Photography + Review by Geoff Clowes /Sage + Spirit Photo
The 4th annual iteration of the GroundUp Music Festival is now in the books. The festival, with an annual lineup of jam-based jazz and funk acts curated by three-day headliners Snarky Puppy was this year a gathering of the best of the best. Taking place at the North Beach Bandshell, the event runs counter to most festivals in that it is set in a small venue with a capacity of only a few thousand attendees. While small, the crowd is in no way less enthusiastic than at one of the giant festivals.
The lineup for the 2020 GUMF was one of the most noteworthy, with acts including Snarky Puppy, Michael McDonald, and Lettuce, alongside lesser known acts such as Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band and FORQ.
One of the highlights of the weekend was seeing Michael League, bandleader and bassist from Snarky Puppy sitting in on bass for so many other acts, including Michael McDonald’s set, that also featured the rhythm section and backing vocals from Snarky Puppy. Other highlights include Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band with their Miles Davis sound and Banda Magda performing a set of Greek tinged jazz, and the uban Jazz of Yissy Garcia & Bandancha.
The GroundUp Music Festival is one of the most important music festivals in South Florida and certainly one of the best small festivals in the jazz/funk world. This year was no exception, as the festival was awash in warm breezes and sunshine other than Saturday night – which was awsh in gale force winds and rain. But hey, it’s South Florida after all, what do you expect?