The inaugural GroundUP Music Festival opened on Friday at the North Beach Bandshell under a hypnotic moon and equally transfixing music, highlighted by performances from jazz explorers Snarky Puppy and rock mystic David Crosby.
The first night of the three-day festival drew a large crowd (tickets are capped at 1,500 each day) admirably diverse in age and ethnic demographics, and in their enthusiastic mingling you may have seen signs of hope for a fractured nation.
Cuci Amador and Tony “Smurphio” Laurencio of the electro-funk duo Afrobeta were there as fans, not performers, and excited by the mix of buzzed-about national performers and South Florida-based acts (Electric Kif, Aaron Lebos Reality, the Lee Boys and others), and the annual festival’s potential to inspire the local scene every year.
“It’s a big win for South Florida music. A huge win,” Smurphio said.
Co-produced by Snarky Puppy’s GroundUP Music label and the local scene-stirrers at the Rhythm Foundation, GroundUP is the final event of Festival Miami, sponsored by the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.
Friday’s performers included Bill Laurence (Snarky Puppy), the Heavy Pets, and Jacob Collier, nominated for one of the Grammy Awards that will be handed out on Sunday. Also nominated this year, two-time Grammy winners Snarky Puppy ripped through a crisp one-hour set that drew repeated outbursts of applause from a mostly awesomely bearded crowd. Snarky Puppy also performs at GroundUP on Saturday and Sunday.
Crosby was joined by Snarky Puppy founder guitarist-bassist Mike League, Becca Stevens and Michelle Willis, all of whom perform on Crosby’s excellent “Lighthouse” album. Bassist Esperanza Spalding, serving as a performer at large during GroundUP, energized the audience when she took the stage for several songs.
The 75-year-old Crosby seems to have lost little of the sweetness in the voice that has defined his music all the way back to the Byrds. Highlights included a beautifully delicate reading of “By the Light of Common Day” from the “Lighthouse” album; “Laughing,” a 1971 ballad that came with a story about writing it for George Harrison; and a sublime take on his Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young masterpiece, “Déjà Vu,” an exquisite closer for Day 1 of the festival.
The GroundUP Music Festival continues through Sunday on two stages at the North Beach Bandshell, 7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $85 per day; premium passes, which include access to the beachfront VIP and artists' Skylounge, cost $170 per day. Late-night shows on two stages at the Deauville Beach Resort cost $10 for festival ticketholders, $30 for those without tickets. Tickets to the daily pre-concert meet-and-greets with Snarky Puppy and other performers cost $125, in addition to festival admission. For tickets and other information, visit GroundUpMusicFestival.com.
The lineup at the North Beach Bandshell on Saturday, Feb. 11, includes Lucy Woodward, noon; Shelly Berg, 1:15 p.m.; Emily Estefan, 2 p.m.; Charlie Hunter Trio, 2:50 p.m.; Electric Kif, 3:45 p.m.; Terence Blanchard, 4:30 p.m.; Nikka Costa, 5:25 p.m.; Laura Mvula, 6:10 p.m.; The Funky Knuckles, 7:05 p.m.; Snarky Puppy, 7:55 p.m.; Esperanza Spalding, 9 p.m.; Pedrito Martinez Group, 9:45 p.m.
At the Deauville Beach Resort on Saturday night will be Philip Lassiter, 11:20 p.m.; House of Water, 11:20 p.m.; Magda Giannikou, 12:40 a.m.; Breastfist, 12:45 a.m.; Zach Brock and Bob Reynolds, 2 a.m.; and Shaun Martin’s Go-Go Party, 2:10 a.m.
At the Bandshell on Sunday, Feb. 12, you’ll find the Lee Boys, featuring Roosevelt Collier, 11:45 a.m.; Carlos Malta, 1:10 p.m.; Becca Stevens, 2:30 p.m.; Modern School of Music Band, 3:15 p.m.; John Medeski’s Mad Skillet, 3:55 p.m.New World School of the Arts Jazz Ensemble, 4:45 p.m.; Bokante, 5:30 p.m.; Aaron Lebos Reality, 6:20 p.m.; Chris Thile and Michael Daves, 7 p.m.; Maz, 8 p.m.; Snarky Puppy, 8:50 p.m.
At the Deaville on Sunday will be Charlie Hunter and Jeff Coffin, 10:30 p.m.; Pedrito Martinez, 11 p.m.; Derek Smalls and the Bottom Feeders, midnight; Jamison Ross, 12:30 a.m.; Nigel Hall, 1:30 a.m.; and Carlos Malta and Company, 2 a.m.