Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dancin' Dave at Suwannee

Three festivals that are high on our wish list but not yet on our schedule are events produced by Magnolia Music & Events--Suwannee Springfest and MagnoliaFest in Live Oak, Fla., and MagnoliaFest Midwest in Bean Blossom, Ind. Springfest ran last weekend with a great lineup of artists. Since we don't have our own report to post, I'll pass along some impressions that Dancin' Dave Versch posted today to several bluegrass mailing lists.

By the way, if you don't know about Dancin' Dave's Festival Camping service, he offers to set up fully equipped camp sites for festival-goers at major roots music festivals, including MerleFest, Grey Fox, Floyd World Music Festival, and Lake Eden Arts Festival, as well as the Magnolia events mentioned above. For those traveling long distance to attend these events, Dancin' Dave's service makes the logistics much more manageable. Get the details and pricing for this useful service at the Dancin' Dave web site.

Now here's an excerpt from his Suwannee report:

"The Suwannee Springfest was both hot and cold! After a small cold front that produced a little rain came through early in the festival, the weather turned cold for northern Florida in the springtime. Lows were in the low 30s and being from the north and being acclimated to this type of weather sure was handy. There were many a Floridian festivarian bundled up to the hilt during the evenings! During the day the highs were in the mid-60s, which under a bright blue sky was just fine, thank you.

"And the music was hot! I of course had my favorites: The Del McCoury Band on Thursday night were smooth, to say the least! It's always a pleasure to see Del and the boys. I really enjoy the Mammals! Caught both of their sets and get a charge out of the enthusiasm they pull from the crowd. High energy good stuff. Uncle Earl! What a riot...and about the best dancin' sets you can get. Their sets could be twice as long and I'd never tire of them. And Abigail Washburn is a gem! I loved her solo set and look forward to seeing her often.

"Verlon Thompson is smoother than smooth, witty, laid back, and a great songwriter/musician. He makes a person feel right at home during his does Roy Bookbinder. It was a treat to see Peter Rowan join Roy on stage. Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet combine the two old pros with a couple of foxy young women who are excellent musicians and the result is a real treat! With Bryn Bright on bass and Sharon Gilchrist on mandolin, this quartet can play Peter's music sweetly, no matter how many times I've heard all of his tunes.

"Then of course there was Bela. After a year off, he and his Flecktone buddies are back at it! Bela never ceases to amaze me... since I first saw him with the New Grass Revival and I can't foresee him ever stopping. Darol Anger's Republic of class music put together by one of the coolest cats around. I love Darol's music, no matter what genre he happens to playing at the moment. It is always a treat to see and hear him in a bluegrass jam.

"There were other fine acts during the festival, too numerous to mention. The cool thing about a festival such as this is that you can ask ten folks what their favorite acts were and you'll probably get ten different answers. For me, two of the fastest hours of my life occurred at the Springfest! The was on Friday night in the Music Hall, where I first saw and heard the duo of Mike Marshall & Hamilton de Holanda. I am a huge fan of Mike's and consider him to be the coolest cat on the planet! He has been researching Brazilian music for some time now, and when he met Hamilton he himself was blown away. And luckily for us, he decided to team up with Hamilton to make some music that is hard for me to describe: a combination of bluegrass, newgrass and Brazilian music that contained more notes than I thought existed, and played with such clarity, tone, tempos and out-of-this-world musicianship that it was mind boggling and jaw dropping. The second fast hour was the set Marshall and de Holanda played on the main stage on Saturday afternoon.

"What a great festival! For those that haven't tried either the Suwannee Springfest or Magnoliafest, I can highly recommend..."

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