There are all kinds of festivals during the season
Floydfest set the standard
Family, Adventure, Music, and Arts are the hallmarks of Floydfest for the past eighteen revolutions around the sun. The melding of these pillars set in the pristine mountaintop environment bordering the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia enhance the experience, the connection with each other and the surroundings.
Near the end of a long bike ride, I had the good fortune to spy Bruce Burgess, Artist from Stokes County, NC as he was painting a pastoral scene from a rock perch looking down onto the Floydfest campus and beyond. Bruce missed the enagural year of Floydfest, but he made every one since, most years with his wife and children. Bruce and his wife work with Floydfest's Children's Universe & Teen Scene.
The Children’s Universe, located at the heart of FloydFest, is brimming with fun, with programs designed to inspire, entertain, and provide an opportunity for creative expression! Activities can include The Peace Parade, costume tent, balloon art, jugglers, face-painting, puppets, stilts, hooping, yoga, Free Art and the Open Mic/Talent Show and more.
Attempt at describing Floydfest: Unique on several levels
On top of the ridge, off the Blue Ridge Parkway. Not the easiest to get to logistically, but magical when you arrive.
Floydfest continues to expand in many directions. It's not just a music festival, it's an arts (Visual & Performance Arts) and a celebration of life festival.
Music is the main aspect of the festival and therefore very diversified - something for everyone from the Healing Arts, and a plethora of ways to exercise through the Adventure Activities around the festival.
GOOD MUSIC IS GOOD MUSIC REGARDLESS OF GENRE
BANDS ON THE RISE:
Sid Kingsley Band:
On a beautiful Thursday evening, the GR group was still getting our bearings of the gargantuan Floydfest 18 - Wild venue. Strolling up to the vendor tents, we stopped to talk with our friends at RecoverBrands when we were suddenly drawn like bugs to light by the thick, smooth R&B/Soul sound to our immediate right. Most of the way through their set, the Sid Kinsley band had long since filled the seating area in front of the Ferrum Workshop Porch, with a still growing crowd spilling out of the venue's confines asking one another "Who is that playing?" The young Richmond, Virginia band, led by the multitalented Sid Kinglsey had struck musical gold, captivating everyone within earshot. Sid Kingsley has been playing, writing, and singing music for approximately six years. A horn player (saxophone) to begin with, so not new to music, rather new to being a bandleader, singer, songwriter all-in-one.
Sid grew up a jazz fan listening to big band legends such as Fletcher Henderson, and Glen Miller. "I progressed backward from Big Band to Dixieland, then Folk and finally into Rock and Roll. Although, that adventure has only happened very recently as I got into Bob Dillan only two years ago. So I'm playing musical catch up with all of my friends who have long been into the rock scene."
We asked Sid what he thought about the set they had just finished. "Soulful. Everyone in the band and in the audience was on the same page. I don't try to tailor our music to any one group, rather I want it to be accessible to all ages. I want people to walk away feeling better than they did before they heard us."
Excited to catch the full set this time, we made our way the following morning to the VIP Tent to catch their 11AM show. Clearly, word of the band's good vibes from the previous evening had spread. A huge crowd poured into the tent, eventually moving to standing room only outside the tent.
With Sid's BIG voice, an electric bass player feathering the strings with intoxicatingly smooth precision, coupled with a lead guitarist and drummer that are both innovative, yet understand how to bridge solos smoothly it's no wonder this young band is off to California booking dates up and down the coast.
Songs from the road Band:
Tuning up in the Throwdown Tent late Thursday night around 10:30, as each member warmed up it became clear that this was where good music was about to explode. The band hails from West Asheville, NC and includes a Double bass, fiddle, guitar, mandolin, and banjo, played Scruggs style of course. The evening highlighted their new album Road to Nowhere released July 23, 2018. To put it simply, these guys can JAM!
A quick look at their bio revels a supergroup featuring Mark Schimick, Charles Humphrey, Ryan Cavanaugh, Sam Wharton, and James Schlender. Collectively, they have received top accolades in the bluegrass, Americana, and jazz genres. No wonder members of Lil Smokies, Fireside Collective, and Leftover Salmon joined them onstage for some jams!
Songs From The Road Band is invintive. The Thursday night set featured the double bass, including an extended jam session via each individual band member. We loved the predominace of melody within their songs, and the invintive mandolin solos that were out of the ordinary. Rocking a killer aesthetic - Jeans and sport coats - only made it better.
The Company Stores: Charleston, W.V.
We caught The Company Stores (superb band name) midway through an eclectic set blended with echoes from their musical influences.Casey Litz's voice and stage presence belie her youth, inviting a large, boisterous crowd to engage. Engage they did.
"As small of a city as Charleston is, none of us knew each other until we met at work," tells Casey Litz. "We all worked at the same pizza place. Matt and I started talking music and playing together, then John joined up. And so was The Company Stores. It fell together so easily." Then in May 2013, fiddle/trumpet player Joe Cevallos and bassist Joey Liegel joined the band, and the sound was realized.
The Company Stores' music crosses multiple genres, giving them a broad fan base. Taking elements from Blues, Appalachian Folk, Rock, Hip Hop, and other more modern types of music, The Company Stores are a melting pot of possibilities. "We like to blend the old with the new, just like every musician in history, whether they know it or not," tells drummer John Query.
Heavy Hitters: Festival Legends Don't Disappoint!
Speaking of Jam bands. It's difficult to find a group with a more extensive catalog of songs over the past 25 years as purveyors of Americana music. Digging deep into the well that supplies its influences; rock ‘n’ roll, folk, bluegrass, Cajun, soul, zydeco, jazz and blues, Leftover Salmon draws the crowd in and captivates them for hours.
You'll find your happy place when the fellas jump on stage.
Somehow the Leftover Salmon stays fresh and gives so much not only to their audience, but tirelessly jumping on stage with other bands as they often did at Floydfest 18. You can't buy that music, you have to live it in the moment.
A perfect blending of rock, blues, soul, and jazz, the quartet of Warren Haynes [guitars], Matt Abts [drums], Danny Louis [keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals], and Jorgen Carlsson [bass] hit Floydfest 18 with the excitement of their brand spanking new album REVOLUTION COME...REVOLUTION GO.
“It was very poignant that we went into the studio in Austin, Texas, to begin recording on Election Day,” Grammy Award-winning vocalist and guitar legend Warren Haynes recalls of the November 2016 recording sessions. “Like most people, we really had no idea that the election was going to turn out the way it did. That changed everything – from a lyrical perspective. It’s not a political record, per se, but there are political connotations. There are also love songs, relationship songs, and songs about working together to make this a better planet. It covers a lot of ground, but it definitely starts and ends as a rock ’n’ roll record. It’s all within the realm of what we do, but it explores a lot of territory and, in some cases, territory we’ve never explored before.”
Like the old slogan of the US Mail, Gov't Mule played for hours, never slowing, never tiring from their efforts, the heat, and humidity, or the rain that hit just before the clock struck a new day. The new album reflects the times we live in while the band continues to cement its place amongst the masters of music lexicon.
“One of our missions has always been to stay together as a band long enough to bring all of these different influences to the surface,” Haynes goes on. “Blues, funk, and soul are a part of what we do. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, the umbrella of rock music had room for so many different stylistic approaches – bands that were worlds apart were still considered ‘rock’ bands. We’ve always taken a cue from that. And although I’ve said it previously about other Gov’t Mule releases, this is probably the most diverse record we’ve ever made. That’s really important to us.”
MONSTERS OF ROCK
GRETA VAN FLEET
The comparisons are inevitable, the look, the vocals, the overall aesthetic all tell your brain that you've been whisked into a time warp where the late, beloved John Bohnam is still pounding the drums with oversized sticks, Jimmy Page is electrifying the audience with his lead guitar virtuosity, John Paul Jones creating sounds from the keyboard that mesmerize while the high pitched frontman Robert Plant draws every eye and ear to the stage. Greta Van Fleet doesn't yet possess the decades of gravitas behind them; however, they do bear the Chops.
Greta Van Fleet is Josh Kiszka [Vocals], Jake Kiszka [Guitar], Sam Kiszka [Bass], Danny Wagner [Drums]. The hard rock/blues rock band from Frankenmuth, Michigan, is blowing up worldwide behind their recent appearances performing at Elton John's Academy Award Party on March 4, 2018, and on the Jimmy Fallon show where they played When the Curtain Falls, the first song off of their upcoming debut album [still untitled] scheduled for release in late 2018. Josh explained that his singing style came out naturally one day while struggling to be heard over the rest of the band.
YOU SHOULD HAVE BEEN THERE
Packed in like sardines to catch the show at the Streamline Stage at Hill Holler, Floydfest 18 goers gleefully braved 60-degree temps accompanied by strong winds Friday night at midnight. The energy emanating from the band on stage was incendiary, echoing across the mountain tops. What a SHOW!
Floydfest is all about Adventure
Here is a snap shot of the many activitys and adventures available both on campus and off campus with shuttles through the Floydfest Outdoor Adventure Headquarters:
The Merry Moonstompers’ Famous Belcher Mountain Beatdown
A GUIDED mountain bike tour that descends the Blue Ridge and finishes with miles of hand-built single-track trail! The 19-mile route includes 1600’ of elevation gain and 3400’ of descending.
The journey begins at FloydFest through gorgeous Virginia countryside to the spine of Belcher Mountain, where the trail descends via a steep rocky path to the valley below.
The Adventure team this year was fortunate to have two mountain bike vendors, both local from Roanoke, VA:
Innova Disc Golf Course
Cool Down on the Little River at FloydFest!
ON THE WATER offering opportunities to escape to the water for a few hours of paddling and floating down a gorgeous, undeveloped stretch of the Little River in Floyd County, with small whitewater (not even Class I) suitable for all ages.
Back Country Ski & Sport 5K Trail Running Race