Layers of cool…

birdman busFloydFest really is much more than some of the most wide-ranging and compelling music to be heard anywhere.  There are so many components…pieces of the puzzle…layers of cool if you will, that add up to an eXperience that’s much more profound than any of those layers taken individually.  There’s the high-country setting just off the Blue Ridge ParkwaP1190520y and the elegant and permanent peg and beam stage structures by Dreaming Creek, the 60’s tie-dyed vibe seen in clothing vendors and their customers, the way beyond corn-dog-and-funnel-cake edible opportunities from Dogtown wood oven pizza to irresistible international and unpronounceable delicacies.  Visionaries Kris Hodges and Erika Johnson with their P1190389seasoned team marked the tenth FloydFest with a genre-rich mix of hundreds of musicians both established and under the radar, seasoned with crowd-pleasing extras that included trapeze artists, jugglers and fire-eating sword swallowers.  Truly something for everyone as evidenced by the all-ages, family friendly crowd comprised of well-inked rastas, holdover hippies and well-heeled geezers.  And an impossible to ignore showing of P1190584bare midriffs only occasionally to good advantage.  And did I say it was hot?  But not as hot as the Piedmont especially with a steady breeze and found shade.  Like other well-conceived and executed events, it’s just not possible to come home and tell your friends about it because things like this just have to be lived.  It’s impressive enough on paper or the Web but descriptions must fall short.  So I’ll stop trying and just let some images do the talking.  But FloydFest has evolved into a singular community built on music but offering so many more…layers of cool.  The second decade should be worth hanging around for.


Sam Bush…always the King of all he surveys


including a rapt audience at Jon Lohman’s VA Folklife Porch stage with guitarist Stephen Mougin.


Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor in an insightful Porch session describing his musical journey.


Richmond’s own FloydFest regulars DJ Williams and Todd Harrington smoked it on the Hill Holler stage.


Under the Radar artist, New England-based Jason Spooner impressed with his trio and some well-crafted original tunes…check him out.


A pleasant first-day surprise on the Porch saw Randy Cook sitting in with Linda & David Lay and Sammy Shelor


Our state folklorist Jon Lohman with wife Tori and baby boy Grayson (wanting his own laminate).  As the bluesy Jonny Clutch he and his Jam Busters will be opening for Blue Highway in Marion this weekend.  Details here.



Festival Operations Manager and Blue Mule bassist John McBroom getting his propers from Kris Hodges.  The logistical complexity of FloydFest is dizzying but it’s pulled off with great aplomb by these guys and their seasoned festiveterans.



festivarian hq

Camping taken seriously…


…and joyfully.


Hundreds of bedsheets arranged in a huge embellished Roman numeral X for a specially arranged miles-high satellite shot of the festival site, soon to be available for viewing here.


A capacity crowd of 15,000 embraced this X-rated edition of FloydFest and all its visual amenities…nobody does it better.


A young female fiddler practicing both the artistic and the practical components of being a successful musician…


Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna icon Jorma Kaukonen came a Fur Peace to play the Porch with the versatile Nate Leath…


…who also sat in to great effect with Lenoir, NC’s Harris Brothers.  We’re working on getting them to Richmond.


Jon holds court on the Porch with Peter Rowan, Wyatt Rice and Mark Schatz.


Pete later mounted the main Dreaming Creek stage with Mike Witcher and Keith Little.


RVA’s own and grown Jackass Flats fronted by Travis Rinehart rocked the Hill Holler stage with tunes from their new CD Rusty Feeling.


Tony Rice in crisp summer green entranced the mellow Sunday crowd with help from the DMB’s Jason Carter, Josh Williams, brother Wyatt and Mark Schatz (not shown)…


…and savored a sweet reunion with longtime friend and collaborator David Grisman.


And as the day-4 rain and fog settled in, Richmond’s gospel-singing treasure Maggie Ingram and her Ingramettes held church in the dance tent with their own brand of joyous spirituality.  They put it all into perfect perspective.


This by no means is meant to be a comprehensive post mortem on FloydFest…I left out way more than I included.  If you’re yearning for more, there’s a growing list of links on the Website.

P1190257Gratitude runs deep for all who played a part in this enriching stay in the mountains, especially my road-of-life navigator and game companion of 34 years.  I am blessed.



The heat’s still on…no rest for the weary, as we welcome Frank Solivan’s great band Dirty Kitchen back to AC&T this Saturday night to be followed by another rockin’ reunion of the Robbin Thompson Band at Dogwood Dell on Sunday.

rtb-skip rowland (rear)

(Skip Rowland photo of the RTB)

Debo Band by Gary EcksteinAt the strong urging of music connoisseurs Chris Bopst and Josh Kohn, Balliceaux in the Fan is the place to be to catch the “incredibly awesome” Ethiopian funk of the Debo Band with Fendika this coming Tuesday.  We must take note.  And one more reminder of the doubly fine finale of this year’s Groovin’ in the Garden series at Lewis Ginter…Friday, August 19th for Gillian Gillian harrow coverWelch’s long-awaited return to Richmond with Dave Rawlings.  (And just what is he doing with his left hand on the cover of their new CD?  Hmmmm.)  And on Thursday the 25th, the engaging Mary Chapin Carpenter heads east down 64.  And a save-the-date for October 6th:  the 7th annual Music For Massey benefit concert, also at LGBG featuring the return of the Waybacks with special guest Jim LauderdaleThe Richmond Folk Festival moves back one week this year to the following weekend, Oct. 14-16.


JESSE_HARPER_HEADER_final_musicOrange County’s Jesse Harper is creatively and tirelessly gathering resources to finish his latest project One True Thing.  You can help and earn his eternal gratitude and other incentives by clicking here and chipping in.  He’s very close to goal.  It’ll be worth it.


IYE Radio LogoWe’ll wrap this post with a very exciting announcement regarding our new radio show In Your Ear, presented by JAMinc beginning Saturday, September 3rd on WCVE Public Radio.  Every Saturday at 1pm through November at 88.9 on your FM dial, we’ll be bringing you a full hour of the best performances from our seven years of JAMinc/In Your Ear Studio A concerts with artists including John Cephas, Bruce Molsky, The Kruger Brothers, Cadillac Sky, Howard Levy, Wayne Henderson, Bryan Bowers, Tony Furtado and Peter Ostroushko, plus area favorites Robbin Thompson, Bop Nation and yes, Jesse Harper.  We’re extremely grateful to Bill Miller and the staff at WCVE for this great opportunity to share some excellent live performances with a wider audience.  The program will also stream on www.ideastations.org.   Spread the word and join us.


(Debo Band and Jesse Harper photos from artist websites)

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