Jim Abbott on Florida Travel
Postcards from Florida
January 15, 2011
The weather has been occasionally inhospitable in the past month, at least by our wimpy Sunshine State standards, but soon it will be spring and there's no better time to be outdoors in Florida.
That also means it's the perfect time of year for outdoor music festivals, especially at the state's most inviting spot for mixing songs and scenery.
The Spirit of Suwannee Music Park, north of Live Oak, hosts an assortment of events each year, including the Suwannee SpringFest, which is just around the bend on March 24-27, and the long-running MagnoliaFest in the fall (dates yet to be set for 2011).
The Magnolia events were created by Randy and Beth Judy, Deadheads interested in keeping alive Jerry Garcia's musical spirit. The first event, Big Cosmo's Sunshine Daydream Weekend, took place in 1996, a year after Garcia's death. Campfire jam sessions typically extend into the wee hours in tents turned into candlelit shrines for icons such as bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe and fiddler Vassar Clements.
Both events still cater to the jam-band crowd, with this year's SpringFest lineup featuring acts such as the Avett Brothers, the David Grisman Sextet, Donna the Buffalo, Jim Lauderdale, the Travelin' McCourys with the Lee Boys and the Steep Canyon Rangers, the latter known for its bluegrass connection with actor and comedian Steve Martin.
Visit magmusic.com for more information on those festivals.
Also headed to the Spirit of Suwannee Park is the Wanee Festival, a newer, but equally resilient tradition established by the Allman Brothers Band. The event has evolved from its initial summer residency into a spring event. This year's edition is slated to unfold April 14-16.
There's no lineup yet, but the Allman Brothers Band will be on the bill, along with an assortment of bands influenced by the Allman's Southern rock style.
There's an early-bird ticket special running through Tuesday for this year's Wanee. Visit waneefestival.com for an early-bird price of $165.50 (plus fees) that includes four nights of camping, three days of music and a festival kick-off party.
Hopefully, the weather will be as awesome as the music.