The Woodlands Festival

The inaugural Woodlands Festival was a fantastic weekend that many of us already are looking forward to next year.

Located one half hour outside Charleston, SC.  the grounds are large and fully delivered on the promise of being a beautiful outdoor space for attendees to appreciate not just amazing music but also nature's beauty.  In addition to providing a gorgeous setting for us to enjoy, The Woodlands hired food vendors that kept everyone's belly's full and happy with frequent comments in the air about the pizza cones and grilled cheese.  The music didn't disappoint either.

Thursday's rain didn't do much to dampen spirits.  The Fake News, a tribute to Huey Lewis, kicked off the festival during the Thursday pre-party to happy cheers from the crowd and was followed by a high energy set from Turkuaz that got everyone grooving in preparation for the closing set by The Omega Moos.  Given the number of Umphrey's McGee fans in attendance, the Moos was a highly anticipated set.  In a rare moment, Brendan Bayliss admitted that he'd been wrong to disagree with the choice to cover Foreigner's "Double Vision".  The Moos then absolutely thrilled the crowd by playing it.  Despite the set being cut short due to weather, it was the highlight of the weekend for many festival goers.

Friday kicked off with opening sets by Heather Gillis, The Movement, and Voodoo Visionary.  Though many got a slow start to the day due to Thursday's rain, the grounds filled for Spafford who woke everyone up with an incredibly loud and energetic set.  The stage was officially set for festival hosts Umphrey's McGee to rock the house for the next two nights. And, that's exactly what they did.  Bayliss acknowledged a property neighbor who had a strange email request to rock out all weekend - so long as they played "Song Remains the Same."  No stranger to this cover, Umphrey's destroyed it.  The originals were equally UMazing.  "Best 'Attachments' ever?" was overheard in the crowd, and the "Hangover" encore drew a very vocal crowd chant to "break out the booty wax!"  Late night on Friday included crowd pleasing sets that spanned a wide variety of genres.  Manic Focus and The New Deal delighted the crowd with their different interpretations of electronic music and Runaway Gin closed out the evening with perennially crowd-pleasing Phish covers.

Though chilly weather on Saturday found many people in their tents and around campfires for openers The Talismen, Empire Strikes Brass, CBDB, and SunSquabi, the crowd again began to fill in during Zach Deputy and Big Something, who both drew loud cheers from the crowd.  The New Deal hit the stage again with another high energy electronic set, fully prepping the crowd of Umphreaks for another phenomenal evening.  First set highlights include minimalistic but impressive jams in "Wappy Sprayberry" and "Booth Love". Kamika Moore of Doom Flamingo joined Umphrey's singing opposite Bayliss on the crowd-loved mashup "Electric Avenue to Hell" to end the first set.  The second set began impressively with notable jams in the first three songs and was followed by raucous cheers from the crowd during the Marshall Tucker Band's  "Can't You See?" when Jake Cinninger declared that they "gonna do this festival [...] again".  Late night Saturday included more electronic hits from both Cherub and Doom Flamingo, and the festival officially closed out with a Woodlands All Star Jam.  Overall, Umphrey's inaugural festival was a raging success.  Let's hope for 'save the date' announcements for 2020 soon - hope to see you all there next year!

-- by Alexis Lundgren

The Woodlands Festival was quite simply a transcendental experience from start to finish. From the venue to the staff, the food, art, and all of the amazing bands, the weekend was one for the books. Being an enthusiastic music lover and rep for HGMN, I have been blessed with many musical experiences, shows, and festivals over the last 15 years and I have to say how much I enjoyed the intimacy and energy of The Woodlands Festival...

Reminds me of the early days of The Spirit of Suwannee with Bear Creeks. Pure magic. Some of the best memories of the best of times lie in festivals like this...I am grateful for the time I spent coexisting with nature in the hauntingly beautiful Charleston Woodlands Nature Reserve. 6000 acres with blackwater cypress swamp, 11 lakes, 60 miles of nature trails...This place is a nature lovers dream. None of this would have been possible without the hard work of Umphrey's McGee and the Charleston Arts major thanks and appreciation for making The Woodlands Festival such a phenomenal experience for everyone! 

The Woodlands Festival partnered with some of the most delicious tastes that Charleston has to offer. Local food trucks and neighborhood restaurants shared their best lowcountry food for the weekend. The Charleston Arts Festival shared the best food, art, music, and nature that Charleston has to offer for an all around amazing experience.

The lineup included Big Something, CBDB, Doom Flamingo, Empire Strikes Brass, Heather Gillis Band, Manic Focus, Runaway Gin, Spafford, Sunsquabi, The Movement, The New Deal, Voodoo Visionary, and Zach Deputy and, of course, Umphrey's McGee played four sets of pure gold. 

I was able to catch up with my friends from CBDB and Doom Flamingo to talk about their sets, experiences, and how amazing The Charleston Woodlands are!!! I asked Glenn Dillard from CBDB and Ross Bogan from Doom Flamingo what their favorite moments were about the festival and their set and here is what they had to say... 

"It's hard to place one thing that I enjoyed the most about The Woodlands Festival. I wasn't able to attend both days, but from the time I arrived on Saturday, until the time I left the grounds, the overall experience was exceptional. Every staff member I encountered was very pleasant to work with, and they did the very best they could to make our experience the best. Most important, they were having fun, and that's contagious. The Charleston Woodlands Nature Reserve is a beautiful venue and the perfect place for a festival like this. All of the performers that I got to see or hear were really good, and it was good to catch up with friends we've worked with in the past. 

We took to the Roll Stage at 2:15pm Saturday afternoon, and were excited to see everyone who made it over to our set! Our fans are wonderful, and always make it really easy for us to have a great time on stage. If I had to pick a favorite moment from our set, it would be towards the middle. We played a selection from our most recent album, Out of Line, called Opelika Yella. Occasionally, we'll open up that tune a little further than normal, by inserting a "jam" section after the first verse. This allows us to really separate the verses, and by the time we get to the place we would normally jam, we have already changed keys twice, and offered listeners something different from the "norm." A way to keep it fresh, I guess. I really enjoy when we do that, and I thought we pulled that off pretty well."

"Thank you to the Home Grown Music Network for including us in their review of this festival. HGMN is a great outlet to find news about a lot going on in the music industry, and we appreciate what they do for the industry. 

You'll find a lot of information on bands, venues, products, record stores, upcoming shows, reviews, and more!"  -Glenn Dillard, CBDB

"Hard to nail down my favorite parts but I'd have to say the sheer beauty of the place and vibe we're so nice, everybody had a place to stretch out. Woodlands alone is a really inspiring place and it's just been sitting there for so long it feels like we're all being welcomed to this hidden gem, to throw in a sense of community through music kinda makes it a little paradise for me. I kind of feel like I'm getting away with something by just being there. Yea it was a little cold this year but it felt like we were all in it together and I love that. I can't wait to watch this festival progress and grow as I know the ideas are already cooking after this year. 

I loved having virtuoso bassist Cody Wright perform with Robotrio this year. We had one rehearsal before and everything just kind unfolded on stage in a beautiful way. The chemistry was there and I could feel it, we were taking chances.

My favorite part of the Doom set is playing our song Replicant, I feel stylistically it is really unique to us. Looking out at the crowd I see people kind of sitting back like, "What is this?" but by the end of it they are usually all there banging heads with us. I love when people get that we're still figuring out what this project is too. Feels right."

"I like Home Grown because you can read about the kind of talent that you find when you keep your ear to the ground. The "hottest" thing out there may not suit you as what's right around the corner, I would trust Home Grown with those recommendations." - Ross Bogan, Doom Flamingo 


- by Jenna Mo (Home Grown Music Network Rep since 2005)


- Photos by Tim Hobert