Festival Review: Fool’s Paradise Set The Bar High in St. Augustine
When Live For Live Music and Lettuce announced their first annual Fool’s Paradise Festival, it almost seemed too good to be true. Lettuce, The Nth Power, Chris Robinson, Nigel Hall, Vulfpeck, Brass Tracks, and more coming down to St. Augustine, FL for two days of funk in the sun on April 1st? Could it be some kind of crazy April Fool’s joke? But the announcements kept rolling out: GRiZ throwing down a full band set with Lettuce, Snarky Puppy’s Cory Henry stage jumping as an Artist-at-Large, a Fools of Funk Supergroup featuring a once in a lifetime mashup of some of funk’s heaviest hitters, mini-golf and sailing excursions with members of Lettuce and Break Science. This was serious, and funk fools everywhere bought up camping passes, late night tickets, and artist excursions in excited anticipation.
So on April Fool’s Day weekend, thousands of festival-goers converged on St. Augustine Amphitheater ready to get down and get funky. It was a magical two days filled with incredible performances, first-time collaborations, and of course, a whole lot of funk. The inaugural Fool’s Paradise Festival will no doubt go down in the books as the start of yet another Florida festival tradition, and we already cannot wait to do it all over again. In the meantime, relive some festival highlights with these Fool’s Paradise Superlatives.
Best Dirty 30:
Vulfpeck’s guitarist/drummer/vocalist celebrated the big 3-0 on April 2 with a few thousand of his closest friends. There was a celebratory energy in the air throughout Vulfpeck’s mainstage set as various guests popped in and out, which included the one and only Antwuan Stanley and Fool’s Paradise Artist-at-Large Cory Henry. At one point, Theo whipped out his cell to record the crowd thanking Mama Katzman for starting the whole thing before tearing into some serious birthday jams. It is hard to imagine a better way to ring in a new decade than throwing down a killer set in paradise.
Most Likely to Have Access to Time Travel Technology:
Snarky Puppy’s Cory Henry did not squander his sit-in potential as a Fool’s Paradise Artist-at-Large. Not only was he jumping on an organ everywhere you looked, he also took his turn behind the drum kit with Vulfpeck. He made appearances to trade keyboard licks with The Nth Power, put the soul in Chris Robinson’s Soul Revue, and even showed up early to hit the Shipwrecked stage with Love Chunk before the main gates even opened, Cory Henry had everyone questioning what kind of tomfoolery he was using to be in so many places at once. We suspect a time machine fueled by the power of funk.
Most Likely to Fill You Up With Love:
The Nth Power
The Nth Power makes it a point to bring the love wherever they go. The energy that flowed from the stage during their Saturday afternoon set was like a flood covering the crowd, making everyone in its path all warm and fuzzy. When band leader, Nick Cassarino, called for a little crowd participation before launching into ‘Only Love’ the entire room was in sync, floating high on love and hot funk. Nikki Glaspie and Weedie Braimah are a match made in drum heaven and they were on top of their game in paradise, smiling from ear to ear as they threw down heavy beats and traded intricate fills. It is clear that these guys love what they do, and their passion is contagious.
The Nth Power stirred up so much love on Saturday that a wedding broke out right in the middle of the stage. Vulfpeck’s Woody Goss provided the perfect wedding music as the couple, clad in head to toe white, walked on stage to tie the knot. They took turns reading hand-written vows in front of the crowd of fools. There was not a dry eye in the house as the officiant announced, “By the power vested in me by the state of Florida, and the state of FUNK, you’re married!” And that’s how you do a fest wedding. Congratulations Mr. and Mrs. Tripp! You’re off to a great start.
Most Likely to Give You Middle School Dance Flashbacks:
Whether it was the low hanging twinkle lights or the nostalgia inducing musty gym smell, something about the late night show venue was like a portal leading directly to an awkward middle school slow dance; however, instead of the night ending with your mom yelling something embarrassing out of the window of a mini-van, it would end with a face-melting jam to end all jams. The festival closing Fools of Funk Supergroup featured Adam Deitch, Adam Smirnoff, Cory Henry, Nigel Hall, Weedie Braimah, Eric “Benny” Bloom and Ryan Zoidis, with guests dropping in and out throughout the night. It was an electrifying night of inspired music, and the perfect way to close out a fantastic weekend.
Life of the Party:
You would be hard pressed to find a group of guys having more fun on stage than Vulfpeck. Not only is the creativity and musicianship of this group off the charts, the energy that they deliver is so contagious that you can’t help but have a good time when Vulfpeck is in the house. During their sold out late night set on Friday, a revolving door of special guests jumped on stage to get in on the fun including: Eric Krasno taking a turn on guitar and keys, Ryan Zoidis, Cory Henry playing drums and keys, Eric Bloom, and Adam Deitch. When it was announced, just days before the festival, that the one and only Antwuan Stanley would be making a rare appearance with the band, Vulfpeck fans knew they were in for a treat. He took the mic during their main stage show on Saturday and busted out “Funky Duck”, “Wait For The Moment”, “1612”, and more while pirates and pranksters rushed to the pit to sing along. If there was anyone in attendance who did not know what a Vulfpeck was before Fool’s Paradise, there is no way they left without jumping on the Vulf party bus.
Fool’s Paradise MVP’s:
Lettuce has been doing the funk thing for almost two decades, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. As a matter of fact, the band was better than ever at Fool’s Paradise. They were on fire night one as they teamed up with GRiZ for a first time collaboration that blew the roof off of the amphitheater. Their closing set on night two was Lettuce at their absolute best. They blasted through Lettuce classics including “Break Out”, “Relax”, and “Nyak”, and raged on newer favorites “Chief” and “Sounds Like a Party”. When Nigel Hall emerged, he took it to the next level, at one point getting into a full on funk battle with Weedie Braimah and Ryan Zoidis, bringing the entire stage to the floor. They ended the set with Nigel belting it on “Do It Like You Do” right into a “Move On Up”, as the entire room danced and sang along.
Most Likely to Succeed:
After a majorly successful first edition, there is no doubt that Fool’s Paradise is here to stay. When Sirius XM caught up with Eric Krasno and Ryan Zoidis backstage, they made it clear that this was only the beginning by saying, “We’re looking forward to continuing to do this. It’s going to be hard to top this year, but we’re going to top it.” Bring it on, gentlemen! We will see you fools out there.