FloydFest 2003The 2nd Annual FloydFest: Outta This World Music Festival will take place August 15th-17th in the sprawling landscape of the Appalachian Mountains in Floyd County, Virginia. This is truly one of the most eclectic lineups you’ll find in the summer festival schedule. The emphasis here is on diversity and community in a non-commercial grassroots environment, as acts spanning different genres from all across the globe converge for three days of musical celebration.

Grisman Quintet at FloydFest 2002
photo by Svetlana Nikic
Bluegrass is well represented throughout the weekend, with classic artists such as the David Grisman Quintet, Old and in the Gray with Vassar Clements, Darol Anger and Mike Marshall, and Peter Rowan's Texas Trio playing alongside some of today’s hottest young acts including Nickel Creek, Yonder Mountain String Band, Acoustic Syndicate, Larry Keel Experience, and Hackensaw Boys. The bluegrass highlight of the weekend is sure to be the special Sunday night reunion of the 1970s version of the David Grisman Quintet, which includes Tony Rice, Mike Marshall and Darol Anger.

Festivalgoers can stay up late on Friday night with Granola Funk Express, and enjoy the shredding sounds of fusion masters Garaj Mahal in their late-night set Saturday. Fans can also enjoy the rootsy grooves and happy vibes of Donna the Buffalo, the country rock of Jim Lauderdale, the sweet reggae sounds of John Brown's Body, the swaggering swing of Scrappy Hamilton, and the off-kilter rock of Spookie Daly Pride. The wide variety of music continues with acoustic tornado Kaki King picking and pounding her way through a set. Speech from Arrested Development will lay down his soulfunk, while various DJs spin tracks between sets, including the world music tapestry of DJ Cheb I Sabbah and the South Asian sounds of DJ Janaka.

Kusun Ensemble at FloydFest 2002
photo by Svetlana Nikic
One of the most interesting acts of the festival is Baka Beyond, a band which seamlessly blends together both Celtic and West African influences. Mamadou Diabate from Mali will unleash his 21-stringed kora on the unsuspecting Blue Ridge Mountains, while the Kusun Ensemble from Ghana will sing, dance and drum their stories of West African life. FloydFest organizers are such fans of the Kusun Ensemble they’ve actually helped book them in shows around town for months prior to the festival. Many more artists are also booked across the four stages. Check www.floydfest.com for a full schedule and sound samples.

The 2nd Annual FloydFest is dedicated to the memory of Babatunde Olatunji. The legendary Nigerian percussionist passed away in April, after helping to bring the African Showboyz from Ghana to this year’s FloydFest for their debut appearance in the United States. The festival is offering discounted tickets for members of Olatunji’s non-profit Voices of Africa foundation.

Floyd County
Organizers are going out of their way to provide a comfortable and inspirational environment for the fans. Less than 20,000 tickets are sold, ensuring plenty of space for dancing and camping throughout the 80-acre site. The Healing Arts tent will include yoga and tai chi classes, plus massage, acupuncture, herbal teas and soundwave vibrations. The Children’s Tent will feature everything from a playground area and library to puppet shows, storytelling, belly dancing, nature walks, a parade, instruments, a drum circle and more. The kids might end up having even more fun than their parents.

Despite the large number of festivals on the calendar these days, FloydFest has managed to carve out a unique niche, offering bands and styles not found at most other events. Nestled into the beautiful mountains, the site is sure to compliment the amazing sounds of musicians coming together from around the world in the spirit of togetherness and camaraderie. It could be said that this is needed now more than ever.

Paul Kerr
JamBase | North Carolina
Go See Live Music!


[Published on: 7/18/03]

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