Okeechobee’s PoWoW! Brings Jamming Back to Main Stage
February 2, 2018
For far too long, the idea of “jamming” on songs has been pushed aside at large-scale festivals. Most of the time, the experience is reserved for cut-and-dry performances with very little room for improvisation of exploratory musical expression. Leave it to the jazz festivals or the jam gatherings. But the team behind the successful Florida Music Festival Okeechobee beg to differ.
The Start of a Movement.
Following in the footsteps of Bonnaroo, a festival cousin, they’ve decided to keep an essential schedule slot reserved just for jamming. Whereas at Bonnaroo they’re called “Superjams” at Okeechobee, they’ve been named the PoWoW. Instead of booking yet another headliner for an individual set, they push the idea to have artists come together for never-before-experienced performances. It’s mind-opening for many attendees used to a clear-cut performance.
In 2016, the Okeechobee PoWoW featured Miguel and Arcade Fire‘s Win Butler teaming up with a super band. Artists like John Oates, George Porter Jr., Kamasi Washington, and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band amplified their set. And, unsurprisingly, festivalgoers couldn’t get enough. Last year, it was Michael McDonald of Steely Dan who led the PoWoW. His band consisted of members of both Vulfpeck and the GRAMMY-winning Snarky Puppy, with vocalists like Solange and Gallant coming out to play. Even GRiZ made a cameo.
2018 is even bigger.
This coming March, Okeechobee is taking it even further. They’ve called upon Snoop Dogg to lead the PoWoW. It could honestly be just him up there rapping over a mix, but that’s not the point. No, they’ve wrangled up none other than The Roots to back him up. Names like Chaka Khan and Joey Bada$$ have also been dropped. If you want to know who else might make an appearance, you should peruse the stacked festival lineup and take your pick. Because at the PoWoW, anything can happen.
It’s clear that Okeechobee’s PoWoW’s have allowed the barriers built up by genres to be knocked down. Where the audience gets to witness a young generation of musicians bridging with the old. It’s one of the only times where people shut up and listen because they might miss something. These are the kind of spontaneous moments that music festivals were founded on. Proof that every set is once-in-a-lifetime and you only have to go to not miss it. See you there.