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!