Five Great Things About Suwannee Springfest 2014
Photo by Alisa B. Cherry Steep Canyon Rangers get in the groove at Suwanne Springfest.
Humble Suwannee Springfest has yet to reap the recognition and appreciation that some of the bigger festivals have managed to attain. Being that it's in its 18th year, it can only be attributed to the fact that it still seems so local to us Florida folks. Indeed, it boasts a favorable 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.
Well, almost all points south. For those of us living at the tip of this sprawling peninsula, it is something of a haul. Still, there are several excellent reasons why the drive is well worthwhile. Here are the top five.
5. Even outrageous toll costs are cheaper than the price of a plane ticket.
Despite the lengthy journey, Suwannee is still in Florida, which means it's fairly accessible. Take the Turnpike, pay your tolls, get on to 75, get off at I-10, and you're practically there. No airplane flight required means you can leave your shoes on... Only if you so desire.
4. It's all about great music.
Musical director Paul Levine has booked the festival the past four years and steadily added a younger element to the musical mix. This year's event, held over four days, paid heed to up-and-coming Americana acts, many of them of the bluegrass persuasion.
As always, Donna the Buffalo held court for the band's faithful, but they also shared the various stages with some other festival veterans as well -- Steep Canyon Rangers, the Sam Bush Band, The Avett Brothers, the Del McCoury Band, Greensky Bluegrass, and Jim Lauderdale, along with relative newcomers like the Town Mountain, Aoife O'Donovan, and the Punch Brothers, in particular.
"That's one of the special things about this festival," Sam Bush later remarked, referencing the musical variety. "It's bluegrass, it's country, it's Americana, it's rock, and practically everything in between."