At your typical multi-day music festival, catching that Sunday noon set (or any noon set for that matter) is a tough challenge. Maybe you went to sleep in the early dark hours of the morning. Maybe you never went to sleep and are somehow making it on auto pilot. But hot damn, if there’s a band on your list that you really want to see, you’ll do whatever you gotta do to make it. So, there I was at The String Cheese Incident‘s annual Suwannee Hulaween 2016. I woke up at the butt-crack of 11:30 a.m. and made my way to The Amphitheatre stage to catch Passafire‘s noon set. The crowd was not that huge at the beginning, which is understandable if you partied all night. Anyhow, the crowd steadily thickened throughout the hour-long set and was pretty sizable by the end.
Passafire kickstarted an awesome chill day of music with their amped-up reggae dub rock, which was sure to have woken up a few sleeping souls in primitive camping. With such a diverse lineup at Hulaween, I couldn’t have been happier to have Passafire at the park … it kinda reminded me of the Blackwater fests and also the awesome 311 Pow Wow Festival back in 2011. So much great reggae rock all around.
Watch the full set video of Passafire at Hulaween 2016 below, thanks to The Sober Goat!
An hour after their set, I met up with frontman singer/guitarist Ted Bowne. We walked from the media tent near the main stage to Passafire’s campsite, somewhere way out in one of the field camping areas, in 80-Acres Camping or something. Our hot afternoon walk lasted about 20 minutes.
I started off telling him a little about how Shows I Go To got started. We then talked about how Ted has been coming to Suwannee since he was a kid as he grew up only a few hours away in Georgia. We both had a real soft spot for the Bear Creek festival and the artists at large and collaborations that went down there, and we were both devastated when it came to an end and moved to New Orleans. Ted said he came to Suwannee when he was 19 for the Great Southern Music Harvest which was run by the now Bonnaroo crew, Superfly. It was their first major festival production. Ted went with a bunch of clowns — yes, clowns — and DJ’d for them. At that fest, he saw George Clinton, Ziggy Marley, STS9, and The Motet just to name a few, which as Ted put it was “crunchy as hell with a lot of funk.” Passafire has only recently played at Suwannee for Blackwater 2011 and 2014.
We reminisced about my last Passafire show in Orlando at the Reggae on the Block festival earlier this year. Passafire’s last album Interval came out in 2015 and they’ve been touring pretty strong so it is hard to stop and write music. They try to practice during sound check as much as they can and play at least one or two different songs at each show. However, he said that for this Hulaween set they played all their comfortable familiar songs to gain new fans from the festival setting. He was so happy to finally play The Amphitheatre stage which he has seen so many favorite bands play on. Lettuce, in particular, we found a big mutual love for. Ted said “I have a thing for that band, I will listen to that new album over and over again in the van and people say ‘Dude, alright, we get it, you like Lettuce’… I don’t like them, I love them! Big difference. Adam is the tightest drummer. For instrumental funk, you can either be boring as hell or really exciting, and they’re really exciting. Last night was a really trippy set, too.” Lettuce funk all day, Jesus is my homeboy.
On the walk, we ran into some Savannah friends of his who were in a Star Wars decorated golf cart.
Ted said that was one of his friends that he still stays in contact with. He talked about how its hard to have time for social lives when they started touring a lot. Suwannee is definitely a place for family reunions, that and Bonnaroo. Ted actually has worked at Bonnaroo for ten years with the visual design crew and he loves seeing friends and artists that they never get to hang out with. Passafire has never played ‘Roo … here’s to hoping for one soon!
One of the last things we talked about was getting lost while walking around at Suwannee, which if that has never happened to you, you haven’t festival’d hard enough.
Listen to the full rambling conversation interview below.
Passafire is Ted Bowne (Guitar/Lead Vox), Will Kubley (Bass/Vox), Mike DeGuzman (Keys), and Nick Kubley (Drums). They hail from hometown Savannah, GA and are on the Easy Star Records label.
Check out my big-ly Hulaween photo gallery below.
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