Bear Creek Music Festival – Nov 8 – 11th – Live Oak, FL
26 Oct 2012

The Author


Bear Creek Music & Art Festival will be taking a place in just a few short weeks and Sparkleberry Lane is proud to be covering this awesome lineup held at one of our favorite venues. For those of you who don’t know, Bear Creek Music & Art Festival is in its 6th year, and will be taking place this November 8th – 11th at the Spirit of Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida.

Why Bear Creek?

This ain’t no disco, it ain’t no country club either. This is Bear Creek.  In a day and age when electronic music is everywhere you turn, Bear Creek is a gem of a festival.  Since its inception 6 years ago, Bear Creek has remained true to its roots as a funk festival with heart.  The festival was founded by Florida Dead Heads with a pension for New Orleans jazz and soul music, and every year Bear Creek has attracted some of the country’s finest jazz, funk, and soul musicians to jam out on one of its five stages.

Zach Deputy performing an impromptu late-night set at his campsite around 5am (Bear Creek 2009)

As director Paul Levine described to Sparkleberry Lane, Bear Creek has always been very conscious of the makeup of its lineup, and has always considered the fans’ preferences when discussing new adds.  Bear Creek has not sold out to Skrillex, nor is it too uptight to invite Zoogma.  While it was born as a funk and jam festival, Bear Creek has let in newer acts whose music showcases the relationship between electronic music and live music.  But there are no purely laptop acts, and at the same time there are no purely acoustic acts.  Furthermore, at Bear Creek one is likely to hear once-in-a-lifetime collaborations between artists; veteran acts like P-Groove and Dumpstaphunk, who have been with the Fest for many years, never put on the same show two years in a row.  Get this- the artists on the lineup page marked “Artist at Large” have been hired for the whole weekend, and are encouraged to sit in with whomever they please throughout the weekend!

You can expect the crowd to be a perfect mix of generations, from college kids, to festy families, to heads that know what’s up, and heads that think they know what’s up.  Everyone is in it to dance, mingle, and have a good time- no drama allowed.  The festival grows by about 1500 patrons every year, and as Paul explained it, this organic growth allows for a seamless blending of the crowd- there is no obvious division between those who came for one kind of music, and those who came for another.  Plus, if there is electronica playing on one stage, you can be sure there is somethin’ funky playing on another.  Everyone wins, all the time.  And make no mistake, Bear Creek is educational!  That’s right, those of us that are attracted to the festival by names like Umphreys and Lotus will get a chance to hear the music that these artists are inspired by- the roots of the music that DJs can be heard sampling these days.

Who’s playing, what’s playing?

Umphrey’s Mcgee is headlining the festival with guaranteed sets on the main stage both Friday and Saturday nights, so hopefully we’ll be getting to see them play their originals as well as some sick Pink Floyd covers (nobody covers Pink Floyd like Umphrey’s covers Pink Floyd). Lotus is back to grace the stage as well. We saw them play an awesome set the last time we went to Bear Creek in 2009 and we’re sure they’ll be killing it again this year, because Bear Creek tends to bring the best out of musicians. There will also be 2 sets by Ivan Neville’s Dupstaphunk, 2 sets by The New Mastersounds and more (including 2 sets by Athens, Georgia’s very own PGroove).  We’ve heard a lot about, and are excited to see The Mantras, and who can resist a soulful set by Sharon Jones and the Dapkings?  Soulive, Lettuce, and Kung Fu are sure to keep the jams coming, and by the looks of it there are a ton of talented solo acts sure to bring their own flavor.  Seirously, just look at this lineup!

Who’s getting frisky on the late night?

Like many of you readers, our favorite part of any music festival are the nights; when the sun goes down and the weather cools off (and you can expect it to get quite cool at night so bundle up!) the festival sparks to life with unlimited possibility. So what’s to expect for your late night shenanigans?   In previous years, the music at Bear Creek has been hampered by a 1:30 county-wide noise ordinance, but this year the festival will be making use of the indoor stage to keep music going until 3AM, and the Silent Disco to keep the party rockin until 6AM.

The Thursday night late-night lineup is a chill start to the weekend, with a soothing Pgroove set running on the main stage from midnight – 1:30am, followed by the MarchFourth Marching Band (A very funky and jazzy collective hailing from Oregon) playing from 1-2:30am indoors.

Friday night we have Lotus playing on the main stage at midnight, followed by the Super Collective Dr. Klaw (Lettuce + Dupstaphunk) laying down the funk well into the latenight (1:30am – 3:00am+)

Saturday night has The Royal Family Dumpstajam supercollective (members of Lettuce and Dumpstaphunk, and Break Science) playing from midnight till 2am followed by a Break Science (Download the albums free and legally here) set from 1:30-3:00am+).

The Silent Disco lineups, running until 6AM, have yet to be revealed, but you can be sure the variety will not disappoint.  We are expecting a silent disco unlike any other!

Live Art!

This year’s lineup of live artists excites us almost as much as the music lineup.  SBL favorites Andrew Wagner, Christian Jaxtheimer, and Emily Kell will be creating a feast for our eyes.  We are confident the robust selection of the East Coast’s finest artists will leave nothing wanting in the visual realm.  Plus, with music as awesome as the music at Bear Creek usually is, you can be sure the art will be similarly inspired, and inspiring!

About the Venue: Spirit of Suwanee Music Venue in Live Oak, FL

Best view from a campsite

One of our favorite parts about Bear Creek is the absolutely gorgeous venue.  Boasting 500+ acres of natural surroundings, Suwanee has a very home-y feeling, with plentiful camping that’s never too far from any stage.  Lakes scattered throughout, a river, a few hidden waterfalls, and hiking trails make this a potentially adventure-full weekend.  During the day, expect to be kept shady lulling in a hammock between beautiful oak and cypress trees.  There are also little cabins scattered about the venue where many friendly people live, and some lucky festival goers have snagged cabins to camp in.

There indoor stage has a full-service bar with DJ’s playing and air-conditioning blasting to cool you off during the day, not just for VIP but for EVERYBODY!

Also, at the entrance to the venue there is a real brick-building store that has quite a lot of extra stuff you wouldn’t find at a typical festival canteen store, including BEER, ICE and CIGARETTES that they sell at a very reasonable price.


Security at the venue intends to make Bear Creek a place where families and friends can rage responsibly in harmony.  Don’t expect to see sketchy nitrous dealers and other scene polluters around- this fest is really about the music.  All state laws still apply to festival grounds, so if you are respectful, you will be respected!


The venue in Live Oak, FL is extremely close to both University of Florida and FSU and very accessible from Atlanta. The venue is immediately off the highway, so no trekking through any crazy backroads after you get off the highway. Once you pull off the exit, your basically there. Also, when we went for Blackwater and Bear Creek in the past, there was virtually no wait at all. You get to park your car at your camping spot instead of having to schlep your stuff from satellite parking (this isn’t always the norm for smaller festies so that is pretty cool).

Latenight at Blackwater Festival 2010
Photo by Justin Spinks


The typical weather at the Spirit of Suwannee this time of year is ridiculously awesome with typical highs in the mid 70s during the day cooling off into the 50s at night. Make sure to bring a jacket and something warm!

How to get there

The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park is located right at the intersection of I-10 / I-75 just south of the Georgia border. If you need exact directions click here.

Doing some pre-festival shopping.

Hope to see all of you there!

Look for the Sparkleberries!  Freddy will be wearing bright zebra pants and Christina will be covered in glitter.




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