The Allman Brothers Band at Wanee. Photo by Brad Hodge

Live Oak, FL’s Wanee Music Festival drew its largest crowd since the festival’s inception in 2005 this past weekend. Southern jam-rock titans the Allman Brothers Band and Widespread Panic both offered two shows throughout the three-night event, anchoring a blues and roots-based lineup that featured Scaring the Children, Stephen Stills, the Black Keys, Johnny Winter, The Word, North Mississippi Allstars and Electric Hot Tuna, among many others. Several members of the Allman Brothers Band’s extended family also performed with their own bands: Gov’t Mule, Derek Trucks & Susan Tedeschi Band, Chuck Leavell with the Randall Bramlett Band, Devon Allman, Oteil and Kofi Burbridge with the Lee Boys and Scapomatic.

As expected, both of the Allman Brothers Band’s headlining sets featured numerous special guests. Friday night’s performance saw several members of Widespread Panic sitting in with the band: Bassist Dave Schools appeared on “You Don’t Love Me,” guitarist/vocalist John Bell and percussionist Sunny Ortiz sat in on “I Walk On Gilded Splinters” and guitarist Jimmy Herring and keyboardist JoJo Hermann joined the band on “That’s What Love Will Make You Do.” In addition, North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson and Gov’t Mule keyboardist Danny Louis sat in on “The Same Thing” and “Statesboro Blues.” Likewise, Bell returned during the Allman Brothers Band’s Saturday performance for “And It Stoned Me,” Hermann and Herring appeared in tandem on “Good Morning Little School Girl” and Schools played bass on “Dreams.” Longtime Allman Brothers Band associate Johnny Winter also emerged for “The Sky Is Crying.” The Allman Brothers Band thematically linked its two shows as well by opening its Friday performance with “Mountain Jam” and finishing the improvisational vehicle at the end of its set Saturday night.

A number of other musicians collaborated as well at various points throughout the weekend. After Luther Dickinson sat in with Widespread Panic on War’s “Slippin’ Into Darkness,” Warren Haynes emerged for a set-closing “North.” Both Haynes and Susan Tedeschi also sat in with Johnny Winter on guitar during his performance. Meanwhile, Kofi Burbridge joined Gov’t Mule for “Sad And Deep As Your” and both Dickinson and Burbridge appeared on “32/20 Blues.”

Scaring the Children featuring Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman and Jay Lane was another festival highlight. The group mixed covers like Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” and Budy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” with Grateful Dead originals such as “Friend of the Devil,” “Days Between” and “Loose Lucy.” Weir also told a humorous story about his previous performance at the festival: According to the guitarist, a giant toad left onstage in front of Steve Kimock and stared unblinkingly at him for the entire set. Elsewhere, Stephen Stills saluted his ormer band Buffalo Springfield with “Bluebird” and “Rock n Roll Woman” and his sometimes bandmate Neil Young with “Long May You Run.” He also covered material by Joe Walsh and Tom Petty, among others.

Despite the festival’s strong roots in blues and jam, Wanee also featured a number of funk and soul based performers. Dumpstaphunk played a set of Sly Stone songs, Dr. John performed and the Funky Meters played a special set after Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings was unable to make it to the festival (due to travel problems extending from the volcano).