GroundUP Music Festival 2020 Preview

Next week is the 4th annual version of the premier jazz, world, funk music event that is GroundUP Music Festival. Started in 2017 by the fantastic GroundUP Music label and their premier group, Snarky Puppy, this festival has evolved into an all-star winter break in Miami Beach featuring world class musicians and bands, some of world renown and others that you probably haven’t heard of. The lineup, curated by Snarky’s Michael League is an eclectic mix that is sure to sparkle throughout the weekend. On top of the festival, the late night sessions running till 3 a.m. each night feature some top flight artists, up and comers, and many Snarky Puppy band member solo projects which are certain to keep your earholes tingling. Here’s a rundown of the stacked day by day lineups that we’re looking forward to.

Friday February 14

The Festival kicks off with Sofia Ribero, a Portuguese singer who we haven’t heard before but start the Latin flavor of the festival. In somewhat of a surprise Snarky Puppy, who plays all three days, plus a special acoustic session on Sunday, will play early in the evening.

Banda Magda, an artist featured on Family Dinner, Volume 1, brings a multinational group together featuring Magda on accordion and vocals

Michael McDonald, of solo and Doobie Brothers fame, will be playing a one of a kind acoustic set with an all star lineup including Michael League, Chris Potter, Jamison Ross and Shaun Martin!

A couple of acts that I’m interested to get familiar with follow, Flor de Toloache and Hamilton De Holanda – in Michael League we trust – his impeccable taste will surely deliver something great

Finally, the late night features Bob Lanzetti and Chris Bullock both of whom released excellent solo project last year and we close out the the one and only and ever fun loving Shaun Martin’s Go Go Party an annual can’t miss set!

Saturday February 15

The second day opens with Alina Engibaryan, a Russian singer who had a terrific debut album, We Are, in 2018. She is paired with saxophonist extraordinaire, Chris Potter, artist at large, who also played on that album.

Another Saturday highlight is the the return of FORQ fresh off their 2019 release Four. The band is comprised of Henry Hey (keys), Kevin Scott (bass and head bobs), Chris McQueen (guitar) and JT Thomas (drums). Chris and JT are regular touring members of Snarky Puppy as well.

Of course, Snarky Puppy squeezes their second set in the evening time slot.

The daytime fest closes with Christian Scott, a grammy nominated trumpeter who’s making his GUMFest debut.

Highlights of late night will be Mark Lettieri, who had two solo 2019 releases, Baritone Sessions and Things of That Nature and Jay Jennings with his YaYennings Quartet who had a terrific solo debut Scott Ave. in 2019 as well.

And the night closes out with The Nth Power a funk fusion group featuring Nikki Glaspie (formerly Beyonce’s world-touring drummer), bassist Nate Edgar and singer and guitarist Nick Cassarino.

Sunday February 16

GUMFest 2020 actually picks up steam on its third and final day/night with a Snarky Puppy acoustic set. Hoping that impulse and wallet will coincide for my to attend.

There’s an early spotlight midday set from Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band. Another early highlight is the Krantz Carlock Lefebvre trio, three-quarters of the early 2000s band Rudder which I recently got hip to from a fellow fest attendee.

One of the biggest names to ever play the fest, Lettuce, the grammy nominated funk bank hits in an early evening set. Their 2019 release Elevate was their first Grammy nomination in the Contemporary Instrumental Music category. It was also one of my favorite albums of 2019 from one of my favorite groups.

Becca Stevens, who came on to my radar during the recording of Family Dinner, Vol. 2, brings her solo set next. Since that time she’s been touring extensively with the David Crosby and we look forward to her upcoming album Wonderbloom.

And finally, as is now festival tradition, Snarky Puppy, closes out the festival. At the first festival, it was right after getting word of winning the Grammy for the album Culcha Vulcha and last year it was highlighting the 2019 release Immigrance. Can’t wait to see what’s in store this year.

True to form, the third late night set goes out with a bang with a second Lettuce set. If you haven’t seen Lettuce before, I gotta say they’re always best after midnight. Larnell Lewis, one of Snarky’s rotating drummers brings his set next and it’s sure to please based on his 2018 release In The Moment. Finally the the fest closes with BreastFist, the costumed, weirdest, most fun band you’ll ever know or not know. “It’s a marathon not a sprint”.