We are back home from a 798 mile round trip to a scaled-back and down-sized Suwannee Springfest.
Black Betty and I arrived Thursday afternoon and were soon set-up in Gnometown and reunited with fellow friends and Festivarians. A rain blew through the area for a few hours on Thursday evening but otherwise the weather was perfect for a weekend of camping and live music.
Thursday night we walked down to watch the Tornado Rider spectacle at the Ampitheater stage and then discovered that the Dirty Dozen Brass Band was moved to the Music Hall stage. We decided that we really didn't want to fight the indoor crowd in the little Music Hall, so unfortunately, we missed the DDBB.
Friday morning, storytelling blues singer Roy Book Binder started us out with his great tunes and insightful tales of the classic blues masters. Crowd favorites newgrass band Dread Clampitt and the fabulous Mosier Brothers, with fiddle-monger David Blackmon, got the crowd rocking. Next, the jazzy Belleville Outfit, featuring the talented Phoebe Hunt on violin, introduced themselves to the Springfest Friday afternoon crowd and gained lots of new fans with their unique style of Americana roots music.
Friday evening we caught Texas song writer Robert Earl Keen (first time live for me) and then danced the night away with a turbo-charged Donna the Buffalo. I must say, at this point, that keyboardist Dave McCracken has totally fired this band up. They are playing HOT HOT HOT right now inspired by McCracken's jammy-fueled organ engine!
The show I was excited about on Saturday morning featured songwriters Jim Lauderdale, Shawn Camp, Peter Rowan, and Verlon Thompson. Jim and Verlon had us laughing, Shawn had us crying, and Peter had us all flying high in the Free Mexican Airforce. These four guys are all master song craftsmen, and it was, a pleasure and an honor to hear them share their music.
Saturday night we were introduced to the bluesy and soulful Ruthie Foster during a disappointingly short one- hour set. It was a shame to have such a talented heavy-hitter on stage for such a short time. We were just getting to know her.......
Slam grass, boogy band Leftover Salmon performed the big show on Saturday night. They didn't disappoint either. Vince Herman, Drew Emmitt, and the band were totally fired up and burned down the house. It was a great finish for the day, and we returned to Gnometown exhausted and ready to sleep.
Somewhere in there we manged to see the wonderful Turtle Duhks and Jonathan Edwards (I seem to know every word to all of his songs). Disappointingly, we missed 18 South who received rave reviews by everyone to whom I spoke. Also, we were bummed that Jessee Havey was unable to attend due to the current border skirmish with our neighbor to the north, Canada. Somehow we also managed to miss Scythian this time but did get a great photo of Black Betty with Josef. We'll catch them next time.
We couldn't stay for the Sunday show. We had to head back to Cackalacky. Bummer!
Sweets: kids and families, Boogie Cat, friendly, good vibe, small crowd, one damn hot Donna the Buffalo,
the apple crisp at Sweet Revenge, great primitive camping.
Sours: The Meadow stage is bye-bye; the tiny Porch stage with its laughable 30 minute tweener sets is not even a close substitute. A $20.00 extra charge for a Saturday night midnight jam (did anyone even attend)?
Overall : A great little festival!