We have enjoyed the Florida Folk Festival for many years. Each year has been wonderful and different. Some are challenging...like the year when local forest fires burned eyes and made it near impossible to breathe at times. But then the wind shifted, the air cleared, and the music and fun continued. Some years there is drought and the Suwannee River is just a trickle of water with high, dry banks. Other years are inundated and the river is full and flowing. This was one of those years. Florida's summer rains came early this year and the Suwannee's banks show it. But that did not bode well for festival-goers.
We arrived Thursday evening and set up camp while thunder was announcing the impending storms, which lasted through the evening. We were high and dry in our tent, but the lightning was so bright at times we could almost read by it. It was an impressive demonstration of nature. Friday evening brought more storms, but they ended early and yielded to music, festivities, and campground parades that lasted 'till the wee hours of the morning. Unfortunately, around 2 a.m. we discovered a rock underneath our tent had punctured both the ground tarp and the tent floor...our bags, mattresses, and pillows were soaked. Saturday brought respite from the rain and we took advantage of the solar energy to dry out everything. But Tropical Storm Alberto and a forecast of 100% chance of rain on Sunday convinced us it was time to pack it in and head home. After our 6:00 p.m. performance at the Seminole Stage we ate fine festival food then hit the road back to Tampa.
Even though weather cut the festival short for us this year, we enjoyed some great music while we were there. The Currys are fine musicians and songwriters, and have amazing harmonies. Gailanne Amundsen is a very talented multi-instrumentalist and singer who just released a new project of Carter Family songs on which she collaborated with John Carter Cash. If you didn't pre-order "You've Been a Friend to Me," I recommend you get a copy ASAP. Watching Gailanne live perform the songs on this CD was a treat and I am glad to have a signed CD copy to add to my collection. The Wild Shiners is a FUN Florida band that plays what some have called "face melting Americana." I don't know exactly what that means, but I love the energy of this group (and especially the banjo...). I also must mention the band's guitarist, Michael Lagasse, who has his own solo project, White Sands, with amazing guitar work and vocals. Finally, it was great to see Shana Smith (aka Shanabanana ) who is a wonderfully talented and funny Florida singer and songwriter.
So regardless of weather, the Florida Folk Festival was fabulous and fun as usual. We enjoyed seeing friends, making new friends, making music, discovering new music, eating festival food, and generally taking in all the Florida scenery, arts, and entertainment that make the Florida Folk Festival one of the BEST festivals ever. No wonder this great event has been going on for 66 years!