Suwannee Roots Revival Fest Spreads Its Branches Wide
Only a few days left before the third annual Suwannee Roots Revival kicks off in Live Oak, FL, with four days of fabulous music. From October 11th to 14th the majestic Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP) will be home to a gathering of festival devotees and wondrous musical experiences.
This year’s lineup is loaded with so many must-see sets that you are not going to want to miss; just remember that Roots Fest is a marathon, not a sprint. Pace yourself, and plan on wandering from stage to stage while having your face hurt from wearing a permanent face-splitting smile.
The entire weekend is packed with performances, workshops, and family-friendly activities. This is also one of the best festivals to find some serious campsite jams. Throughout the park you can find pods of pickers jamming out day and night. Take a trip to the Bill Monroe Shrine and Slopryland, where spontaneous jams often include some of the main-stage performers. You can sit back and enjoy the amazing collaborations that are happening all around you.
The music kicks off on Thursday with acts on the Amphitheater Stage, the Porch Stage, and in the Dance Tent. Which sets should you catch? All of them! You can do it. This will also be the only day you can catch sets from the much anticipated Oteil & Friends and Peter Rowan Free Mexican Airforce, as well as Jonathan Scales Fourchestra.
The schedule for Friday has a wide range of musical options from across the roots genre to choose from. This will be your big chance to see folk revival legends The Seldom Scene, who will be performing on the Amphitheater Stage and in the Music Hall. You will also not want to miss out on the high-energy Cajun-infused soul of Shinyribs. Looking for amazing trad-grass harmonies, then don’t miss out on The Lonely Heartstring Band. Want to see how far the Roots branches can reach, then check out the jazz-grass sounds of Jon Stickley Trio. For your singer-songwriter fix, give Nikki Talley a listen. The tribute to Tom Petty is going to be a don’t-miss set as well as Keller Williams’ PettyGrass featuring The HillBenders.
Saturday brings some pretty exciting collaboration to the Music Hall including “Life of a Troubadour” with Bruce Cockburn and Verlon Thompson, and “Synergy of the Grateful Dead…” with David Gans, Jim Lauderdale, Joe Craven, Rev. Jeff Mosier and Billy Gilmore. Expect big crowds for the Samantha Fish and Leftover Salmon sets. Don’t miss Horseshoes and Hand Grenades or the much-anticipated return of Tornado Rider. The late set in the Dance Tent with progressive rock band Syzygy will be worth staying up for.
Sunday’s schedule is a bit more relaxed with shows on the Amphitheater and Porch Stages. This is a great opportunity to get up front and take advantage of the smaller crowds. There will likely be some sit-in sessions with members of several bands coming together on stage to make music and just have fun. Some of my favorite musical memories have happened during the Sunday sets.
Take a sick day, beg your boss, or change your flight — whatever it takes, you should plan on staying Sunday night. The park does clear out a bit, but the fun does not stop. Keep your ears open for the after-hours jams where some of the main acts get to bust loose in the park. You never know who will show up, but Jim Lauderdale, Donna the Buffalo, Verlon Thompson and Rev. Jeff Mosier just might be wandering around.
With decades of experience, the SOSMP has mastered the art of putting on a festival. The park has just about everything that you could need to make for a perfect festival camping experience. Nestled among the banks of the historic Suwannee River, the park has over 800 acres to explore on foot, bike or golf cart (mind the trail rules.) Near the main stages you will find a well-stocked Country Store for ice, food, batteries, and even beer. Be sure to bring a few extra dollars to spend on the unique arts and crafts, festival swag, delicious food options and more that you can find along vendors’ row.
There will also be plenty of family-friendly activities to explore throughout the weekend. The little ones will love the fun-filled activities that Kids Tent has planned. Get you Namaste on at the daily Yoga sessions. Bring your dancing shoes — or kick ’em off — at the Dance tent with contra, square-dancing and waltz instruction.
Bring your happy feet and plan on getting a lot of hugs, meeting new friends, and being immersed in the wonderous world of roots music among the moss-draped oaks and historic waters of the Suwannee River.