Joe Russo's Almost Dead at Fool's Paradise 2017. Photo by: Jen McKinnon / Florida Music Blog
Joe Russo's Almost Dead at Fool's Paradise 2017. Photo by: Jen McKinnon / Florida Music Blog

Rewind the Funk Music and Moments from Fool's Paradise

St. Augustine is known for being the nation’s oldest city, having been founded by the Spanish in 1565, but is quickly gaining a reputation for having one of the funkiest festivals around.

Lettuce and company hosted the 2nd annual Fool’s Paradise this past weekend in the historic town of St. Augustine. Last year the festival proved to be a welcoming place for funky collaborations, tons of dancing and getting to meet lots of artists; this year was all that and more.

The festival hosted two impressive headliners with 2x nights of Lettuce and a solid Joe Russo’s Almost Dead set accompanied by Jeff Chimenti on keys, and Oteil Burbridge on bass as an Artist at Large. This festival also had several other heaters on the bill you might not be as familiar with like Organ Freeman and The Main Squeeze.

It was a perfect Friday as the sun was shining and a salty wind blew through the palm trees. The L.A. band Organ Freeman started the festival off right, wasting no time on stage. The trio made up of Rob Humphreys on drums, Erik Carlson on guitar and Trevor Steer on the organ and keys have been turning heads all around the country.

A friend had turned me on to the band and this was my first opportunity to see them, but will definitely not be my last. They clearly know how to jam and played right till they cut the power in true rock star fashion. Keep your eye out as they tour from the South throughout the Midwest.

Lettuce came out strong playing the sunset set, and wasted no time in inviting Oteil Burbridge up for a deep ‘Slippin Into Darkness’ by War. Also bringing up Artist at Large Antwaun Stanley to accompany Nigel Hall during ‘Do It Like You Do.’

Joe Russo’s Almost Dead picked up the funk with an electric ‘Good Lovin’ from the Grateful Dead’s Shakedown Street. The crowd silhouette was bouncing under the bold purple, green and yellow lights as the band transitioned into the loving ‘Rubin and Cherise.’

Couples kissed, friends hugged and a warm breeze filled the night air as the moon lit up the to stands of the amphitheater, it was truly a beautiful sight. The band then slowly brought on a fierce ‘Not Fade Away.’

The band expanded as they welcomed to the stage Oteil Burbridge, morphing into Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and Company (if you will). Oteil accompanied the band for another funk classic ‘Dancing In The Streets.’ He also played along on ‘Brown Eyed Woman’ and finished with ‘I Know You Rider’ which the crowd helped out with as well.

The Main Squeeze with Antwaun Stanley. Photo by: The Main Squeeze
The Main Squeeze with Antwaun Stanley. Photo by: The Main Squeeze

The Main Squeeze had a long weekend having just played a show in L.A. on Thursday, a hometown show for keyboardist Ben Silverstein in South Florida on Friday, and the first Saturday Amphitheater set at Fool’s. The band played a couple of my personal favorites ‘WWC’ and ‘Only Time.’

Antwaun Stanley joined The Main Squeeze for a hot rendition of ’90s hit by Mark Morrison ‘Return of the Mack.’ It was one of the best versions of the song I’ve ever heard.

The band’s vocalist Corey Frye noting they had given Antwaun a list of songs, and without question he picked ‘Run of The Mack.’ He also accompanied the band for a little Vulfpeck – ‘Funky Duck.’

The Main Squeeze is releasing a new album Without a Sound on April 28th at The Fox Theatre in Boulder, CO. That show is sure to bring rocking-soulful energy.

Denver’s Motet took the stage quick and strong, leaving no part of the stage un-danced on by the energetic vocalist Lyle Divinsky.

One of the best realities of Fool’s Paradise is meeting most all of the artists just hanging around the festival. I was getting down to a Motet jam when I noticed Antwaun Stanley dancing right next to me with the biggest smile on his face. He gave me a high-five and everybody danced the set away. The audience would soon see members of the Motet wandering about the festival after their set.

As the sun fell the energy rose even higher with the Floozies! The brothers Mark and Matt Hill were also joined by Lettuce’s trumpet player Eric “Benny” Bloom and saxophonist Ryan Zoidis for a couple jams. It was an electronic dance party fueled by some kinda Floozie funk! Be sure to catch this band as Fool’s Paradise marked the beginning of a long scheduled tour spanning across the United States.

After a long 2 days of friends, music and dancing it was time for a funk fueled Lettuce set. They played old and new leading inciting a dance frenzy!  

Bassist for Lettuce, Jesus Coomes had been spotted running around through the pit throughout the festival. He was wearing one of his signature robot masks. These unique band of pioneers really know how to steal the show! They would continue their funk brigade at the Elk’s Lodge with friends Dumpstaphunk later into the night.

10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD GO TO FOOL’S PARADISE NEXT YEAR

  1. This festival is a must do as it literally has it all!
  2. Most importantly it has FUNK.
  3. You can easily camp a short walk away from the venue or stay in one of the many hotels just miles from the venues.
  4. Not only is the St. Augustine Amphitheatre absolutely beautiful, it’s only a short walk from the beach.
  5. There are always artists at large announced, but it really seems like everyone is an artist at large as there are so many surprise collaborations.  
  6. You meet most of the artists dancing in the crowd.
  7. You can easily enter and leave the venues for tailgating.
  8. There are wild late night shows.
  9. Artist excursions like putt-putt and sailing.
  10. Lettuce is hosting, need we say more.

The Main Squeeze x Antwaun Stanley - "Return of the Mack"