Purple Hatter’s Ball holds a special place in the hearts of music goers at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida. The festival is held each year in honor of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, a fellow Suwannee Music Park lover who sadly and wrongfully lost her life in 2008. Purple Hatter’s Ball brings people together to celebrate life and music, and gives us time to reflect on and show our gratitude to those things exactly.
On Thursday, The Polish Ambassador hosted an “Action Day” that consisted of planting and restoring garden areas for a food forest, building waste management stations, and learning about mycoremediation (mushrooms that help the environment), as well as Permaculture. Action Day was an awesome way to give back to the nature of the Suwannee and attendees received free admission to Thursday’s Pre-Party in return.
Flint Blade kicked off Thursday’s Pre-Party at 7 and the music didn’t stop until 2am. Spake Kadet, Savi Fernandez Birthday Band, and Sunsquabi all set the beginning tone to what was an amazing weekend. Everyone who attended Action Day finally got to relax and dance the night away with an intimate crowd before the brunt of attendees showed up on Friday.
On Friday, music started at noon on the Beach Stage with Vlad the Inhaler. Huge kudos to the planning of this festival, because music on the other stages didn’t start until 4pm which gave people lots of beach time. A lot of festivals at the Suwannee don’t have a beach stage and people are too consumed with the music to travel down to the beach, but it’s absolutely beautiful and it’s super awesome that everyone was able to gather there for a few hours each day of Purple Hatter’s Ball. Funk You wrapped up the day at the beach with a final dance party and everyone headed back to their campsites to prepare for the night time get downs. Voodoo Visionary lay down some awesome jams early in the evening that energized everyone for the evening.
Squeedlepuss and Sophistaphunk followed, giving the crowd a great setting for a dance party as the sun went down. The Mantras and Earphunk brought some clean, funky jams to the Amphitheater as the sun finally set and at last, it was a night of intense jams and awesome lights illuminating the Suwannee trees.
Roosevelt Collier & Friends threw the ultimate dance party. Their jams were funky, dirty, and everyone in the crowd was moving to the music. Roosevelt knows how to make a crowd get down and get them feeling funky. Papadosio followed with an awesome set of jams, specifically with no vocals until the very end. Their set was impressive as they played a lot of older songs and did some solid improv. I would say their set at Purple Hatter’s Ball was easily better than their set from this past Hulaween.
The beach stage was the place to be to kick off Saturday’s music with S.P.O.R.E. and Dubconscious. The Heather Gillis Band also kicked off the Amphitheater with some soulful tracks. Unfortunately, Lesiure Cheif’s set at the Beach Stage got cut short due to an incoming storm. Luckily the storm quickly passed over and Kaleigh Baker threw it down with The Groove Orient.
Herd of Watts, The Hip Abduction, and MZG w/ Allen Aucoin collectively amped the crowd up for The Polish Ambassador, who put the crowd in party mode with not only his music but his number of outfits, dance moves, and onstage fun he was having along with the crowd. His performance was ultimately a back and forth conversation with the crowd through music, dance, and humor.
The Malah kept the energy going over at the Campground Stage while The Floozies prepared to blow the crowd away as the last performance of the night. This was my first time seeing The Floozies live and they did a phenomenal job. I overheard numerous fans who have been to multiple shows say that this was the best set they’d seen The Floozies play to date. Definitely a great first impression for newcomers.
Things began to slow down on Sunday but Flat Land killed it at the Campground Stage. They are an up and coming band to keep an eye out for. DubConscious played into Catfish Alliance, and while their sets had a very different feel from each other, they gave the crowd the perfect mixture of jams to keep them moving through the afternoon. Melvin Seals and JGB ended the weekend on a powerful and emotional note. The crowd grew closer and sang along as they played “My Sisters and Brothers,” an extremely powerful and fitting song to end the festival with.
With all the madness and recent tragic events happening in Florida such as the Orlando Pulse shooting, Purple Hatter’s Ball could not have come at a better time. It was a weekend escape that brought people together in a sacred, safe environment that lead to newfound friendships, enlightenment, and a reminder of the goodness in the world. Thank you to Purple Hatters Ball and Rachel Morningstar Hoffman for bringing us all together to celebrate music, life, and be reminded of the sunny side of humanity. Until next year, jam on.
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