Wednesday, November 5, 2008


One of the things I love about festivals so much is that we create a kind community where love and laughter and hope and gratitude are the norm. Over the past eight years, this community has become vital to me as a way to escape the meanness coming from our country's leadership. I just couldn't have felt more out of step with the fear and hatred being contantly spewed by the right-wingers. Music festivals, and the people who go to them, have been my safe harbor.

I returned from five days at Magnolia Fest feeling loved and hopeful. And last night's election of Obama and many of my Democratic friends was the clincher for me.

So today, hope. And gratitude. And laughter.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Friday, October 31, 2008

Check out these awesome banjos!

More Magnolia Fest pictures

One of two very cool Vassar Clement fiddle angels Scramble Campbell did for the Ampitheatre stage.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

That's Sam Bush playing with festgrrl's favorite band, Dread Clampitt. He's jamming with Balder Saunders. Next is Magnolia Fest founder and director Randy Judy dancing to Dread Clampitt, and Leonard Podolok from The Duhks on the banjo.

Magnolia Fest photos

Check out this wonderful painting artist Scramble Campbell, who now lives in Colorado, did of Jerry Garcia. It's a fitting image to start us on a travelogue of what was a real Grateful Dead-filled weekend.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Message from Our Magnolia Fest Friends

Here's a missive from the folks who run Magnolia Fest, lots of fun info in here:

Dear Festival Folks:
The 12th Annual MagnoliaFest is right around the corner and we are requesting that everyone on our email list help us spread the word about the festival. We've got lots of new for you today.
Today we're covering:

* MagnoliaFest History
* The Lee Boys & Oteil Burbridge @ Smith's Old Bar
in Atlanta this Friday October 10th
* Get your MagnoliaFest Advance tickets NOW
* Schedule - what Schedule???
* The MagMusic Radio Show
* MagFest Kickoff:Inca Maya & TNS Freebird Live Oct 18th
* Laugh, Love, Dance & VOTE

When we began MagnoliaFest 12 years ago as Big Cosmo’s Sunshine Daydream Weekend, it was dedicated to the music and spirit of the late Jerry Garcia. Beth and Randy were both longtime Deadheads with hundreds of shows attended between them. Jerry's untimely passing left a huge musical void for them and many of their friends. After establishing Suwannee Springfest in March of 1997, they planned a fall celebration with a distinct Dead-ish flavor. The first lineup included former Garcia collaborators like the Old & In The Way Bluegrass Reunion featuring David Grisman, Vassar Clements, and Peter Rowan, Merle Saunders & the Rainforest Band, and 60's San Francisco ballroom favorites Gary Duncan & Quicksilver Messenger Service. And Donna the Buffalo was introduced to the Florida & Southeastern GD crowd, too.

This year's MagnoliaFest marks a special tribute to the late Garcia with several more of his former band mates appearing. Thursday will find former Grateful Dead vocalist Donna Jean Godchaeux performing along with her new band the Tricksters. Donna Jean & the Tricksters concentrate on the Muscle Shoals R&B which she started her singing career with (Elvis, Aretha Franklin) plus some blues and Dead songs. On Friday, Melvin Seals and the JGB Band are scheduled to render those sweet Jerry Band tunes. And on Saturday, the new trio featuring former Dead drummer Bill Kreutzmann will headline. Kreutzmann is joined by Allman Bros. and Aquarium Rescue Unit bassist Oteil Burbridge and Max Creek guitarist Scott Murawski. The group has been turning heads and opening ears across the nation this summer and they make their Southeastern debut at MagnoliaFest 2008. The band is called KBM and their repertoire includes some fresh original material with lyrics by former Grateful Dead songwriter Robert Hunter, along with other tasteful covers and plenty of classic GD music, too. The band is set to perform for 3 hours to close out the Saturday schedule. Then on Sunday Peter Rowan will be sure to honor both Jerry and Vassar as he deals out a solo set that will morph into our traditional Sunday Bluegrass Set.

MagnoliaFest will take place October 23-26 at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Pa rk in Live Oak, FL. For secure tickets and complete information please visit the festival website

You may order tickets online or call 904-249-7990 to order by phone.
Our office hours vary tremendously, but generally Monday - Friday 10am - 5pm. If you get a voicemail, leave a message and someone will call you back. We do call backs at all kinds of hours!

All tickets ordered now are being held for pickup at WIll Call.
For complete MagnoliaFest Ticket information go to

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I have it from a very good source that the complete schedule will be posted within the next 24 hours.
It's not up as of the sending of this email, but VERY SOON!
MagnoliaFest 2008 October 23-26
Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park Live Oak, Florida

Join us every Tuesday evening from 7-9pm CT (that's 8-10pm in the East) for "The MagMusic Show". Hosted by Randy "Big Cosmo" Judy and Beth Judy. The show can be heard online at Wildman Steve Radio, Go by and visit with Wildman Steve himself at MagnoliaFest.

Come out to Freebird Live in Jacksonville on October 18th
Inca Maya with TNS & Late Nite Transfer
$5 cover gets you a free draft beer & free download of Inca Maya's new album
MagFest Ticket Holders get in free (we suggest you copy your tickets & don't risk losing them)!

We want to gently remind you all to exercise your citizenship and get out to the polls for this upcoming election. It's important - like laughing, loving and music! Please Vote!

Thank you for your time. We appreciate your support and commit to bringing you quality events that feature great music, a joyful community spirit, healing vibes, and that are just plain fun!

In Harmony,
Iris Blooms (speaking for Beth & Randy)
Magnolia Music & Events, Inc.

New MapQuest Local shows what's happening at your destination. Dining, Movies, Events, News & more. Try it out!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Magnolia Fest Camping In Style

That's my friend Dancin' Dave in the picture, dancing with Kristen from Uncle Earl.
For those who don't want the hassle of hauling gear to Magnolia Fest, Dave offers festival camping services.

Just google Dancin Dave and his web site will come right up.

All you have to bring is your suitcase, and he takes care of the rest. Plus, he's one heck of a cool guy.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

North Carolina's Got It Goin' On

Two outstanding fests in North Carolina on the same weekend: Loki on 10/9-10/12 and Shakori Hills 10/10-10/12. The Loki lineup is outrageous! George Clinton (Get DOOOOOWWWWNNN!), Toubab Krewe, Col Bruce Hampton, and the amazing Larry Keel, flatpicking master.

I have heard lots of good stories about Shakori Hills, which is bluegrass and newgrass. The Duhks will be there, with their new material, and the Carolina Chocoloate Drops.

Also, don't forget the Riverhawk festival in Brooksville, outside of Tampa.

I've never been to Riverhawk, but I hear great things from my Tapa-St. Pete fest friends. One of these years...

I'm too busy in North Florida, what with Magnolia Fest and Bear Creek, to get up to North Carolina. I hope all these many fall fests are supported by music fans during these uncertain financial times.

Oh, I know you want to know: Who are those painted girls at the top of festgrrl's blog? They were attendees at Wannee. Aren't they precious??!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Magnolia Fest lineup

Expect transcendental jams at Magnollia Fest,October 23-26. Newgrass pioneer Sam Bush is coming, and he's always great to see sitting in with whomever, as well as his own excellent Sam Bush band. He recorded on Dread Clampitt's new CD (not out yet) He played fiddle -- not madolin. Dread Clampitt's talented Balder Saunders held down the smokin' mandolin for the new record. Dread's fantastic fiddle player, Justin from Australia, has left the band, so we'll hear a new sound this Magfest when the boys come over from Walton County, Fla.

I'm psyched to see Donna Jean and the Tricksters, old deadhead that I am. Here's the skinny on the band from their website:

"Donna Jean Godchaux MacKay was born to sing, and over the course of time she’s done so with people like Elvis Presley, Percy Sledge, Boz Scaggs, and Jerry Garcia. Now she has a new band that she’s quite certain is on a creative par with anything she’s ever done. “This band is a perfect fit for me as a singer/songwriter,” she said recently, “and I hope to be doing this for a long time to come. We’re having so much fun with this music!” The Grateful Dead alumna has joined up with six members of the next musical generation – Mookie Siegel (David Nelson Band; formerly Phil & Friends, RatDog), Wendy Lanter (Hope in Time), and Jeff Mattson, Tom Circosta, Klyph Black and Dave Diamond (Zen Tricksters) to form Donna Jean and the Tricksters."


A number of the Suwannee favorites have new CDs out.

The Duhks, out of Winnipeg, Canada, have a stellar new release called Fast Paced World. Girl singer Jessee Havey is gone, as is the fantastic Afro-Cuban drummer Scott Senior, replaced by Sarah and Christian Dugass. The new disc has a lot more production on it. I'ts slicker than their earlier releases. Sarah Dugass really shines here, but I kind of miss young fiddler Tania Elizabeth's background vocals, they are not as prominent on the new disc. And she really has an angelic voice. How about this for spooky coincidences --- the single off the album, 'Mighty Storm," is an old folk song about a hurricane hitting Galveston, Texas. Who knew?

Donna The Buffalo has a new CD out, Silverlined. It turns out I already knew almost every song on it, because they've been playing them live. A few new treats, though, from this infectiously danceable band. I like the "Superstar" song, it has an old rock and roll feel to it. No doubt the herd will be jumping.

Also new release out from The Avett Brothers, called Gleam II. I reviewed it in the earlier post about Floydfest. It is great, and I can't gush enough about these boys.

Col. Bruce and The Quark Alliance will be in the house, certain to blow everyone's mind. And of course our favorite lion, Peter Rowan. He did a REALLY trippy set at Springfest in the ampitheatre. I hope he brings some of the greats on stage with him, he always does.


The river is really high, so be careful.

Don't forget your radio, they have a lo-fi broadcast from the main stage.

Don't forget your hammock to put up at the ampitheatre stage.

If you have a sun shower, pack it. The showers get gross and they are cold.

Don't miss Slopryland's after-hour stage by the lake in the campground (see picture below) At Wannee, Ralph Rodenberry tore it up back there, and who doesnt love Sloppy Joe and their pre-dawn hospitality! Drikk your coffee and stay up for the late night fun!

Bring pumpkins to carve!


Get Ready for Magnolia Fest!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Get your Bear Creek tickets now

I am so psyched for the Bear Creek festival at the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida. The ticket prices go up a few bucks on September 17, so get on it, festivarians!

I went to Bear Creek last year and it was completely chill, uncrowded, and, of course, featured stellar bands. Bear Creek is the reincarnation of the old Down on the Farm festival which was held in Quincy, Fla. for a couple of years. The Down on the Farm people bought new land for their festival site, but locals nixed the fest. That's when they moved it the Suwannee Music park.

That's cool by me. Suwannee is a fabulous venue with great camping and an awesome river beach. The main river beach is a long way from the stages, so you'll need a car or golf cart to get there. You can walk to a different, closer spot to swim, but there's no beach there. With the river as high as it is, beach will be hard to find in any case. Still, you must baptize yourself in the Suwannee!

For Bear Creek, JJ Grey and Mofro is the band I am most excited to see. They get better every time I see them. I caught them at Echo Project in Georgia, and at their own Blackwater Sol Review in St. Augustine, Fl. summer of 2007. They also put on a killer show at 2007's Wannee festival, also held at Suwannee Music Park.

I have no idea why JJ Grey isn't more famous, He's got the star quality, the pipes, the writing chops and the showmanship to be bigger nationally.

I'll be back soon to preview Magnolia Fest, which is coming up fast. Yay! Can't wait to see all my festy friends!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Floydfest is Fantastic

Sept. 1, 2008

I went to Floydfest in July in Floyd, Va. It is one of the cleanest and coolest music festivals in the southeast. The mountain setting is so gorgeous. Headliners were Donna The Buffalo, Rusted Root, Railroad Earth and The Avett Brothers. The Avett Brothers, from Concord, NC, killed it!

They have just been signed by Columbia, and you can see why. For my money they are some of the finest songwriters working today. On stage, they are possessed! Their roots as a punk band are more than evident when they start it crank it up, whipping their heads around, falling down on the stage, jumping around. The lyrics are sly, bold, delicate, and searing. I just can't get enough of these guys. It was a particularly sublime show, right at sunset in the mountains. The crowd knew all the words, making it even more intimate. Now that The Avetts have signed with Columbia, I wonder how long we will get to see them in these smallish venues.

Check out the Avetts' new disc, Gleam II. Like the first Gleam, it is a soulful, stripped down melodic treat.

Also fantastic at Floydfest: The Rev. Peyton's Big Damn Band. It's actually a small band - the Reverend on bottleneck guitar, his wife on washboard, and his brother banging on a pickle bucket. But Lordy what a sound they make! They'd be moving along on a gospel tune or a blues tune and - wham! - they'd make a crazy racket and charge toward the edge of the stage like maniacs. Absolutely hilarious! I loved "Your Cousin's on 'Cops'" They reminded me a little of Rev. Horton Heat. I wasn't the only one bowled over by the Reverend: the crowds for this band got bigger with every show during the weekend.

I about had to have my hip replaced after seeing Yo Momma's Big Fat Booty Band from Asheville, NC. in the wee hours Friday night. These boys take a page from Funkadelic's George Clinton and Bootsie Collins. Loud, funky, pimp-attired and truly relentless. They made everybody get down on the floor at one point. Anybody who was still standing had to vouch that they had a knee problem. It was sweaty, bootilicious fun, the kind that makes you forget everything and just DANCE.

Josh Phillips, the adorable dimpled front man for the group, sat in Friday night even though he has -- sadly -- left the booty band. He says all the shouting in the booty band was wearing his voice out. He played a Floydfest afternoon set with his new group, Josh Phillips Folk Festival. I bought his pre-mix CD of six songs and it is very rootsy, folky reggae, real good. He's got a new CD coming out, watch for it.

My advice is to get advance tickets for Floydfest next year. The camping is great, the scene is clean and mellow, and the music is stellar. One cool aspect is the World Music village, which offers bands from ... around the world. You gotta hike down the hill, but it is worth it. This is also where the only fire pit at the festival is, and where all the late-night drumming and dancing action is.

Festgrrl's Important things to know:

CAMPING - You have to buy a car pass to camp out of your car, and you will likely still have to haul stuff to your campsite. The cars are in a field with RVs. If you wanna camp in the woods (I recommend it), you have to haul your stuff. So bring backpacks or a little hand cart or something.

If you don't buy a car pass, you park a little ways away and take a shuttle bus. When you get there, you will have to hike your stuff in to camp.

I use DANCIN DAVE's FESTIVAL camping (Google Dancin Dave), and when I get there, my tent is all set up and I have fabulous Dave to visit with. It is WAY LUXURIOUS, but behind the sometimes loud beer garden stage.

DRINKS - You have to buy beer in a beer garden and drink it there. You can't buy beer at the main stage at all. You have to listen to whomever is the beer garden stage band while you drink your beer.

On the other hand, there are no checkpoints to check your backpack or your cup anywhere in the festival. Like I said, it is a mellow scene.

ART - If you like art, and have money, Floydfest is a great art show, a cut above most fests I have been to. I have brought home treasures all three years I've gone.

KIDS - This is a very kid friendly event. The crowd is in no way obnoxious. They have a kids village and a kids parade. This year, they had a fantastic balloon art maker. One year, they had the kids do an advice booth for adults. I kept thinking up problems to bring to them because they were having so much fun telling the adults what to do!

WEATHER - This year was gorgeous, but some years it is mighty misty and foggy and chilly in the evenings. Pack accordingly.

MASSAGE - They offer 'em, get one! Then go dance some more!