz-fusion outfit Shak Nasti) comprise one of the hottest rock bands outta Central Florida, Thomas Wynn & The Believers.

funkUs, led by venerable guitarist Dave Mann, have long been in the forefront of everything jam coming outta Orlando…including the semi-regular concert series, Jambando.

With a description like “high energy, live electro-funk and disco booty-jams, Boulder’s Juno What? Seems worth checking out. Here is a FREE copy of their album Shameless.

The Mississippi Delta’s next generation of groove is brought to you by Gravity A who mixes true New Orleans funk, tight drum n’ bass breaks and intoxicating trance. They also offer their new EP Renegade Masters for FREE here.

Born from the womb of Katrina in the foreign land of San Francisco, Honey Island Swamp Band focuses on great songs performed as a roots rock powerhouse from New Orleans creating unique Bayou Americana.


Breakestra is a band I’ve been dying to see for years but rarely leaves their native Los Angeles. Started as the house band for legendary L.A. lounge, The Breaks, by  Breakestra is an 8-piece funk orchestra that drops the serious breakbeats and has a two part mix tape out covering hip-hop beats. Catch them Friday at 9pm and Saturday at 11:30am on Uncle Charlie’s Porch Stage.

Yeah, Chali 2’na performed a highlight set from the mini side-stage perch last year, but I’m real excited for the Chali 2’na Band’s first appearance. I can’t find any info on who his band will be but given his history with the Royal Family, I’m sure they’ll be funky! Catch the Fish at 4:45pm on the Purple Hat Stage.

The Coup featuring Boots Riley is another hip-hop act but with a much harder twist. You jamsters and funkateers probably know Boots from his work with Galactic, but he’s been fronting this CA bay area powerhouse for nearly two decades. They don’t make east often so make sure to catch at least one of their two sets at 5:15pm on the Purple Hat Stage Thursday or 9:30pm in the SOS Music Hall on Friday.

Obviously Eric Krasno knows his way around SOS, but this is the first time his alter-ego KRAZ makes an appearance as he spends a DJ set in the Grooveshark Silent Disco at 11:30pm Friday.  His mix tape Funky President has been very well received, and you can download it for FREE here.

Dr. Lonnie Smith is “an authentic Master of the Hammond B3 organ. For over five decades he has furthered the sound of Jazz Organ, created a worldwide fan-base and revealed his musical talents on over seventy albums.” ‘Nuff said…catch the legend at 6:30pm on Thursday is the SOS Music Hall.

Zongo Junction and Turkuaz are Brooklyn’s hottest up-and-coming afro-beat funk bands. Nestled in the breeding ground that Daptone Records (Antibalas, Budos Band, Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings) has established, ya gotta figure there’s some players ripe for the national scene.


Bear Creek is well known for its wandering artists-at-large that spice up just about every set, but the sheer volume of this year’s roving circus is almost overwhelming. Check it out:

Guitarists Andrew Block (Russell Batiste, Mia Borders), Billy Iuso (Restless Natives), Will Bernard, Jamie McLean (formerly Dirty Dozen Brass Band) and last year’s MVP Roosevelt Collier (The Lee Boys);  organista Robert Walter (Greyboy Allstars, 20th Congress); Freekbass on da freaky bass; drummers Johnny Vidacovich (NOLA drum legend), Nikki Glaspie, Scott Messersmith (The Motet); sax legend Pee Wee Ellis (JBs, etc.), Shady Horns: Sam Kininger & Ryan Zoidis (Lettuce), sax monsters Skerik & Topaz and Jonathan Lloyd on trombone (Cadillac Jones); and vocalist Michelle Sarah.


I personally missed Rubblebucket last year but caught them over multiple sets at this year’s moe.down, and I couldn’t believe how serious this band is. Do yourself a favor.

Another band I found at moe.down was Orgone. They got the multiple set Saturday slot the year prior and, having never even heard of them, they blew me away. Very original dynamic high-energy yet soulful funk.

Not for nothing, but my musician friends couldn’t stop raving about Snarky Puppy’s performances last year. And, ya know, it takes one to know one.


Papadosio have the killer Thursday late-night set in the SOS Music Hall. Come by at midnight to find out why these guys are headlining their 3rd AURA Music Festival in March.

What the fuck is Zoogma you ask? Find out what all the kids are raving about at 5:30pm on the Purple Hat Stage!

Dopapod also performed last year, albeit semi-underground sets adjacent to Wormtown Trading Co.’s set-up; but the funktronic foursome make their official BC debut this year immediately following Trey…midnight on Saturday in the SOS Music Hall.

Cypress has been around for quite some time, including the current line-up’s solid three years together. They’ve had some very well received sets in the last year, including a rager at this year’s Orange Blossom Jamboree and are just starting to take off. The timing of their BC debut is spot on as they’re raring to perform for bigger and broader audiences. Catch them at Saturday at 11:30am on the Campground Stage.

Cope closes out the Campground Stage on Saturday night (5:30pm) this year and has a slew of guests lined up. In addition to a George Porter Jr. appearance, they are taking full advantage of the Artists-at-Large also having Mr. Pee Wee Ellis, Freekbass and Jonathan Lloyd join in the fun.

DJ, producer, remixer and longtime AURA cohort Craig Heneveld makes his BC debut in the Grooveshark Silent Disco on Friday Night at 1am, immediately following KRAZ.

Jaccksonville powerhouse Greenhouse Lounge makes the move to the big Purple Hat Stage this year for a 3:30pm set on Saturday. These guys have really stepped up lately and are on the verge of very big things. Make sure to come catch what will be drummer Jason Hunnicutt’s last performance with the band he helped start most of a decade ago.

Tampa area’s hippy-hop fusion band Green Sunshine gets the Full Sail Stage at 7pm on Saturday. Multiple MC’s joined with a soulful sista and backed by some of the area’s finest funk musicians, It’s no wonder why these guys have been tearing around the southeast so successfully. Can’t wait to have them rock the mic on the BLP Stage at AURA!

Shak Nasti are, more-or-less, the patriarchs of the Orlando jam scene. Rockin jazz-fusion engulfing top notch songwriting, they are the soul of that town. You may have seen them on their own or backing Bobby Lee Rodgers, Thomas Wynn or Roosevelt Collier and you can see them again at 3:15pm on Saturday in the SOS Music Hall.


Our boy Brandon Paul, more commonly known as BPaul, will be a featured live visual artist this year. He’s overflowing with creativity and an artist that knows no bounds. He earned his live painting chops on tour with The Malah but has since rooted in South Florida’s thriving art community. Look for him painting his sexy, street-inspired art in front of the stages and check out his Blackbook Productions booth in the Art Shed that will not only feature paintings for sale but his brand new clothing line, 2611 Clothing, and embroidered hats he calls Thinking Caps.


Keep an eye out for oversized bear and his picnic basket that our good buddy Marc Paper Scissor constructed. Yeah, it’s large enough for everyone in your group to climb into the basket for some ridiculous picture opps. He also designed a signature cut paper original for the occasion that you should check out quick before it sells.


As of Tuesday at 5pm, the weather appears to be…amazing. The only day with a chance of rain is Thursday with a 30% likelihood, and the lowest low is Friday night’s drop to the mid 30’s. Every other day has ZERO chance of rain, highs in the mid to upper 70’s and lows in the mid 40’s.

Hope to see ya at a festival down by the river!

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