Getting a Little Springfest Back in My Step

DSC_0594 Well, we’ve wrapped up our third trip to the Springfest music festival in Live Oak Florida and once again I am so exhausted I can barely type. So to keep tempo with the speedgrass pickers we’ve been listening to for four days I am going to give you the rapidfire overview…

First and foremost the company and the weather were sublime. Sunshine galore, music on five stages for four days, excellent camp food, lots of laughs. We loved our campsite having gathered a crew from Mobile, Tampa, Tallahassee, and Albany GA. Our group is growing! We are like the Roman empire of the Suwannee campground.

The Springfest festival-goers continue to impress. Everyone is gracious, lovely and mellow – at one point the Professor exclaimed, “I think Springfest is the most civilized place on Earth.”

DSC_0494 While I haven’t taken the time to practice my hooping since last year, The Professor urged me to get back into it. He even bought me a new hoop from some festie chick who makes them herself and was selling them in the campground. This is a different woman in the pic on the right. I recognized this gal Michelle from Chicken Shit Bingo two weeks ago in Austin. She’s from Florida, was in Austin for SXSW and I remember seeing her at Dale Watson at Ginny’s. Two weeks later I recognize her at Springfest. Crazy.

So anyway I am happy to say my love affair with hooping is once again alive and well. Although I am still very much a beginner. But I swear I am going to be better in time for Springfest 2012!

In the meantime, I have plenty of music floating around my head to practice. Here’s what we heard this weekend. Spoiler alert: The Avett Brothers and Cornmeal were my tip top favorites. As always the video montage tells the whole story and is at the bottom of this post.


Larry Keel – perfect bluegrass warm-up

Not The Professor in a Manskirt. Scythian – we’ve been trying for 3 years now. I still don’t get the celtic rock thing. Although we have become nostalgic about Scythian after three Springfests

Greensky Bluegrass – really started to get into it with Greensky. For some reason all the pickers looked like fisherman to me. So The Professor and I started playing a game trying to guess where each musician was from and what they fish for. For example, stand up bass, Boise, trout on spinning rod. Fiddler, from Georgia, but lives in MT now and flyfishes for trout. Banjo, Colorado trout guy. Guitar, Alabama bass guy. Drop steel, we couldn’t decide. Probably a rocky mountain guy though.

The Motet – These guys from Boulder played late night on the Amphitheatre stage. For the first 60 seconds I thought, “Ugh, too Kenny G for me.” But all of a sudden they kicked it into superfunk horn jazzy house techno music. I liked it. Not my everyday genre but a cool way to end the first nite


First we had to detour to the cafe near the music hall where the manager was kind enough to let us watch our episode of Bass 2 Billfish. That was a hoot. Then it was time for the music.

Danny Barnes – For some reason when I read the schedule I was determined that Danny Barnes was going to be Danny Everitt, the musician friend of my good friends Annie & Mark McKinnon. I had the last name wrong though, which I confirmed in a quick realtime email to McKinnon. He emailed me back from Argentina to tell me his friend’s last name was Everitt, not Barnes.

Oh well. Danny Barnes was kinda out there anyway. Intense. Genre-bending. The next day we would see him on a folding chair in the middle of the road playing impromptu with Joe Craven which was kinda cool

Two Foot Level – Solid upstart bluegrass band. Perfect for afternoon beer drinking

DSC_0454 Trampled By Turtles – Speedgrass band from Deluth MN. They were just in Austin for SXSW. I didn’t see them in ATX but talked with them after their Springfest show and had a chance to talk about their time in Texas. great musicians, nice mellow guys

Galen Kipar Project – smoldering little group on the new stage near the lake. They were folksy, bluesy, funk. Some dramatic Drive-by-Trucker-esque lyrics. They did a great ‘Alabama Chicken’

David Grisman – Academically I get that he is arguably the greatest mandolin plyaer in the world. And he played with Jerry Garcia. But unlike everyone else at the amphitheatre, my life remained unchanged after seeing him. It’s always a nice afternoon break for me to chill and people watch when Grisman takes the stage (I know I’m in the minority here and what I said is complete heresy. Just being honest.)

Cornmeal – Showstopper!!! High energy jam band rockabilly bluegrass. We decided to call them jambilly. The chick fiddler was INCREDIBLE. She sawed on that fiddle like Charlie Daniels. The lights were flashing, the sound was loud, the harmony pitch perfect. I am a Cornmeal fan.


Larkin Poe – lovely sisters with beautiful voices. We didn’t hear much but we liked what we heard.

Traveling McCoury’s – I wasn’t fully present for this. I was at the back getting a chair massage which was life changing

DSC_0525 Jim Lauderdale – of course we all know how much I HEART JIM LAUDERDALE. His psychedelic cowboy honkytonk outfits were better than ever.

So here’s a great springfest moment. When Jim Lauderdale covered the tune “The Race Is On” my friend Carol and I both jumped up and squealed with delight. We each said at the exact same moment:

Carol: “I love this Dead song!”

Me: “I love this George Jones song!”

We just laughed at our different genre upbringings and danced away to Jim Lauderdale’s version.

Donna The Buffalo – I’m not sure it would be Springfest without Donna The Buffalo. We boogied down while the crowd bounced those inflated balls back and forth. Groovy as ever.

Steep Canyon Rangers – This is actor/comedian Steve Martin’s bluegrass band. It would have been a lot cooler if the wild and crazy guy himself had been there but they were incredible musicians nonetheless. They looked so sharp in their suits and ties. Carolina boys, you know.

DSC_0411 The Avett Brothers – and speaking of Carolina boys. The Avett Brothers are from Concord North Carolina, as is my college roommate from Chapel Hill. I just have visions that maybe she babysat for them a long time ago and we are going to get backstage passes at some point?

The Avett Brothers brought down the house. There was a lot of hype after their recent Garden & Gun cover and performance at the Grammy’s. But they were un-flippin-believable. They defy category. They sounded like the Samples, Brett Dennen, and the Sex Pistols all balled up into one hot show. Somehow it really hung together.

They credited Doc Watson with inspiring them on a kickass version of “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues” that I lov-lov-loved. (As an aside I really like the Earl Scruggs version too.)

Surprise Me Mr. Davis – can’t explain the name away. that said, I liked ‘em. Oddball, torchy bluesy rock. good stuff.

Cornmeal – we got to see them again on the big stage. They ROCKED. I hooped to my heart’s content. And I almost fainted from sheer delight when this countrified jambilly rockgrass band played a ten minute version of the Bee Gees’ disco hit “You Should Be Dancing”.

Quartermoon – About two in the morning we wandered to the legendary Quartermoon tent where they have a shrine to Bill Monroe and all sorts of musicians gather to pick and jam.


Verlon Thompson – lovely mellow way to wind down while we waited an hour for our tshirts to get screen-printed. He made lots of Guy Clark references which made me feel at home

Big Cosmo Suwannee Sound Syndicate – also lowkey, with lyrics all about festival love

DSC_0642 Jim Lauderdale – we didn’t stick around for his Sunday show but I saw him tuning up and was entranced with his bedazzled orange outfit. I have decided next year I am going to knock off this exact suit and wear it to Springfest with a button that is a picture of him wearing the same suit. Stalkerish? Perhaps. But I can’t get enough of Jim Lauderdale’s snappy threads. To die for.

Okay, no more talking. We went to sleep around 3:30 am to the sound of fireworks, the drum circle and someone bouncing around the woods with a pan flute. This festie needs some shuteye. Enjoy the montage friends…{if you are viewing this via email subscription, you need to click through to the FFC site to view the montage}…

3 Responses to “Getting a Little Springfest Back in My Step”
  1. Phillip Reid says:

    You guys need to come up to Boone, NC and go to Merlefest, if you have never been, you would love it.

  2. a number of people from springfest also hit merlefest. would be so fun! I hear it’s great…

  3. Galen Kipar says:

    Hi Christine,

    Funny how small a world it is. Thanks for the shout out here. Come fishing with me sometime in Asheville, NC area and lets talk music and fishing! I am also a fly fishing guide aside from the music thing.


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