From the GroundUP, a festival of music by the ocean, home-made and worldly.


From left to right, Eliades Ochoa, Michael League and Sammy Figueroa at the GroundUP Music Festival, Sunday. Photo by Luis Olazábal / Rhythm Foundation

Sunday night was the end of a long day that included more than six hours of music and a program of panels and workshops (including an “A Capella by the Sea” gathering right on the beach) and the final set of the three-day GroundUP Music Festival at the North Beach Bandshell in Miami Beach. But you never would have guessed it from the sounds of the stage and the response from the audience.

Musically, the set was another tour the force by Snarky Puppy, whose label curated and produced the festival. The band took the audience on yet another wild ride that this time touched on Brazilian and Middle Eastern music, down-home church music and a bravura showcase of rock guitar that, somehow, they made sound logical and musical.

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A Saturday Groove Special at the Ground Up Music Festival


Roosevelt Collier at the GroundUP Music Festival Saturday. Photo by Luis Olazábal / Rhythm Foundation

Saturday at the second annual GroundUp Music Festival at the North Beach Bandshell on Miami Beach sounded like the day (and evening) of the groove — and the perils of too much of a good thing.

There was, still, diversity. A program that, in the span of a few hours,  includes the horns-and-voices, R&B-rooted sound of Emily Estefan; the Sacred Steel tradition-gone heavy blues/rock/funk of pedal steel wizard Roosevelt Collier and the ferocious live /electronica experimentation of Swiss drummer Jojo Mayer’s Nerve, can hardly be considered homogeneous — and yet. The law of unintended consequences might’ve caught up with the festival.

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GroundUP Music Fest — no borders music and a breeze from the ocean.



Snarky Puppy on their opening set at the GroundUP Music Festival at the North Beach Bandshell, Miami Beach, Friday. Michael League center. Photo by Luis Olazábal/Rhythm Foundation

By the time Snarky Puppy finished opening their set, unspooling one of its long, engaging musical tales, full of catchy melodies and various asides and side trips, night had fallen over the North Beach Bandshell on Miami Beach but still, it was 75 degrees, there was a slight breeze from the ocean and palm trees were swaying just so. You can’t blame Michael League, the band’s leader, composer, and bassist for being, let’s call it, uncharitably truthful, as he welcomed the audience to the second annual GroundUp Music Festival in “temperate Miami Beach while all our friends are freezing their asses back in New York.”

And yet, the great setting is only part of the story.

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