Suwannee Springfest: The Return of Dread Clampitt


As Springtime approaches the days grow fewer to the Annual Suwannee Springfest in Live Oak Florida, March 19-22. This is the 19th year for Springfest, held in the magnificent Spirit of the Suwannee Music park. Temperatures will rise and festival goers from all around will make their way to the four day festival to set up their neighborhoods of campsites. The Festival features three out door stages, one indoor stage, and a wood craft barn for various work shops. Some workshops include, musical saw, songwriting, banjo, guitar, mandolin and fiddle. This year’s Springfest lineup is also a pure delight. Acts such as Lucinda, The Del McCoury Band, John Hiatt, David Grisman, Shovels and Rope and many other amazingly talented bands.

We are happy to see the return of northwest Florida’s own Dread Clampitt. Dread Clampitt has been a past festival favorite but it has been two years since the trio has taken the stage. Dread Clampitt is from South Walton County and play regularly at The Red Bar in Grayton Beach every Sunday for brunch. The band includes Balder Saunders on Mandolin, Kyle Ogle on guitar, and Kenny Oliverio on bass. All three sing dynamically and their harmonies and songwriting are more than stunning. Today we traveled to The Red Bar  to pick their brain’s and also learn a bit more about Suwannee Springfest from their eyes.



Ashley: How did Dread Clampitt begin?

Dread: In a Trailer on the beach with Balder and Kyle. The Red Bar was our first gig thirteen years ago.We later added Justin our former fiddle player, some time later Kenny joined us on bass. Duke Bardwell played for us for many years, but he was unable to travel to that’s where Kenny came in.


AJ: How would you describe Dread Clampitt to those who haven’t seen you before?

Dread: We all have different roots. Wether it be rock and roll, blue grass or jazz, we’re all over the place and try to do our own thing.


AJ: I’m super excited for your return to Springfest, what’s your favorite thing about playing there?

Dread: The Amphitheater Stage, and the audience as well. Everybody loves it.


AJ: Do you have any Springfest memories you’d like to share?

Dread: The secret jam session on the last night of the festival. All the musicians get together and play all night. Also the year the festival flooded and having to play on tiny improvised stages.


AJ: How many times have you played there?

Dread: At least thirteen years. We used to play Magfest and Springfest.


AJ: What are some of your other favorite festivals to perform at?

Dread: We liked Floyd Fest! They had a jam in the attic of the house that the festival used to put the band’s up in. Xavier Rudd came and sat in and we were all crammed up in a real attic. The pin on the bass had to be all the way down in order to accommodate the upright bass.


AJ: Have you ever played any competitions or won any awards?

Dread: We did go to Telluride Bluegrass Fest and ended up getting fourth place.

AJ: What advice would you give to new musicians and songwriters?

Dread: Don’t get your expectations too high in the clouds too soon, because its probably going to lead to disappointment. Even the Beatles had to play in rough places in Germany before they had any success. Stay away from the American Idol Contests. It seems like young folks want to be youtube sensations, and they want it to happen really fast. Study your instrument, write a song, believe in yourself to get better, and for god’s sake don’t have a music stand on stage.


AJ: Do you have any interesting collaborations from over the years?

Dread: Sam Bush has played on our Learnin to Live cd, Jerry Douglas, Sheryl Crow, Sarah Evans, have all sat in with us here at The Red Bar, also Susie Ragsdale, and also Tommy Shaw from Styx.


Dread Clampitt will grace the amphitheater stage at 5:38 on Thursday, March 19. Get ready to be thrilled by one of the greatest musical treasures of their south. Their originals overflow with heart and their music never fails to make everyone feel wonderful to be alive. Their diligent musical ability always shines through and their precise harmony vocals cut right through the soul. You can find Dread Clampitt on Facebook, Twitter, and their website

Tickets for Suwannee Springfest are available here: