Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Suwannee Springfest

I started packing up gear for Springfest today. Music starts Thursday. It should be a four day party as usual… Del McCoury, Punch Brothers, Sam Bush, Town Mountain, Greensky Bluegrass, Steep Canyon Rangers, and a whole bunch more. Any other Banjo Ben folk gonna be there?

Man what a great line up you are gonna get to see!

Have fun, starts tomorrow! Wish I could have came down.

Just back from Springfest so I’m resting my legs and catching up on the Banjo Ben forum today.

Wish you had been here, oldhat, because we had a blast -great bands, near perfect weather and a whole lot of campfire pickin’. I think I managed a total of eleven hours of sleep over three nights.

We wound up camped directly adjacent to a couple of guys in a band called It was a great joy having an upright bass so close to our camp. I never had to go wandering to find a jamming opportunity. I think I spent as much time at their camp as mine. Good neighbors really do enhance the festival experience.

As far as stage acts go, the highlights for me were the Travelin’ McCourys, Town Mountain, and Greensky Bluegrass. Those Greensky boys can really tear it up and when they brought out Sam Bush for a portion of their Saturday performance that just put it over the top.

I was having too much fun to take many pictures, but here’s one of the McCoury’s at the bluegrass workshop. It was nice seeing them perform in such a casual and intimate setting. I bet only 30 or 40 people attended the workshop. They used Brett Bass from Grandpa’s Cough Medicine as their guitar player.


Weellll Doggies!

I’ve always wanted to go to something like this. I’ve been seeing the advertisements for this in the Banjo Newsletter. Seems like most of them are all out East or in the North East.

So was it pretty much like a big jam session that went on all the time, or were there actually times when they taught different things?

Here’s the lowdown on Springfest. It’s held every March at the 600 acre Spirit Of The Suwannee Music Park along the Suwannee River. They have three outdoor stages, one indoor stage, and a workshop area (held in the barn this year). Music starts on the stages on Thursday and ends on Sunday and only stops from about 2am to noon each day. The workshops run during the afternoons and are usually small performances with question and answer sessions between songs. At the McCoury workshop people asked about everything from Ronnie’s mando setup to his experience playing with John Hartford.

A lot of the real fun, and a lot of what makes this festival special, is the campground. The park designates three areas as communal campsites for jamming. These areas usually have some of the stage performers jamming along with other campers. Jamming usually goes on at these sites around the clock. Then there are a multitude of informal jams that spring up in the campgrounds. When I’m not camped close to one of these jams, I just strap on my guitar and wander around until I find something good.

This was our home this year:


There’s lots of stuff for non-musicians, too. They’ve got a beach on the Suwannee with rope swings on the bluffs, a swimming pool, horse stables, bike trails, a craft village… too much to do it all in four days.

You sold me. I’d love to come next year.

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

You sold me. I’d love to come next year.

— End quote

A students get together?

— Begin quote from “ldpayton” The park designates three areas as communal campsites for jamming. These areas usually have some of the stage performers jamming along with other campers. [/quote

Very different from the festivals up here. Jams can happen anywhere/at any site in the campground.

Not too sure I’d want to try and cram all the pickers of different skills and tastes into three designated areas up here.

I think folks would end up hiding in their campers to pick what, and with who, they were comfortable. Kind of shoots the parking lot picking in the foot so to speak.

— End quote

Oh, most of the jamming takes place organically all over the campgrounds just like at other festivals.

The designated areas are very elaborately built with audience seating and are almost like little concert areas themselves. They attract the best pickers, including stage acts, and will often have several dozen spectators.

This is the entrance to Slopryland, my favorite of the designated areas:


If the stages are the major leagues, the designated jam areas are the Triple A minor league, and the impromptu jams like my neighbors and I hosted are American Legion ball. It’s pretty easy to find a place to fit in.

Springfest isn’t a traditional bluegrass festival, though. It’s more of an Americana/Jamgrass affair that would offend the sensibilities of a lot of the people at my weekly jam. It happens to be right in my musical wheel house, so I really enjoy it.

Here’s the beginning of a review of this year’s show from American Songwriter:

— Begin quote from ____

Call it Bonnaroo South. Or Telluride East. Or both, with a sprinkling of the Newport Folk Festival, Merlefest and the Americana Festival tossed in for good measure. Humble Suwannee Springfest has yet to reap the recognition and appreciation that some of those bigger and more venerable festivals have managed to attain, and indeed, being that it’s in its 18th year, it can only be due to the fact that perhaps it’s a slow burner. Clearly, it’s not for lack of location; held outside Live Oak Florida — practically on the banks of, yes, the same Suwannee River Stephen Foster once celebrated in song — it’s easily accessible from Jacksonville, Tallahassee and all points south. And, for that matter, many points north “There’s so many musicians here from North Carolina, it looks like half the state took a field trip,” Steep Canyon Rangers’ Woody Platt was heard to remark to fellow state mate, Town Mountain’s Phil Barker.

— End quote

And here’s the link to the rest of the article:

And for any of you guys interested in attending the festival, there is a fall version called Magnoliafest in October. I bought my Magnoliafest tickets while I was at Springfest last week, so, I’m definitely planning on being there. Both festivals are at the ideal time of year for weather. It was in the high 70’s every day and low 50’s every night for Springfest this year.

Festival season sure comes early down here. We’ve got at least one festival every week for the next couple of months. I’m heading out to the Florida State Bluegrass Festival today. Looking forward to hearing Little Roy Lewis and Mountain Heart, plus they’re bringing in the world’s biggest moon pie from Chattanooga. Moon pies and bluegrass! It can’t get more country than that.

— Begin quote from "ldpayton"

Moon pies and bluegrass! It can’t get more country than that.

— End quote

Don’t forget the RC Cola! (is it even made anymore)? Then it would be perfect.


Let us know what flavor the giant Moon Pie is. Inquiring minds want to know.

At least a year or two ago, you could still get RC. I can’t remember where it was, but I went to a restaurant that had it on tap. What I miss from KY (and I used to bring it here when travelling) is Ale-8-one… “Winchester pond water” as we called it. It’s basically ginger ale with sugar and a boatload of caffeine. I think in recent years they have ditched the sugar for cane syrup :frowning:
Ski was also a good beverage from the bluegrass state.

Have a fun time Larry, we are all jealous (but in a good way).

Had to make the tough call of staying at the festival or coming home to watch the Gators play basketball today, and decided on basketball. I did manage to get in a fair amount of jamming last night (a whole bunch of my regular jam buddies were there), but it caused me to miss the giant moon pie since I was out in the campground when they brought it out. My mom managed to get some, though. Here it is:

50 lbs and 46,000 calories!

Didn’t find any RC Cola unfortunately, but I do remember Ski, Mike. I also remember the Kentucky Headhunters had a song that mentions Ski.

Hadn’t seen Little Roy in several years, but he doesn’t seem to have lost any energy. He still had his same silly shtick going. My favorite line of the night: “Oh I like Rhonda Vincent. She wears those supermarket dresses… You can see her spare ribs and backbone.”

Go 'Gators!!! Unless UK and Florida both advance I’ll pull for Billie’s kids. As you might have guessed I am a die-hard UK fan.

That’s a cool looking moon pie. It’s pretty amazing that it is 50lbs.

That’s right, the headhunters did have a “slaw burger fries and a bottle of ski” song. You might not know it from that song, but those guys are scary talented. Prior to the headhunters they had a band called “Itchy brother” that did the best led zep kind of stuff I have ever heard (from someone other than led zep themselves.) Greg Martin is a phenomenal guitarist. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program…

Enjoy the game. It’s currently tied 20 all.

That was a painful game. Should have stayed at the bluegrass festival!

Sorry Larry. I have thrown multiple items during the first half of the UK game.

Basketball over bluegrass??? Shame on you, you’re grounded from your guitar for a week! :laughing:

Seriously, thanks for the update on the festival. I saw Roy Lewis at a festival a couple of years ago for the first time. He definately had a lot of energy and knew how to work the crowd. Everybody seemed to enjoy his sets.

I’ve only been to one so far this year and that was the Spring Festival in Mountain View here in Arkansas. Saw Russell Moore and III Tyme Out along with The Special Consensus. I’d seen both of those bands before and knew what to expect and they didn’t dissappoint. Wayne Benson is truely a master of the mandolin. One band I had never seen (or even heard of for some reason) was Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers. They were a pleasant surprise. Very professional, excellent musicians, and great harmony. Not that it matters to me a whole lot, but sometimes its good to see a band that still dresses up for the stage.

Oh yeah, I remember you could get a bottle of Ski at Dumas Walker but I never knew what that was. Something like a Sprite?

— Begin quote from "mreisz"

Ski was also a good beverage from the bluegrass state.

— End quote

— Begin quote from "Bulldog"

I remember you could get a bottle of Ski at Dumas Walker but I never knew what that was.

— End quote

So that’s what they were talking about!! :astonished: All these years I thought he was saying skeet! I just pushed it off as another song that had lines that didn’t make any sense. (There’s plenty of those).



— Begin quote from "mreisz"

Sorry Larry. I have thrown multiple items during the first half of the UK game.

— End quote

Looks like they were just setting you up for a whopper of an ending!

— Begin quote from "jwpropane"

So that’s what they were talking about!! :astonished:

— End quote

I know exactly what that moment of :astonished: feels like. Happens to me all the time.