This weekend is Halloween and there are many choices of music to see in our joyous jam scene, but only The String Cheese Incident are hosting a huge weekend festival with 7 sets of Cheese and many other artists on multiple stages!
Although, SCI has preformed many a Hulaween show, this is the second year that a Hulaween incident as been done as a weekend festival and it is held at none other than the beautiful Suwannee Music Park in sunny Live Oak Florida.
This venue is, by far, one of the most gorgeous settings you could ever possibly be blessed to attend a festival at, so if you haven’t finalized your Halloween plans or just decide to change them after reading this, there are still tickets available at www.suwanneehulaween.com.
Recently, JBO’s Lori Sky Twohy had an awesome chat with SCI percussionist, Jason Hann, before he took off to Colorado for the bands pre-Hula rehearsals.
JBO: Hey Jason, thanks for taking the time to talk to me.
Jason: No problem Lori
JBO: The band has been together for over 20 years and there have been many “Hulaween” shows, but last year you guys decided to make it an annual festival. Where did this idea come from?
Jason: Well, we love playing festivals, but it’s great when it’s our festival, because we can call the shots about some of the things that are going on. We also like to be able to stay there for three days and be set up. It just feels really comfortable this way with more of a family vibe. There’s also the fact that we like to do things that are different from other festivals.
JBO: Are you referring to the awesome visuals and performance art that usually takes place at an SCI festival, like what happens at Hornings Hideout and Electric Forest or even a nice 3 night run at Red Rocks?
Jason: Yeah…anything from the production to inviting our friends to be included in the line up. We like to be able to help choose the bands that we think our fans would really enjoy.
JBO: Cool, so then let’s talk about the line up? It looks like there is a lot of electronic music this year, almost as much as Electric Forest, but yet there’s some blue grass too, which is noticeable since Cheese very much encompasses those two genres well.
Jason: Yeah and when you think of the Suwannee venue, they have so many different festivals all year, like Wanee with the Allman Brothers, Spring Fest, etc.
JBO: Very true…they are all a little different; Bear Creek is all about the funk, Aura is electronica, Magnolia Fest is mostly Blue Grass and now Hulaween is mostly about String Cheese, yet all these festivals attract a lot of the same people, because the jam scene encompasses all of this kind of music. Plus, the park is just so damn beautiful.
Jason: Yeah and as far as the electronic music we have in the line up, they all bring a very live oriented elements, like the NEWDEAL, Beats Antique, and Thievery Corporation.
JBO: Do you have any favorites that are playing? Who are you looking forward to seeing at the festival?
Jason: Well, Big Gigantic are friends of ours and I always love to see the NEWDEAL. I actually haven’t heard Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, but I’ve heard so many killer reviews about it.
JBO: Yeah, me too. I can’t wait.
Jason: And Thursday at the pre-party, we have Yo Mama’s Big Fat Booty Band…
JBO: Love those guys.
Jason: Yeah, there is a lot of fun stuff going on.
JBO: I am so excited. Are you guys going to do some killer collaborations like you usually do at your festivals?
Jason: Oh yeah, something will come up, like were going to have the same Hulaween lineup with Rhonda Thomas and Tony White adding their vocals and were going to have the Antibalas horn section.
JBO: Awesome…I love them! Any good covers planned?
Jason: Oh yeah, absolutely!
JBO: Do your pre-Hula rehearsals include learning a lot of new covers?
Jason: There might be a couple covers throughout the festival that we’ve played previously, but the Hulaween set will be all stuff we never played before, so we’ll be learning those in Colorado. However, we don’t get together with the singers and horns until we get on the property, so there’s a little bit of imagination involved. We have to get our parts pretty solid, so that when we get together with the others, it will be easier to play with each other.
JBO: Hey, so let’s talk Halloween costumes? Everyone knows that Cheese fans LOVE to dress up at shows, even when it’s not Halloween season, but what’s nice here is that there is a theme happening. Last year it was Voo Doo. What theme do we have going for the second Hulaween festival?
Jason: This year’s theme has to do with ascension?
Jason: Yes, the after life. It can be anywhere for zombies to time travelers…
JBO: Angels and devils?
JBO: This is going to be quite original then, instead of your basic haunted house theme that will be happening at every other party in America.
Jason: Yes, there’s a whole gamut of archetypes for this, with many options.
JBO: I can’t wait to see what everyone does with this!
JBO: And you guys aren’t stopping. You don’t really tour too much these days, but rather play mostly festivals, so it’s nice to see that you do indeed have a nice little fall tour happening in the North East right after Hulaween. Is this only because you’re promoting your new album or do you see more actual tours in your future?
Jason: It’s a little bit of everything. As a band, we have wanted to just get on a bus and do at least a couple of weeks where we can play night after night, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way. At first, when we came out with the new album, we planned on doing a large tour right away. It was all getting ready to be scheduled and some things happened where it didn’t work out, but really we had already been playing the songs for the new album for over a year, so it didn’t seem too necessary from a promotion standpoint. But, right now we are really excited to get in tour bus mode and have some fun.
Jason: One of the reasons for this later tour is that most of the band members have families and we try to be good about respecting everyone’s desire to be more family focused. It’s also nice to not feel like we have to tour to keep the monster going these days. By not pressuring ourselves to constantly tour, it just gets that much more exciting when we do come together again and are ready to go! It makes us feel really happy and inspired when we finally get together, and hopefully the fans are able to feel that.
JBO: Yeah, I remember being at the second Rothbury Fest in 2009 when you guys played for the first time after the hiatus and I was blown away about how great it was. You were all so tight, even after 2 years apart. I loved those shows! What’s great too is that taking that two-year break didn’t make people forget about you. Instead, it made people more anxious for your return, unlike in the main stream music scene.
Jason: Yeah, I think for us there is also a sense of urgency with each show. Since we don’t do that many, we make sure to make each show really special. It’s a model that lets us feel like we can give 120% every time we’re on stage.
JBO: Yeah, with you guys playing festivals every couple of months, it seems like a cool family reunion as opposed to a job.
Jason: Yeah, absolutely!
JBO: Well this has been really fun. Before we sign off, is there any thing about Hulaween that I didn’t think of mentioning that you might like our readers to know about?
Jason: Just that, in the same spirit as Electric Forest, we are incorporate a beautiful setting that is another world outside of the music. We want to have that same essence at Suwannee with the swamp like setting, the lake, the river and the trees.
JBO: Yes, and like Horning Hideout in Oregon as well. It definitely seems very important to the band to incorporate nature as part of the overall experience, right?
Jason: Yeah and we will have the park decorated like nobody else on that property and that’s another adventure to have.
JBO: Well, It has been awesome talking to you about and its made me even more excited about getting there to see and hear all the beauty that IS String Cheese and Suwannee. I can’t wait!
Jason: Thanks Lori, see you there!