Before we start talking about our experience at PHB 15’ , we need to address WHY this is such unique, honest and touching event.
Coverage by yours truly Johnny Andrade and Holland Irwin.
All photos by Joey Pye (Staged Right)
Purple Hatters Ball is an event held in honor and loving memory of Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, a 23-year-old that was murder during a confused and mishandled drug sting in 2008. Rachel was arrested for possession of 25 grams (0.9 oz.) of marijuana during a traffic stop and subsequently ordered to a drug court supervised program in 2007, and shortly after, an anonymous tip led to apartment search where Tallahassee Police found 151.7 grams (or 5.328 ounces) of cannabis, and 4 ecstasy pills. Rachel Morningstar, facing a possible prison sentence if charged and convicted, was offered to identify other marijuana dealers to avoid the charges (which she refused). Tallahassee Police Department then pressured her to act as a confidential informant in a drug sting operation instead, in exchange for not being charged with additional drug charges. The intended goal of the operation was to buy 1,500 ecstasy pills, 2 ounces of cocaine, and a handgun, using $13,000 cash in a buy–bust operation. Even though she didn’t had slightest the knowledge of firearms or handled a significant stash of hard drugs, she was on her way to conduct a major undercover deal for the Tallahassee Police Department, meeting two convicted felons alone in her car to buy two and a half ounces of cocaine, fifteen hundred Ecstasy pills, and a semi-automatic handgun. On May 7, 2008 as the operation took place, police lost track of her and her car. While in transit, the two suspects allegedly executed her. Hoffman had been shot five times in the chest and head with the gun that the police had sent her to buy.
The Spirit of the Suwannee music park is arguably one of the best venues in the US. Covered with forest, shade, wildlife and magic, Suwanee is an experience that can only be explained in first person. There is a unspoken freedom and love that is always there, and people get caught up on it as soon as they walk in.
PHB 15’ – Bands n’ Acts
Friday – May 8th
If you’re not familiar with the sound of Random Rab, you’re in for a head-bobbing-atmos-flowing fun. Throughout his set he mixed trip-hop, ambient and glitch-hop with his solid instrumental flows. As a multi-instrumentalist and singer, his tracks are organic, uplifting and stand on their own as a distinct genre. As Random Rab described his “live experience is focused on a high quality translation of sound that is simultaneously sexy and psychedelic”. Hm, it certainly fun to us :).
Nahko and Medicine for The People: The energies (and weather!) seemed to align perfectly for Nahko and Medicine for The People as they were about to hit the stage. A solo performance of Nahko opened the set with a slow and mellow piano ballad, setting the mood. Later in the set the Medicine for The People join Nahko and brought their feel-good joyful songs to Suwannee with their powerful stage presence. Only good happy times!
Gathering a following fan-base throughout the years, it’s clear that The Werks are here to stay. It was a great late-night set at Suwannee, full of purple-hats grooving in sync with their jams. They had the crowd going until the last note, sending all of us back to wander thru the forrest…
Saturday – May 9th
Grandpa’s Cough Medicine
As the sun rose and all the hang-over faces were waking up, I needed some real Bluegrass to lift my spirits up, and that’s what Grandpa’s Cough Medicine knows best. Their outlaw-foot-stomping music is often mixed with funny and dark lyrics that comes out great out on stage. Perfect music for my Saturday morning.
The Empire Strikes Brass:
We always had a big love for Brass Bands so it’s always nice to see groups bringing that sweet funk-soul-jazz into our earholes. The Empire Strikes Brass was a great surprise, the 10-piece band smashed the crowd with originals and very interesting covers, such as RJD2’s “Ghostwriters” (that got me humming the horn section in my head for hours). The Empire Strikes Brass turned Suwanee into a legit New Orleans second line parade.
Counting with 16+ musicians (of many different cultures and playing crazy looking instruments) switching back-and-forth into a afrobeat-meets-jamband music, Supermande Jam was one of my favorite moments of the festival not only because of its originality, but because they kicked a lot of ass. Thumbs Up!
Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires
If you been following The Soul Stoned you know that we been hooked on this phenomenon called Charles Bradley ever since he came out with his solid-classic “No Time For Dreaming”, released by Daptone Records. Bradley started his concert with a very honest and touching speech, showing his sincere frustration and sadness for Rachel Morningstar’s story, and he also shared his own story where his brother also got killed with a shot in the head. It was clear to me that Charles Bradley was so touched by the love people were giving back to him that his eyes couldn’t stop shining from emotion. The Screaming Eagle of Soul delivered memorable performances from his stacked catalog of deep-funk cuts, such as “This World (It’s Burning Up in Flames)”, “Heartaches and Pain”, “How Long” and many more. Long Live King Charles!
As always Greenhouse Lounge brought the electronic music side of Suwannee to new levels. Greenhouse Lounge is no stranger to this environment and they knew exactly how to lift the spirits higher and higher. You could feel the crowd starting to get weird in all the good ways…
Parker Urban Band
As I was walking back to my campsite to regain energy for the night, I heard these gospel-soul voices that caught my ears. Parker Urban Band were a nice surprise, with a killer guitar player and two mean soul singers I’m sure they gathered a good number of fans that night.
Ever since I heard their atmospheric-funk-electronica, Lotus have always been one of my favorite live acts. To see the Suwanee Amphitheater blend together with their complex light-show is beautiful, specially if you’re down at the pit dancing your ass off! Lotus always knows how to treat a crowd with their goodies and this time wasn’t different. Late-nights are my favorites
After three-consecutive Purple Hatters Ball, we are grateful to have the opportunity to share this weekend with such beautiful people and good music. Is also very sweet to see this community together to honor Rachel Morningstar. Every year PHB gets bigger but without losing its mellow magic touch, so for PHB 16’ we hope to see all of you weirdos down at the Spirit of Suwanee!