Yuval’s Autumn Music Notes: Hulaween and Seu Jorge

Arriving at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park on Thursday morning, my excitement for Hulaween was already building. This festival, more than most, encourages a transcendence of daily life, fostering an environment overflowing with positivity and a unique sense of community.

For its 10-year anniversary, Hulaween brought together twenty thousand attendees spanning various demographics, from families with kids to college students and seasoned jam fest veterans. The festival’s charm lies in its unifying power, creating a harmonious connection that defies conventional boundaries.

A cherished tradition at Hulaween is the culture of gift-giving and storytelling. Campsites featured tables with “Take one, Leave one” signs, offering stickers, toys, and various keepsakes. Wild Vine Co, a savvy small business, even put out free potted plants asking people simply to tag them on social media in exchange.

The festival’s strong sense of community is reinforced by dedicated staff who have transitioned from attendees to active contributors. Mike on the media team, who attended for seven years before joining the crew, Gary who was driving a golf cart had been coming for four years prior, and many more like them reinforced this phenomenon at various levels. Everyone I encountered was friendly and willing to help even in things beyond their official scope. Special recognition goes to Tobias and Ms. Jones, the security team members who rescued me when my camera’s memory card was full, with Tobias’s spare pin proving essential for getting out my phone’s sd card.

Hulaween’s distinctiveness also stems from Spirit Lake and its satellite areas, each with a unique charm and theme. These pockets of creativity, curated by artists and independent production groups, showcase impeccable attention to detail and unique concepts. The collective effort results in an immersive experience that transcends the music performances alone. It is definitely one of the most ambitious and successful art programs incorporated into a music festival that I’ve seen.

Speaking of music, Hulaween’s lineup was not to be taken lightly by any means. While I wasn’t initially familiar with many of the acts, I made a point to listen to the festival’s Spotify playlist in the weeks leading up to the event, ensuring I would have some acts to target on the schedule each day. And most of the ones I picked out did not disappoint.

My highlights included a mix of headliners and lesser-known names: Smino, representing hip-hop admirably in a lineup somewhat lacking that genre this year, left a lasting impression with his stage presence, talent, and a strong support crew on stage with him. Funk You, despite the blazing sun during their afternoon set time, delivered a high-energy performance that may have been my overall favorite. Empire Strikes Brass rocked a smaller Spirit Lake stage sprinkled with comedic relief and powerful harmonies between vocals and the namesake brass instruments.

Other standouts included DispatchPretty LightsThe Jennifer Hartswick BandCadillac Jones (with guest vocalist Awleen), Underground SpringhouseAltın GünChannel TresCouchErin and the Wildfire, and Chew (who I saw at the House of Lost stage right after a great burlesque act). And of course my Miami people Roosevelt Collier and Electric Kif, both of whom I used to see often back in the day and was grateful to see doing their thing once again live.

As I embarked on the six-hour drive home, I reflected on the magic of my experience over the weekend and found myself playing a mix of high school and college-era music (early 2000s through 2010) that I hadn’t listened to in decades, along with tunes from the bands I had just discovered at the festival. It struck me that festivals like Hulaween serve as a bridge between generations of music, fostering a sense of continuity. When done properly, they become an opportunity for seasoned acts to pass the torch to emerging artists, creating a seamless connection between different audiences. This festival’s unique culture of generosity, the dedication of its staff, and the exceptional musical lineup combined to create an unforgettable experience. Hulaween is not just a festival; it’s a vibrant, ever-evolving community where wandering souls find their true north and make lasting connections.

Seu Jorge

When two musical powerhouses like Seu Jorge and Daniel Jobim join forces to pay tribute to a legend like Antonio Carlos Jobim, I knew I was in for a remarkable evening. The USA tour featuring this dynamic duo promised to be an unforgettable experience for fans of Brazilian music, and I was fortunate to witness their performance at the Au-Rene Theater within The Broward Center for the Performing Arts.

I’ve been a fan of Seu Jorge’s for a long time and was excited to finally get to see him live. I admittedly wasn’t as familiar with Daniel, or his grandfather by name, but once I started listening to their songs in anticipation of the concert, I realized many of them were already familiar to me.

The theater is a nice balance of intimate yet grandiose atmosphere that suited the stage design and vibe of the show perfectly. The crowd was mainly expats and some younger generations of local Brazilians with an appreciation for their cultural music treasures. As a non-Brazilian, I could appreciate how connected and loving the energy was between the audience and the performers. A few songs turned into sing-alongs, and some over-enthusiastic people in the crowd couldn’t stop themselves from shouting out requests of their favorite hits.

What set this performance apart was the palpable passion that Seu Jorge and Daniel Jobim brought to the stage. Their renditions of these classic songs felt fresh, authentic, and deeply heartfelt, chosen not just for their historical significance but for the personal connections these songs had with the artists.

The affectionately nicknamed Tom Jobim, a multifaceted musician and composer, seamlessly combined samba, classical, jazz, and bossa nova to achieve international acclaim. His collaborations with renowned artists such as João Gilberto, Chico Buarque, Baden Powell, and Frank Sinatra underscored his profound impact on Brazilian culture and the global music scene.

Daniel Jobim, as Tom’s grandson, provided a unique perspective on the life and work of the musical genius. You could also see the kinship between him and Jorge as they interacted and collaborated on stage.

The Seu Jorge and Daniel Jobim concert was a testament to the timeless appeal of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s music. Their heartfelt tribute not only kept the spirit of Tom Jobim alive but also introduced a new generation of music lovers to the enchantment of Brazilian music.

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Yuval Ofir

Yuval Ofir is a Creative Project Director, Consultant, Cultural Advocate, and all-around Miami Ambassador who launched Yo Miami in 2011.