JamBase List | Top Ten Memorable AURA Festival Moments

Words By: Daryl Wolff -AURA executive producer

We’re just a week away from the start of this year’s AURA Music & Arts Festival, which takes place at the gorgeous Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida between March 6 -8. The sixth annual AURA will feature performances from the likes of the Disco Biscuits, moe., Papadosio, Break Science Live Band, The Motet and many more. With five installments in the books, we asked AURA executive producer Daryl Wolff to share his favorite moments from AURA’s past.

Well, with so many memories, this proved to be more challenging than originally planned. However, there are more than enough memories to go around…

1. Promoter vs Musician: Back in the day, when I was still a young naïve festival promoter, it seemed like a good idea (being a musician) to play at all of the festivals. It turns out that that is impossible. Regardless, there were still some good musical times had way back when. Most specifically, I remember playing at the first AURA with Brother Bean (our headliners). In the middle of a cover of Phish’s “Down With Disease,” I had the property manager basically behind me pulling my hands off my keyboards because we were playing way past our curfew. It all seemed o.k. at the time though, and I kept playing! He ended up letting us finish our secret third set at around 1:30 a.m.

2. Early Footage: It didn’t seem as important as it does now, but at the beginning it was really hard for us to get good video footage of the festival. After convincing a few more people to come help with that the second year, we got some classic footage and “b-roll” to remember the festival by. This one song and video will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s Sosos performing their original “I Don’t Know” at the 2nd AURA in 2011.

3. Moving to Suwannee: One of the most memorable moments in AURA history is when we got approved to move the festival to the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park. “The Park” provides us the vast resources needed for unlimited growth. What an amazing venue it is we call home!

4. Crazy Fingers: Our local Grateful Dead tribute band in South Florida, made their AURA debut in 2011 and played a wonderful afternoon set. The lead guitarist featured in this video, Corey Dwyer, passed away from a car accident last year sadly. I’ve been going to see this band since I was 15 years old and at the time of this set, it just meant SO MUCH to me to have them performing at my event. Luckily, there is video of some of the set:

5. The Wolff Balloons: After dealing with paying some bands on the Saturday afternoon of the 2nd AURA, I came out of our office to find, what felt like, half the crowd dancing around with yellow balloons that had my face on them. There is a funny back-story that the helium tank my friends brought to inflate all these balloons was taken away by our security guards (who thought it was something else). After convincing the guards to return it to them, the balloons were inflated, and the rest is history.

6. Nigel Hall Stevie Wonder Set: This was something I dreamed about and was able to make a reality. Nigel Hall and Kung Fu performing a set of Stevie Wonder music and really, I think it was before all these tribute sets started hitting festivals our size. It was amazing and life changing!

7. Perpetual Groove: PGroove has always been one of my favorite bands, and I’m super excited they are getting back together! Having them at AURA was one of the highlights of my career as a promoter for sure!

8. Friendly Contests: At the first AURA, Anthony Thogmartin from Papadosio won the award for holding a water bottle on his head the longest. I felt like it was hours and will never forget it!

9. Shak Nasti featuring Roosevelt Collier: I won’t take credit for the idea but after seeing Roosevelt Collier play with Shak Nasti at Bear Creek, I called him up and begged him to do it again at AURA. In 2011 Shak Nasti performed with Roosevelt at our old spot in St Cloud. What an amazing funky set they played!

10. Forever Florida: I think this location was so cool! The peacocks, lakes, trees and everything else there. We outgrew it pretty fast but still so many memories. The best was the early yoga classes with people dancing around like crazy! Check out this video from the location:

Tickets for AURA Music Festival are on sale now via the festival’s website.