After almost a decade and a half, the organizers of Wanee Music Festival say they might be calling it quits on their extravaganza in North Florida. But fans of the annual event started by the Allman Brothers Band in 2005 need not mope: A new tradition (closer to home) will begin with Wanee Block Party, set for Friday, March 22, and Saturday, March 23, at Revolution Live. It will offer three stages of music headlined by original Allman Brothers Band drummer Jaimoe and his Jaimoe's Jasssz Band.
Jaimoe's drumming career spans almost the entirety of the rock 'n' roll era. "I'd listen to the New Orleans radio station WBOK," Jaimoe tells New Times. "They had this DJ, Okey-Dokey. I loved Elvis and Ricky Nelson." It was jazz that inspired him to pick up the drumsticks in 1959 when he was 14 years old. "I heard Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald. It knocked me out."
A saxophonist and fellow Mississippian, Donald "Cadillac" Henry, took Jaimoe under his wing. By the age of 21, Jaimoe was drumming with legends. "Cadillac called me in 1965. He had me play with Chet Taylor, who had a high voice that would make chicks throw their underwear. I studied music on the road with Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, Patti LaBelle. I played all the black theaters, like the Apollo. It was school to me. But I had to go home 'cause I wasn't making any money."
His cash flow improved after he cofounded the Allman Brothers Band in Jacksonville in 1969. Performing with those Southern-rock legends changed his impression of white musicians. "I used to play music by imitating people. A lot of white cats never stopped imitating. It made me think white people couldn't play music." His new bandmates opened his mind. "We played some R&B with a different approach. The music was good. They didn't imitate; they intimidated. Gregg Allman's 'Whipping Post' intimidated people to play it."
Jaimoe's steady beat helped the Allman Brothers Band sell millions of records and snag a spot in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The band called it quits after a series of final shows in 2014. With Jaimoe's Jasssz Band, he carries on the Allman legacy as well as his own. Jaimoe will demonstrate his considerable drumming skills Friday and Saturday night. "You'll have a good time when I'm playing. I want people to dance. Don't just sit there and shake your head. If you don't have a good time when I play, it's your own damn fault."
Wanee Block Party. 8 p.m. Friday, March 22, and 2 p.m. Saturday, March 23, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-449-1025; jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $35.50 via ticketmaster.com.
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