Thursday, June 23, 2016

Festgrrl Saying Bye

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Well, kind friends, this is the end of the festgrrl music news blog.

When I started festgrrl eight years ago, I began this wonderful adventure  because I couldn't get all the information I needed about the music festivals I wanted to go to, so I decided to start reporting on them and gathering info for myself and my fellow festers. Back then, most festival websites were generally terrible and hard to navigate.

I started out sending group emails and then evolved into the festgrrl blog when that easy platform became available.

Today, it's a far different landscape.There is TONS of information out there now about bands and fests, and lots of people reviewing and photographing. Check out  the venerable and valuable JamBase. Also Live for Live Music, Music fest news, Relix, Funk It, and The Untz,  just to name a few.

No one should have any trouble finding what they need to know with all that's available. So I'm gonna retire from this festgrrl venture and pursue some other stuff.  I have had some amazing experiences and met some delightful folk. Thank you musicians, thank you promoters, thank you tapers, thank you festivarians!

I'm still gonna be out there with my crazy old van and my dancing shoes, that's for sure. It's a long strange trip and I'm still traveling along with the rest of you music fans.You people are the best!

Love, love, love to all, near and far. See you on the dance floor.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Time for The Purple Hatter's Ball!

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It's time for the intimate, heart-felt love fest that is the Purple Hatter's Ball, with a full roster of bands including dance-tastic Papadosio, Earphunk, the Floozies, The Polish Ambassador, Melvin Seals & JGB and more.  It happens June 17-19. which we know is hot as hell, but wait! There's a cool river at  Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, and a stage will be running with riverside music all weekend.

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Sooooo... let's go! Bring your floaties and your coolers and your camping fans, rent your Suwannee golf carts and let's rage in paradise to honor the late Rachel Morningstar Hoffman, the purple-hatted fester who was taken from this world too soon. You can learn more about Rachel's story here.

Rachel Morningstar Hoffman
I can't recommend this sweet little festival enough. If you are in need of good vibes, this is the place. Gathering on the banks of the precious Suwannee, we spend a few blissful days treasuring our friends and celebrating our musical community.

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An advanced weekend ticket, which includes primitive camping Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, is $150.  The Thursday night pre-party is $37. VIP options are available also. A meaningful part of the festival is an annual ceremony on Sunday honoring Rachel where her family releases butterflies to fly free.
Rachel's mom, "Mama Margie," in the purple hat

You can also get involved in Action Days with socially conscious performer, The Polish Ambassador, on the Thursday before the fest (gardening projects, progressive techniques for handling refuse, permaculture, soil testing, and more.)  Action Days participants get into the Thursday night preparty for free.

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Check out the daily schedule here and I've listed the full lineup for you:

The Floozies
The Polish Ambassador
Melvin Seals and JGB
The Mantras
Roosevelt Collier Band
The Malah
The Hip Abduction
Voodoo Visionary
Catfish Alliance
Trial By Stone
Scott Campbell band with Avis Berry
Funk You
MZG Live featuring Allen Aucoin
Flat Land
Herd Of Watts
Kaleigh Baker with The Groove Orient
The Corbitt-Clampitt Experience
Post Pluto
SPORE with Zahira
Leisure Chief
Heather Gillis Band             

Late Night Silent Disco + Beach Stage
Ancient Deep
Big Bucks Crew
Cat Party
Elliot Mess
Jeff Randall
Paten Locke
Ricky Raw
Sir Charles
Taste Tester
Vlad the Inhaler
Zachy Nix

Thursday Night Pre-Party
Savi Fernandez Birthday Band
Space Kadet
Gypsy Elise

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Hey, Hey, The Fests of May

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Well, now, here's a little list festgrrl has curated with all you need to know about some of the music festivals happening in the Southeast this month. Get out there and support live music while the gettin' is good.

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Swamptown Getdown May 13-14. This inexpensive regional fest happens at the Okeefenokee fairgrounds in Waycross, Ga. Acts include Roosevelt Collier, Parker Urban Band,  S.P.O.R.E., Back From The Brink,  Chillikaya1,  Copperhead South,  dangfly!, Droppers,  Jamie Renee and The Walkers,  Lazy Lightning Lowdive,  Pine Box Dwellers,  Red On Red   and more. Weekend tickets are only $40 through May 7, and then they go up to a mere $50. The fairgrounds has RV and primitive camping, showers and bathrooms, food and craft vendors, and free Wi-Fi. 

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Shaky Knees May 13-14, Atlanta, Ga. Five stages at Centennial Olympic Park and International Plaza. Acts include My Morning Jacket, Florence + the Machine, JJ Grey & Mofro, Jane’s Addiction (playing the whole 1990 classic “Ritual de lo Habitual” album,) Huey Lewis & the News (playing the entire 1983  “Sports” album,) the 1975, St Paul and the Broken Bones, the Head and the Heart, Walk the Moon, the Decemberists, Foals, At the Drive-In, Bloc Party, and more. Tickets: $97 (general admission single-day ticket); $215 (advance three-day general admission; price increases to $236 once advance tickets sell out); $250 VIP options available. Children 8 and younger are free with a ticketed adult. All ticketholders are allowed to enter and exit the festival as needed up to three times per day. You must be scanned upon exit at the gate in order to re-enter that same day. A note of advice: Only tickets sold through frontgatetickets.comand via tickets page are 100 percent guaranteed. Be wary of buying tickets from any other outlet. In the event of a festival cancellation, only those purchased through official measures will be refunded
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Orange Blossom Jamboree May 19 – May 22. Near Brooksville, Fla. This is a bargain, low-hassle, big smiles, family friendly festival with excellent music. Highly recommended!! The shady stage is super close to campsites at the intimate and very pretty Sertoma Youth Ranch. Performers (alphabetical) Ajeva, Amber Lynn Nicol, American Song Box, Beartoe, Beeb$ And Her Money Maker$, Ben Prestage, Bengali 600, Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio, Boxcar Hollow, Brown Bag Brass Band, Brown Note,  Come Back Alice, Crazy Fingers, Dean Johanesen, Displace, Dunedin Brewery House Band, Electric Kif, Endless Flow, Este Loves, Flat Land, Free The People, Funkus, Fuzzy Britches, Green Sunshine, Grumpy Ole Trolls, Guavatron, Harmonica Man And The Sawgrass Band, Heather Gillis Band, Herd Of Watts ,Holey Miss Moley, Hymn For Her, Ism, Jeff White And Soul Taxi , Juanjamon Band, Juke, Justino And The Difference, Kaleigh Baker, Last Electric Rodeo, Laura Shepherd, Legacy, On The Avenue, Oranga Tanga, Phunk It, Redfeather, Row Jomah, S.P.O.R.E., Sarasota Steel Pan Band, Savi Fernandez Band, Serotonic, Shak Nasti, Shoeless Soul, Sosos, Suénalo, The Applebutter Express The Bath Salt Zombies X3, The Corbitt-Clampitt Experience, The Groove Orient, The Psychedelic Monks, The Stereo Type, Theoretic, Trigger City Trio, Troy Youngblood And The Soulfish, Uncle John’s Band. A 4-day ticket is only $87 and a 3-day ticket is only $77. Camping options for different prices available on the website.

Hangout Festival, photo courtesy of hit music

Hangout Festival May 20-22, Gulf Shores, Alabama (just over the Florida line)  This is a giant festival with big-name national acts.  Not recommended for little kids, although if you want to bring one, ages 10 and under are free. This is not a camping festival. It is held on the beach, but be aware you cannot bring beach chairs or umbrellas, and you cannot swim because they block off the Gulf from the festival. General admission three-day passes are $289. The Thursday Kickoff Party is $50. There is no festival parking, but area businesses sell spaces and you can buy a shuttle pass for $50. There are A LOT of banned items, including things you would never think would be banned, like already opened cigarette packs, open Chap sticks, e-cigs, certain types of jewelry and more. Seriously. Check out this story for more info. Performers include (sorry about the double commas, long story) The Weeknd,,Florence + the Machine,,Calvin Harris,,Alabama Shakes,,Ellie Goulding,,Walk the Moon,,Fetty Wap,,Lenny Kravitz,,Flume,,Haim,,Cage the Elephant,,Panic at the Disco,,Grimes,,The Chainsmokers,,Jason Isbell,,Miike Snow,,Portugal. The Man,,Moon Taxi,,Big Grams,,3LAU,,Alessia Cara,,Alison Wonderland,,Atlas Genius,,Bass Drum of Death,,BØRNS,,Brett Dennen,,Bro Safari,,Bully,,Coasts,,Coleman Hell,,Courtney Barnett,,Foals,,GIVERS,,Half Moon Run,,HEALTH,,Hippie Sabotage,,Jack Novak,,Jai Wolf,,Jerry Folk,,Judah & the Lion,,Kaleo,,KOA,,Kurt Vile and the Violators,,Lazyboy Empire,,Leon Bridges,,Lizzo,,Lost Kings,,MAGIC MAN,,Mayer Hawthorne,,Meg Mac,,Muddy Magnolias,,Nahko and Medicine for the People,,Pell,,Pepper,,Phases,,Powers,,Raury,,Run The Jewels,,Silversun Pickups,,Snails,,Speaker of the House,,Stick Figure,,Strangers You Know,,The Griswolds,,The Neighbourhood,,The Revivalists,,The Royal Concept,,The Struts,,The Wailers,,Thomas Jack,,Tourist,,Vince Staples, and X Ambassadors.

Florida Folk Festival  May 27-29, Steven Foster State Park in White Springs, Fla. This is a state-run festival, and you can only camp at the festival if you are a performer or a volunteer. There are campgrounds and hotels nearby. Arlo Guthrie plays this year, and you can go look at the state's page which highlights the acts this year. Tickets are $50 for the weekend, $25 for single day. 

 AND for pre-planning, here's one for June:

Rachel Morningstar Hoffman. 
Purple Hatters Ball  June 17-19. Yes, we know it's hot. But this is in a park near the Suwannee River, and there will be a stage at the river during the day, and two other stages in shady areas at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Festival. This is a camping festival, and there are also deals on air-conditioned cabins and golf cart packages. Weekend tickets are $127 through May 13. Papadosio,The Floozies,The Polish Ambassador,Melvin Seals and JGB, Earphunk, DubConscious,The Mantras,Roosevelt Collier Band,The Malah,The Hip Abduction, Sophistafunk,Voodoo Visionary,Catfish Alliance,Trial By Stone,Scott Campbell band with Avis Berry,Funk You,MZG Live featuring Allen Aucoin, Flat Land, Herd Of Watts, Kaleigh Baker with The Groove Orient,The Corbitt-Clampitt Experience, Post Pluto,Squeedlepuss, SPORE with Zahira, Bedside, Leisure Chief, Heather Gillis Band.

This is a charity event, held in the memory of  fester Rachel Morningstar Hoffman (December 17, 1984 – May 7, 2008) who sported a purple hat. She was  23-year-old Florida State University graduate when she was murdered while acting as a police informant during a drug sting. The first of its kind in the U.S., Rachel’s Law, a Florida law that went into effect on July 1, 2009, established new guidelines for law enforcement when dealing with confidential informants. 

Friday, April 29, 2016

We got Your Wanee Love Right Here

Art by Bean Spence. Photo by festgrrl
Talk about your lovefest -- that's as good a word as any for the Wanee Festival that invaded the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla. April 13-17. Stellar tunes, gorgeous weather, and a sweet crowd made for a beautiful Wanee 12 for all.

My festgrrl photo slide show is here.

Things started off nicely with a dance frenzy presided over by British funkateers The New Mastersounds on Wednesday night and I had the sore calves to prove it the next day. Just getting warmed up and back into the fest swing of things.

Gregg Allman at the keys. festgglr photo

This was the second year that Wanee took place without its official hosts - The Allman Brothers, but pretty much all the band members and Allman relations were in attendance. We all got to groove to come kick-ass performances by the Gregg Allman Band; Warren Haynes with his Ashes & Dust and Government Mule bands; Jaimoe’s Jazz Band; Devon Allman’s band; and the balls-to-the-wall jazz outfit, Yeti Trio (the guitarist is Vaylor Trucks.)

Widespread Panic heads had two nights of bliss, with the Southern-jam rockers presiding over prime spots Friday and Saturday nights.

The set-your-hair-on-fire Allman set was Les Brers, featuring Allman founders and alumni Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Oteil Burbridge, Marc Quinones, Jack Pearson, Pate Bergeron, Bruce Katz and Lamar Williams Jr. You can see some clips of that (with Warren Haynes sitting in) below.

The North Mississippi All-Stars with blues guitarist Anders Osborne put on one of the best shows of the weekend on Thursday. They played before New Orleans funk powerhouse Dumpstaphunk with Ivan Neville did a cover show called  “Earth War & Power,” followed by progressive rockers, Soulive.  A workout! One of the highlights for me was seeing all the smiling faces when Dumpstaphunk broke out War's infectious  "Cisco Kid." Brings a smile to me even now.

Bill Kreutzmann, Eric Krasno. festgrrl photo.
The Billy & The Kids Grateful Dead set was a smile-fest, too, especially when they broke into "Shakedown Street." Man-about-town guitarist Eric Krasno (Lettuce, Soulive) fit nicely into the lineup and seemed to be having a ball playing Dead tunes. 

Lots of good jazz was there to be had all weekend. Legendary bassist Stanley Clarke put on a fine performance Friday afternoon, Bobby Lee Rodgers showed off his jazz guitar chops all weekend, Jaimoe’s Jazz Band turned out an enjoyable set for waking up Friday, and the Joe Marcinek Band (featuring Tony Hall, Alvin Ford Jr. and Holly Bowling) absolutely smoked the stage on Wednseday. Loved that show!

Major shoutout for the Otiel & Friends set! WOW! Otiel Burbridge showcased some serious talent on the Mushroom Stage.

Otiel & Friends. festgrrl photo.
The Wood Brothers gave a quietly soulful performance that was, unfortunately, marred by sound bleed-through from the Peach Stage, where Umphrey's McGee was raging it up big-time in a rare-for-me daylight show. The Umphrey's show Saturday night, which closed the festival, was hard-charging per usual, with an epic laser light show dancing through the Spanish moss.

Brendan Bayliss of Umprey's McGee. festgrrl photo

If you want to read a detailed blow-by-blow Wanee weekend  review by someone with a lot of musical knowledge, check out this Live for Live Music review by Scott Hopkins.

Party people. festgrrl photo.
All in all, we chalked up another great Wanee at the Happiest Place on Earth. One more time, we created a temporary, tolerant village where people love to share with one another and enjoy one of life's biggest pleasures; LIVE MUSIC!

Here are clips I've collected of some of the shows so you can see for yourself!

Les Brers with Warren Haynes

Gregg Allman with Warren Haynes
Gregg Allman with Warren Haynes and Jack Pearson
Widespread Panic Driving Song, Papa’s Home

Warren Haynes Ashes and Dust Band Blue Sky
Billy and the Kids with Eric Krasno Shakedown Street
Hot Tuna with Steve Kimock, Bowlegged Woman, Knock-Kneed Man
Umphreys McGee, Nothing Too Fancy, Frankie Zombie
Kung Fu Joyride/In Cars

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Suwannee Roots Fest Tickets are Cheap Now!

Peter Rowan. Bluegrass Today photo.
A four-day ticket to the newgrass-Americana Suwannee Roots Revival festival is only $135 right now. That's a deal, straight up.

Already announced acts:  Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Blueground Undergrass, Jon Stickley Trio, Donna the Buffalo,  Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, and the Sauce Boss, with more to come.

The dates are Oct. 13-16 at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. Pre-planning, peeps!   

Friday, April 8, 2016

It's Wanee Time!


festgrrl photo.

Woo-hoo! The big Wanee Festival is around the corner, are you ready for this annual spring bacchanalia in the woods and fields of North Florida? 

Wanee's main focus is always Southern rock, but there are a bunch of jazz, funk, and alternative acts breaking it down on the stages all weekend.  

The fest starts up at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 13 at Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Fla with a lineup of music that’s called “Happy Hour” but actually lasts all evening. The festivities end in the wee hours of Sunday morning, April 17.

Vendor countertop art. festgrrl photo
On the Southern rock front, Widespread Panic plays Friday and Saturday nights. Wanee has traditionally been The Allman Brothers Band’s festival, and this year the band is broken up BUT most of the members will be at Wanee playing in various other bands which have Allman lineage.  

Here are the Allman-related bands on the bill: Gregg Allman Band; Warren Haynes with his Ashes & Dust and Government Mule bands; Jaimoe’s Jazz Band; Devon Allman’s band;  Yeti Trio (the guitarist is Vaylor Trucks;) Oteil & Friends; and a supergroup called  Les Brers featuring  Allman founders and alumni Butch Trucks, Jaimoe, Oteil Burbridge, Marc Quinones, Jack Pearson, Pate Bergeron, Bruce Katz and Lamar Wiiliams Jr.

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The North Mississippi All-Stars join up with blues guitarist Anders Osborne on Thursday, Billy & the Kids (Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band,) play Friday late afternoon, Bruce Hornsby & the Noisemakers play Saturday at noon, followed by Hot Tuna Electric with Steve Kimock.

Bruce Hornsby. festgrrl photo.
Prog-rock national phenoms Umphrey’s McGee bring their unique brand of mayhem in two shows, one on Friday afternoon and one at midnight Saturday to close out the fest.

Now that's some Wanee camping. festgrrl photo.
Some other not-to-miss shows:

For lovers of the FUNK:

On Wednesday: The New Mastersounds, a high energy British funk band. If you don’t dance at this show, there’s something bad wrong witcha.

On Thursday: New Orleans funk powerhouse Dumpstaphunk with Ivan Neville is doing a show they are calling “Earth War & Power,” followed by Soulive (progressive rock with some funk.)

On Friday: Nigel Hall

On Saturday: Kung Fu

For Grateful Dead fans:

On Wednesday: Crazy Fingers – really talented Grateful Dead cover band, plays at 7:30 p.m.

On Friday: Billy & The Kids (Grateful Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann’s band) play at 4:30

On Saturday: Melvin Seals & JGB featuring Karl Denson. Yes!

festgrrl photo.
 For jazz fans:

On Wednesday: Ben Sparaco Band

On Thursday: Joe Marcinek Band (featuring Tony Hall, Alvin Ford Jr. and Holly Bowling an amazing piano player who does Dead and Phish covers;) Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio

On Friday: The legendary bassist Stanley Clarke brings his band;  Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio; Jaimoe’s Jazz Band

On Saturday: The Yeti Trio; Bobby Lee Rodgers Trio; Oteil and Friends

For electronica fans:

On Friday: BIG Something; Conspirator

A couple of other interesting acts I’d recommend catching during the weekend – The Wood Brothers, a nationally touring folk duo who have recorded with Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, play Friday afternoon; Thomas Wynn & The Believers (beautiful harmonies and offbeat Americana cool) play on Wednesday, and Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear ( a mother and son blues duo) on Saturday.

See y’all in paradise!

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Suwannee Springfest: Warm Sun and Hot Strings

The all-girl band, Della Mae, was a standout. festgrrl photo.
There are two maxims to always keep in mind when it comes to music festivals: One: Don’t stay home just because there’s a bad weather forecast; and Two: Never miss a Sunday show.

Both proved true for Suwannee Springfest 2016. The heavy rains forecast daily did not show up (save for a brief rain before dawn on Saturday which vanquished weekend dust.) We basked in stellar North Florida spring weather throughout the weekend. And on Sunday,  Keller Williams Grateful Grass was one of the best shows of the weekend. Here’s a taste of that loveliness:  

This was the 20th year for Suwannee Springfest, and it always draws some of the best string players in the country. This year’s standouts were the Del McCoury Band, the John Stickley Trio

Jon Stickley Trio. Josh Webster photo.
and the Infamous Stringdusters, who turned out to be the weekend’s hard-working utility players, sitting in with numerous acts and backing Keller Williams for the Grateful Grass set.

The Infamous Stringdusters. festgrrl photo.
The MCourys. Josh Webster photo.
Some up-and-coming acts showed up at Suwannee with some fast-picking newgrass energy, including Cabinet, Fruition, Grandpa’s Cough Medicine, Taylor Martin’s Engine, Two Foot Level, The Virginia Daredevils, Horseshoes and Hand Grenades, and the Rumpke Mountain Boys. Springfest veterans Quartermoon and Sloppy Joe were a treat.

Fruition. festgrrl photo.
Springfest’s organizers also showcased a nice mix of Americana acts featuring strong female vocalists, including Nora Jean Struthers, The Broadcast, Nikki Talley, the Habanero Honeys, Grits & Soul, and Canary in the Coalmine. The international touring all-girl bluegrass band Della Mae knocked it out of the park with every performance and had the crowd buzzing long after their shows ended.

Nikki Talley. festgrrl photo.
On Thursday night, North Carolina’s Jon Stickley Trio created alternately atmospheric and foot-stomping magic to an enthusiastic Thursday night crowd, and Stickley and fiddler extraordinaire Lyndsay Pruett did their share of memorable sit-ins in the days afterward, too.

Friday night was a powerhouse string of shows, with Jeff Austin Band, Brandi Carlile, Jon Prine, and Railroad Earth holding down the main stages. It was a very emotional evening. I’m a big Carlile fan, and I found her performance spellbinding and soulful. Judging by the crowd’s rapt attention, I was not the only one. You can check it out here, thanks to our SELFLESS TAPER FRIENDS: 

After Carlile’s show, singer-songwriter legend Jon Prine, now nearing 70, took the ampitheater stage. His show was a revelation, with the crowd showing  hushed devotion and hanging on every word of Prine’s poignant musical tales. You could hear a pin drop. That show reminded me of Lyle Lovett’s Suwannee jaw-dropping ampitheater performance a couple of years ago. I am not sure this video does it justice, but here it is thanks to our SELFLESS TAPER FRIENDS:

The evening was brought home nicely late-night by bluegrass stalwarts Railroad Earth, which had the crowd boogying happily under the stars.

Bright and sunny Saturday we were busy butterflies, darting from stage to stage, with breaks for campsite picking.   

The ampitheater stage. festgrrl photo.

festgrrl photo.

Vocal powerhouse Nikki Bluhm took the ampitheater stage around Happy Hour with her band The Gramblers. Don’t miss a chance to see Nicki Bluhm.  Set highlights included her catchy hit, “Little Too Late” as well as a great cover of Linda Ronstadt’s “You’re No Good.”

A fast-picking traditional bluegrass set followed by legend Del McCoury and his family band before Prine took the stage to make us all laugh and cry. Roots-rockers Donna the Buffalo held down the late-night slot presiding over a dance frenzy of their fans ("the herd") as only this quirky hippie band can.
Nikki Bluhm. Josh Webster photo.
On Sunday, Bluhm returned to the stage with Keller Williams and the Infamous Stringdusters and covered Jefferson Airplane’s “Somebody to Love.” Grace Slick vocals aren't easy to pull off, but Bluhm nailed it. 

I was sorry she didn’t break out “Bird Song” during the Grateful Grass set, because she absolutely kills that song. See it hear:

All in all it was a love-filled weekend, if a bit hard for this writer since the sudden,tragic loss of a great musician and friend, Kenny Oliviero of Dread Clampitt, just days before. Beth Judy, co-founder of the festival, did a brief memorial reading for Kenny, a bass player and singer who graced those stages many times over the years.

Heartfelt love also went out to Springfest co-founder Randy Judy, who is battling back  from a serious stroke in Jacksonville. Special props to Jim Lauderdale, who performed a moving a Capella gospel tune after the words for Kenny and Randy were spoken.

As Lauderdale performed, I thought of a favorite Dread Clampitt song Kenny wrote, and recited these lyrics in my head as I watched the Spanish moss sway in the breeze.

"The world's so full of hate and retribution/and the light of love seems so far away/the best a man can do/is just keep on pushing through/and smile at the people that you pass along the way!"

Here's smiling at you!

Jim Lauderdale. festgrrl photo.