Monday, July 28, 2008

FloydFest 7 - A Family Affair

FloydFest Pan
Modestly sunburned, a bit poison ivied, aching in all the usual places - but all the better for the experience - we are back from the mountains of Virginia, our annual visit to FloydFest. The theme was A Family Affair; and so it was with my daughter joining members of my wife's family at our campsite. This was her first visit to the festival. It was a special treat to see the week-end through her eyes. Above is her panorama of the site taken from the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Floydfest 7 will be remembered as the year with no rain, only partly cloudy skies, and pleasantly warm temperatures, fleeting conditions for these mountains at this time of year. Sunday night after most campers had left I even saw the Milky Way on my way to port at 3 AM.

I did not post about FloydFest 6 last year, more a reflection of blogging fatigue than the week-end. Last year's line up included Sam Bush, the North Mississippi Allstars, Donna the Buffalo, and closed with our house band, Railroad Earth. The musical surprise last year for me was The Waybacks. They were just totally awesome, to repeat a phrase.

Again this year it was performers I knew little - if anything - about, who made the musical weekend for me.

We were eating dinner early Friday evening when four men took the stage next to us dressed in black three-piece suits; they looked like young undertakers. Surrounding one microphone they went from one old-time traditional Appalachian song to another, just nailing them. These guys were good. It was only between songs when it slowly dawned on me that something was different. That...that European accent....they were Swedish! Pontus Juth, Peter Frovik, Ralf Fredblad, and Kristian Herner call themselves the Rockridge Brothers. Here is them on YouTube. Who knew?

Two weekends ago on my way to Charlotte I listened to that Saturday morning staple, NPR's Weekend-Edition. As they often do to wrap up the show, they interviewed a musical guest who played a few songs. This time it was Amos Lee, someone I did not know. I enjoyed the interview, listened to a couple songs, thought him pretty good, and moved on. This Saturday I was sitting on stage with him. Folks, he is the real deal. I have not heard any of his albums, but live he had my full attention for entire set. He is so good it is scary. I will see him again. Here is a link to the NPR interview.

Another high point was hearing Railroad Earth again. As I have been to about twenty shows now, the newness has worn off. It has been replaced by that warm feeling of seeing old friends and being transported out of the moment to a familiar, wonderful place. They have a new album, Amen Corner, which captures them relaxed, fresh with new songs. I had a chance to talk with Todd Shaeffer for a few minutes in the parking lot. I reminded him that he had sent me 20 CDs a year and a half ago after he had played solo at my daughter's wedding. Like a true musician (and gentleman) he had not bothered to enclose an invoice. So we settled up. Then that evening RRE closed the main stage in great style.

The three stories above were not the half of it. We heard four kids from Wise, Virginia, most just out of high school, who call themselves the Midnight Ramblers. They were just perfect, dressed and pressed, music as fresh and pure and timeless as spring in Wise County. San Francisco's New Monsoon rocked the mainstage. Kat Mills made sitting around the Pink Floyd Garden Stage just the place to be. The everybodyfields put on a wonderful performance at the Hill Hollar Stage. Rusted Root disappointed no one Saturday night. What a wonderful version of Cinnamon Girl. David Grisman's Dawg Music brought a smile and, for some, memories of Jerry. And words fail to describe the Avett Brothers, just fail. What energy, what honest music. What a way to end the festival!

anita b&wThe Best Camper Award this year goes to Anita. This was her sixth straight Floydfest and the driving force - literally up highway 8 - for keeping our family focused towards this annual event. Like the festival itself, each year she handles with grace whatever circumstances present themselves. She's nice, damn it!

A close runner-up for best camper is Virginia, who's health problems made attending this year problematical. Determination carried the day. She's nice too.

(Many) more photos, like the ones above, will shortly be posted on my daughter's flickr site.

After one drives away only does it dawn that Floydfest is not really about the music; in the end it is the people one remembers: the extended family of friends who put the week-end together, the vendors, the campers, the day-trippers, and the performers from all over the world and our backyard who share their art with us. I was just on the phone with my sister. I heard myself say that Floydfest is like a big family reunion where there are lots of relatives you just haven't met yet. That works for me, a Family Affair.


Malindi the Daughter said...

i have poison ivy too!

good write-up : ) i had a blast.

Kurt said...

Hey Bibster!. Hope all is well.I enjoy your blog! If you like Amos you might enjoy Monty Montgomery...check him out. Doing well..getting fat...always been dumb, and still happy.
Kurt Wheeler, Wisconsin

Anonymous said...

hey bibb--i went to floydfest this year and i looked for you the whole time! i saw amos lee, rusted root, and some of the others you saw. some friends of ours played in the beer tent area, moussa. did you happen to see them? (one member is from the eastern shore, but they all play and live in richmond now)...
i didn't get poison ivy. where did you camp? we pitched a tent behind some friends of ours who had campers in the camper area--not too far from the main entrance. they kept trying to make us move, but we didn't. love, betty jack

Bibb said...

BJ - I can't believe we did not notice each other! Maybe a clue can be found with the photo of me at my daughter's flickr site. I doubt you have ever seen me in full white hair mode.

We camped in the field directly to the right of the entrance. Always before we camped below the camper area and would walk through that area frequently. Not this time.

Email me and we can make plans for next year. Are you still on the Shore? And how did you find my blog?


Anonymous said...

did you get my email? betty jack

Bibb said...

No! Try